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Gene

Social climber
Oct 28, 2010 - 06:18pm PT
[OT]

Mom and Dad liked the previous Pope better.

[/OT]
Norton

Social climber
the Wastelands
Oct 28, 2010 - 06:31pm PT
Pope Benedict is a brilliant scholar.

He says condoms do NOT help in stopping the spread of AIDS.

Presume he believes, like Nancy Reagan, that just saying NO to "bad things" is sufficient.
Crodog

Social climber
Oct 28, 2010 - 06:38pm PT
Sexual abuse scandal in the Legion of Christ

The sexual abuse scandal in the Legion of Christ involves accusations against Marcial Maciel, leader of this organization for many decades. It has been linked with the series of Catholic sex abuse cases in some Western jurisdictions.

In March, 2010, the Legion of Christ in a communique [1] acknowledged as factual "represensible actions" by Maciel, including sexual abuse. The communique stated that "given the gravity of his faults, we cannot take his person as a model of Christian or priestly life." This occurred, after the Legion spent more than a decade denying allegations and vilifying the victims of abuse.[2]

1956 investigation
Father Marcial Maciel, the leader of the Legion of Christ, was investigated several times. In 1956 the Vatican had him removed as superior and investigated allegations of drug abuse. After interviewing members of the then-small congregation, the Vatican found him innocent, and he was reinstated in February 1959.[3] There are no records of any members reporting sexual abuse at that time. However, since then two seminarians have reported that they lied to investigators and did not report abuse to them because of the vow that Father Maciel had them take, never to speak ill of him.[4]

Accusations since the 1970s
Since the 1970s, Marcial Maciel has been accused twice of having repeatedly sexually abused other congregation members, including young children. Maciel's accusers include a priest, a guidance counselor, a professor, an engineer, a lawyer, and a former priest who became a university professor.[5] The men, all of which were behind the accusations both times, seven Mexicans and two Spaniards, described themselves as former members of a favored group, known as the "apostolic schoolboys." The abuse allegedly occurred over three decades beginning in the 1940s in Spain and Italy, where boys and young men were taken for schooling.[6] The abuse, they said, involved some 30 boys and young men and extended over at least three decades.

Nine different accusers
Of the nine men making the accusations, one subsequently retracted his story, claiming it had been a fabrication intended to damage the Legion.[5] The other eight continue to maintain these allegations. Fr. Maciel and the organization originally denied the accusations. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), led by then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (who is now Pope Benedict XVI), examined the allegations.

Stepping down as leader
Shortly after some media reported the reopening of the investigation in late 2004, Fr. Maciel stepped down as General Director of the Legion.[7]

Reopening the case
Later, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, led by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, examined the allegations, reopening the investigation against Maciel shortly before Maciel resigned the General Directorship of the Legion. According to the ReGain organization, as many as 24 men came forward with accusations of sexual abuse against him. Maciel and the Legion continued to deny the accusations until his death in 2008.[8]

Retirement and penitence
On May 19, 2006 the Vatican published a communique for press, instructing Maciel to retire to a life of "prayer and penitence".[9]

The reaction of the Legion was summarized by Jim Fair, the US spokesman of the Legion of Christ as a persecution, while the Legion proclaimed Maciel's innocence. "Fair has absolutely no doubt that Father Maciel is innocent of accusations that he sexually abused seminarians decades ago. Any statements to the contrary, he said, amount to persecution of a holy man – the kind of persecution Jesus referred to in the Sermon on the Mount when he said, 'Blessed are those who hate and persecute you for holiness' sake; you shall see God.'"[10]

Fathering a child
On 2009 February 3 the New York Times reported: "The Legionaries of Christ, an influential Roman Catholic religious order, have been shaken by new revelations that their founder, who died a year ago, had an affair with a woman and fathered a daughter just as he and his thriving conservative order were winning the acclaim of Pope John Paul II."[11] This has been confirmed by the Legion of Christ[12].

According to Archbishop Thomas Collins of Toronto, the Legion also admitted to gross misuse of funds by Maciel.[13] Alvaro Corcuera and Thomas Williams have also stated that, given the revelations about the immoral life led by the founder, it is probable that past accusations of sexual abuse be true.[14]

The Rev. Fr. Thomas V. Berg LC, Executive Director of the Westchester Institute for Ethics and the Human Person, has formally apologized to the victims of Fr. Maciel, "In shock, sorrow, and with a humbled spirit, I want to express my deepest sorrow for anyone who, in any way, has been hurt by the moral failings of Fr. Maciel." ”[15]

A few weeks after the scandal broke, Fr. Berg left the Legion of Christ to become a diocesan priest, transferring the Westchester Institute to the Archdiocese of New York.[16]

On September 3, 2009, an apology on behalf of the Legion was made by Fr. Julio Marti and Fr. Scott Reilly, (both territorial directors of the Legion in the US northeast), "We are deeply saddened and sorry, and we sincerely ask for forgiveness from God and from those who have been hurt through this.” We also regret that our inability to detect, and thus accept and remedy, Father Maciel’s failings has caused even more suffering."[17]

Civil suit on behalf of six children
In July 2009, Mexican media reported that an attorney, José Bonilla, will represent three of a possible total of six of Maciel's children in a civil suit to recover Maciel's estate. The lawyer claims that there are several properties in Mexico and around the world which Maciel owned in his own name.[18][19]

Media in Spain had similarly reported an interview with a woman who had a child with Maciel over 20 years ago and now lives in a luxury apartment in Madrid which Maciel purchased for her. The woman, Norma Hilda Baños, insinuates that she was abused by Maciel as a minor and later was impregnated by him and she bore him a daughter, Norma Hilda Rivas.[20] At least one source claims that Rivas is an alias that Maciel used during his life.[21]

Reaction of archbishop O'Brien
In the wake of these affairs, Baltimore Archbishop Edwin O'Brien told his archdiocesan newspaper that the order must offer "full disclosure of [Maciel's] activities and those who are complicit in them, or knew of them, and of those who are still refusing to offer disclosure," adding that the order's finances should also be subject to "objective scrutiny." He called Maciel "a man with an entrepreneurial genius who, by systematic deception and duplicity, used our faith to manipulate others for his own selfish ends," and further criticized the "good deal of secrecy in [Maciel's] own life...[and] in the structures he created." The Archbishop welcomed the Vatican's decision in the following March to conduct an apostolic visitation of the Legionaries, and said that the order's abolition "should be on the table."[22]

Apostolic visitation
The Vatican has ordered an apostolic visitation of the institutions of the Legionaries of Christ following disclosures of sexual impropriety by the order's late founder, Marcial Maciel Degollado. The announcement of the unusual investigation was posted on the Web site of the Legionaries of Christ on March 31, 2009 along with the text of a letter informing the Legionaries of the pope's decision.[23]

On June 27, 2009, according to Vatican commentator Sandro Magister, Vatican authorities have named five bishops from five different countries, each one in charge of investigating the Legionaries in a particular part of the world. Their first report is due in the fall of 2009:

Ricardo Watti Urquidi [1], Bishop of Tepic, Mexico, in charge of Mexico and Central America, where the Legion has 44 houses, 250 priests and 115-120 religious seminarians; Charles J. Chaput, Archbishop of Denver, in charge of the United States and Canada, where the Legion has 24 houses, 130 priests and 260 religious seminarians; Giuseppe Versaldi, Bishop of Alessandria, in charge of Italy, Israel, the Philippines, and South Korea, where the Legion has 16 houses, 200 priests and 420 religious seminarians. (in Italy 13, 168 and 418 respectively); Ricardo Ezzati Andrello [2], Archbishop of Concepción, Chile, in charge of Chile, Argentina, Colombia, Brazil and Venezuela, where the Legion has 20 houses, 122 priests and 122 religious seminarians; Ricardo Blázquez Pérez, Bishop of Bilbao, Spain, in charge of Spain, France, Germany, Switzerland, Ireland, Holland, Poland, Austria and Hungary, where the Legion has 20 houses, 105 priest, and 160 religious seminarians[24][25].

The investigation is being undertaken by the Vatican department that oversees religious congregations of women and men which is presently headed by Cardinal Rode. Rode is a close friend of the Legion of Christ and frequently receives gifts from the Legion, both solicited and unsolicited. The Legion has also paid for some of his holidays. For references see National Catholic Reporter of Kansas, passim.
Hawkeye

climber
State of Mine
Oct 28, 2010 - 06:57pm PT
no offense to catholics, but the pope is a politician like the rest of them...
Tony Bird

climber
Northridge, CA
Oct 28, 2010 - 08:11pm PT
crux (pardon the expression) o' the matter is "given the existence of gravity".

hawking is one of many very intelligent scientists, but he doesn't have much insight into the big, important question. here's the deal, stephen. people won't "give" you the existence of gravity. if you can't explain it, you haven't explained everything.

no comment on the current obscenity they call "pope".
Jennie

Trad climber
Elk Creek, Idaho
Oct 28, 2010 - 11:34pm PT
hawking is one of many very intelligent scientists, but he doesn't have much insight into the big, important question. here's the deal, stephen. people won't "give" you the existence of gravity. if you can't explain it, you haven't explained everything.


I agree.

...like we've been waiting for just two human beings to make a determination whether or not the universe "needs God" for its creation?

..as if only they have the enlightened perspective to decide and dictate the answer.
High Fructose Corn Spirit

Gym climber
Full Silos of Iowa
Oct 28, 2010 - 11:40pm PT
One "big important question" is where we came from. And the sciences have done a splendid job answering it. H. sapiens derived from a long line of primates, and before that, a long line of mammals...
Curt

Boulder climber
Gilbert, AZ
Oct 28, 2010 - 11:51pm PT
...Pontifical Academy of Sciences...

One of the better oxymorons of all time.

Curt
rottingjohnny

Sport climber
mammoth lakes ca
Oct 29, 2010 - 12:12am PT
Norton...the pope was talking about the condums that the priests were using on the altar boys not protecting against aids...
Ricardo Cabeza

climber
All Over.
Oct 29, 2010 - 12:17am PT
They probably believe the same things to be true, only haven't found the link.

Seems like the truth lies in the micro, not the macro.

Maybe not, what do I know?
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Oct 29, 2010 - 12:47am PT
Tony writes (and Jennie agrees):
people won't "give" you the existence of gravity. if you can't explain it, you haven't explained everything.

what exactly to you mean by that?
General Relativity is used to calculate the many effects of gravity. It has a huge range of applicability, it makes accurate, precise predictions of many physical phenomena.

There are many interesting issues regarding gravity, I don't think you can state that "we don't know about gravity." You have to be more nuanced in your criticism than that. We know more about gravity than about many other things... and verified our knowledge by experiment.

Ghost

climber
A long way from where I started
Oct 29, 2010 - 12:51am PT
Pope vs Hawking.

Man, that's a tough call. Wheelchair dude vs. old guy in a dress.

I say they're pretty evenly matched, in the sense that neither of them could punch his way out of a wet paper bag, so this is a matchup that could go the full fifteen rounds -- except for one thing: Neither of them could last even one round.

So I'm giving it to Hawking on the grounds that the pope probably won't even show up for fear of being arrested for his part in the child-molestation ring commonly known as the catholic priesthood.
Mighty Hiker

climber
Vancouver, B.C.
Oct 29, 2010 - 12:55am PT
But could Joe (a kraut) outdrink Steve (a limey)? That might be a fair contest, unless one can get a DUI in a wheelchair.

Playing advocatus diaboli for a moment, I hope that Ed will enlighten us as to what causes gravity.
Captain...or Skully

Big Wall climber
Transporter Room 2
Oct 29, 2010 - 12:57am PT
I'd check it out. Into The Octagon with them!
THIS SUNDAY, ON PAY-PER-VIEW!



Or not. ;-)
BTW, Gravity is what makes climbing interesting. Right?
Jaybro

Social climber
Wolf City, Wyoming
Oct 29, 2010 - 12:59am PT
"Domini domini, the egg came first."
Tony Bird

climber
Northridge, CA
Oct 29, 2010 - 01:51am PT
I hope that Ed will enlighten us as to what causes gravity.

yaas--the big question is not how gravity works, but why we have it at all, or how it came about. if you just want to "accept" it, fine--but you haven't explained it then. if you want to be the last word in cosmology you have to explain everything. be careful about calling it a "given", because the next question will be "given by whom".
WBraun

climber
Oct 29, 2010 - 02:25am PT
Very intelligent statement Tony.

Yes, very intelligent .....
nutjob

Trad climber
Berkeley, CA
Oct 29, 2010 - 02:37am PT
Who or what created gravity? If we can ever answer that, then we are faced with the question: who or want created the thing that created gravity?

It's like delving into the patterns locked in successive magnifications of the mandelbrot set... it's all very beautiful, and the more we learn the more we are tempted to keep exploring further, and perhaps we learn things that become useful in our daily lives... but I think there is no end.

At some point we must find peace and meaning where we can. For some that is a short path that leads simply to "god." For others it is the eternal quest to learn more and enjoy the exploration wherever that leads.

The pope is openly acknowledging the validity and value of science in the world. To the extent one can make a generalization, scientists still act a bit childish and rebellious trying to invalidate "god" as a source of meaning in people's lives. Maybe scientists should stop trying to prove that god does not exist or need to exist, and spend more time figuring out how to travel faster than the speed of light, how to reversibly convert mass to energy or an information stream that can be transported, how to create super-dense data storage to accommodate the crazy amount of information stored in a human being down to the electron and whatever-on states.

In short, let science do what science does well (form testable hypotheses and refine them into theories that withstand testing) and let organized religion do what religion does well (give people who need it, an anchor of meaning in life, an elevator for the soul, and a means for connecting with our fellow humans in a deeply rewarding way- and no I'm not talking about connecting the priestly glans to little boy cavities).
WBraun

climber
Oct 29, 2010 - 02:43am PT
Yes

Modern science good system.

Just keep guessing while the real answer is staring you straight in your face all along.
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Oct 29, 2010 - 03:48am PT
MH (or is it AD now?) - mass (and energy) causes gravity

that's probably not the question you wanted to ask, but go ahead and ask it...


Tony, can you make a distinction, really, on your way to understanding something you get to know it very well...

... gravity is a property of the universe. That is not a trivial statement... one needs three things: special relativity, the equivalence principle and the fact that field theory is local, from that come general relativity and thus, gravity.

Each of these three components are statements about space-time. One might rightly ask, then, why does space-time have these properties, how does it get them? The answer to that question is a work in progress...


Spider Savage

Mountain climber
SoCal
Oct 29, 2010 - 10:28am PT
Benedict vs. Hawking

Both leaders of seemingly incomprehensible subjects. Pitted against each other through popular media that does not understand either the men or the subjects.

Christianity: On p1 of the New Testament we are asked to believe that Jesus was born of virgin birth and that he is the chosen one because his father Joseph is related to King David. ???? This illogic is just the beginning. I've no argument with Jesus. Probably a great guy for sure. Never wrote anything down so in fact, we know nothing.

Modern Science: Is a faith. Unless you can observe the science yourself, you have to believe others who supposedly know.

Both Subjects: Are used by individuals to check the confusion that is life.

Don't be suggestible. Look for yourself.
Spider Savage

Mountain climber
SoCal
Oct 29, 2010 - 10:37am PT
"Spontaneous creation is the reason why there is something rather than nothing, why the universe exists, why we exist," - Benedict

This I have observed to be true. I learned it while climbing in Yosemite. You move across the stone, into the unknown. You imagine that there will be holds and look. At first they are not there. Then as if by force of your own will, they appear.

The creator is the being with enough acceptance of personal responsibility to admit that they are in control and causing it to happen.
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Oct 29, 2010 - 11:49am PT
I don't know why fattrad trolls in these waters...

As for science and religion, I see no comparison, perhaps with the exception that a person with no curiosity of the world around them or of little patience for ideas that tax or challenge their capacity for thought, might be averse to spending time considering the issues being raised in either case.

Science is open to all, you do not need someone to interpret a single, authoritative text to help you find the truth that you seek. Science is not about preserving the truth, it is about a continuous unfolding of understanding, based on empirical verification. As I have said before on other threads, the scientific method allows us to progress in this understanding even though humans have a tendency to screw things up along the way... You can learn science, it is open to all, it doesn't hide its results, methods, observations or analyses.

Religion, on the other hand, tends to preserve a truth, with the institutions built around an authority to interpret that truth. Religion aims at providing a absolute way of viewing the universe, this way is passed down across generations, and often the way is obscured. In general, the authority comes from revelation, the revealing events being interpreted as direct communication between the source of religious authority and individuals. These events are not reproducible, nor even well documented, but depend on the faith of the followers in the authority of the religion. The revealed truth does not lead to anything new, but preserves the old.

WBraun

climber
Oct 29, 2010 - 11:54am PT
These events are not reproducible

That is where you are completely wrong.

Events must absolutely be reproducible otherwise no sane person would even consider.

Toker Villain

Big Wall climber
Toquerville, Utah
Oct 29, 2010 - 12:09pm PT
I think Sylvester Stallone took it a little too far when, in Rocking Chair Rocky, he fought Hawking.
Tony Bird

climber
Northridge, CA
Oct 29, 2010 - 01:27pm PT
the problem with the pope is that he thinks he has all the answers that matter. the problem with hawking is that he thinks the same.

in my lifetime, science has revised itself drastically several times. until relatively recently, the forces of nature numbered five: magnetism, electricity, weak atomic force, strong atomic force, and gravity. magnetism and electricity, united in calculusty matrimony by james clerk maxwell 150 years ago, were recently cajoled into a ménage à trois with the weak force by that rakish italian, carlo rubbio. we now have to call it "electroweak" in polite cocktail party conversation. seems just a shadow of its former self. the quest continued for a grand unified theory, a great orgy of the forces lying down with each other. my hunch is that GUT is no longer sexy. how 'bout it, ed?

science is only open in the sense that anyone can subscribe to a journal of theoretical physics. it is so inaccessible, however, that only those who devote their entire lives to the pursuit can be truly conversant. if they spent the time trying to educate others that they do talking down to them, that might change, but it never seems to happen.
The Wolf

Trad climber
Friend of Dope Miller
Oct 29, 2010 - 01:31pm PT
Hey, that Pope has a little hat just like the one I wear in temple, on the very very very very rare occasion that I go. Hawking is right, and the Pope should focus more on "The Clash"

I agree. let's focus on The Clash. 30th anniversary of the release of Sandinista


High Fructose Corn Spirit

Gym climber
Full Silos of Iowa
Oct 29, 2010 - 01:44pm PT
10:29a

Sloppy and flippant as usual. Standard fare in America nowadays. Today's ongoing political campaign ads - no better or worse.
Crodog

Social climber
Oct 29, 2010 - 01:57pm PT
Gravity results from mass. Example: Earth.
Tony Bird

climber
Northridge, CA
Oct 29, 2010 - 01:59pm PT
gravity is inherent in all masses. example: gregorian chant.

flippant, yes, but gimme a break, not sloppy.
Mighty Hiker

climber
Vancouver, B.C.
Oct 29, 2010 - 02:30pm PT
So as we've settled what causes gravity, what causes mass? (And I don't mean the pope's version thereof.)
Tony Bird

climber
Northridge, CA
Oct 29, 2010 - 02:46pm PT
i'm a little curious here--might be fun to ask ed a direct question about this.

we all know chongo of "chongo nation"--r.i.p. to his brother who recently passed away. the better-known chongo, spending much of his adult life on yosemite big walls, turned to the contemplation of advanced physics and purports to have a self-taught grasp of quantum theory. he has even self-published a book on the subject, as i understand, though not nearly the success of his big wall book.

how about it, ed? ever talked this stuff with chongo? how does he do with it? have you seen his book?
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Oct 29, 2010 - 02:49pm PT
my flip answer above probably causes more problems in this audience then it cures...

special relativity requires that the universe is invariant to a Lorentz transformation. What this means is that if you are moving at constant velocity you cannot tell by doing any experiment that that velocity is... that's why the speed of light is constant no matter how fast you're going, and also why it is the universal speed limit...

the equivalence principle states that you cannot tell the difference between a gravitation field and an acceleration. For example, if you are in a windowless box sitting on the surface of the earth, you feel a "force" pulling you "down." However, you cannot do an experiment in that box that distinguishes between gravity pulling you down and the box accelerating in some direction at 10 m/s/s.

finally, we have that the forces act locally, which is a statement regarding field theory, that is, a force is transmitted by a field, in this case a gravitation field, that permeates all of space. The force you feel is actually the local coupling of your mass to the local gravitational field.

Given those principles, and the observation that there is a force between masses, we can write out the most general form of that force, which is what General Relativity (GR) is...

the coupling is not just to mass, but to energy too, so the gravitational field of GR interacts with itself, which gives rise to the complexity of understanding it.. it is non-linear... but even if everything were massless gravity would still be a big effect...

...now how do things "get mass"?

That is from another set of ideas having to do with other fields, in the case of mass, it is the Higgs field that gives mass to everything. This field is hypothesized to exist, and is being searched for at CERN at the LHC.

Where gravity, electricity, magnetism, etc, etc, come from? Currently we are thinking that they are all manifestations of the same thing... one unified field. That may or may not be the case, it is just a hypothesis, but as we develop the hypothesis and perform more tests, we come closer to the explanation of "where gravity comes from."

And in some ways, come closer to the point of testing the limits of the scientific method that you crusty skeptics of science, Tony, (or not so crusty, Jennie) are so fond of pointing out...

...an interesting aspect of doing science is that the process contains the seeds of its own demise.

In my way of thinking, something can't be right if it can't shown to be wrong... good luck with your religious/spiritual/mystical systems on that one... as far as I can see, none of those have a way of being shown to be wrong.

edit never talked to Chongo about this...
Gordon

Trad climber
South Florida
Oct 29, 2010 - 03:21pm PT
If people could just be comfortable with the phrase "I don't know... yet", there'd be absolutely no reason or need for religion. Unless you consider power, wealth, and the ability to control others to be good reasons.
atchafalaya

climber
Babylon
Oct 29, 2010 - 03:24pm PT
Facts vs. fiction; It is really not a fair fight.
Tony Bird

climber
Northridge, CA
Oct 29, 2010 - 04:08pm PT
i appreciate the non-flip post, ed. it appears that cutting-edge theory consists of several sets of ideas, to use your term. the layperson never gets a clear picture because i don't think physicists really have one yet themselves.

i wouldn't consider myself a skeptic of science. i think you're casting me in that role because you seem to have an almost religious fervor about scientific belief, and i dare say orthodoxy. science is the natural process of conjecture and experiment. real knowledge accumulates over time. my skepticism is reserved for those who think they have the final word.

my heart goes out to someone like chongo. curious minds who don't get into the scientific channels are left to starve out here with the sort of condescending books you find on the science shelf at barnes and noble.
Jennie

Trad climber
Elk Creek, Idaho
Oct 29, 2010 - 04:39pm PT

Are we so shackled by Western history and societal polarization... as to require impulsifying science and religion as antipodal opposites?

Perhaps the Pope and Dr Hawking merely purge their brains in different dimensions. Hawking, the man of science, demands the "right of wave", spinning clockwise through ten dimensions... the Popes spin counterclockwise in twenty-six ("Dude...I was just tuning the Vatican Roulette Wheel").

Conceivably, there's hope for both gentlemen... (and myself).




No offense intended to the Pope or Dr Hawking. Hopefully, Fatty won't break a wine bottle over either man's head at a future sushifest...
High Fructose Corn Spirit

Gym climber
Full Silos of Iowa
Oct 29, 2010 - 04:41pm PT
Engineering and everyday engineering products (like microsecond switching in computers to corrective lense to camming protective devices) are the everyday real-time proof of causality and its constancy across time and space in the natural world.

That is so cool.

What's more, if ever there were a blip in the physics and chemistry of nature - in other words, the mechanistic mechanics of nature - our engineering products would pick up on it - they would signal the blip - via malfunction. They don't so we can be assured in real time everyday that the lifeblood of nature is causality and that it is the truest Old Faithful.

.....

Reality consists of limits - the limits of the natural world. So does life and all living things. That means we humans, too. Churches and Mosques won't ever get around to coming to grips with these modern revelations or perhaps more importantly to promoting new attitudes, new expectations, based on them. So it's time we developed new centers, new communities, new institutions to pick up where these old ones fail. I believe it's already underway.
Crodog

Social climber
Oct 29, 2010 - 04:43pm PT
If I were a betting man I would bet on the Pope because he has God on his side.
Reggaemylitis

Sport climber
Sacramento, CA
Oct 29, 2010 - 04:50pm PT
As an atheist in search of god, I think Ben Weasel of Screeching Weasel summed up my beliefs pretty well:

If you've ever questioned beliefs that you hold
you're not alone
But you oughtta realize that every myth is a metaphor
In the case of Christianity
and Judaism there exists the belief
that spiritual matters are enslaved to history
The Buddhists believe that the functional aspects override the myth
while other religions use the literal core
to build foundations with
See half the world sees the myth as fact
while it's seen as a lie by the other half
and the simple truth is that it's none of that
and somehow no matter what the world keeps turning
Somehow we get by without ever learning

Science and religion are not mutually exclusive
In fact for better understanding
we take the facts of science and apply them
And if both factors keep evolving
then we continue getting information
but closing off possibilities
makes it hard to see the bigger picture
Consider the case of the women whose faith helped her make it through
when she was raped and cut up
left for dead in a trunk her beliefs held true
It doesn't matter if it's real or not
cause some things are better left without a doubt
and if it works then it gets the job done
Somehow, no matter what, the world keeps turning
Somehow we get by without ever learning


That being said, I'll believe in gravity, or that god does not exist, when they find the graviton or aliens, not before! :)



Tony Bird

climber
Northridge, CA
Oct 29, 2010 - 04:51pm PT
ah, jennie--you've been to barnes & noble.
High Fructose Corn Spirit

Gym climber
Full Silos of Iowa
Oct 29, 2010 - 04:58pm PT
"Science and religion are not mutually exclusive..."

Then again, if you want to be more precise...

(a) the "model" for how the world works according to science and (b) the "model" for how the world works according to Abrahamic religion... ARE mutually exclusive.

....

Regarding value, purpose, morality - regarding "what matters" - that's not the baliwick of science - so don't let the anti-science people get away with criticizing science because it doesn't have an answer to the question, e.g., of whether you should or shouldn't drop a bomb on Pakistan. Questions like that are up to us, our values, our value-based institutions of which we could use one or two new ones apart from "religion" as practiced traditionally.
Reggaemylitis

Sport climber
Sacramento, CA
Oct 29, 2010 - 05:13pm PT
Corn Spirit, I guess it makes me think of Arthur C. Clarke's musing that any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. Maybe god is a scientist.

I kinda like these two new quotes of Clarke's that I had never seen until just now.

1.When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is possible, he is almost certainly right. When he states that something is impossible, he is probably wrong.

2.The only way of discovering the limits of the possible is to venture a little way past them into the impossible.

The second quote reminded me of some of our climbing legends, so as to keep this on topic! :)
nutjob

Trad climber
Berkeley, CA
Oct 29, 2010 - 05:17pm PT
Ron, at least I liked your joke. I think they canceled the final sequel, "Respirator Rocky: ICU In Hell"

Now Ed:
Ed, I perceive that your intellect is in conflict with your spiritual self, and your intellect is in the driver's seat (at least for the purposes of this discussion). Clearly you have spirit and a soul, as evidenced by your hair, T-shirts, vehicle, musical taste, and general awesome disposition. Religion means more than the pope. Religion is about recognizing the existence of our souls, and our deep yearning to have a connection with others and to be happy together. Organized religion is taking a spirit-based approach to creating societal rules and mutual benefit. And then because people implement it, it is contorted by human weaknesses for power and control.

You said:
In my way of thinking, something can't be right if it can't shown to be wrong... good luck with your religious/spiritual/mystical systems on that one... as far as I can see, none of those have a way of being shown to be wrong.

I'm stepping back for a philosophy check. You are implicitly assuming that that "being right" is the guiding value. For many things in life, especially the creation of new contraptions or solutions to problems, that is a good value and guiding principle. But it's not the only valid one. Sometimes just a different attitude toward a problem, or basic acceptance of something's right to exist or be that way, is a solution that is more effective than looking for a technical way to change it. One of the strong themes of my life in the last few years is this:
"do you want to be right or do you want to be happy?"

I think this is a rich and multi-faceted topic in itself, but I'll try to stay within this thread....

We should keep our individual and societal values and reasons for existence in mind, and let science remain a tool to further that. Science is a valuable tool, and religion is also a valuable tool. Both can be used to increase or decrease entropy, to build or destroy people and societies.

Hiroshima, Nagasaki, wars and weaponry in general.
Exodus, The Crusades, Badr & Uhud the Islamic conquest of Arabia and ongoing attempt to conquer the world, The Spanish Inquisition, Hindu/Sikh riots

Artificial hearts, kidney transplants, boats, bicycles, cars, planes, email, skype, BD Camalots, offset Aliens
Energy circles, charity, looking into another's eyes and being with them in their pain and telling them "it's ok"
For me love of myself, my family, you all, society in general, are all part of the same continuum, just a part of which is commonly labeled "religion."


These are all tools, options available to humans. What will we choose? What are we trying to achieve?
rrrADAM

Trad climber
LBMF
Oct 29, 2010 - 05:19pm PT
A friend of mine puts it well:
"Gravity in the racetrack, not the engine that drives the car."

As Ed stated, mass (and energy, [simplifying] remember energy equals mass times c^2, just as miles equals kilometers times 1.609344) causes what we gravity, which, as per GR is merely the curvature of spacetime. How mass (and energy) interacts and moves (spacially or temporally) through that space (and time) is what we percieve as the force of gravity. Unless something provides "work" on a mass, that mass moves in the straightest possible line through that curved space (a geodesic), which is also the quickest (time).

GR describes almost perfectly gravity in the form of the geometry of spacetime... The predictions it makes, are for the most part confirmed to high degree by experiment and observation.

Even the GPS satellites are an ongoing confirmation of both SR and GR, as they have to be "time corrected" to account for "time dilation" due to velocity and gravity... Point being, this shows that space and time are not two seperate things (x,y,z) and (t), but united into one: spacetime (x,y,z,-t). Lorentz provided the simple calculations to account for this "time (and length) contractions/dilations" long beofre it was confirmed through experiment.


Think about this... Nobody will deny the existance of electrons, or the ability for us to exploit our understanding of them (E.g., electricity, magnetism, quantum electrodynamics, chemistry, generating x-rays, spectroscopy, etc)... BUT, what EXACTLY is an electron? It isn't a hard little sphere with a negative sign on it. Does the fact that we cannot describe the exact physical nature of an electron mean that all we don't know sh#t? We do know its properties, well enough to exploit it, JUST like gravity.


The fact that the expanding universe was at one time infantesimally small extremly hot is pretty much beyond any "reasonable" doubt... We are fairly certain about what happened from ~10^-11 seconds on, and from ~10^-6 seconds on we are VERY certain, as that's when nucleosynthesis took place, which we have confirmed in particle colliders such as Ed has done much work with (I believe), and continue to do to higher degrees of presision with higher energies and newer colliders. Point is, we only speculate about times earlier in the BB than 10^-11 seconds. Think about that for a moment, as we only speculate about times before .00000000001 seconds after the BB. Even the CMB is a remarkable confirmation of our understanding of it, as it was predicted long before we had the technology to detect it, and that radiation is a remnant of when the universe was about 360,000 years old.

Seems the Pope is forgetting about this guy:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Georges_Lema%C3%AEtre


He's the ordained Belgian Priest and astronomer who is pretty much the father of the BB Theory.


That our expanding universe has not always been as it is today, and especially evolution, are pretty much accepeted as an observed FACT, it's the processes that account for them that are the theories (which in science do NOT mean "wild ass guess", BTW)... Big bang, and natural selection respectively. Just as it is accepted as an observed fact that the Earth is round, and the theory for why it is round is hydrostatic equilibrium.


Again, as Ed stated... Science is open to all, but they must have the desire to do the work to learn and understand... ANYBODY with the desire and the means can perform the experiments and achieve the same results. It is open to revision when there is new data... Whereas ALL of the data on the side of religion is one sided, emotional, or on the supernatural side (read: magic)... Most often tired thousands of years old speculation that doesn't even fit with what we know for fact now a-days. Religion, unlike science, is very reluctant to revision and change... In fact, the reluctance is directly proportional to one's devotion, and openmindedness is inversely proportional.
rrrADAM

Trad climber
LBMF
Oct 29, 2010 - 07:09pm PT
Earth is not round; it is more of a prolate spheriod.

Ummm... Even and oval and elipse are "round". Round does not only equal perfect circle or perfect sphere, thus an oblate sphere with dimples and bumps, like the Earth, is "round".

Perhaps this may help:
Round

The shape of a closed curve with no sharp corners, such as an ellipse, circle, rounded rectangle, or sphere
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Round

MH2

climber
Oct 29, 2010 - 07:53pm PT
These waters are way too deep for me.

Nevertheless, for those who wonder where gravity, or mass, or anything, "comes from", or what "explains them", perhaps consider the analogous though different question of where mathematics comes from or what explains it.

There is a well-remarked-on and constantly growing correspondence between mathematical and physical worlds. Could our physical world come from and be explained by math?
High Fructose Corn Spirit

Gym climber
Full Silos of Iowa
Oct 29, 2010 - 08:18pm PT
You know, it is possible to love the sciences like you love the mountains.

So when those that do see them denigrated - e.g., by the Abrahamic religious institutions or their leadership which have a long history of doing so - they naturally rise up to defend them.

You defend what you love.
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Oct 29, 2010 - 08:25pm PT
Could our physical world come from and be explained by math?

actually, it's the other way around...
madbolter1

Big Wall climber
Walla Walla, WA
Oct 30, 2010 - 04:27am PT
All respect to your physics prowess, Ed. Seriously. But you've got a bit of a priori/a posteriori conflation going on there.

If the physical world produced or logically grounded mathematics, then mathematics would be empirical (a posteriori) knowledge. But mathematics has the attributes of a priori knowledge rather than empirical knowledge, such as logical necessity, certainty, universality.

For example, if I go into a classroom and count up desks, arriving at a count of 38; and later I go into that same classroom and count again, arriving at a count of 37; what I DO NOT DO is question the principle of addition! What I DO NOT DO is say to myself, "Hmmm... sometimes 36+1=37, and sometimes 36+1=38. Strange! I see that mathematical principles really ARE derived from empirical evidence! Now I need to figure out the physical law that affects the principle of addition in this seemingly strange way! There has GOT to be some classroom/desk-law that grounds the principle of addition."

No, instead I come up with some sort of empirical explanation for the discrepancy (somebody removed a desk in my absence, etc.), and I hold the principle of addition as sacrosanct. I do NOT question the a priori principle! Instead I question the empirical facts! I take the discrepancy to be an empirical breakdown of some kind, and I do not even imagine to question the a priori principle of addition! The principle of addition is necessarily, certainly, and universally true; while any particular count employing it is subject to error, precisely BECAUSE it is empirical, with the knowledge attributes of the empirical: contingency, uncertainty, and relativity. So I do not even imagine the need to look for some empirical principle governing the principle of addition, because I recognize that such a search would be reversing the logical priority.

When science employs mathematics as a descriptive language, like employing the principle of addition in doing a particular count, because it is an empirical employment it loses the a priori attributes of pure mathematics. It does not glom onto those a priori attributes, BECAUSE it is no longer doing pure mathematics. It, like engineering, is then doing applied mathematics. The empirical application, like a particular count, is subject to error, while the underlying mathematical principles themselves are not subject to error.

Another example is the Pythagorean Theorem. The theorem was not discovered or proved by measuring bunches and bunches of right triangles. In fact, it is impossible in principle to measure ANY right triangles, because they are abstract objects not subject to our measurement. The Pythagorean Theorem applies PERFECTLY to two-dimensional, plane right triangles. However, ALL right triangles that we draw, sculpt, or in any way produce something MEASURABLE provides us with only a CRUDE representation of actual right triangles! Thus, the Pythagorean Theorem only applies crudely to empirical (rather than abstract) right triangles. ALL empirical right triangles are extremely crude representations of REAL abstract right triangles, and the proof of the Pythagorean Theorem is NOT merely "accurate to x decimal places," as it would be if it were derived and proved by application to empirical right triangles.

We recognize that our empirical right triangles are crude representations of abstract right triangles, so we take the theorem to be "accurate to within x decimal places" when the theorem is APPLIED to our empirical right triangles (for example, those formed when I lay out the foundation for my house). I employ the theorem expecting only the degree of accuracy needed for the task at hand, recognizing that the limiting factor is NOT the theorem itself but is instead in the crudeness of the REPRESENTATION to which the theorem is APPLIED.

Scientists commonly make the mistake you just made, Ed, and it always surprises me because the distinction between types of knowledge is SO BASIC. I think that the reason scientists so often make this mistake is because they NEED everything there IS to be physical. But, flatly, everything there IS is not physical. Mathematics describes an abstract realm of abstract objects, and mathematicians are REALISTS about the actual existence of these abstract objects (they are not merely ideas). In fact, it is beyond the scope of this brief posting, but mathematics cannot progress without a realistic foundation under-girding mathematical research.

I am aware of the history of science and mathematics, and I am aware that scientists commonly imagine that the needs of physics drive mathematical research and thus PRODUCE new mathematical principles. But this imagined relation is historical fantasy. Advances in mathematical knowledge are not PRODUCTIONS to satisfy the needs of science. Instead they are DISCOVERIES that science employs as a descriptive language. They are discoveries in a real but abstract realm. The fact that this abstract realm bears any relation to the physical realm is a mystery, the truth of which science presumes but cannot explain.

So, I repeat, mathematics is not produced by, derived from, or even ABOUT the empirical world. Somehow, amazingly, the empirical world does seemingly crudely map onto the abstract world (not the other way around), and this fact remains a mystery. The fact that theorems such as the Pythagorean Theorem describe the empirical world AT ALL cannot be explained by reversing the order of logical priority, as you have done, Ed. Instead, the coherence between the a priori and empirical realms remains something that science cannot in principle solve, locked as it is in empirical study.

The big bang did not produce the mathematical, geometrical, or logical principles that we employ to crudely describe the empirical world that the big bang DID supposedly produce. And the a priori/a posteriori divide is, thus, one that scientists will never bridge.

I do not denigrate science when I state that empirical knowledge has its limits. These limits are well known, well documented, and not reasonably deniable. Hume himself, the greatest of the empiricists, carefully documented the shortcomings of thoroughgoing empiricism, revealing how it devolves into hardcore skepticism about such basic scientific presumptions as causality, substance, continuity, and so on. Science has its place in human inquiry; but the tail wags the dog when science is taken to be the most fundamental, or worse, ONLY legitimate form of knowledge-seeking.
madbolter1

Big Wall climber
Walla Walla, WA
Oct 30, 2010 - 05:10am PT
Because there is a law such as gravity, the Universe can and will create itself from nothing.... Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing, why the Universe exists, why we exist. It is not necessary to invoke God to... set the Universe going.

Somehow when Hawking babbles this sort of just-so nonsense, because it is HAWKING saying it, much of the intellectual world just goes ga-ga and prostrates itself at his wheels.

But Tony Bird is absolutely correct when he notes that the VAST, VAST majority of that intellectual world has exactly zero capacity to evaluate Hawking's credibility to make such strident statements. They take on faith that he knows something about what he says, because they take on faith that the scientific community has a robust capacity to vet its "stars," and Hawking is surely one of its stars.

Ed claims that high-end theoretical physics is "accessible" to "anybody" that is willing to work hard enough to understand. That naive statement is ridiculous on so many levels that one scarcely knows where to start. Ed, what is the minimum IQ needed to HOPE to vet Hawking's credibility for oneself??? What percentage of the otherwise-properly-functioning and reasonable people have such an IQ? How many people get paid (or are willing to go so massively in debt) to do research at that level, and thus have the TIME needed to navigate the requisite course of study? And so on.... ACCESSIBLE is something that theoretical physics is NOT!

The FACT is that ALMOST EVERYBODY takes Hawking's credibility on faith, and theoretical physicists and cosmologists are the "priests" of this new order of faith. The articles of the faith are more inaccessible to the "faithful" today than ever were the articles of faith in the ancient mystery religions!

And the idea that the PRODUCTS of science PROVE that "science is onto something" and is thus reliable is pure hogwash that can be dismantled as such by any attendant to an INTRO to philosophy of science course. Scientists LOVE to refer to Karl Popper, the philosopher of science that invented the notion of falsifiability, and they use Popper as a club to beat on Christians, saying that Christianity is unfalsifiable. But these same scientists IGNORE what Popper's point WAS: Science CANNOT use "verifications" of its theories as ANY evidence that those theories are correct! Thus, Popper himself decimates the notion that the PRODUCTS of science tell us ANYTHING about the correctness of the pet theories.

Fortunately, the most strident claims of science, such as the one quoted above, are so ridiculous on the face of them that the average person CAN recognize them for the just-so stories that they really are. Hawking has a penchant for just-so stories in all of his books. A Brief History of Time, for example, was absolutely RIDDLED with bad philosophy of science, bad even by the standards of philosophers of science sympathetic to modern physics.

Let's be clear: Hawking's quoted passage above is no more falsifiable than are the creation stories of most of the world's religions. Appeals to "quantum gravity" and "bubbling quantum universes" and other such tripe are pure conjecture, with empirical verification impossible in principle. The idea that such conjectures are "reasonable, given what we do know about the universe" is just so much question-begging verificationism.

Given the choice between a designer-God and bubbling quantum universes, and given the mysterious coherence between the a priori and the a posteriori that is entirely beyond the ken of science, when both forks of explanation are pushed back to their furthest points, a reasonable person says, "I do not KNOW." Stridency should naturally give way to profound humility, but instead science pushes back humility and strives for ever greater stridency!

When pushed back to their limits of explanation, science has (and can have) NO account of the coherence between types of knowledge, yet a designer-God sort of explanation actually predicts such coherency. There is no more accounting for bubbling quantum universes than there is accounting for a designer-God. But the latter does explain knowledge-coherency in a way that the former simply cannot.

Oh, by the way, the claim that Biblical beliefs are unfalsifiable is an old saw that is flagrantly false. I for one would abandon my belief in the accuracy of the Bible if life were discovered on other planets. I don't mean tiny little crystalline (we think that they MIGHT be) "fossilized" remains of (what MIGHT be) ancient single-celled organisms. I don't mean "evidence" of some ancient PAST life on some dead world. I mean LIFE. Actual, active, teaming, reproducing LIFE. Show me THAT on some other planet, and I'll immediately abandon the Bible in toto!

I have many other such litmus tests, so don't even START to claim that "Christian beliefs are unfalsifiable." That statement is ridiculously naive and straw-man in nature.
madbolter1

Big Wall climber
Walla Walla, WA
Oct 30, 2010 - 05:41am PT
In The Grand Design we explain why, according to quantum theory, the cosmos does not have just a single existence, or history, but rather that every possible history of the universe exists simultaneously. We question the conventional concept of reality, posing instead a "model-dependent" theory of reality.

Is this the "baffle them with BS" approach to the popularization of physics?

"Model-dependent?" Is Hawking here borrowing from "possible worlds" modal semantics of the sort touted by David Lewis, a possible worlds realist arguing that modal semantics can only be accounted for if all possible worlds are simultaneously actual? The correlation is impossible to overlook. I have GOT to read this book, even though Hawking is impossibly obtuse!

Has anybody here heard of Occam's Razor? There are better, non-realist accounts of modal semantics, and quantum theory does not "predict" the multi-verse as Hawking asserts! Even IF quantum theory is consistent with the idea of simultaneous multi-verses (a claim that probably less than a hundred people on Earth could reasonably discuss), that is NOT the same thing as "predicting" them or rendering them "necessary." NO "laws" or "findings" of science are NECESSARY!!! ALL are contingent, a simple fact that Hawking constantly confuses.

So, Christians are "nutty" to believe in a designer God, but the notion of "all possible universes REALLY existing simultaneously" floats by without so much as a critical hmmph?

THE KING HAS NO CLOTHES! THE KING HAS NO CLOTHES!
madbolter1

Big Wall climber
Walla Walla, WA
Oct 30, 2010 - 06:39am PT
Lest the absurdity of Hawking's above quoted passage pass unnoticed, what Hawking is saying is that there IS a REAL but alternate universe in which I also exist (really, ME!), and that universe is IDENTICAL in EVERY respect to this one, except that in THAT alternate universe I have failed to end this sentence with a period. There is ALSO another universe that is IDENTICAL to this one in EVERY respect except that I end this sentence with two periods. Another REALLY existing universe has ME ending this sentence with three periods. And so on. And I (that's ME, mind you) REALLY exist in all of these universes! (Let's set aside for now the problems inherent in this notion of personal identity, because we have bigger fish to fry.)

In some universes, the highest number I will ever imagine is 124,245,242,228, while in other universes the highest number I (remember, this is REALLY ME in those other REAL universes) will ever imagine is 124,245,242,229. And, the variations are infinite! In fact, just my own contemplation of mathematics requires an INFINITE number of alternate REAL universes, and I'm just ONE person among an infinite number of possible persons.

On Hawking's model, however, in fact, there REALLY ARE an infinite number of possible persons imagining an infinite number of mathematical relations. Some imagine only integer-relations, while others imagine whole-number-relations. The whole-number set is a larger infinite set than the infinite set of integers. So, there are infinite sets of REAL universes inside of infinite sets of other REAL universes. And ALL of these infinite sets of universes REALLY exist just so that ONE person (among an infinite number of POSSIBLE people) can imagine SOME of the POSSIBLE mathematical relations.

In some of these universes, the way mathematics itself works is vastly different (remember that according to Ed mathematics derives from the physical laws). So, in some universes, 1+1=2, while in others, 1+1=3, and in others, 1+1=3,223,521,545,243,299. And so on. Of course, from OUR perspective, it is ABSURD to think that the mathematical laws can come so wildly apart from what we KNOW is TRUE about mathematics, but Hawking's theory tells us to EMBRACE the absurdity and just accept that the mathematics we KNOW are actually entirely relative to the universe in which the principles are discovered. Thus, the coherency between the a priori and the a posteriori is "explained" by appeal to absurd relativism. But this approach fails because, not only is it absurd, it again conflates the two sorts of knowledge. Here is how.

A priori knowledge is necessarily true. That's logical necessity, friends. But the semantics of necessity and possibility (the modal semantics, the modal theories that attempt to account for what makes statements of necessity and possibility true) are themselves based upon SOME theory of how the universe really is. These philosophical accounts cannot be limited to purely empirical theories of the universe, because purely empirical theories conflate the difference between necessity and possibility.

What I mean is this: on a any possible-worlds semantics (including non-empirical ones), "x is possible" means that state of affairs x obtains in at least one possible world, while "x is necessary" means that state of affairs x obtains in ALL possible worlds. Yet, on an empirical possible-worlds model like Hawking's, there can be no such thing as "necessity" semantics in THIS our present universe, because ALL of "necessity" is relativized BY the theory. The very LOGIC of necessity itself could vary universe by universe, derived as it is from physical states of affairs. Thus, if this theory is correct, in our PRESENT universe, there can be NO distinction between necessity and possibility, because the term "necessity" has been relativized by the theory. Yet, we DO meaningfully distinguish between necessity and possibility in THIS universe; so the EMPIRICAL possible-worlds semantics CANNOT be the correct account of THIS universe! This is why empirical accounts of possible-worlds modal semantics are not sustainable.

This empirical/realistic approach to possible-worlds semantics fell on hard times philosophically BECAUSE it so quickly became apparently absurd and so utterly divorced from ANYTHING we know of THIS empirical universe! Yet, Hawking, ever the bad philosopher, yet determined to act in the role of philosopher, just because he is HAWKING, thinks that he can dismiss the absurdity with a wave of his hand, embrace the absurd, and honestly thinks that he can float this as a PLAUSIBLE alternative to a designer-God. HOW MUCH absurd machinery must scientists employ to CLAIM "being able to answer those deepest of questions," as Hawking asserts he does?

Scientists have only two choices here: bite the bullet and embrace the absurdity, or admit that this makes no sense whatsoever and acknowledge that they have been put to their last trumps in their attempts to "explain" existence!

Let's take the second horn of the dilemma for a moment. Could scientists REALLY ever admit that scientific knowledge must necessarily reach certain limits??? NEVER! That would be to admit that there are forms of knowledge that are not empirical; and the thoroughgoing empiricism, the SCIENTISM, of scientists is much too arrogant to EVER admit that!

So, scientists are compelled to impale themselves on the first horn of the dilemma. The arrogance here is absolutely beyond belief! Scientist will now claim that on pain of "irrationality" people "must believe" these obviously ridiculous claims, that, to quote Dawkins, we are "stupid, ignorant, or wicked" to even QUESTION the absurd nature of this latest "theory of everything." So, because my RATIONAL mind absolutely rebels at the layers and layers of absurdity here, I am stupid, ignorant, or wicked? THE KING HAS NO CLOTHES! THE KING HAS NO CLOTHES!

Because, since the "Enlightenment," empirical knowledge has been conflated with "rationality," we are supposedly "irrational" to refuse to accept the absurdity of this latest theory. We're in a real bind here now! The theory IS absurd. So, we're TOLD that to be "rational" we must embrace the absurd. So, the "Enlightenment" leads to this: to be "enlightened" we must embrace the absurd.

Eastern religions claim the same sort of thing. However, there is a HUGE difference. When Eastern religionists are confronted with the absurdity of their claims, they answer: "Exactly! Now you are getting it! TRUTH is ineffable!" Science, however, has no such retreat to the haven of the "ineffable!" Science is fundamentally propositional/testable in nature! So, when science embraces the absurd, it is NOTHING but, well, ABSURD!
madbolter1

Big Wall climber
Walla Walla, WA
Oct 30, 2010 - 06:53am PT
Finally, lest anybody assume that the corollary to my attacks on Hawking is that I support the pope, let me hasten to clarify that neither the pope nor Catholicism speak for "Christianity," and they certainly don't speak for me!

I always cringe when I hear that "Christians believe" or "Christians think" some garbage floated by the Catholic church. I believe in almost nothing of the Catholic interpretation of the Bible.

So don't conflate "Christians" and Catholics. There are MANY of us that are appalled by such a comparison, much more such a conflation.

In my opinion, both Hawking AND the pope are wildly confused about the way things actually work. So any attempted dichotomy between the two will be a false one. I am not "in the middle;" I reject them both.
rrrADAM

Trad climber
LBMF
Oct 30, 2010 - 08:01am PT
Ed claims that high-end theoretical physics is "accessible" to "anybody" that is willing to work hard enough to understand. That naive statement is ridiculous on so many levels that one scarcely knows where to start. Ed, what is the minimum IQ needed to HOPE to vet Hawking's credibility for oneself??? What percentage of the otherwise-properly-functioning and reasonable people have such an IQ? How many people get paid (or are willing to go so massively in debt) to do research at that level, and thus have the TIME needed to navigate the requisite course of study? And so on.... ACCESSIBLE is something that theoretical physics is NOT!
I am not even a high school grad, yet I find it quite accessible... Granted, I have spent the past 6-7 years emersimg myself in it, looking at many different views, following footnotes and citations/sources, and bouncing questions and ideas off of those with graduate degrees in said fields to better understand. But the fact still remains, it IS accessible to anyone with the desire and commitment to understand. Hawking, who I'm not particularly 'awed' by (I prefer Smolin, Penrose, Herbert, Susskind [although I am not stringy], and especially Feynman to name a few), doesn't just state things as "just so", and that we have to take him on his word as an athourity, as again, ANYBODY can check his work if they so choose. ANYBODY can see, step by step, how one arives at a certain conclusion, if they so choose. This is the transparencey of science... That regardless of religious belief, nationality, political affiliation, etc., all will get the same results if they perform the tests or look at the process 'objectively'. And, remember, it is much easier to poke holes in detailed theories than to confirm them if they are not sound, and this is what peers do... Attempt to falsify - To, as a group, self check. Remember, in order to be a "theory", it MUST have within it the means to falsify it. Try to poke holes to see how sound the theory may be. One test is worth a thousand expert opinions, and quite often, there are thousands of tests that only serve to confirm a theory. It only takes 1 test to falsify a flawed theory.

Conversely, religion is very resistant to anyone trying to "poke holes" in it's long held beliefs. In fact, many take great offense to it. There are thousands of differing expert oppinions, that has not passed any of the tests (observation, explanatory, and/or prediction) for thousands of years... Yet after flunking all of these tests over all this time, it is still taken on faith... In fact, it is "just so".


Later, you seem to imply that many take on "faith alone" what scientists say, that they are the "new priests"... This is merely an attempt to dismiss outright what cannot be reasonable refuted. So, where do the religious draw the line on what is taken on "faith"? That the Earth is round? That each star is a sun, many like our ouwn? That the universe is expanding? That the CMB is a remnant of the universe at ~360,000 years? That at the quantum level, particles pop into and out of existance? (This is part of why Hawking makes his suggestion, BTW)
(Note - Think for a moment how a person of faith would have answered any of those questions 700 years ago... Then consider why they would be answered differently now: Science)

Let's take an example of where this attempt to dismiss outright with your argument is used... 46% of Americans believe that the Earth is less than 10,000 years old. (46%!!!!!) There is OVERWHELMING evidence that this is wrong. Yet, 46% still believe it, because they dismiss outright, all of the evidence with no real understanding of it. They take on "faith", that it is wrong. And THAT particular science (geology / radiometric dating) is very accessible, but only to those with a desire to understand... But why would they want to understand ANYTHING that shows that their religious beliefs are wrong?
(Note - Anticipating the replies of "radiometric dating isn't perfect"... It doesn't need to be, as there is a HUGE difference between 4.5 billion and 10 thousand... And again, the vast majority of those who would make that claoim cannot even articulate how radiometric dating is done, and why they think it is flawed... They take on "faith" that it's flawed so they can dismiss it)

So, it seems that even the religious have the utmost faith in science UNTIL it infringes upon or competes with their "faith", and how they want to see the world. THAT is where the line is drawn... They are OK with it, UNTIL it infringes with their religiously based views. Even among the faithful (excluding Fundies, of course), using the example above, many accept that the world is ~4.5 billion years old, but there are still many who reject this merely because it infringes on their beliefs... So they are faced with a dilema: Either accept that their religious faith is wrong, or the science is wrong. The are forced to choose the latter... It's "just so".


"In situations that matter, mythologies are immensely powerful things, and sometimes we humans go to enormous lengths to see the world as we think it should be, even when the evidence says we are mistaken."
~Robert Laughlin

"...the truth emerges only when all ideology, prejudice and dogma are set aside."
~Johannes Kepler

"...a careful reading of older texts, particularly those concerned with the universe itself, shows that the authors invoke divinity only when they reach the boundaries of their understanding. They appeal to a higher power only when staring into the ocean of their own ignorance."
~Neil deGrasse Tyson

"The less one knows about the universe, the easier it is to explain."
~Leon Brunschvicg

"For me, it is far better to grasp the Universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring."
~Carl Sagan

"Even Newton and Einstein were profoundly wrong about things they felt strongly about."
~Lee Smolin

"Faith is antithetical to reason."
~Ayn Rand

And, since this thread is a bout Hawking:
"There is a fundamental difference between religion, which is based on authority, [and] science, which is based on observation and reason. Science will win because it works."
~Stephen Hawking

And, regarding using philosophy of science to dismiss it...
"Philosophy of science is about as useful to scientists as ornithology is to birds."
~Richard Feynman

"Science is what you know. Philosophy is what you don't know."
~Bertrand Russel


You seem keen on trying to throw the baby out with the bath water in attempting to dismiss, discredit, or lesson the importance of some science, so this may be of interest to you, as I can't say it any better than Isaac Asimov does in this essay:
http://chem.tufts.edu/AnswersInScience/RelativityofWrong.htm



Lastly...
I for one would abandon my belief in the accuracy of the Bible...
Now we're getting somewhere, as you made a statement (in bold above that CAN be explored and tested)

So, did Jesus ride into Bethleham on 1 or 2 animals?
Or, since his crucifiction is such a key event, what were his last words?

Please, refer to your "accurate" Bible and answer these two very simple questions... It has words describing bOTH.

Thing is... I'll bet you absolutely will not answer. Why? Because I know enough about your belief system to make accurate predictions, and I predict you will not answer. Care to falsify it? Nope, you will confirm it, won't you.


You know, even Jesus made a prediction that has been falsified, as he said, when asked about the 2nd coming:
"Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass away, till all be fulfilled." (See Matthew, Mark, and Luke)

How many generations have passed now since he said that? So, even Jesus' own words should change the color of your litmus paper. But it doesn't, as you just refuse to consider this in the light of reason and logic... You sweep it under the rug, and/or just move the goal post.

I believe in almost nothing of the Catholic interpretation of the Bible.
You seem to forget, or are ignorant of, that the Catholic Church was pretty much the only game in town up until 'bout 500 years ago. AND, that ALL of the New Testament, as it is today, was cannonized by the Catholic Church, as they chose what was going to be in it... Even the epistles, most of which were written by Paul (founder of what became the Catholic Church, as James had other ideas about the direction Christianity should take, but Paul won out), are Catholic. So the first 75% of Christian history is almost purely Catholic, and 100% of the scripture is Catholic in origin.

Careful with throwing the baby out with the bath water there, as the baby in this case is the Bible.

Curious... Do you alse dismiss how the Jews interpret the OT, since that is THEIR text? I'll bet you do in areas that infringe upon your beliefs. How convenient, to just pick your own interpretation... Kinda absurd like the many worlds interpretation of quantum theory, huh? (Which I don't share, BTW)

Speaking of which... You wrote:
I always cringe when I hear that "Christians believe" or "Christians think"...
You do realize that you are attempting to do the same regarding scientists' views of quantum theory, right? You are implying that all or most believe in the many worlds interpretation of quantum theory, where I for one don't, and I believe the majority do not as well. In fact, I doubt Hawking believes that either, but was rather giving one of many possible interpretations (E.e., Copenhagen, Many Worlds, Consistant Histories, Objective Collapse, de Broglie–Bohm, etc) [Nick Herbert has a great book on just this subject, BTW]

So, guess that kinda shoots your whole rant down, that "everybody takes on faith what Hawking says" and "don't challenge it".



So, personally, after being a devout born again Christian for years, then looking outside that box of dogma, I prefer to look for natural explanations ofr things rather than just have "faith" that this guy did it all...



PS... I'm not the best writer, remember, high school drop out, so bear with my run on sentences, mispelling/fat fingers, and often disjointed points that can get off on a tangent.
Damn this looks high

Trad climber
Temecula, CA
Oct 30, 2010 - 09:47am PT
No one will ever be able to state with absolute certainty that there is no Supreme being--it is logically impossible to prove a negative. Still in the realm of scientists versus priests: When was that last time you heard about a scientist molesting a child? Does MIT have a 'hush fund' to buy off the parents of abused children?

There may or may not be a God but religion is a joke--and a bad one at that.

the kid

Trad climber
fayetteville, wv
Oct 30, 2010 - 09:52am PT
I'll take Hawking for a $1000 Alex..
eeyonkee

Trad climber
Golden, CO
Oct 30, 2010 - 10:04am PT
Hawking, definitely.
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Oct 30, 2010 - 12:27pm PT
I should have imagined this topic would be irresistible to madbolter1 as it touches on a topic near and dear to his heart....

first off, I have not read all of his words... he imagines a large audience and is given to performance when the opportunity presents itself... e.g. above...

But at the bottom, he argues about "absolutes" which he would say imply the existence of something which establishes them. Especially mathematics (and its ancillary, logic) which appear to be quite a part from what is empirical, that is, "absolute."

I wouldn't try to steer dear madbolter1 away from his firm belief in this, certainly he has the preponderance of "common wisdom" to back him, but I would only offer the possibility that mathematics is actually just as much a part of the physical universe as anything else, that it is fundamentally derived from how the universe is put together.

Now when I offered some thoughts on this around a campfire at Vedauwoo, a very dear friend wondered at the hubris of considering such things... but this is just an idea, and not a very original one. And mathematics is only a part of the whole picture.

But consider, if you will madbolter Chapter XII of Birkhoff's Lattice Theory (which is certainly written in a style which makes it a considerably difficult read, but certainly one worth the effort). Birkhoff considers the algebraic aspects of logic and probability, and ties these things together with the physical principle, both classical and quantum. What caught my fancy in this discussion was "quantum logic" and in particular, turning it around, if we take the view point that space-time "becomes" because the algebraic properties of quantum mechanics, then it is not too far a step to say that those properties also "create" mathematics as we know it...

...I'm not yet prepared to "prove" in any reasonable way the inverse of the normal way of thinking of things, as you say, I've got my a priori mixed up with my post priori, but that is not a lapse of thinking on my part, but an intention to be provocative.

While you grapple with "Truth" I am just playing on the sands of the beach at the sea shore and admiring the vast ocean beyond.




And I reject the claim that most people cannot understand the musings of "Theoretical Physics" but it is possible they do not have the interest to spend the time. It is accessible to them, and requires no guide to the "true path" of faith, or the understanding of "the word."

madbolter1

Big Wall climber
Walla Walla, WA
Oct 30, 2010 - 12:30pm PT
I am not even a high school grad, yet I find it quite accessible.

rrrADAM, as your entire "rant" responds to my supposed "rant," you fail to address a single point I actually made. IF, in fact, you actually DO understand quantum physics at the level necessary to really vet men like Hawking, then you obviously have a higher IQ than the vast majority of Americans. Formal education is not the issue here, and I did not bring formal education into play. So you argue past me with your attempt to make your formal education the issue. My questions remain. Even IF you really understand quantum physics at the needed level (which, btw, I highly doubt, as you undoubtedly have a sort of "lay familiarity" with it, as IS "accessible" to many), the fact that YOU do says absolutely nothing in response to my questions.

Then you proceed to argue past me on every other point. I was talking about Hawking and science, yet you start trying to drag me into debate about Christianity. Thus, you attempt to set up the ever-bogus false dichotomy between science and "Christianity." You are actually going to trot out the hoary old "inconsistencies" in the Bible as some sort of indication that science is more reliable? I don't have to accept either "horn" of the dilemma.

I do not believe that every word of the Bible was inspired, and my Christianity does not depend on the idea that the accuracy of the Bible is "word for word." It is FAR beyond the scope of a thread like this to explicate a nuanced theory of Biblical interpretation, but suffice it to say that the typical "word for word accuracy" of the Bible is not something I espouse. So, the verbal inconsistencies you mention are simply not troubling, because I don't believe in an inspirational model that would lead me to expect "accuracy" at the level you suggest.

But I won't get dragged into a further discussion of that issue, because it sidetracks us from the more fundamental issues that I was raising and that you refuse to deal with.

You can quote as many SCIENTISTS as you like dismissing philosophy of science, and the Feynman quotation is laughably superficial. But dismissals won't change the facts. Science is a purely empirical enterprise, and that fact gives science BOTH strengths AND weaknesses. You have addressed nothing I said about the nature of the Enlightenment, about the fundamental absurdity of Hawking's claims and theory, or about the limitations of empiricism.

You are determined to argue past me and spin off tangential arguments. Such an approach cannot produce fruitful dialog, because we can never actually argue through particular issues. If you want to actually dialog, then you can start by explaining the nature of necessity and how that word can have any meaning under Hawking's new theory. Let's stick to just that one, single point and see if we can make any progress with it. My personal religious beliefs, the age of the Earth, and snap-shot quotations by scientists have nothing whatsoever to do with that question. We could debate many, many points that both you and I have raised, but let's cut to the chase. So, can we focus on a single issue here?
High Fructose Corn Spirit

Gym climber
Full Silos of Iowa
Oct 30, 2010 - 12:32pm PT
"Hume himself, the greatest of the empiricists..."

Well, philosopher Christians like everybody else are entitled to their opinion. But as far as I'm concerned, the Engineer is the greatest of the empiricists.

(ref: e.g., Watt, Edison, DaVinci, Wright Bros.)

.....

(1) Engineering elucidates, philosophy (as practiced traditionally) obfuscates.

(2) Engineering: (a) proof that causality rules supreme; (b) proof that how the world works is intelligible; (c) proof that knowing better means doing better.
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Oct 30, 2010 - 12:36pm PT
Certainly any authority that science claims is because of empirical verification, that is why it works so well and also why it has limitations in answering questions important to people's everyday experiences.

But it is not entirely empirical, because its predictive capability through mathematical theory is an important component of the scientific method. Theory produces hypothesis, which are then empirically tested. Failing that test, the theory is shown to be wrong. Passing the test conveys only consistency, not proof.

However, without theory you do not have science...


...interestingly, as I read madbolter1's tract above, I am struck by how hard he works at applying his logic to a situation which he states cannot be logically determined... how ironic.

The difference between the philosopher's approach to this and the physicist's approach is that the physicist will go out and explore the universe knowing what ideas will not work (because of the empirical test). The philosopher will have an opinion of what will or won't be true, but ultimately waits for the physicist to report back what actually is...




as for your (madbolter1) understanding of mathematical logic, I think you have overstated your case, perhaps because you haven't studied it extensively... on a rigorous level.
Crodog

Social climber
Oct 30, 2010 - 01:19pm PT
Prosecutors doubt Vatican money-laundering pledges

Sat Oct 30, 7:21 am ET

VATICAN CITY – The Vatican bank has taken steps to satisfy tough EU and international norms on money laundering and terror financing after being confronted with an unprecedented crackdown by Italian prosecutors, The Associated Press has learned.

In recent weeks the bank has made written and in-person pledges to pass anti-money laundering legislation, report and investigate suspicious transactions, identify customers to law enforcement and create a special compliance authority.

Prosecutors, though, aren't buying any of it. They claim that even as the bank was making such overtures, it broke the law by trying to transfer money without identifying the sender or recipient, or what the money was being used for.

Italian prosecutors have placed bank chairman Ettore Gotti Tedeschi and his deputy Paolo Cipriani under investigation and financial police seized euro23 million (US$30 million) from a Vatican bank account on Sept. 21.

The Vatican has reacted furiously, insisting that the omission of data was just a "misunderstanding" that could be easily clarified. It tried to get the seizure lifted, but the court refused.

Now the Vatican has finally given its commitments to some of the key institutions involved in the fight against money laundering, officials at the institutions told the AP.

Vatican bank officials in recent weeks made a written commitment to the Financial Action Task Force — the Paris-based policymaking body that develops anti-money laundering and anti-terror financing legislation — to do whatever is necessary to come into compliance with its norms, a senior FATF official familiar with the negotiations told The Associated Press on Friday.

The FATF requires the Vatican to pass legislation making money-laundering a crime; to establish an entity to report suspicious transactions and then investigate them; and to pass legislation requiring that the bank identify its customers properly and make that information available to law enforcement agencies, the official said.

Separately, on Oct. 15, Vatican bank officials met with European Commission officials and agreed that Pope Benedict XVI would act to bring into Vatican law EU directives on money laundering that are required of euro-zone countries, said Amadeu Altafaj i Tardio, spokesman for European Commissioner for Economic and Monetary Affairs Olli Rehn.

The bank, formally known as the Institute for Religious Works, also pledged to establish a compliance "authority" headed by a senior Vatican cardinal on Jan. 1 to implement the anti-money laundering legislation, he said. The authority will be the contact for all EU and international agencies working to fight money-laundering.

Vatican bank officials also had two meetings starting in the spring of this year with officials from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development to learn how to get on the "white list," of countries that share tax information to crack down on tax havens, said Jeffrey Owens, head of tax issues at the OECD.

To join the OECD's club, the Vatican must first make a formal commitment to transparency and exchange of financial information and then take part in peer review sessions. To get on the "white list" the Vatican must enter into tax information sharing agreements with at least 12 other countries — a process that can often take years.

"The next stage is: They know what the standards are. Do they want to advance the dialogue with the aim of committing to the standards?" Owens said.

Despite such efforts — which predate the seizure of the Vatican account — prosecutors have said the Vatican has done nothing concrete to comply with Italian law, to which it is subject, much less international norms to fight money laundering. In an October court document, prosecutors said such compliance "doesn't even seem possible" given the lack of internal norms at the Vatican.

Citing an Oct. 6, 2010, Bank of Italy memorandum, prosecutors said the Vatican bank's consultations had been "completely fruitless," according to Corriere della Sera.

Gotti Tedeschi has insisted his efforts are sincere and has said he is mortified by the scandal. He has continued speaking publicly about the need for ethics in finance and has continued his promotion of the pope's encyclical on the global financial crisis.

At the same time, the bank is gearing up for another possible assault by Holocaust survivors who claim that Nazi loot was stored at the Vatican. A U.S. federal appeals court threw their case out in March after determining the Vatican bank enjoyed immunity since the Holy See is a foreign sovereign.

Attorney Jonathan Levy has since taken his case to the European Commission, asking for an investigation into whether looted Nazi gold had been used in Vatican euros and commemorative coins.

"The issue here is that it's the EU's problem because they entered into an agreement with the Vatican to mint euros," Levy said. "From our point of view, it's the EU's responsibility to hold the Vatican responsible to meet money laundering standards."
ydpl8s

Trad climber
Santa Monica, California
Oct 30, 2010 - 01:36pm PT
I think another Bertrand Russell quote about sums it up for me (my favorite, I have it taped to my monitor)

The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt.
Bertrand Russell
madbolter1

Big Wall climber
Walla Walla, WA
Oct 30, 2010 - 03:06pm PT
...interestingly, as I read madbolter1's tract above, I am struck by how hard he works at applying his logic to a situation which he states cannot be logically determined... how ironic.

No irony here, Ed. Because I deny that empiricism rules, it is entirely consistent for me to argue logically to demonstrate the limitations of thoroughgoing empiricism. The line of argumentation I employ is, IRONICALLY, presumed by empiricists but not available to them, which was the POINT of my arguments. Sorry you missed the point.

as for your (madbolter1) understanding of mathematical logic, I think you have overstated your case, perhaps because you haven't studied it extensively... on a rigorous level.

Actually, Ed, I have a Ph.D. in analytical philosophy, from UC Santa Barbara. Analytical philosophy is a VERY different thing from what HFCS always indicts: "Let's read some Plato and discuss." Analytical philosophy is grounding in logic, and I have actually been "rigorously" trained in mathematical logic. In fact, I scored the second highest score EVER in the advanced logic course at UCSB. I missed 1 point out of the course's 1000 points, taught by Nathan Salmon (look him up if you wish), heir apparent to Alonzo Church (look HIM up if you wish). In short, I venture to guess that I am FAR more "rigorously" trained in what I'm talking about than 99.9999999% of people on this planet. I am arguing incredibly superficially compared to what I'm capable of, attempting to make the points as accessible as possible to those that lack the background in this level of logical analysis.

And so far, nobody has been willing to TOUCH my overarching points:

1) Hawking is babbling absurdities.

2) Science is entirely incapable of answering the fundamental questions.

3) There is necessarily more to reality than empiricism can account for.

Nothing I am saying is intended to denigrate the legitimate practice of science. Nobody, including me, denies that science produces wonderful things. As an engineering enterprise, it is peerless. But what I decry is when science tries to become (badly) philosophical; and in THAT realm I know what I'm talking about.

And denigrating philosophers broadcast gets you nowhere. MOST of what we are discussing cannot be decided empirically/scientifically. MOST of the issues are philosophical rather than scientific. Furthermore, contemporary science lives and breathes Karl Popper's falsificationism! Scientists did not recognize the principles of what they do. They touted verificationism prior to Popper. Now, ALL scientists recognize that falsificationism is a superior model to verificationism as an accurate description of what science is and does. But, I repeat, they got that from a philosopher of science, not from the practice of science and not from the thinking of any scientist. So, caution yourself about throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

HFCS, your ignorance never ceases to amaze me. As I said before, I have found you unworthy of engagement.
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Oct 30, 2010 - 03:17pm PT
madbolter1 - certainly you can posit that things exist beyond the reach of empiricism, but you haven't provided an example. Mathematics is not an example simply because you have not shown it does not arise from the universe.

You have stated things which are left unproven: logical necessity, certainty and universality are all presumptions on your part, stated as fact without proof. It is certainly one possible explanation, but the only one, and certainly not the best one.

I am interested in where this stuff comes from, and I will continue to think about it, but I am undeterred by your rather conventional approach to what you learned in school. What you also learned are the limits to logical systems, which have a whole set of problems around undecidability...
...so mathematics may be an approximation after all, or of limited range.

But you are seeking absolutes. There is nothing that suggests that mathematics must be absolute and/or that it "lives" beyond the empirical realm.

Unless you have a proof of that... if so, let's see it!
ydpl8s

Trad climber
Santa Monica, California
Oct 30, 2010 - 03:48pm PT
In fact, I scored the second highest score EVER in the advanced logic course at UCSB. I missed 1 point out of the course's 1000 points, taught by Nathan Salmon (look him up if you wish), heir apparent to Alonzo Church (look HIM up if you wish). In short, I venture to guess that I am FAR more "rigorously" trained in what I'm talking about than 99.9999999% of people on this planet. I am arguing incredibly superficially compared to what I'm capable of, attempting to make the points as accessible as possible to those that lack the background in this level of logical analysis.

Ugh! I'm feeling some self righteous, I'm better than you, entitlement, approaching megalomania here. Didn't you learn in all of your logic courses that pedantic posturing is not the way to win an argument or to get someone to see your side?

If you had anything logical and reasonable to say, you just lost my attention.
WBraun

climber
Oct 30, 2010 - 04:15pm PT
Pretty interesting thread now that Madbolter1 has entered into the fray.

Keep going on this please.

It's 1000 times better than this stupid "Rubber chicken appreciation Thread" type stuff .....
Crodog

Social climber
Oct 30, 2010 - 04:47pm PT
I think all Hawking was saying was that something can come from nothing so you don't need a God to do it.
WBraun

climber
Oct 30, 2010 - 04:52pm PT
Nothing is still something.

Only a complete fool would think otherwise.
Jingy

climber
Somewhere out there
Oct 30, 2010 - 05:14pm PT
in my best latin;

Obsconday obeseri illegitimo


Roughly translated;
Get outta here you fat bastard



"something can come from nothing" - only if you have enough of it, and all at once.
Crodog

Social climber
Oct 30, 2010 - 05:19pm PT
'A Universe From Nothing' by Lawrence Krauss, AAI 2009

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ImvlS8PLIo
Tony Bird

climber
Northridge, CA
Oct 30, 2010 - 05:43pm PT
bertie russell--now there was a feller you could trust.

i have the uneasy feeling that if i would read all those long posts by madbolter i'd start to get to the heart of this debate, which has spanned several threads over the past few months. oh, well, we'll see.

i have a book at home--i've had a hard time getting into it. it's called the book of nothing by cambridge mathematician john barrow. the fascinating thing about this book is the centerfold (sorry--maybe not the kind of centerfold you have in mind):


this is a map of the field of mathematics. (if you click on it, you'll probably get better resolution.) barrow notes that most mathematicians in any given area have trouble doing a dialog with mathematicians in the area next door, much less across the way.

gordon kane, a university of michigan physicist and fermilab habitué, notes that very often, in the field of physics, a development from the field of mathematics becomes remarkably applicable to some problem which physicists are working on about five years after it's developed by the mathematicians.

now you tell me, ed hartouni, how a layperson is supposed to follow this "open" field of knowledge without an intensely narrow education.
bluering

Trad climber
Santa Clara, CA
Oct 30, 2010 - 05:47pm PT
yer all gonna die!!!

will you seek God or some alien in death?????

Have fun! fools.......
Crodog

Social climber
Oct 30, 2010 - 08:40pm PT
Don't think I will be doing a lot of seeking after cremation.
Port

Trad climber
San Diego
Oct 30, 2010 - 08:46pm PT
will you seek God or some alien in death?????

The two are equally stupid
Jingy

climber
Somewhere out there
Oct 30, 2010 - 08:54pm PT
MB1 - "I'm smarter, I'm thinking of a bigger picture, I have a PHD in something other then you, so I'm smarter"

Funny...

you claim that science fails to answer the fundamental questions...

But, you fail to answer them as well.

Ed is not claiming to be better, smarter or more educated than anyone...

Merely pointing out facts that we all have come to see as true.


MB1 = NUT





Thanks Port Edit:
"will you seek God or some alien in death?????

The two are equally stupid"

Indeed
madbolter1

Big Wall climber
Walla Walla, WA
Oct 30, 2010 - 09:16pm PT
Ugh! I'm feeling some self righteous, I'm better than you, entitlement, approaching megalomania here. Didn't you learn in all of your logic courses that pedantic posturing is not the way to win an argument or to get someone to see your side?

Now that's funny and demonstrates the extent to which you are quick to dismiss somebody that doesn't agree with you for any reason. Ed stated that I didn't understand mathematical logic. I responded that I certainly did and better than most even among trained philosophers. YOUR response is that I'm being self-righteous.

Oh well, I guess that nobody is prepared to be reasonable on this subject. Instead of giving me ANY points, even those to which I'm clearly entitled, people are simply determined to claim EVERY point, even those to which they CLEARLY are not entitled.

Typical for the taco, and typical for empiricists that refuse to even consider the alternatives. Shame on you for thinking that ALL Christians are "close-minded"! You are no more responsive to evidence than the worst of them!
madbolter1

Big Wall climber
Walla Walla, WA
Oct 30, 2010 - 09:22pm PT
Actually, I have answered some questions quite well for anybody willing to open their minds a moment to see them.

Ed, next you'll be asking me to PROVE the existence of God. What I have already done is show you that neither the principle of addition nor the Pythagorean Theorem were discovered or proved by appeal to empirical "facts," that instead they CANNOT be discovered or proved that way.

My point was to demonstrate some of the limitations of empiricism, which is all I have to do to establish my overarching point that empiricism is a limited form of knowledge-gathering.

And, again, I've said nothing resembling "I'm smarter than anybody." ALL I've done is respond to Ed's challenge that I don't know what I'm talking about. Ed never needs to say such a thing, because, like with all physicists, you guys all fawn all over them, granting them more credit for intelligence/education than they are due. All I'm asking for is the simple acknowledgment that Ed's challenge to my knowledge of this narrow subject is unfounded.

Anybody care to argue fairly?
WBraun

climber
Oct 30, 2010 - 09:48pm PT
madbolter1

Since your first post in this thread I clearly understood what you where trying to convey.

I also could see very clearly how people misunderstood by their reply.

I believe sometimes people thru their bias will look for a key point to knock down and gloss over the rest.

I like how you try to be thorough and explain your points.

It's a good discussion .....

Tony Bird

climber
Northridge, CA
Oct 30, 2010 - 10:19pm PT
all these extra universes, very exciting.

i keep thinking about the universe where annie leybourne didn't think i was too dangerous for her back in 1968 and we got married, had kids, and i eventually became poet-in-residence at cambridge university after they realized i was giving john donne a run for his money and was probably, indeed, the reincarnation of percy bysshe shelley, whose body happened to wash up on the beach at viareggio where my parents spent time conceiving me. i wonder how many universes percy went through before he got around to being me. no matter. at cambridge i would have been able to pester several dozen ed hartounis, making it my business to put their explorations into verbiage which cut through all the opaque math.

the other good alternative universe might have been spending more time with ruth johanna müller, who looked oh so good in that blue polkadot two-piece when she swam all the way across lake zumbra and back. we woulda spent lots of time in the boundary waters canoe area, me not giving a damn how her swiss german accent gave my mom flashbacks to world war 2, and plunging right into a hot erotic relationship with the use of condoms, which my dad, by another happy coincidence in this fortuitous universe, would have told me were great things to use, the catholic church be damned, even though he had signed papers that i was supposed to be raised catholic. ruth and i would have moved back to her native zurich and i would be an alpinist now, not just a lowly rockclimber.

maybe a universe for connie frana, who had probably the best body language i've ever encountered. you see, beauty is essentially a four-dimensional thing. yes, there is plenty of two- and three-dimensional beauty, but it's over time that it comes across in unexpected and enlightening ways. connie played hard-to-get and later regretted it by the time i had already hooked up with my first wife. i lived to regret it too.

my current wife, mariko, in all retrospect, often makes me feel that alternative universes don't matter at all, e.e. cummings' suggestion about the hell of a good universe next door notwithstanding.

cummings may have influenced hawking. i wonder whether stephen spends a lot of time thinking about that universe where his body stayed healthy and his spacetime experience of playboy centerfolds managed to go well beyond the printed page.


rrradam, welcome back. tell us where your sailboat has been.
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Oct 30, 2010 - 10:19pm PT
madbolter1 - now I think I'm the one that's been misunderstood...

you have provided us with your view of mathematics, which is rather orthodox, but you have stated that mathematical principles are beyond empirical, that they come from some deep universal truth apart from everything else

But you have not given us any real reason to believe that, you have stated it as fact...
...and it might be.

However, you have also not provided a reason why mathematics could not be generated in the same way the rest of the universe is, that the mathematics in our universe may be specific to the properties of the universe. The pythagorean theorem makes a statement regarding the distance between two points in an orthonormal coordinate system... you know, of course, that it fails on the surface of a sphere. But my point here is that that particular example is intimately tied to the nature of space-time.

If you take that a step further, say that space-time itself is really the result of the operations that transform one state into another... so that distance is really a result of the state change, say in momentum space... then the properties of those operators generate what we know to be "space"...

similarly, those same operations define a logical system by their algebraic properties.

Space and time and logic and everything else come out of those properties...

and are specific to the universe which those properties describe.

Not saying it is true, saying it could be true....
Jennie

Trad climber
Elk Creek, Idaho
Oct 30, 2010 - 10:42pm PT
Without a Grand Unified Theory sanctioned by liberal evidence...how conceptually empowered is one individual in declaring God is not necessary to set the universe in motion? How legitimate are journalists in hyping Dr Hawking's abstractions and opinions toward a brawl with the Pope ?

Other comments by Stephen Hawking:

"What I have done is to show that it is possible for the way the universe began to be determined by the laws of science. In that case, it would not be necessary to appeal to God to decide how the universe began. This doesn't prove that there is no God, only that God is not necessary. "

Der Spiegel (17 October 1988)

"I'm not religious in the normal sense. I believe the universe is governed by the laws of science. The laws may have been decreed by God, but God does not intervene to break the laws."

Quoted in "Stephen Hawking prepares for weightless flight", New Scientist (26 April 2007)

"If we do discover a complete theory, it should in time be understandable in broad principle by everyone, not just a few scientists. Then we shall all, philosophers, scientists, and just ordinary people, be able to take part in the discussion of the question of why it is that we and the universe exist. If we find the answer to that, it would be the ultimate triumph of human reason — for then we would know the mind of God."

Black Holes and Baby Universes and Other Essays
Jingy

climber
Somewhere out there
Oct 30, 2010 - 11:10pm PT
Crodog - cool link...

Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Oct 31, 2010 - 12:20am PT
hey Tony, have you ever read Constance Reid's biography Hilbert?

Reid's obituary was in the NYTimes this week...
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/26/books/26reid.html

...my point above is not that you are going to make important contributions to mathematics, but it is possible to understand it at a level much more advanced than 'rithmetic, and maybe see some of the beauty in it... and the interesting ideas from it...

Jennie, I think that Hawkings is just "voicing" what I think is a more and more prevailing view... in terms of the universe, there is less and less need to appeal to any supernatural explanation. And Hawkings knows full well that anything he says about science is subject to test, and can be shown to be wrong. He's been wrong before, after all, a big advantage over those who claim they cannot be wrong.
WBraun

climber
Oct 31, 2010 - 12:29am PT
If one learns 1234567890 he then has studied the entirety of mathematics.

Simply changing the places of these ten figures is "mathematics" .....

:-)
Crodog

Social climber
Oct 31, 2010 - 01:57am PT
Thanks Jingy!!

For those that missed it, here it is again:
Something from Nothing:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ImvlS8PLIo

WBraun

climber
Oct 31, 2010 - 02:46am PT
Computer only has zero and one arranged in so many ways.

Zero = impersonalists

One = personality

Without the ONE there would be none .......
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Oct 31, 2010 - 03:08am PT
{0} ≠ {}
Jan

Mountain climber
Okinawa, Japan
Oct 31, 2010 - 08:23am PT
Skipt-

Thanks for the podcast reference on Hawking's new book. That was definitely interesting and worthwhile.
High Fructose Corn Spirit

Gym climber
Full Silos of Iowa
Oct 31, 2010 - 11:52am PT
The Pope's "God" will always be Jehovah (aka Yahweh aka the God of Abraham). That "God" is world's apart from the "Cosmic Governance" that Einstein and Hawkings called "God".

More and more people nowadays - because of the sciences and the Scientific Story - are thinking in terms of a First Cause or a Cosmic Governance behind the cosmos that they sometimes call "God" for purposes of conversation, storytelling, poetry, politics, circumstance, etc.

Even I do, on occasion: Thank God I was born in North America during a science and technology revolution and not the Middle East in the 700s in an Ayatollah's court. Yeah, thank God!
WBraun

climber
Oct 31, 2010 - 12:28pm PT
The defect of the modern civilization and this High Fructose Corn Spirit.

He/one does not know, and he wants to teach.
High Fructose Corn Spirit

Gym climber
Full Silos of Iowa
Oct 31, 2010 - 12:43pm PT
The "defect of the modern civilization" is that it is unsustainable. But that is another issue.
Captain...or Skully

Big Wall climber
Transporter Room 2
Oct 31, 2010 - 12:48pm PT
Hey, say there, CroDog. Cool link.
ydpl8s

Trad climber
Santa Monica, California
Oct 31, 2010 - 12:56pm PT
Now that's funny and demonstrates the extent to which you are quick to dismiss somebody that doesn't agree with you for any reason. Ed stated that I didn't understand mathematical logic. I responded that I certainly did and better than most even among trained philosophers. YOUR response is that I'm being self-righteous.

Oh well, I guess that nobody is prepared to be reasonable on this subject. Instead of giving me ANY points, even those to which I'm clearly entitled, people are simply determined to claim EVERY point, even those to which they CLEARLY are not entitled.

On the contrary, I don't dismiss people that don't agree with me. I just am very leary of people that think that a big part of their argument is that they know more than the next person. I don't claim to know the answer or claim every point. I just think that a discussion of the issues should be looked at logically. When the argument reaches a point where the basis of difference is tied to that person's fundamental beliefs, it should be recognized, the discussion is probably not going much further.

I grew up in a very fundamentalist christian family, and my parents still are. I became a scientist (geophysicist), and to this day I have long discussions with them about a myriad of subjects that we have agreed to disagree about. I don't think anyone is entitled to "points" based on their education, social status, or conviction. We're all just trying to get by the best we can in this world, and my parents personal beliefs have helped them greatly in getting along with their problems. I do take issue when they try to push those beliefs on me or anyone else (I had a strong discussion with my mother when she told, my then, 8yr old son that the earth was only 10,000yrs old).

So, I'm sorry if I offended you.

When an interviewer came to talk to Harry Trumans mother, after he became President, she was asked how proud she was of her son. Her answer was "I have another son out there working in the field that I'm just as proud of"
WBraun

climber
Oct 31, 2010 - 01:02pm PT
The "defect of the modern civilization" is that it is unsustainable.

No .... it's easily sustainable.

Modern civilization is mismanaged.

They poured High Fructose Corn Spirit into everything ......
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Oct 31, 2010 - 01:55pm PT
Here is a quote from Steven Weinberg's 1971 book Gravitation and Cosmology - Principles and Applications of The General Theory of Relativity

"Physics is not a finished logical system. Rather, at any moment it spans a great confusion of ideas, some survive like folk epics from the heroic periods of the past, and others arise like utopian novels from our dim premonitions of a future grand synthesis. The author of a book on physics can impose order on this confusion by organizing his material in either of two ways: by recapitulating its history, or by following his own best guess at to the ultimate logical structure of physical law. Both methods are valuable; the great thing is not to confuse physics with history, or history with physics."

I invite you to read that and think about it in the context of this discussion... it actually reveals a profound insight into the differences of physics and religion.
High Fructose Corn Spirit

Gym climber
Full Silos of Iowa
Oct 31, 2010 - 03:19pm PT
Steven Weinberg, yeah!

.....

So I'm trying to think of an example of (1) how one might "confuse physics with history, or history with physics" and (2) how this might be detrimental or unproductive in an impractical sort of way. So far, it eludes (alludes) me...

Oh, I think I get it, the context. Physics (or cosmology) can either (a) describe the history of the cosmos or (b) describe, model or speculate on the physical laws that govern the cosmos in real time. The two are distinct. Please correct me if his meaning were something else.

.....

EDIT Thanks, Cap'n.
Captain...or Skully

Big Wall climber
Transporter Room 2
Oct 31, 2010 - 03:29pm PT
Eludes, Spirited One. Alludes is a different word completely. And I believe misses the mark on your point. Unless it's a quirky joke?
Pretty quirky, if so. Cheers!

Edit: I laughed, anyway. I'm kinda quirky.
madbolter1

Big Wall climber
Walla Walla, WA
Oct 31, 2010 - 03:40pm PT
When an interviewer came to talk to Harry Trumans mother, after he became President, she was asked how proud she was of her son. Her answer was "I have another son out there working in the field that I'm just as proud of"

Yeah, but if she needed her appendix out, I'm guessing that she would have gone to a doctor rather than to her farm-working son.

Pride has nothing to do with it.
Tony Bird

climber
Northridge, CA
Oct 31, 2010 - 04:00pm PT
werner obviously hasn't cracked open a journal of theoretical physics. they hardly ever use arabic numerals. mostly, it's letters from the greek alphabet, small letters and capital letters, and they assume you know what they all stand for. accessible my ass.

i had a friend who was burning to get into geoscience. he spent a lot of time in the mountains and had ideas about earthquake mechanics which he wasn't hearing from anyone else. he had a degree in psychology. most of his math was statistics. he would just read everything he could get his hands on about geoscience and skip over the damned formulas. occasionally, he'd have a paper published by a smaller journal. he eventually went back to school under a user-friendly interdisciplinary program, and now i see he's doing planetary research at jpl. job well done, but it was not easy, and he battled for access every inch of the way.

interesting writer, reid. will check her out. i see that her sister was quite a mathematician. often it takes a connection like that. i'm sure i'll get along great with hilbert, the guy who says that mathematicians have more imagination than poets. am i bumping up against a familiar attitude here?
Ghost

climber
A long way from where I started
Oct 31, 2010 - 04:18pm PT
Yeah, but if she needed her appendix out, I'm guessing that she would have gone to a doctor rather than to her farm-working son. Pride has nothing to do with it.

So what? When she needed food, she probably went to the farmer son, not a doctor or the President. What is your point?
ydpl8s

Trad climber
Santa Monica, California
Oct 31, 2010 - 04:41pm PT
Thanks Ghost, I tried.

Mad, I guess if she had questions about cosmology and physics she'd come to you?

I think I'm going to Trip Reports.
madbolter1

Big Wall climber
Walla Walla, WA
Oct 31, 2010 - 04:55pm PT
Ed, I think that you and I are on the brink of an actual dialog, so I thank you for that. I will happily take up the points you raised in a few minutes. But first, I think it's important that I say something about the typical tone of discourse on this subject. In that context I can best cast why I find your tone worthy of comment.

It is not my place to apologize for "Christians" everywhere. It would be the height of hubris on my part to think that I could represent them in any way. What I can do is apologize for the strident tone that many Christians have exhibited over the centuries and particularly in the last few decades.

The "new atheism" had itself taken a very strident tone, but I think it merely responds to the galling stridency exhibited by so many Christians, particularly in the past few decades. A reaction to the POWER Christianity has traditionally held, coupled with how that POWER has been abused, is appropriate and predictable. For Christians to respond with corresponding stridency is not only counterproductive but indicates a profound insensitivity to the abuses that have spanned centuries!

Atheists are right to indict a "Christianity" that has become much more concerned to "make America right" than to ensure that America is free. Mainstream "Christianity" has certainly appeared to be more concerned with legislating than it has seemed to be with living out its supposed values in the form of helping the downtrodden. It could well be argued that our current welfare state is a reaction on the part of decent people to the fact that the church has not done what it is called to do; so people call on their government to do (badly) what the church should have done well!

Stridency begets stridency, and the "debate" escalates, until now it is almost impossible to discuss "science vs. religion" without both sides calling the other side "nutty," or, "dishonest," or even, "wicked." It seems virtually impossible for rational people to disagree on this subject without fundamentally doubting the rationality of the "opponent." Because the "dialog" has devolved into a "war of ideas," both sides have adopted a "take no prisoners" perspective. And, because the laws of the land will reflect the will of the "winners," it becomes critical to WIN!

I blame the legislative-happy right wing for most of this escalation. What the church fails to accomplish by education and appropriate proselytizing, it attempts to accomplish by legislation. Atheism, for example, did not "take prayer out of schools." Atheism RIGHTLY noted that FORMAL prayers to the CHRISTIAN God violate the principle of separation of church and state and impose a particular religion on captive students.

Mainstream Christians have made abortion and homosexual civil rights the battlefield on which they will kill and die; and they are fighting entirely the wrong fight here! I have studied the subject of abortion more thoroughly than the vast majority of people, and I am convinced that neither a Biblical nor philosophical case can be sustained to LEGISLATIVELY oppose at-will abortion. Indeed, even IF a Biblical case could be made (which I don't believe it can), THAT case is purely sectarian and thus opposed to the principle of separation of church and state; consequently, it is invalidated in THIS nation. And Christians are woefully ignorant of the philosophical literature on this subject.

I know that many of my fellow Christians would respond to such statements by saying that I am a heretic of the worst sort, but these are people that have never really thought this subject through. They are riding a little pole-horse off into the sunset, their play-guns bobbing at their sides, completely oblivious to the fact that neither the Bible nor rational argumentation support their perspective. And when I try to educate them about this, they respond with blank stares of utter shock and disbelief.

And homosexual civil rights??? Don't even TRY to go there!

I should hasten to say, because it is easy to Google and find out things about me, that I am NOT speaking as a representative of the Church of God (Seventh Day) in my role as executive director of that denomination. What I am saying now not only does NOT reflect the mainstream views of my denomination, it is vehemently opposed to those views. I am speaking here only as an individual person, as is my right under the law. But I explicitly disclaim any representation of my denomination.

It deeply saddens me to see MY people, Christians, grow defensive and reactionary. They try to accomplish with bluster and legislation what they cannot accomplish by genuinely convincing people. On the one hand the "liberals" stupidly and ignorantly capitulate to the claims of science by so relativizing the Bible that the gospel itself is left vapid and powerless. On the other hand the "conservatives" eschew scientific understanding because they are helpless to integrate it into a comprehensive world-view; thus they retreat to a "blind" and ignorant "faith," falsely so called, for it is the worst species of dogmatism.

I have tried to be careful and sensitive in my discussions, avoiding stridency. Yet, as I look back at what I have written even in this very thread, I can see how some of my own comments could be taken as "strident." That has not been my intention! Discourse on this subject is emotionally charged, and the media has done the discussion no service, emphasizing as it does the most polarizing verbiage and the most "drive-by shooting" sound bites. So, even when somebody is TRYING to be civil and careful, straightforward statements resonate against that backdrop and echo with stridency. So, please take this as my most fervent statement of intention.

I do not respect the tactics employed by many on the taco, but there are those here that I do respect, and with those I do wish to have a respectful and civil dialog.

I do not believe that "convincing" is likely on either side. The ones I most respect here, including myself, have a long intellectual history grounding a world view that will not be easily disassembled and remade into another image. What I hope for is that both sides can deescalate the rhetoric and get rid of the "They are just nutty" perspective that has been the norm in the "war of ideas."

On the taco, the prevailing weight of opinion is clearly that of atheism or at least a very vocal agnosticism. So, I realize that I argue in the minority. All I hope to accomplish is to make a reasonable Christianity seem "less nutty" than it has too often made itself seem.

I am honestly sorry for the way Christianity has publicly responded to Darwinism and secularization! It is appalling to me that there is so little real POWER in the lives of "Christians," that their religion has become a chain of self-deluded excuses for their lack of victory and the genuine conversion that would have produced mighty works of mercy and tolerance in the world.

My Lord was known for His love, mercy, tolerance, and care of the poor and sick. Today, "my people" are known for almost none of these things! They are instead known for sexual scandals, picket lines, the murders of doctors, hatred of homosexuals, repressive legislation, and the list goes on and on.

To be fair, the media has chosen what to emphasize, and the stories are often not a reflection of mainstream Christian perspectives. But, that said, there can be no denying that mainstream Christians WANT to see legislation accomplish in the world what they have failed to accomplish by legitimate means: education and legitimate proselytizing in a spirit of intellectual honesty.

Christians dumbly think that they can legislate morality. It is impossible. The sort of morality that God acknowledges springs from a converted heart and cannot be produced by legislation. We do NOT live in a theocracy! So, the sick idea that "God frowns on America" because of the abortion and homosexuality in its midst utterly fails to recognize what God actually looks for in people: a genuinely transformed heart, and THAT cannot be produced by legislation. God has blessed America, not because it has been so "right," but because it has been so FREE.

So, now I have publicly offended my Christian brethren, AND I am still opposed to atheism. I live much of my life in a sort of intellectual no-man's land. I'm not trying to glean sympathy. But I am trying to say that I pay a price for the ideas I hold. So, please at least don't be blithely dismissive of the perspectives I try to share. They are at least uncommon, and thus good for at least entertainment value.

Nevertheless, I hold onto HOPE that Christians will come to realize the sickness they have contributed to the public discussions and how misguided they have been in their perspectives and priorities. I HOPE that atheists will realize that not all Christians are mindless, stupid, ignorant, "blind faith" idiots. I believe that an intellectually defensible, even compelling, case can be made for conservative Christianity. That case will not likely be made in a venue like this, just given the nature of of the venue, as it is a cumulative-case argument of some complexity. But it is possible to trot out bits and pieces of that case in such a way that a few points can perhaps find some sympathy among intellectuals. Again, I don't hope to convince. But I have found that level of sympathy among the secular scientists and philosophers with whom I regularly talked over the years. Sadly, I am more at home among such people than I am among almost all of the Christians I know.

So, I understand that antipathy that exists against mainstream Christianity. I SHARE it. But unlike most on the taco, I live within a belief system that acknowledges the radical failings of Christians while at the same time finding Christianity itself to be intellectually respectable and satisfying. It is against that backdrop that I thank you for your civility, Ed.
rrrADAM

Trad climber
LBMF
Oct 31, 2010 - 04:56pm PT
Actually, Ed, I have a Ph.D. in analytical philosophy, from UC Santa Barbara. Analytical philosophy is a VERY different thing from what HFCS always indicts: "Let's read some Plato and discuss." Analytical philosophy is grounding in logic, and I have actually been "rigorously" trained in mathematical logic. In fact, I scored the second highest score EVER in the advanced logic course at UCSB.
Wow... For someone with such a pedigree, it is laughable at how many logical fallacies you throw out there... Even the above seems to strongly lean towards "appeal to authority".

You are not wrinkly, are you? Irons take care of that.



Oh, and thanx for confirming my prediction about you... Shows that the theory has some explanatory power, doesn't it? I knew you would evade the simple questions made to falsify your belief in the accuracy of the Bible. A lot gocan be said about a theory that has preictive power, and having those predictions confirmed.

Instead, you cop-out*, saying you don't take it ALL word for word... So, do you have a secret decoder ring that tells you which is word for word accurate, and which is alegory? I figure you must, as you seem coinvinced that the Earth is young, and God created life ONLY here on Earth, and I'm sure that comes from no other place but the Bible, thus, you take that "word for word".


*
cop-out also cop·out
n. Slang
1. A failure to fulfill a commitment or responsibility or to face a difficulty squarely.
2. A person who fails to fulfill a commitment or responsibility.
3. An excuse for inaction or evasion.
madbolter1

Big Wall climber
Walla Walla, WA
Oct 31, 2010 - 04:59pm PT
Mad, I guess if she had questions about cosmology and physics she'd come to you?

If she had questions about logic and about the logic of mathematics, which was the context of the questions to which I responded, she would come to me. If that point was not crystal clear, then see ya at the trip reports.
madbolter1

Big Wall climber
Walla Walla, WA
Oct 31, 2010 - 05:14pm PT
Oh, and thanx for confirming my prediction about you... Shows that the theory has some explanatory power, doesn't it? I knew you would evade the simple questions made to falsify your belief in the accuracy of the Bible. A lot gocan be said about a theory that has preictive power, and having those predictions confirmed.

Actually, I DID respond to your question about the accuracy of the Bible. I did not "evade" at all. I told you that in the context of my perspective about Biblical inspiration your examples of "inconsistency" were simply not troubling to me. You have a standard for "accuracy" that I think God and the Bible writers were not striving toward, and that standard is based on an incorrect (although mainstream) "word for word" inspiration model in which God supposedly "dictated" the Bible to "receptive" humans. I don't believe that that is what happened, and my own model of inspiration would predict that there would be "inaccuracies" as you note.

There is no more "answer" possible on my view, and that answer is no "evasion." So, before you pound your chest enough to hurt, slow down and think through a more nuanced view than you are used to seeing. I am NOT your "standard Christian." I DO have MANY possible falsifying events in my religion; but "inaccuracies" as you noted are not among them.

And regarding my supposed "fallacy of appeal to authority," you clearly did a pretty superficial read of Wikipedia on the subject. It was stated on this thread that I lacked formal training in the subject of logic/mathematics, and I simply pointed out that I DO have formal training in those subjects, more than most people. Yet I have never employed PURE appeal to my training as THE REASON why anybody should accept anything I say. Thus, I have not FALLACIOUSLY employed my "authority."

It's tragically clear to me that you reflect the mainstream here on the taco, a large group of people that just love to "get into it" on subjects like this, while you actually don't give a rip to be intellectually honest about the subject. If you cared to be intellectually honest, the most BASIC thing you would exhibit in your discourse is that you would be QUICK to give me those points to which I am obviously and reasonably entitled.

The fact that you don't agree with my Christianity (although, obviously, you don't understand an iota of it), does not entitle you to think that EVERY word I write is ridiculous, idiotic, and fallacious. Even AS a Christian, there are SOME things I clearly get right. You should be quick to acknowledge at least those. When you feel that you MUST find ways to dismiss my EVERY word, you clearly reveal that intellectual honesty is the furthest thing from your mind.

*
EDIT: to address your later-edited posting, you are now asking me to explain exactly WHY I can accept "word for word" some portions of the Bible and not others. And, supposedly, if I do not provide for you a DETAILED analysis of the Bible in this context, at your DEMAND no less, then I am a cop-out? What hubris you have!

I will respond briefly, not because I acknowledge your demand, but because I hope to say something useful for the lurkers there always are on these threads.

I adopt what can best be called a "propositional" model of inspiration. There is no "magic ring" here, any more than it takes a "magic ring to "decode" how we speak to each other every day.

We recognize, indeed depend upon, the idea that propositions can be conveyed by multitudinous different verbiage and in different languages.

For example, I could say: "I had a grilled cheese sandwich for lunch." I could convey the exact same propositional content by saying: "For my mid-day meal, I had two slabs of raised, baked dough surrounding a slab of partially fermented bovine milk that had been solidified in the process of fermentation, such that the whole assembly could be put into a frying pan and 'grilled' until the slabs of baked dough had browned and the solidified bovine milk had melted somewhat." To the everyday hearer, I'm "saying the same thing." I am conveying the "same basic idea." The latter does not provide any additional information over and above the everyday hearing of the former. Both convey the same "propositional content."

I could also convey the same propositional content in a different language. Thus, we note that "sentences" come apart from "propositions." PROPOSITIONS are what sentences convey, and those propositions can be conveyed with wildly different verbiage and in different languages.

You could uncharitably start nit-picking the differences between the two example sentences. For example, you could say, "In the former you said NOTHING about the cheese being bovine! Yet, in the latter you explicitly mentioned this fact! So the two are NOT the same propositional content!" And I would respond that bovine-milk-based cheese, particularly cheddar, is the "standard" in grilled cheese sandwiches, so "that goes without saying." The two sentences STILL convey the same propositional content because they were both ABOUT conveying the same thing. If you want to emphasize that the TYPE of cheese is vastly important, then I would say, "Oh, now you are changing the CONTEXT of the statements. Now you want them to be ABOUT something more than I had intended to convey."

In THAT NEW context, with the different expectation, I could be more specific in the first sentence. I could say, "I had a grilled cheddar cheese sandwich for lunch."

You could then start nit-picking that by "lunch" I imply a "mid day" meal, when actually it turned out that I ate at almost 2pm, and THAT is certainly not "mid day!" So, you could say that I LIED when I used the word "lunch" for such a time of day! But the time of day was NOT what the propositional content WAS ABOUT! If you wish to change the context and start asking about that PARTICULAR time, and thereby make THAT what the propositional content should be ABOUT, I could certainly comply. But such "compliance" is not possible in millennias-old manuscripts! What the propositions were intended to be ABOUT is what they are ABOUT.

Now, against that backdrop, another issue emerges. We often talk "loosely" insofar as we often say more than what the sentence is ABOUT. In other words, the propositional content in MOST sentences of natural languages is surrounded by all sorts of "detritus verbiage."

If a man tells his wife, "I'll be home at 6pm. I'll take the freeway this time," we must ask what he is REALLY saying. Is the propositional content of his sentence LITERALLY: "I WILL take the freeway, so I WILL be home at 6pm"? Or is the propositional content something MORE like: "I'll be home as soon as I can, planning to make it by 6pm, and I think that the freeway is the best plan to make it home as soon as possible"? How you answer that question will determine the nature of (or the lack of) the following fight between the man and his wife when he gets home at 6:30 to a cold dinner, having NOT taken the freeway at all. We experience this sort of thing constantly in everyday life.

Thus, philosophy introduces the principle of "charity." That principle says that we must be extremely sensitive to the INTENT of ALL discourse, trying to give our "opponent" his/her best case as we interpret what we read or hear, recognizing that our TOP priority is to tease out and understand the ACTUAL, INTENDED propositional content. That "charity" is what I advocate in interpreting the Bible.

When the woman turns to her husband and accuses: "You SAID you would take the freeway, and you didn't. You SAID you would be home at 6pm and you weren't," she is (probably) uncharitably reading what her husband said to her. He could respond, "I got to the freeway, and it was locked up. Looked like an accident had it backed up for miles. So I took surface streets, but so did most everybody else. I TOLD you I would be home as soon as possible. THAT is what I TOLD you, and I WAS home as soon as possible." It would in that event be uncharitable of his wife to respond: "You SAID you would take the freeway. So now I can't believe anything you tell me!"

Look at MOST fights between people, and you will see this basic lack of charity at play.

Indeed, you would realize that people "communicating" with each other at this level had already lost the basic principle of charity such that genuine communication had become impossible. When charity is lost at this level, when people refuse to try to understand what verbiage IS ABOUT, then communication is impossible.

The Bible passages you mentioned contain verbiage that was NOT ABOUT what you make them to be about. The details you mention as "inconsistent" are simply a function of human beings inaccurately recounting minute details of events from (often) decades before. But those details are not what the passages ARE ABOUT, and the accuracy I look for in the Bible concerns its ACTUAL propositional content: what a given passage is ABOUT.

Thus, when the Bible says that in six DAYS (evening and morning) God created the heavens and the earth, I take that to be what those passages are ABOUT; and I recognize that it is impossible to be CLEARER about what is stated. Literally, each of those verses EMPHASIZES the literal, 24-hour period as a DAY just as we now know it. If you were TRYING to say: "I mean, really, a literal, 24-hour day," you couldn't say it more clearly than it is said in those passages. In the original Hebrew, the verbiage is: "Evening was, and morning was: the first day," "Evening was, and morning was: the second day." And so on. The ancient Hebrews reckoned days from sundown to sundown, rather than the much later Roman reckoning of midnight to midnight. So, to the ancient Hebrews, "Evening was, and morning was: day one," COULD NOT be clearer. And conveying the 24-hourness of the DAYS is what those passages are ABOUT. THAT is their sole point.

So, I am not being arbitrary or inconsistent in my Biblical interpretation. In philosophical charity I want to understand THE POINT to a passage and not get bogged down in the "detritus verbiage" that does not contribute to the actual propositional content. Thus, I do not believe in "word for word" accuracy, but only in PROPOSITIONAL ACCURACY. And THIS is actually the standard we hold each other to (or should) in our everyday discourse. The Bible was NOT God "dictating" words to men. The Bible is instead God impressing men with IDEAS, the IDEAS were inspired, and MEN wrote down those IDEAS very accurately. As MEN, they cast those ideas in natural languages.

You can ask WHY God would chose such an "inaccurate" method of inspiration, but that is a huge topic with many tendrils beyond what a forum posting could hope to accomplish. I will not, even upon pain of accusation of "punting," attempt to get into that subject here.

Suffice to say that my interpretational model is not arbitrary nor does it employ any "magic rings." I simply employ the same philosophical charity that I employ in interpreting everything I read and hear. I highly recommend such charity. If you took it seriously, you would find yourself responding to people like me quite differently.
madbolter1

Big Wall climber
Walla Walla, WA
Oct 31, 2010 - 08:10pm PT
Ok, Ed, I've got a bit more time at this moment to respond to your points about empiricism and mathematics.

Let's talk briefly about the Pythagorean Theorem (PT for short). I'm sure you have looked at with understanding, if not outright studied, the proof of the PT, so I am confident that we can be on the same page about our discussion of that proof.

I would assert that the burden of proof is not on me to "prove" that the PT could not be derived empirically, but instead that the burden of proof is upon the empiricist to demonstrate what role empiricism plays in the proof of the PT. I say this because I think you will admit that there is nothing empirical IN the proof of the PT. That proof is entirely abstract and without reference to any "real world" or empirical entities. That fact is the basis of my claim that the proof of the PT is not empirically-derived or ABOUT the empirical world.

It is possible to demonstrate that the proof of the PT could not be empirically-based or derived, but to demonstrate that rigorously would be too involved for this venue. I attempted to offer a very superficial overview of the direction such a demonstration would take by noting how the "entities" to which the PT actually applies are abstract rather than empirical entities, and that the PT actually "applies" to real-world, empirical triangles only crudely. Thus, those crude representations of right triangles could not provide the basis for the PROOF of the PT.

A further point deserving mention is that "proofs" in the strict sense of that word are deductive arguments rather than inductive arguments. Measuring bunches and bunches of real-world, empirical right triangles could not produce a PROOF of the PT because no amount of empirical observation can provide a GUARANTEE of accuracy or correctness. Induction, which is what empirical science does, can only provide some varying degree of probability that a given state of affairs will obtain. There can be no GUARANTEE, which is what deductive proof demands.

So, the proof of the PT is deductive, non-empirical by design, and is thus a genuine PROOF; while the introduction of empirical elements into the argument would render the argument only inductive and thus not a PROOF at all.

To sum up, the proof of the PT is a genuine PROOF, it is deductive and non-empirical. There are no empirical elements or entities mentioned in the proof; the proof is a deduction about abstractions, in Hume's vernacular: a "relation of ideas." And, in Hume's vernacular, "relations of ideas" can tell us nothing about the real world because "relations of ideas" are ABOUT abstractions rather than real-world entities. Thus, on Hume's empiricism, the proof of the PT establishes knowledge about ABSTRACT right triangles, but it is a mystery how that proof can have any application to the real, empirical world.

Now, an empiricist could argue that Hume was incorrect about his "relations of ideas," trying to somehow provide a category that is both abstract and about the real world; but, I have not seen any empiricists attempt that. Hume was nothing if not rigorous! When I call Hume "the greatest of the empiricists," I say that because his analysis of empiricism is the most thorough and rigorous of any empiricist in history. And modern empiricists do not claim that Hume got it all wrong in his distinctions.

So, I think that the burden of proof rests on you to demonstrate the empirical elements of the proof of the PT, that I actually think you will agree are nowhere present. I assert that there are none and there CAN be none, because to introduce empiricism into that proof would render it no longer a PROOF. Yet it IS a proof, and the mystery remains to empiricists: explain how this utter abstraction could have ANY (much less a comparatively accurate)relation to real-world, empirical right triangles.

Thanks again for your attitude of civility. I look forward to further discussions on these issues, time permitting!
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Oct 31, 2010 - 08:39pm PT
you didn't read Birkhoff...

a proof is a set of propositional statements regarding the relationships of attributes. As you know, these are describable as an algebra, and we refer to these sets of attributes and their relationships as "algebras of logic."

Now certainly the Boolean algebra is the best known, but not the only such algebra. There is a correspondence of Boolean algebras with certain aspects of classical mechanics, now we usually say that we have an "abstract mathematical construction" Boolean algebra, which we use to describe in approximation a measurable physical situation, say classical mechanics.

It is known that quantum mechanics is describable in terms of Clifford algebras, and that, in turn can be used to derive another logical system, to quote Birkoff: "the logic of quantum mechanics is an orthcomplemented modular lattice".

Birkhoff goes on to describe various difficulties with Boolean logic, these are well known and perhaps made popular in Douglas Hofstadter's book Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid, but that's not where I'm going...


What I would posit, is that the logical systems that we use to create our proofs, such as the one for the Pythagorean Theorem, the whole foundation of mathematics, is essentially a manifestation of the properties of the universe, just as space-time may be a consequence of those same properties and not something "in which" the universe is placed. That is, the algebraic relationship of the transformation of states which create the universe, define it, actually generate mathematics too.

It's a totally wild idea, but certainly not something that is beyond the realm of possibility, and certainly within the construction (and the difficulties of that construction) of the fundamental logic of mathematics.

And the consequences of these ideas, which Wheeler referred to as "pre-geometry" are certainly testable empirically. So certainly I can be shown to be wrong...
Crodog

Social climber
Oct 31, 2010 - 09:15pm PT
madbolter1

Big Wall climber
Walla Walla, WA
Oct 31, 2010 - 11:28pm PT
Ed, I'm familiar with everything you said. But you've got the logical priority reversed. The point is not that there CAN be a symmetry between, for example, non-classical logics and quantum mechanics. The point is to explain WHY there can be such symmetry.

You didn't answer my question. I asked if there is anything empirical in the PT, and you responded by citing a correspondence between, for example Clifford algebras and quantum mechanics: "It is known that quantum mechanics is describable in terms of Clifford algebras." But that response only serves to illustrate my question!

It is also well known that Clifford developed his mathematics, including a very sophisticated non-Euclidean geometry well in advance of any theorized application to physics. In fact, only much later was the correlation recognized, as Clifford is now remembered for having developed an "exercise" in higher dimensions in which he speculated (in utter absence of theory) that gravity might be expressed in terms of dimensionality, an idea the theoretical development of which made Einstein famous.

In short, as history has ever shown, purely abstract mathematics advance far ahead of recognized physical applications. Most recently this is seen in the development of so-called "string theory," in which physicists (according to Kaku and Weinberg; I can provide quotes if desired) had their ideas but were casting about for the mathematics in which to express those ideas, and discovered the desired mathematics in the form of Riemann tensors, developed, I might add, in the mid-1800s!

Physicists often inadvertently get this order reversed. For example, the "official superstring website:" superstringtheory.com, has a section on the mathematics of string theory, and it asks the leading question: "How has string theory changed mathematics?" Dr. Schwarz, the author of the site, spends the next couple of pages telling the reader what sorts of mathematics are involved in the study of string theory, but she never actually answers how string theory is CHANGING the mathematics! Her list of applied mathematics appeals entirely to mathematical developments to as recently as 1947, with most of the developments dating back to the mid-1800s. She gives no answer to her own question, although her question implies that mathematics is developed TO solve physical problems, and even further that mathematics develops IN ORDER TO correlate with empirical evidence. That idea is patently false! So, like other physicists I have read, she unwittingly suggests that physics drives mathematical development, when actually the reverse is closer to the truth (usually mathematics just develops completely isolated from physics, and never the twain meet).

The issue here is not whether or not there IS an amazing harmony between SOME of what we discover about the abstractions that ARE mathematics/geometry. The issue is HOW there is such a harmony.

You SPECULATE something about "the whole foundation of mathematics, is essentially a manifestation of the properties of the universe." But, no disrespect intended, that is so much hand-waving, because, as I said, there is NO apparent empirical foundation to mathematics, logic, or geometry. Our proofs in these fields are ENTIRELY abstract and having exactly zero reference to the empirical realm.

So, I ask again, given that there is zero empirical foundation to logic, mathematics, and geometry, WHY is there such a seemingly miraculous symmetry between these fields and what we seem to be discovering about the empirical realm? "A manifestation" is no answer! That is merely an admission of the fact that there is this question!

The closest thing you suggest to an answer is Wheeler's pregeometry, to which I'll return in just a second.

You see, Christians (although most don't realize it) have a ready answer to this question, and it is NOT a "God of the gaps" answer. By contrast, simply ASSERTING the symmetry and calling it empirical is no ANSWER. The symmetry is not ITSELF empirical, and there is nothing "testable" or even concrete in your speculation of "manifestation".

I appreciated your "positing" and questioning tone, as I find that sort of humility rare among physicists. "I don't have any idea" is often the best and most accurate answer to many questions. What you speculated COULD possibly be the case, perhaps. I don't know, except that the articles I've read on the subject seem like speculative metaphysics rather than physics.

Could you please tell me exactly what would be the nature of empirical tests that could falsify claims like: "In the absence of time there might be the changeless and that in the absence of space there might be the infinite, the undivided, then we are left with the possibility of a pregeometry to provide the Universe with a way to come into being"?

Reading Hawking, Weinberg, Kaku, and many others, I hate to break it to you guys, but you're really doing metaphysics and hoping to get some physical insight from that endeavor. But, as I've indicted Hawking and Weinberg for many times, metaphysics is philosophy, and bad metaphysics often arises from bad philosophical training (among other reasons). If you're going to do PHYSICS grounded in metaphysics, then I need to see the empirical tests.

So, my question remains: show me the empiricism in logic, mathematics, and geometry. Don't refer to any symmetry between them and and the physical realm as an ANSWER, because that symmetry IS the mystery. And I have yet to hear an actually empirically testable approach to the metaphysical speculations that populate the literature. Perhaps you can help me there, because I find this recent stuff fascinating.
High Fructose Corn Spirit

Gym climber
Full Silos of Iowa
Oct 31, 2010 - 11:44pm PT
re: Pope vs. Hawkings (euphemism for Abrahamic religion vs. science)

The question the 21st century's going to have to deal with insofar as it isn't already - Which is the better narrative to live by. Is it (a) the Scientific Story or (b) Under Jehovah (the Abrahamic narrative). -As a basis for one's practice of living.

Which is more empowering in the practice of living? Which promotes or facilitates "better practices" if not "best practices" in the practice of living? -At all levels, too, at the individual, family, communal levels and on up to the nation and species at large.

Right now it is apparent "Under Jehovah" is the preferred narrative for some (esp ultra conservatives, the ultracons, also my grandmother) while "The Scientific Story" is the preferred narrative - if not compelling narrative - for others (e.g., rebellious science and engineering college students). Hence much of the conflict we see across American culture, public opinion and this election cycle.

Also apparent is a group - we could call them the bicameralists - who go forward in their lives and their "practice" of living embracing - some even pridefully - both narratives.

In time this will sort out one way or another, I think.

.....

So called "culture wars" or "clashes of civilizations" really boil down to clashes of life narratives.
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Nov 1, 2010 - 12:41am PT
mathematics is generated by the same things that generate the universe, and I mean it in a physical manner

the logic of mathematics is not something absolute and abstract

so I would posit that although Clifford figured out that algebra before it was known to be applicable to the description of quantum mechanics, that the existence of quantum mechanics generates Clifford algebras...

...invert your way of thinking for a this discussion. It is not a matter of a human mind thinking up the algebra. The algebra is there to be thought of because it is the way the universe works. You yourself said above that there is a surprising relationship between mathematics and physics. It is surprising to you because you haven't thought that mathematics is actually generated physically. If that were so, the relationship would not be at all surprising.

And remember, Newton was both a mathematician and a physicist, he developed mathematics to describe physical phenomena... it's hard to say which came first in his work.

Finally, it was the program of Hilbert at the end of the 19th century into the 20th century that sought to remove all physical examples from proofs of mathematical theorems. That was a step forward for mathematics, but it opened up all sorts of problems in mathematical logic. Which you side step in your representation.

So what is empirical about the proof?
It utilizes a logic algebra that results from the physical nature of the universe
Change the physical nature and you change the logic...

madbolter1

Big Wall climber
Walla Walla, WA
Nov 1, 2010 - 12:49am PT
By the way, Ed, I should say in all sincerity that I have no problem whatsoever with you responding that my questions are not in your area of specialization. I don't consider any given physicist to be "up" on any particular part of physics, any more than I would expect any particular MD to be "up" on any particular part of medicine. Most advanced disciplines are highly specialized, so there is no punt in just saying something like, "It's not my area of specialization, but I have enough history in my field to believe that we're ultimately going to find empirical answers."

I, of course, won't agree that such answers are going to be forthcoming to these ultimate questions, as I don't believe that empiricism is "in its element" in searching for certain sorts of answers. But, as I said, "agreement" isn't my goal here.

I intend to keep studying these issues, as I find them profoundly interesting. Maybe someday I'll be on your side of the divide, and I sincerely mean that. At present, my own history doesn't suggest the pathway over there. But, my views are falsifiable in various ways, and I am honestly open to going where the best (most appropriate) answers are to be found. That said, the human condition will ever be, I believe, one of groping in regard to the ultimate questions. Perhaps that underlying belief is what makes the confidence expressed by leading physicists galling to me.
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Nov 1, 2010 - 01:13am PT
this is outside everybody's area of expertise... it is unwritten physics... read Weinberg's quote above...

I totally understand what you are saying madbolter1, I'm just sayin' there are other ways of looking at it...
madbolter1

Big Wall climber
Walla Walla, WA
Nov 1, 2010 - 01:45am PT
Change the physical nature and you change the logic.

Our latest posts crossed. But your suggestion that I "invert my thinking" is something that I've done many times. I don't think the inversion works, and I don't see what could motivate such an inversion.

You suggest that I'm not doing this because I am "sidestepping" the "problems" with modern mathematical logic. I am not sidestepping the "problems." Instead, I just don't see the "problems" having the results you seem to think they have.

The primary "problem" you can, I think, be referring to was Frege's and Russel's (among others) efforts to reduce mathematics to logic, an effort that ultimately produced Principia Mathmatica. Then along comes Kurt Godel and throws the "Incompleteness Theorem" monkey wrench into the machine. It turns out that mathematics is NOT "reducible to logic" AND it is not both "complete" in principle and consistent, as everybody thought.

Now, you seem to be saying that this result indicates that at bottom mathematics has the same sorts of "uncertainty" as we see in quantum mechanics; something like that the Incompleteness Theorem is to logic and mathematics what the Uncertainty Principle is to physics. That sort of correlation could motivate the sort of "inversion" in thinking you suggest.

If I'm misunderstanding your point, please correct me. I'm trying to be charitable, as this sort of correlation would be, I think, the strongest case you might make.

I don't think the correlation works, however, for this reason. Godel proved that for sufficiently complex logical/mathematical systems (the Theorem applies to logic as well, and polyadic predicate logic with identity is sufficiently complex; monadic predicate logic with identity is both complete and consistent!) one can have EITHER completeness OR consistency, but one cannot have both. That is indeed a shocking result, but it is widely misunderstood!

Godel did NOT prove that logic as far as we know it, or mathematics as far as we know it, IS in fact inconsistent (as if there ARE theorems that we "hold" but KNOW make no sense). His result is much more subtle than that. What he proved is that we cannot in principle HAVE a "complete" set of theorems, but IF we did, there would be at least one in the mix that could not be proved (or disproved) utilizing the previously proved theorems.

Logic/mathematics is an axiomatic system (grant the conflation for simplicity's sake). It starts with a few axioms that cannot be doubted, because to doubt them one has to employ them. An example is (in sentential form, for simplicity): "If P, then P." If the door is open, then the door is open. From a handful of axioms like this, more and more complicated theorems are derived, until a wildly robust system of logic (and mathematics) can be proved. The entire process is deductive, and Godel was NOT questioning the deductive nature of the proofs.

What Godel discovered is that deduction is IN PRINCIPLE limited: One cannot DEDUCE all of the possible theorems in a sufficiently complex system AND have the previous axiomatic approach be sufficient to the task of proving OR disproving all of the possibly "valid" (although this term breaks down in context) theorems.

The confusion is that people take Godel to be saying all sorts of things he is NOT saying in this context. For example, Godel is NOT saying that axiomatic deduction DOES (for us, actually) result in us being forced to believe absurdity. He is NOT saying that in fact absurdity will stare us in the face, and we will just have to "live with it." He is NOT saying that mathematics and logic are fundamentally absurd!

And that last point is where the correlation with the Uncertainty Principle breaks down. It is NOT true that Godel was suggesting a profound uncertainty in logic and mathematics! This is the most common mistake made about the Incompleteness Theorem. According to Godel, you can choose to impale yourself on EITHER horn of the dichotomy: sufficiently complex systems are EITHER incomplete, OR they are inconsistent (where the 'or' is exclusive). Godel found that you cannot have BOTH a complete and consistent complex logical/mathematical system. But you can have one OR the other.

So, there is absolutely nothing "problematical" with stating, as most logicians do, that modern logic is entirely consistent but incomplete: we will NEVER have a complete set of theorems all of which can be derived validly from the system's axioms. Nothing about this "problem" calls into question the axioms, the process of deduction, or the theorems we already know.

The only correlation between THIS understanding of Godel and the Uncertainly Principle, is that both are epistemological claims: both demonstrate certain limitations upon human knowledge of complex systems. In such systems there are in-principle limitations upon what we can KNOW.

But even this result does not make the point you need it to make. Godel's epistemic "hole" points to a deductive limitation, while Heisenberg's "hole" is an inductive, empirical limitation. One is a limitation in what is in-principle deduce-able, while the other is an in-principle limitation on what is observable.

Nothing about this discussion correlates logic with empiricism.

So, I simply don't see the "problem" with logic or mathematics you seem to suggest. Again, perhaps I'm completely misunderstanding you. I'm open to correction. But as I understand it, nothing about the CERTAINTY of deduction is up for grabs here, insofar as we are willing to forgo the notion that we can have COMPLETE knowledge of ALL possible logic! As far as we KNOW and will ever actually know, it works flawlessly. Nothing about the Incompleteness Theorem suggests that the certainty of deduction is in question. It is only in question if you try to employ it to prove a COMPLETE, infinite set of theorems (or reduce one such infinite set to another, as was Russel's studied goal). I know of nobody trying to do that today. But that presents no "problem" in the context of our discussion.

Thus, nothing motivates an "inversion" on my part. What you are suggesting is something akin to deduction resulting FROM induction, and it's another huge discussion to show how that doesn't work. But, for the moment, let's stick to this aspect of the discussion. Am I understanding your point correctly?
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Nov 1, 2010 - 02:12am PT
Perhaps I am trying to do too much with too few words.

At its root, my conjecture is that the nature of the universe defines the types of algebras that are available to construct logical systems. While you might be able to think up mathematical systems that appear to not have anything at all to do with physics, that does not preclude the possibility that that mathematics is actually there because of the physical nature of the universe, we might not understand that right now, but that would not disprove the possibility.

Separate human thought from mathematics, and history from mathematics. Far from being some abstract universal truth, there are a large areas which are still uncertain and unresolved in almost every part of Tony's chart up above, including logic. Conflating the human experience of mathematics with actual mathematics is an error, as you pointed out in your a*#umption of "universality" you'd expect mathematics to be independent of human thought.

I would take that a step further and say that the "universality" arises from the fact that mathematics is yet another manifestation of the physical universe. Other universes may have other mathematics.

My example of quantum mechanics was to point out that the logical algebras of classical mechanics and of quantum mechanics are quite different. While we live in the world of classical mechanics and understand that logic well, we have a tough time learning how the quantum world works, our classical intuition just doesn't help. Most of the so called "paradoxes" of quantum mechanics have their origin in the conflict of our classical prejudice with that of the quantum domain.

These physical systems which approximate the universe in the different physical domains are explainable by mathematics, it is interesting to contemplate that this is not an accident, but something quite a bit stranger, that the physics determines the mathematics.

If you consider the process of constructing logical propositions and admit that there is a physical element in that construction, it might be easier to see my point that the physical limitations of the construction could result in a limitation of the logical propositions.

Oddly, this would say we couldn't think of mathematics other than what exists in this universe. While this means that mathematics is "universal" in one sense, it is not the sense that you mean.

I don't expect that you will understand this, and if you do, I am certain that you would not accept it.

There may yet be empirical tests of these ideas in a rather complex way. But the ideas have a bit of a ways to go to become testable.
Jan

Mountain climber
Okinawa, Japan
Nov 1, 2010 - 05:16am PT
Well I understood this Ed, or at least I think I did!

It's an explanation that is completely consistent within your materialist world view and since I feel equally distant from both math and physics, I am neutral in this argument. This neutrality of view somehow makes the issues much clearer than when we have the same sorts of discussions from the point of view of spirituality and mysticism vs neurobiology.

I have never conceived of the spiritual dimension as either physical or mathematical so the argument seems clearer than when my own experience is part of my understanding. Too soon to say, but this might give me a new opening on the question, or at least a new analogy to use.
eeyonkee

Trad climber
Golden, CO
Nov 1, 2010 - 10:29am PT
This has certainly been one of the better OT threads we've had here in a while. There are some sharp cookies at the taco.
rrrADAM

Trad climber
LBMF
Nov 1, 2010 - 11:16am PT
Thus, when the Bible says that in six DAYS (evening and morning) God created the heavens and the earth, I take that to be what those passages are ABOUT; and I recognize that it is impossible to be CLEARER about what is stated. Literally, each of those verses EMPHASIZES the literal, 24-hour period as a DAY just as we now know it. If you were TRYING to say: "I mean, really, a literal, 24-hour day," you couldn't say it more clearly than it is said in those passages. In the original Hebrew, the verbiage is: "Evening was, and morning was: the first day," "Evening was, and morning was: the second day." And so on. The ancient Hebrews reckoned days from sundown to sundown, rather than the much later Roman reckoning of midnight to midnight. So, to the ancient Hebrews, "Evening was, and morning was: day one," COULD NOT be clearer. And conveying the 24-hourness of the DAYS is what those passages are ABOUT. THAT is their sole point.

Again... Now we have something to work with...

You claim this is CLEAR, that it means 24 hours days. YET, the Earth (day 1) was created before the sun (day 4), so there could have been no "sun up or sun down", AND 24 hours is a revolution of the Earth that revolves around what? The Sun. That sun going "up and down, and back up again". So, as per your own words/argument of WHY it is correct, that they viewed a day RELATIVE to the Sun Thing is CLEARLY and demonstrably WRONG. Thing is, when it was written thousands of years ago, they didn't know all of that... They thought the Sun revolved around the Earth, thus it was created first.... So, we can now understand WHY it is wrong, yet you IGNORE all of this so it can "still be right".

Even most Jews, and Rabbinic Scholars, of today realize this, and do not take it literally, and remember, it is THEIR text and religion we are talking about. (More on that below)

Now, I will understand if you state that astrophysics, cosmology, and even geology, are well outside your area of detailed understanding, BUT for you to so confidently dismiss the mountains of evidence that support it, with little or no understanding, is not sound thinking.

And, as for CLEAR... Jesus' words were VERY clear in his prediction/exclamation that "all this would come to pass" (he would return) before the current generation has passed. CLEARLY WRONG! Yet from the own mouth of who you believe to be your "all knowing" God, who doesn't make mistakes.

But see... Here is the disconnect... Look at the above two examples. You can CLEARLY see that Jesus was wrong in what he said, AND that your belief in the whole 6 day thing is wrong, given just the order things were created juxtaposed against what we know for a fact. E.g., Earth revolves around the Sun, ALL of the OVERWHELMING evidence that shows that the Earth is VERY old, and that there were start (the Heavens) LONG before our Earth was formed.

BUT, you have that secret decoder ring of delusion that allows you to see what you want... It influences what you percieve as reality... Even to the point where you can willfully ignore and dismiss FACTS, and overlook the CLEARLY illogical.

Now, you can claim I am just nit-picking, but you diddn't have a "Grilled Cheese" here, you had SUSHI. BIG difference between the two, but your delusion has you convinced it was Grilled Cheese.



And since you wish to bring in the original Hebrew text... Why do you believe Jesus was born of a virgin? Because Matthew repeats almost word for word what is in Isaiah 7:14? You may wish to look into that, as that is NOT what the original Hebrew text said, in fact, not even close... The original Hebrew text state "of a young maiden", where as the Koine Greek Translation MISTRANSLATED this to "virgin". Again, put this in context, as the Hebrew were extremely obsessed with the sexuality of women, and if they meant "virgin", they would have used that word. In fact, they were so obsessed that they would murder girls for haveing sex before marriage... So again, they would not be ambiguous in stating that.

You can start here, if you like:
http://www.messiahtruth.com/is714a.html

Remember, now... The OT is the basis of the Jewish religion, and THEY (Jewish scholars) are the experts in the meaning of it's anchient texts... A Xian reinterpreting it to suit them is no different than if a Muslim were to reinterpret the NT to shuit them.


NOTE - This (Matthew) is also the source of Jesus riding two animals into Bethlehem, as he scoured the OT for any and all prophecies that he could spin Jesus into. He did a poor job at much of it.


So much for me "not knowing one iota" (as you said) about your belief system... Remember, I was once a born again Xian, and still am VERY interested in Theology and Biblical History.... As much as I am theoretical physics and science, in fact.
High Fructose Corn Spirit

Gym climber
Full Silos of Iowa
Nov 1, 2010 - 11:25am PT
Chances are, Hawkings, if given the chance, would likely try to meliorate, otherwise solve, humanity's current and future woes - esp those having to do with over-population, renewable resource depletion, scarcity and higher prices, socioeconomic depression if not collapse - operating off of an ecological basis.

But the Pope? Who really knows. But of course he'd SAY the best basis for any problem solving concerning the human condition would be a biblical basis.

Either way, in the end, ecological dynamics always have their way. -Whether they're understood, respected, responded to, by humans or not.

.....

Look at this election cycle. It's reported the number one concern of the voter: jobs, or loss of jobs. -Which is way more ecological (having to do with globalization, corporate action and decision making, global markets and exchange (free trade) across continents) than partisan (political) - but to hear the campaign ads you wouldn't know it. "Reid spearheads loss of jobs in Nevada." How sad.
Crodog

Social climber
Nov 1, 2010 - 12:23pm PT
rrrADAM

Trad climber
LBMF
Nov 1, 2010 - 12:29pm PT


Crodog

Social climber
Nov 1, 2010 - 12:38pm PT
Something from nothing is a quantum possibility.

Werner Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle opened the doors to overturning the law of energy conservation.

Is it ever possible to get something for nothing? The global wave of financial scandals has been widely seen as confirmation that “only nothing can come from nothing”, as the Greek philosopher Parmenides argued around 2,500 years ago and finger-wagging moralists have been telling us ever since.

Slackers everywhere should therefore take heart from the mounting evidence that Parmenides and his ilk could not have been more wrong. It is now becoming clear that everything can – and probably did – come from nothing.

Whenever some common-sense view of the nature of reality is challenged like this, you can bet quantum theory will be involved. And so it proves in this case, with two recent advances in the understanding of the subatomic world adding to the weight of evidence.

Unlike financial scam artists, physicists have been amassing evidence for their unlikely claim for decades, beginning with the discovery by a young German theoretician of a loophole in a supposedly inviolable law of nature.

As countless generations of schoolchildren are taught to parrot in class, the law of conservation of energy states that it cannot be created or destroyed, but merely transformed from one form to another.

In 1927, Dr Werner Heisenberg showed that the truth is rather more interesting in a paper that addressed a philosophical question: how do we know what reality is like? The answer seems obvious: by making observations. But Dr Heisenberg pointed out that the newly emerging quantum theory implied that the very act of observation affects whatever is being observed. That, in turn, means it is impossible to know with total precision what reality is actually like.

Dr Heisenberg went on to show that his now-celebrated Uncertainty Principle implies there is always some uncertainty about properties of any region of space – specifically, how much energy it contains over a given period. The “law” of energy conservation is thus merely a conceit, and one whose violation leads to some astonishing consequences – including support for the something-for-nothing view of reality.

Heisenberg’s principle implies, for example, that the very space around us is seething with subatomic particles, popping in and out of empty space. During their fleeting existence, these “vacuum particles” interact with each other, and turn the supposedly dull vacuum of space into the quantum vacuum – which astronomers now know is anything but dull. Observations suggest the expansion of the entire cosmos is being propelled by quantum vacuum energy, in the form of enigmatic “dark energy”.

Something for nothing can also be seen working its magic down at the other scale of things. In the late 1940s, the Dutch physicist Hendrik Casimir predicted that the quantum vacuum could generate a force-field between two flat plates of metal. This “Casimir Effect” again emerges literally out of nowhere, pushing the plates together.

The force is pretty feeble: between two book-sized plates separated by just a hair’s breadth, it is equivalent to barely the weight of the ink in this sentence’s full stop, and it was properly measured only in the mid-1990s. Even so, it’s enough to cause the components of delicate micro-mechanical devices to seize up.

Fortunately, back in the 1960s some Soviet theorists predicted that the quantum vacuum can be engineered so that the Casimir force becomes one of repulsion rather than attraction. And last week a team of scientists in the US reported in the journal Nature that they had confirmed the prediction in dramatic style, using the repulsive form of the force to levitate a gold-plated ball. OK, the ball was less than the size of a full stop, but that’s pretty impressive considering it was being held aloft by nothing but the energy of empty space.

Some theorists now think they can go even further, and use the physics of something for nothing to explain the origin of literally everything. They claim that the Big Bang from which the entire universe emerged was the result of convulsions in the quantum vacuum which took place around 14 billion years ago.

New theoretical work on the nature of matter suggests we may now have to regard even ourselves to be manifestations of the quantum vacuum.

All atoms are made up of electrons plus a far more massive central nucleus, made up of clusters of particles called quarks. It seems obvious that the mass of the nucleus must be the sum total of the masses of its quarks – but that reckons without the effect of the quantum vacuum. It turns out that the quarks account for only a tiny fraction of the total mass of a nucleus. By far the bulk comes from the subatomic “glue” that binds its quarks together. And this glue takes the form of vacuum particles flitting in and out of existence.

That at least is the theory. Confirming it requires some appallingly difficult calculations, involving all the different manifestations of quantum vacuum particles inside the nucleus – of which there are trillions. At the John von Neumann Institute for Computing in Jülich, Germany, Dr Stephan Dürr and colleagues have had a shot at doing this titanic calculation, using a computer capable of performing over 100 million million calculations a second.

After several months of number-crunching, the machine has now spat out its estimate for the mass of a hydrogen nucleus, and it is within 2 per cent of the value measured in the lab. In other words, virtually all the mass contained in atoms – and indeed us – appears to be nothing more than the evanescent energy of empty space.

It thus seems that much as we may like to distance ourselves from financial scam artists and get-rich-quick schemes, we are all living proof that it’s possible to get something for nothing.
WBraun

climber
Nov 1, 2010 - 12:46pm PT
"It is now becoming clear that everything can – and probably did – come from nothing."

Sure .....

If you don't know, you can always just ....

GUESS
High Fructose Corn Spirit

Gym climber
Full Silos of Iowa
Nov 1, 2010 - 12:55pm PT
Look closely, I think that's Laura Ingraham debating Atheist Eve.
rrrADAM

Trad climber
LBMF
Nov 1, 2010 - 02:11pm PT
Dr Heisenberg went on to show that his now-celebrated Uncertainty Principle implies there is always some uncertainty about properties of any region of space – specifically, how much energy it contains over a given period. The “law” of energy conservation is thus merely a conceit, and one whose violation leads to some astonishing consequences – including support for the something-for-nothing view of reality.
When we talk of quantum foam and of virtual particles coming into and out of existance, we are approching the Plank scales... As per Heisenberg's Principle, the smaller the space, the larger the energy of these [virtual] particles, thus no violation of energy conservation laws.



Some theorists now think they can go even further, and use the physics of something for nothing to explain the origin of literally everything. They claim that the Big Bang from which the entire universe emerged was the result of convulsions in the quantum vacuum which took place around 14 billion years ago.
Current consenceous regarding the Big Bang is that IT gave rise to all of space and time, that it didn;t bang "into" a previously existing space... Thus, there was no 'quentum vacuum' for this to take place "in"... IT gave rise to the quantum vacuum, space and time.

That said... "What" banged WAS most likely a quantum object. Trying to understand this without a quantum theory of gravity [if there is one to be had] is, IMHO, folly.
MH2

climber
Nov 1, 2010 - 02:49pm PT
from Ed:

"That is, the algebraic relationship of the transformation of states which create the universe, define it, actually generate mathematics too.

And the consequences of these ideas, which Wheeler referred to as "pre-geometry" are certainly testable empirically. So certainly I can be shown to be wrong... "


I think that's crazy, and wild and a great idea!


Thanks for elaborating, Ed.
Crodog

Social climber
Nov 1, 2010 - 03:12pm PT
Origin of the Universe - Stephen Hawking

Part 1:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nFjwXe-pXvM

Part 2:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HSUsXYcQ5qA&feature=related

Part 3:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MzO5eSjgocA&feature=related

Part 4:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xhNX1wKFbB0&feature=related

Part 5:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O8Kp0rQ23PY&feature=related

High Fructose Corn Spirit

Gym climber
Full Silos of Iowa
Nov 1, 2010 - 04:19pm PT
What you're describing is science education in physics.

.....

Careful though. Science education plus a commitment to actually live up to it can be compelling - compelling enough even, maybe, to COMPEL you to take a stance or two against tradition - a practice of questionable productivity not recommended for the faint-of-heart. ;)
noshoesnoshirt

climber
Arkansas, I suppose
Nov 1, 2010 - 04:27pm PT
Hawking vs. the Pope eh?

The Pope definitely has the weight and reach advantage, but he is gettin' kinda old.

Still unless Hawking gets that exoskeleton ( http://www.theonion.com/articles/stephen-hawking-builds-robotic-exoskeleton,1629/ )working soon, I'd have to put my money on the Pope.
rrrADAM

Trad climber
LBMF
Nov 1, 2010 - 05:02pm PT

Possible caption?
"Demons be gone! Rise up and walk! The power of Christ compels you!"
rrrADAM

Trad climber
LBMF
Nov 1, 2010 - 05:09pm PT
still putting time in on the lorentz grid work- interesting to me that to actually understand eintein it is best to just study the folks who preceded einstien and gave einstien his thoughts to work with in the first place.
Yes... Maxwell, Lorentz, and Minkowski.



]i still can't quite make it click how time slows down as you travel faster?
It's a cheesy video, but it explains it well as far as velocity (Special Relativity) goes:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ySP5RuuLPrA

This is a pretty good wiki entry, BTW:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Time_dilation

It also lists a few well known confirmations of this, namely the GPS satellites, and you can look deeper from there.

From there:
Gamma, on the left, is the relative difference in time, depending on speed, on the bottom, shown as percentages of c... Note that it is not linear, AND that you can never get to the speed of light... Close, but not quite there... As if you did, time would STOP, relative to an observer. Thus, relative to a photon, there is no time.

Gamma, the delta between the two frames of reference is one thing that the Lorentz equations calculate.


The "how", is a bit harder to wrap your head around...
(Note - More speculation from me than asserting as correct, as I'm not a big 'relativity' guy.)

One item to consider is that the Lorentz equations also solve for length (distance) contraction/dilation:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Length_contraction

AND, that an object at velocity has more energy [kinetic], than an object at rest (this is why they say "rest mass"), thus it's mass (remember, it equals energy) increases, so it WILL curve spacetime more so than an object not at velocity.... But this is more GR than SR.

The kicker, though, is that each observer will see the OTHER'S clock as going slower than theirs. Meaning, even the one at velocity will view the one who isn't, as experiencing time more slowly, since who's to say, "you're moving and I'm not?"


I hope that didn't confuse you more.


Also, you HAVE to stop thinking that space and time are seperate, but are instead one manifold, with time as another dimension... Not (x,y,z) and (t), but instead, (x,y,z,-t).

Once you do this, you can think of it in 2 dimension this way...

Use the gragh above, but put North going up on the left in place of Gamma, and East going right on the bottom in place of speed (through space). If you travel only East, you will make no progress North. But, if you start to vere North, you will progress North, but at the expense of some of your Eastwardly progress. Now, if you travel only North, you won't make any progress East.

Now let's change what the gragh represents, let's put space (x,y,z) on the bottom, and time on the left. You can still think of it as just 2 dimensions, as when you move through space, you do it in only one direction, making a line... You will still have left/right, and up/down (y,z) relative to your direction on motion (x)... So, it's rally just x on the bottom and t on the left. Now, if you are standing still (I.e., not moving through space), you will only progress through time... Ticking the seconds away. But, as you start to move through space, it's at the expense of making progress through time just like North v East in the paragraph above, although not linear). In fact, if you were to move through space at c, you would stop moving through time.




Enjoy your journey, my friend.
rrrADAM

Trad climber
LBMF
Nov 1, 2010 - 05:50pm PT
Not sure when you read my previous reply, but I rarely get it right the first time, and edit some bad spelling out and clarify better. You may wish to reread.
StahlBro

Trad climber
San Diego, CA
Nov 1, 2010 - 07:17pm PT
I read Hawking's "A brief history of time" and was doing pretty well (after reading some pages many times). I got event horizons and their cones etc, but when I got to space as an infinite curve, my conceptualization broke down. I know I am missing something........what the heck is an infinte curve?
rrrADAM

Trad climber
LBMF
Nov 1, 2010 - 08:34pm PT
I read Hawking's "A brief history of time" and was doing pretty well (after reading some pages many times). I got event horizons and their cones etc, but when I got to space as an infinite curve, my conceptualization broke down. I know I am missing something........what the heck is an infinte curve?
Welcome to the club... It's next to impossible to envision soem of this stuff in multiple dimensions, which is why people use models.

The most common model is that of the surface of a baloon (2 dimensions) to represent the expanding universe (3D, well, really 4: x,y,z,-t) in the shape of a sphere. Remember, in this model, there is only x and y (area) on the surface of the baloon, there is no z dimension... No up or down.

Imagine the surface of a balloon, but only the surface, remember, not the inside of the sphere, or the "space" above it. THAT is a 2D surface, just like the surface of the Earth.

On the surface of this ballon, there is no starting point or edge... If you go in one direction long enough, you will come back to where you started.

Now, on this balloon, randomly draw a whole bunch of dots with a black marker, and randomely put one red dot and one blue dot on it.

Now if we inflate the balloon, from the perspective of the red dot, we will notice that ALL of the dots move away from the red one, AND the further out we go away from the red dot, the faster the dots are moving away... This is EXACTLY* what we see when we look into space, as galaxies further away from us are moving away faster from us than ones that are closer. THAT is Hubble's Law.

Now, one might be tempted to think that we are at the center of the universe since all objects are moving away from us, but this is where the blue dot on the ballon comes in... From the blue dot, all other dots will be moving away from it EXACTLY like they are moving away from the red dot. No matter where we put the red or blue dots, it will always be the same. This is because it is the surface of the balloon that is expanding, and the dots are just being carried with it.

What we see in the universe is because it is actually space itself that is expanding, and, like the dots on the balloon, the galaxies are being carried with it. And, just like the balloon get's larger in surface area as it inflates, the universe grows larger in size as it inflates.

But remember, in this model, we are confined to the surface of the balloon ONLY... Same thing goes with the universe, as all of space IS the universe, so while it expands, it doesn't expand "into" anything.


Now, one might also be temped to think that the galaxies may be flying away "through" space, as if from an explosion, as they do call it the Big Bang, but that's not what the term really means**. If it were galaxies flying through space as the result of an explosion, all objects would be moving at the same rate, or even slowing down the further out we go due to gravity, AND if we were in the center, yet were to go to another dot/galaxy, we would see our neighbors (dots/galaxies) roughly moving in the same direction as us, away from one point. This isn't what we'd see.

Thus, the 2D model of our 3D universe works well to convey what is actually happening, and an easier way to envision the expanding closed space.


Now, imagine an ant walking on this expanding balloon... He has one speed, and never moves faster or slower. He may be able to get to other dots close by, but if the balloon is large enough, and/or expanding fast enough, he will never reach the dots beyond a certain point, as they will be moving away from him faster than he can move, and remember, he only has one speed.

Same goes for light (the ant) and galaxies (the dots)... In the expanding universe, there is a point where light will never reach it, or it's light reach us... This is the "observable" universe... It's not an edge, just the point where the galaxies are moving faster, relative to us, than light.


NOW... Don't think that the galaxies are moving "through" space at a velocity greater than c... They are not. It is space that is expanding, carrying the galaxies with it... Like the dots on the balloon. The galxies do move through space, but not anywhere near the velocity of c.


Make sense?


*The rate at which all galaxies move away from us isn't perfectly linear, as, for example, there are some groups of galaxies that excert a gravitational influence on their neighbors, and slightly alter their movement, but it is very small. In fact, some are moving towards us, like our closest neighbor, Andromeda.


** The term Big Bang came from Fred Hoyle as a term of derison, as he believed in an infinate steady state universe, that wasn't expanding.




For a flat space, think of the game PacMan as a 2D model, as you can go out one side and instantly come in from the other, thus, closed, yet infinate.


Sorry... I can't do a hyperbolic cure... You're on you're own there, but since I believe Omega to be >1, and that space has positive curvature, that means it's in the shape of a sphere... Albeit a VERY large sphere... So large as to appear flat (Omega=1) with all the tests we have been able to perform thus far.

Jaybro

Social climber
Wolf City, Wyoming
Nov 1, 2010 - 08:54pm PT
Is this why other climbers always appear to be climbing slower?
rrrADAM

Trad climber
LBMF
Nov 1, 2010 - 08:55pm PT
If interested, in any of this, here is some some interesting stuff:
http://math.ucr.edu/home/baez/timeline.html
(madbolter1... You will NOT like this stuff.)

John Baez, cousing to Joan Baez, is arguable the worlds leading mathematical physicist, and he has some really good stuff written for all levels...
http://math.ucr.edu/home/baez/physics/


In fact, he even says better what I tried to say above:
What causes Gravity?

One of Einstein's old tutors, a man by the name of Minkowski showed that the special theory of relativity could be expressed in an interesting way.

The world we live in consists of four dimensions, the three space dimensions and one that is not exactly time but is related to time (it is in fact time multiplied by the square root of -1). This is not at all easy to understand but it means that space-time as we call it has some rather weird properties. In particular, when you move through one of the space dimensions you also travel, unwittingly, through time. You do not notice this, indeed as far as you are concerned nothing happens to you at all, but someone observing you would say that you have travelled through time. Of course, we are always travelling through time, but when you travel through space you travel through time by less that you expect. The most famous example of this effect is the "Twins Paradox".

All the effects of special relativity, such as the slowing down of clocks and the shrinking of rods follow from the above. In fact, it is often better to think of some things, such as electromagnetic fields as being four-dimensional objects. However, the important thing to remember for the moment, is: when you move through space you are compelled to move through time but, when you move through time (which of course you are always doing) you do not have to move through space.

So, what does this have to do with gravity? It is quite simple! When a mass is present in the above space-time it distorts it so that whilst it remains true that travelling through space causes you to travel through time, travelling through time now causes you to move (accelerate) through space. In other words just by existing, you are compelled to move through space - this is gravity.

The particular advantage of this theory of gravity (General Relativity) is that it explains, at a stroke, all the observed properties of gravity. For example the fact that it acts equally on all objects and substances becomes obvious when you thing of gravity as a distortion of space-time rather than a force.

Imagine that you are in free space, away from any planets or stars, when suddenly a planet is created quite close to you. You would not be aware that anything is happening to you, you would feel no force, but you would find that you started to accelerate towards the planet. This is just like the case where you travel through space, you are not aware that you have also travelled through time but people observing you are.
http://math.ucr.edu/home/baez/physics/Relativity/GR/gravity.html
Ricky D

Trad climber
Sierra Westside
Nov 1, 2010 - 09:32pm PT
Science is hard and people are easily distracted.

Religion can be learned by songs and comics.

Explains things I think.
High Fructose Corn Spirit

Gym climber
Full Silos of Iowa
Nov 1, 2010 - 10:18pm PT
re: 1 Pope vs Hawking 2 Change 3 Paradigm Shifts

Enough Einstein, how about Planck. Change often occurs the way Max Planck described it:

"A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it."

Applies to belief systems and their narratives, too, I think.

.....

By the way, I'd rather live under the Abrahamic narrative than the Mayan narrative. At least that's how I felt all day today after watching Mel Gibson's Apocalypto (2006) yesterday. Wow. Highly recommended. Guraranteed to take you back and to fire the imagination!

WBraun

climber
Nov 1, 2010 - 11:10pm PT
The gist is: that IT can ALL be explained without God
through Math, logic, and observation

Never does God come in the equation, nor theory for explanation of reality, for the past, or the future

Math logic and observation are all none other than Gods different energies.

God is the equation itself in his impersonal form.

You failed again .......
High Fructose Corn Spirit

Gym climber
Full Silos of Iowa
Nov 1, 2010 - 11:21pm PT
"one of my favorite books as a child..."

Oh, man, I AM getting old! LOL!
High Fructose Corn Spirit

Gym climber
Full Silos of Iowa
Nov 1, 2010 - 11:30pm PT
"Philosophy is dead."

To remind some of you: I tried to point this out to Madbolter1 (our resident philosopher Christian) a year or so ago. (Of course, this was AFTER his beyond the pale criticisms and snubbing of Sagan, Dawkins, Dennett and others. And ME.) But he wouldn't have it.

This from the #1 Reviewer of The Grand Design at amazon:

"This book began not with a Bang, but with a shudder. On the first page, I read the phrase (and yes it's a proof so this may be changed in the actual version): "Philosophy is dead". No one can argue that there is a modern day philospher with the influence of Aristotle; but surely, philosophy can't be dead!?

However, reading onward, the authors made their point quite convincingly: philosophy is dead in the sense of answering the most mysterious of life's questions. It is up to science, and scientific theory, to provide clues to the true answers, as philosphy in its most ancient forms has taken a back seat, but modern philosphy, that of scientific philosophy, has taken root."

Looks like a few others besides me and Peter Atkins (a physical chemist known for his broader philosophizing) have come to the same view. In the same sense. But it is academic philosophy's own fault, however, in bed too long over the centuries with Abrahamic theology.

EDIT And even in its contemporary forms, you'll note academic philosophy's taken a back seat to engineering disciplines - the whole of them - when it comes to practical problem solving in the interest of the human condition.

And if you question whether it mucks up the water with needless esoterica (besides meaningless concepts and historical baggage), just look a few pages back on this thread. It's a conversation stopper. Philosophy fiddles while American culture circles the drain. It's time we had a new discipline or two, I think, in addition to science and engineering to round out things - human inquiry, development, what matters, point and purpose, life guidance, etc. -Since academic philosophy like Abrahamic theology on so many counts failed already.

Good riddance.
Crodog

Social climber
Nov 1, 2010 - 11:38pm PT
God is the equation itself in his impersonal form

If you like to think of equations as Gods.
Tony Bird

climber
Northridge, CA
Nov 2, 2010 - 12:34am PT
interesting, rrradam. joan's dad was also a physicist. he worked at harvard for awhile and then for unesco in education projects. he had joined the quakers in the 50s and after that refused to engage in research that would lead to WMDs.

"my father turned down many a job
"just to give us something real
"it's hard to be a scientist in the states
"if you've got ideals ..."

(gulf winds)

her dad eventually became nearly homeless, in spite of his famous daughter, and lived for a time in ramshackle conditions in the sacramento delta country. he must have been doing something right, though, living into his 90s.
StahlBro

Trad climber
San Diego, CA
Nov 2, 2010 - 12:52am PT
rrrA,

Thanks. Since there is no fixed point in the universe, that is kind of where I was going. If all things are in motion, then the curve is never fixed.....
madbolter1

Big Wall climber
Walla Walla, WA
Nov 2, 2010 - 01:13am PT
Philosphy is dead- physics is picking up where philosphy has stopped

Oh, wow! Just wow! It is to laugh! Can't even spell it correctly! lololol

So, I guess that the above quote is itself a statement of physics? Exactly what physical theory grounds that statement? Physics does philosophy and CALLS it physics. Too hilarious!
madbolter1

Big Wall climber
Walla Walla, WA
Nov 2, 2010 - 01:15am PT
Well, HFCS, a reviewer said what you said, so that must make it true. This whole thread has become pure entertainment now.

You are RIGHT! You are RIGHT!

I've finally come to my senses! That reviewer was the final bit of evidence I needed!

Thank you for posting that.

Thank you, thank you! I have seen the light!
madbolter1

Big Wall climber
Walla Walla, WA
Nov 2, 2010 - 01:17am PT
Whoooaaahhh... DEEP!

If all fixed are in curves, then the motion is never things!

I get it!

Thank you! Thank you!

Harharharahar
madbolter1

Big Wall climber
Walla Walla, WA
Nov 2, 2010 - 01:23am PT
It is spooky- but just our very existance in the now makes us all our own gods- we are reality....it is crazy sh#t to ponder.

Wow! Yessss! It IS some crazy sh#t to ponder! Too bad I can't do any more "pondering," because all I can do is physics now!

I'm just DEEP in the PHYSICS of the idea that "we are reality!" That is some crazy sh#t indeed!

Wait! Wait! Am I reality? Just ME? Or are WE ALL reality? ALL of us together? How MANY of us does it take to BE reality?

Wow! Just crazy sh#t!!!
High Fructose Corn Spirit

Gym climber
Full Silos of Iowa
Nov 2, 2010 - 01:50am PT
(1) You're welcome. (2) re: "Philosophy is dead." Re-read. The reviewer didn't say it, Hawking and Mlodinow said it, the reviewer was quoting them. Read more slowly if necessary. (3) A year later, I see you're still as condescending to all as ever, I figured it was just a matter of time, my instinct was right. (4) You're pirating my retorts, same as before, use your own.

Aughh, enough energy spent here on you, later.
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Nov 2, 2010 - 03:15am PT
Yikes, not sure where this is all going...

Philosophy is not physics, and for vast parts of philosophy, physics has no real part to play...

There are things about physics that are relevant to philosophy, and vice versa, so I am not ready to throw out one or the other. I think it isn't a wise thing to do in either case.

What is being debated, at least between madbolter1 and me, are a set of interesting points ultimately having to do with whether or not everything we can know is empirical. It's a deep question. Largo also has pursued this line in a series of discussions elsewhere on the Taco... and Karl too in his own way, and Jan.

There is no proof that the scientific method works indefinitely, that it doesn't ultimately have a limit. The only empirical way to establish it is to find a problem that is not accessible to solution in that manner. There are a number of ways that this could happen. Falsifiability is probably the place it could happen, that is, you reach a point where a hypothesis cannot be tested, perhaps because it would take all the available energy in the universe to do so... think doing experiments at the Planck Mass, not possible. So this rules out a set of theories that cannot be challenged in a practical manner.

Another area is reproducibility. This is a lot more subtle, but in principle, independent confirmation of empirical results is a necessary condition to accept the outcome of a test. It could be that for various reasons, it is impossible to achieve independence due to some necessary dependence among experiments.

Finally, our ability to calculate may fall short of the needs of a theory to produce testable predictions, that is, while we know what the equations that make the theory, we may not be able to solve them for a physical system we could create in the lab. Another variant of this would be our inability to solve a set of equations analytically for practical situations. It is possible that the impossibility of solution could be shown, so we have a theory, but we can't calculate it...

All of these crises have visited physics in the past... and those crises had passed. However, we have no way of knowing, for sure, whether or not this will continue for all of the things we're considering in physics.

On the other hand, we can also consider much more domain to be examined by physics as we start to understand the structure of the universe at a very fundamental level. Space-time is familiar to us, but we don't know where it comes from. Why 3 space and 1 time dimension? this sort of a question starts to be sensible to ask now, perhaps for the first time... and seeking the answer will likely produce much interesting physics. I think mathematics itself could be wrapped up in this line of investigation, but that's just me...

So if there are things about the universe which exceed our ability to understand them via the scientific method, but that exist, how would we deal with achieving some level of understanding regarding them?

And as far as providing some wisdom on the human condition, I would presume that the view of the physicist may be a bit nihilistic for most people... even if there is no reason for our existence in the universe and no special priority for us there, there is still meaning to our lives derived from our condition. Philosophy certainly addresses that where physics does not.



madbolter1

Big Wall climber
Walla Walla, WA
Nov 2, 2010 - 05:01am PT
Well summarized, Ed. Thank you.

I'm off to bed. Too long of a day!
rrrADAM

Trad climber
LBMF
Nov 2, 2010 - 06:57am PT
"A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it."

Thomas Kuhn said almost the exact same thing in The Structure of Scientific Revolutions.
rrrADAM

Trad climber
LBMF
Nov 2, 2010 - 07:25am PT
StahlBro wrote:
If all things are in motion, then the curve is never fixed.....

But madbolter1 interpreted that as:
If all fixed are in curves, then the motion is never things!

I think your decoder ring is malfunctioning.



Then, replying to another:
Can't even spell it correctly! lololol

Can you name that fallacy? Your educational pedigree leads me to believe you can.
rrrADAM

Trad climber
LBMF
Nov 2, 2010 - 07:57am PT
could it be that quantum is the real reality of the universe?
Quantum mechanics/theory IS the reality at the quantum level (atomic and below), and General Relativity (Gravity) IS, with few exceptions, reality at the everyday level up to super clusters of galaxies.

Thing is... Thw two do not combine, and that is the 'Holy Grail' of theoretical physics... To find, or discover, a theory of everything (ToE), that successfully has the same results that QM and GR give in their domains. It is also called a quantum theory of gravity.


Note - As far as quantum theory goes, look into Quantum Electrodynamics, what Richard Feynman shared his Nobel in... It is the most accurately tested theory, in terms of detail, today... Precicely prediction many things, and all confirmed. In fact, in the 80's, Feynman compared the accuracy (THEN) to measuring the distance from Los Angeles to New York to within the accuracy of the thickness of a human hair.

More on that here:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Precision_tests_of_QED


Or, you can just read one of the best books ever about quantum physics:

It is VERY accessible, and can be read in a single day if you have the time. It will explain what physically happens in most of the everyday processes we take for granted, or never really think about. (E.g., refraction (optics), difraction, electricity/magnetism, chemistry, etc...) He also doresn't just stop there, as even much more is described by that single theory.

Basically, he has 3 "laws":
1. A photon goes from place to place
2. An electron goes from place to place
3. An electron either absorbs or emits a photon

From understanding that alone, especially 3, much can be explained.

Example... An electron moving at significant velocity gains a lot of energy/mass. If that electron is suddenly stopped, or even significantly deflected by an electromagnetic field, it will give off a high energy photon called an x-ray. This is exactly how x-rays are generated a CRT with negatively charged electrons being 'boiled off' of a filament (like a light bulb), then being accelerated toward the postive current applied to a tungsten target. When those electron colide with it, they give off all that energy, in about 97-98% heat and 2-3% x-rays.

Or, in a particle collider, like Ed gets to play with (I'm jealous), or even in space, electrons moving at velocity spiral around 'electromagnetic fields or are deflected by them, and this gives of x-rays, called synchrotron radiation and cyclotron radiation..

This process is known as Bremsstrahlung:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bremsstrahlung
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Nov 2, 2010 - 11:46am PT
silly sully... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Father_Guido_Sarducci

As for the quantum-ness of the universe, it is expected that in the end, everything is describable in quantum mechanical terms, or quantum field theoretic terms. However, gravity has escaped description that way, mostly due to the incurable infinities which pop up when you take a run at the problem of quantization head on... this has been a long standing problem in physics and one that is not quite solved. My guess is that we will solve it but learn something fascinating in the process; the solution will be a surprise. I have no good authority on this, I'm not working in that area of physics, but it has always been something that interested me.

Einstein had a very deep understanding of physics, but this made it difficult for him to accept the apparent contradictions that the quantum mechanics presented. The final analysis, referred to as the Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen paradox had been published to criticize the idea that you may have heard of: Schrodinger's Cat... the idea that a quantum state exists in all its possible outcomes. Einstein felt that there had to be something "hidden" that predetermined the outcome of the measurement.

John Bell took this idea and developed a series of inequalities which provided the basis of experimental test showing that there are no hidden variables, that quantum mechanics is the way things are.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/EPR_paradox

While what this all means philosophically has yet to be worked out, physicists were not surprised to find that quantum mechanics passed the test... it is a hugely successful theory leading to amazingly precise predictions verified in the lab...

Philosophy and physics have very different aims, and sometimes they intersect but less and less productively. It is because physicists do not need to have a consistent philosophical basis for conducting research, allowing the scientific method to prevail and trusting that the conflicting and paradoxical results will ultimately be resolved. Philosophers seek a set of consistent principles to form a system of thought, logical and "proven."

The reason that physicists do not need such a thing is that they believe that the physical universe provides the ultimate authority, through empirical observation, for the theories. There is no other authority in physics.

Philosophy has no such "ultimate" authority. To a physicist, it is all just arguing and words... no one can be demonstrably right or wrong.
rockermike

Trad climber
Berkeley
Nov 2, 2010 - 12:06pm PT
OT but worth noting given photo of Pope Pius posted above

rrrADAM

Trad climber
LBMF
Nov 2, 2010 - 12:16pm PT
Well worded, Ed... Very succinct.
rrrADAM

Trad climber
LBMF
Nov 2, 2010 - 01:22pm PT
That's because Descarte was also a mathematician and physicist...

Ever heard of the Descarte (Cartesian) Graphging system?

I'm sure you have:
http://www.mathlife.net/AlgebraI/Functions/BasicGraphing/BasicGraphingNotes.html



And Newton himself initially thought that the eye emitted particles (corpusuls) that bounced off an object and returned to the eye, thus creating a visible image.


Many of the greats believed things back in the day that just weren't so, as they had no reason to believe any different.

Even Einstein profoundly believed in a static universe, thus added the cosmological constant to his equations, as when he solved them initially, it showed a dynamic universe. He even dismissed those who came after him (Freidman, and Lemaitre [the Belgian Priest/Astrophysicist I posted about pages back], and even Hubble), until he himself viewed the plates Hubble had taken on Mt Wilson. And, as Ed pointed out, he had issues fully accepting QM.
High Fructose Corn Spirit

Gym climber
Full Silos of Iowa
Nov 2, 2010 - 02:26pm PT
re: "Philosophy is Dead"

I only meant to draw attention to the notion that "Philosophy is dead" in the same sense that "Astrology is dead" or "Theology is dead" - being that it is the 21st century you wouldn't want your son or daughter majoring in any of these old-school disciplines (dysciplines) in college.
madbolter1

Big Wall climber
Walla Walla, WA
Nov 2, 2010 - 02:34pm PT
The reason that physicists do not need such a thing is that they believe that the physical universe provides the ultimate authority, through empirical observation, for the theories. There is no other authority in physics.

Ed, I think that you are basically correct in this assessment. But there is another significant difference between physics and philosophy, and that is what the "truth" predicate is doing.

In a robust Tarskian notion of truth: "'Snow is white' is true iff snow is white." At first blush, this seems consistent with what physics is saying: "We know that 'snow is white' is true iff empirical observation reveals that snow is white."

But the physical interpretation of Tarski's truth predicate builds in epistemological presumptions not found in the original. On Tarski's model, we are correlating "is true" with the FACTS in a robust, metaphysical way having nothing to do with any particular empirical bias. That vast majority of philosophers (apart from deflationists, etc.) accept that Tarski's truth predicate is the best account of "truth" that we have: it correlates an assertoric sentence with the way the world REALLY is (leaving the epistemological question of discovery out of the definition).

Physicists buy the Tarskian model of truth, but also build empiricism into their analysis of "the way the world is."

Things get sticky when "the way the world IS" is made synonymous with, in effect, "the way the world appears to us," which is what physicists do. Thus, physicists think that "snow is white" is synonymous with "snow appears white to us." In other words, empirical observations (that are themselves thoroughly interpreted) are made synonymous with what the actual metaphysical facts are.

Philosophers recognize that the way things appear to us and the way they really are often come apart. Furthermore, we recognize that there are fundamental limitations upon empiricism: for it to be thoroughgoing, you have to be willing to give up "truth" attributes of necessity, universality, and certainty in thoroughgoing fashion.

Ed, you seem quite willing to bite that bullet, thereby relativizing mathematics, logic, and so forth; and you "suspect" (I don't mean this pejoratively) that these fields emerge from "facts" (here you mean metaphysically, because your physics is really doing metaphysics) of the universe.

You will find few (I have never met one) mathematicians or logicians that will agree with your or share your hope. And I believe that your "physics explains all" approach is really the tail wagging the dog: physics employs mathematics, but it does not produce mathematics (we had this discussion before, and I don't see where you've even started to make the case that physics DRIVES mathematical discoveries). The best you can say so far is that you "suspect" that mathematics and logic are what they are because of some (as yet entirely undisclosed) properties or relations, empirically discoverable, that exist in the universe. But these relations or properties are as yet entirely occult, and I don't see even an inkling of what direction empirically discovering these might take. So, as yet, it's a grand hope, but entirely speculative.

Most philosophers, by contrast, prefer to keep Tarski unsullied by any particular epistemological commitments. This keeps "truth" much more robust, as it avoids the conflation between "the way the world IS" and "the way the world seems to us at this point in time."

It's too much history of philosophy at this point, but the interested reader could compare Hume and Kant (as that comparison underlies this entire discussion) to see that Hume (the empiricist) actually gutted the reliability of science, and Kant (the transcendental idealist) reestablished the reliability of science. However, ironically, reestablishing the reliability of science comes at the cost of putting certain scientific presumptions (such as the nature of space/time, causality, substance, etc.) "in us" and thereby making very robust the distinction between "the way things are" and "the way things appear to us."

In short, for physicists, "truth" becomes pragmatic: "the way things appear to us," or, "what seems to work best." For most philosophers, "truth" means very robustly: "the way things really are," and that is a metaphysically rather than physically bound notion of truth.

I'm not saying that in the context of these discussion here we are going to establish preeminence of either approach to "truth," but I am noting that there are MANY typically unrecognized consequences to each approach. Philosophy has produced some amazing results in the fields of logic, mathematics, philosophy of language, etc., and these have been based upon a robust Tarskian model of truth. Ed, you are certainly within your rights to "suspect" that an entirely empirical interpretation can also be productive in these fields, but you will not find mathematicians, logicians or linguists agreeing with you.

I earlier noted the distinction between propositions and sentences. The EXISTENCE of propositions as abstract objects has been demonstrated by Alonzo Church, and that propositional existence grounds the fact that translation between natural languages is possible at all. On your model, Ed, propositions are not really abstract objects at all, but are instead some (as yet undisclosed) features or relations of the empirical realm. Again, you can speculate that this is the case, but I await even a vague direction of inquiry toward empirically discovering what entities or relations might ground propositions.

This is where the rubber meets the road: philosophers, mathematicians, and logicians are content to refer to abstract objects; while physicists are committed to making these "abstract objects" actually be empirically-accessible objects.

The problem with this quest can be seen in the ill-fated results of the Vienna Circle in the early to mid-1900s. This group of philosophers and scientists attempted to reduce metaphysics to physics, effectively eliminating metaphysics. The epistemological approach known as "logical positivism" emerged from this group. In this case, "logical" meant an Enlightenment notion, reducing "rationality" to "empirically demonstrable;" and "positivism" meant "truth can be known."

The studied goal of this group was to analyze all forms of discourse, rejecting those the statements of which could not be cast in empirical terms. Of course, religion was first on the chopping block, as statements like "God created the universe in six days" utterly lack empirical truth conditions! The ultimate concluding principle became something like this: "Statements in any discourse that lack empirical truth conditions are worse than merely false; they are meaningless." Hence, the "logic" of all discourses (in this case, the semantics) determining the meaning of statements in that discourse had to be tied to empirical truth conditions.

Ed, I might be misunderstanding you, but you seem to be leaning strongly this direction.

This epistemological approach gained more and more favor through the 50s, and it seemed to herald the ultimate unification of philosophy and science, specifically between metaphysics and physics. It took decades, with almost everybody on board, before a few philosophers (NOT scientists) starting noticing the fly in the ointment.

The underlying principle of logical positivism ITSELF lacked empirical truth conditions!

As soon as the buzz started to get around, a quickly growing awareness swept the intellectual community, and almost overnight logical positivism was dead. Out of this revolution sprang the most pervasive aspect of philosophy of science, the part that underlies all contemporary scientific discourse, and that was Popper's breakthrough notion of falsifiability.

But notice that falsificationism emerges as a REACTION to the verificationism of logical positivism. And the unrecognized implication of the principle of falsificationism is that scientific "truth" is NECESSARILY provisional, it is ALWAYS "how things SEEM to us at the moment." In science since the death of logical positivism, "truth" is always small-t truth, with no hope of robust KNOWLEDGE. POSITIVISM is dead in science!

For most people, this small-k knowledge (what seems to work) is "close enough for rock and roll." THE problem arises when physics forgets ALL of this background and starts talking like the small-k knowledge is the same thing as genuine, certain KNOWLEDGE; as though "the way things seem to us at the moment" is JUST THE SAME thing as "the way things REALLY ARE."

They are NOT the same thing, and both the histories of philosophy AND science (particularly when they have intersected) reveal how different they are.

So, I take umbrage with science when it gets strident, when it starts talking as though any particular physical model REALLY IS the way things are in the universe. And, Ed, your conflation of the empirical with the Tarskian notion of truth is akin to logical positivism, it is not sustainable, not demonstrable, and is pure speculation.

IMHO
High Fructose Corn Spirit

Gym climber
Full Silos of Iowa
Nov 2, 2010 - 02:45pm PT
See, no disrespect, but who talks like that? Not engineers. Not applied scientists. Not the effective ones. Nowadays, apart from academic philosophers, only paranormalists or theologians. Nobody wishing to gain traction in today's world in matters of understanding talks like that anymore. Esoterica is out. (Review its etymology.)
madbolter1

Big Wall climber
Walla Walla, WA
Nov 2, 2010 - 03:00pm PT
It seems though that nothing was as damaging to science as the rise of the Christians. Much of what the Greeks learned was lost for ages because of gods law and christina influence.

It's ironic that you start talking about the whacko influence Aristotle had on physics, but then refer with reverence in the above quote to the Greek learning. And your history goes downhill from there.

In point of fact, the primary reason "much of what the Greeks learned was lost" was the result of the fire consuming the library at Alexandria in 48 BCE. By the time the Western world entered early medieval times, only fragments of the wealth of Greek learning remained. That is, until it was revealed in the early middle ages that the Muslims had copied and retained much of it.

It is true that medieval philosophy (scholasticism) consisted almost entirely of trying to reconcile the Bible with Aristotle (primarily) and Plato (in the form of the neo-Platonism). Descartes really did usher in the modern resurgence of robust philosophizing and science. Ironically, Descartes was NOT an empiricist!!! He was a rationalist, and he argued vociferously against the empirical principles that supposedly began with him.

However, it is a ridiculous oversimplification, and not sustained by history, to suggest that "nothing was as damaging to science as the rise of the Christians." If that were true, then explain why the Muslim world (then in fuller possession of Greek philosophy/science than anybody else in the world) did not take greater strides! Gunpowder? Been there and done that! What you do NOT seen ANYWHERE in the world during the so-called "dark ages" is robust strides in science! It is not like the Chinese or Muslims had the universe all figured out while the sorry "Christian world" groped around in flat-Earth stupidity. There were simultaneously rising stars in all three cultures. And, indeed, the advances we DO see in science (the greats, such as Kepler), the ones that really changed the course of HUMAN history, occurred in the Western world, albeit with the resistance of the church.

MANY factors contributed to the so-called "Enlightenment," and the most significant factors were political rather than religious. If anything, if you want to cite religious factors, the Reformation contributed significantly (but largely insofar as it contributed politically); but your problem there is that the Reformation proceeded as CHRISTIANS critiquing Christianity. So, it's impossible to make the case that "Christianity" was the repressive influence during the events leading up to the Enlightenment.

In short, it is a well-worn fable in this day and age that "Christianity suppresses scientific development." And specifically today, what Christians oppose (even though they could not articulate it in this way) is the logical positivism that has reemerged among physicists! If physicists were CAREFUL to cast all of their statements with humility and in provisional terms, there would be no conflict. But instead, the "new atheism" has turned the practice of modern physics into hard-core metaphysics and loudly proclaimed that God is dead (or at least really, really unnecessary). But that is a logical leap that is completely unsustained and unsustainable.

So, believe what you want, but that belief doesn't change the facts of history, philosophy, or science.
madbolter1

Big Wall climber
Walla Walla, WA
Nov 2, 2010 - 03:04pm PT
How about historians and the founders of our nation, among many others, you goofball? The language of equations is not the only appropriate discourse.

Oh, that's right, you eschew history because it consists of facts that don't sustain your narrow-minded and (dead) logical positivist world view.
rrrADAM

Trad climber
LBMF
Nov 2, 2010 - 03:18pm PT
See, no disrespect, but who talks like that? Not engineers. Not applied scientists. Not the effective ones. Nowadays, apart from academic philosophers, only paranormalists or theologians. Nobody wishing to gain traction in today's world in matters of understanding talks like that anymore. Esoterica is out. (Review its etymology.)

Ed, above, said it well:
Philosophy has no such "ultimate" authority. To a physicist, it is all just arguing and words...
Crodog

Social climber
Nov 2, 2010 - 03:19pm PT
Michael Langone, Ph.D., a psychologist who specializes in cults, identified some psychological traits that can make a person more likely to be successfully recruited, including:

•dependency - an intense desire to belong, stemming from a lack of self-confidence

•unassertiveness - a reluctance to say no or question authority

•gullibility - a tendency to believe what someone says without really thinking about it

•low tolerance for uncertainty - a need to have any question answered immediately in black-and-white terms

•disillusionment with the status quo - a feeling of marginalization within one's own culture and a desire to see that culture change

•naive idealism - a blind belief that everyone is good

•desire for spiritual meaning - a need to believe that life has a "higher purpose"
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Nov 2, 2010 - 03:44pm PT
but I await even a vague direction of inquiry toward empirically discovering what entities or relations might ground propositions.

the number of possible algebras...

I'm not sure how you got the idea that I was a positivist, or that I required "empirical truth conditions" to underly the scientific method. In fact, I stated above that I didn't need that to make progress in physics.

I have also stated again and again that this is not about Truth or Knowledge, but about understanding and predicting. What we have is an acknowledgement that our ability to test our predictions are limited by the finite resolution of our observations, so we perceive an approximation to the physical universe, one that limits our ability to test hypotheses.

But in the end, we have the test... and that is a very powerful thing. If I make a hypothesis and test it, and others do the same and agree, then we can confirm or reject that hypothesis on the basis of that empirical test. Our hypothesis is derived from a theory, and we learn how good the theory is at predicting the outcome of a particular physical situation.

That's all there is to it. I don't see why there is a need to have a philosophical discussion, in fact, it all seems rather silly because there is really nothing to argue about, where is your test? How is empiricism falsifiable by empirical means? So far, it hasn't been...

I don't say we know the truth, but if you make a statement you must make it consistent with the the physical universe. Of course, you can make any statement you'd like about the "nonphysical" universe, but that universe cannot affect the physical one, otherwise we could devise tests to measure the effect, it becomes physical.

Now the construction may or may not be trivial. Saying that "God created..." is a construction that has no predictive value, for instance. We can't use that to predict what the outcome of a physical situation will be, but it is a construction consistent with the observations. That construction is also not falsifiable.

I can understand that philosophers have had a great deal of difficulty with understanding science. Luckily, it hasn't affected our ability to do science.

madbolter1

Big Wall climber
Walla Walla, WA
Nov 2, 2010 - 03:55pm PT
It don't play here

Oh, I'm fully aware that it doesn't play here, because the REAL arrogance, the real dismissiveness is on your side of the table, I think Ed excluded. You guys dismissively box and package everything non-physicist, completely ignoring the history of ideas that would demonstrate the, for example, dead logical positivism that grounds all of your thinking. Keep in mind that SCIENTISTS helped ground that movement and fan its flame.

And today, SCIENTISTS are the movers attempting to breathe new life into that corpse. So, ignore all you want, but there's nothing new under the sun.

madbolter1

Big Wall climber
Walla Walla, WA
Nov 2, 2010 - 03:57pm PT
or that I required "empirical truth conditions" to underly the scientific method. In fact, I stated above that I didn't need that to make progress in physics.

Wait! Wait! Now I'm totally confused! (No surprise to many here!)

If you don't require empirical truth conditions, then WHAT would be the nature of the truth conditions that you DO admit?

Are you NOT an empiricist? Is physics NOT an empirical science?

If we can admit of other than empirical truth conditions, then I would like to offer a number of others, NONE of which will be admissible by science!
madbolter1

Big Wall climber
Walla Walla, WA
Nov 2, 2010 - 03:58pm PT
about understanding and predicting

This is EXACTLY what I said above: for physics, "truth" has become pragmatic!
madbolter1

Big Wall climber
Walla Walla, WA
Nov 2, 2010 - 04:03pm PT
ow is empiricism falsifiable by empirical means? So far, it hasn't been...

Actually is is ALL the time. THAT is the problem of empiricism that Hume early noted. Empiricism is "generally reliable," but certainly not ALWAYS!

Things often do not turn out as predicted, which as Hume noted, is the fundamental problem facing empiricism itself: WHEN is empiricism "reliable" and when is it not? Citing science as "when" it is reliable is question begging, because it is only when science appears reliable (which is not always) that it appears reliable.

Empiricism ITSELF suffers continual falsification. But, as Hume put it, we MUST believe in it because it is "brute" to believe in it. Hume's is a psychological account of belief in empiricism rather than a rational account of empiricism: to date we have no "logic of induction" or other satisfactory attempt to create a "rationality of empiricism." We just "buy it" because "it usually works," and that's the closest thing to "reliability" we have in the natural world.

But that is just again saying that empirical "truth" is just pragmatism.
madbolter1

Big Wall climber
Walla Walla, WA
Nov 2, 2010 - 04:05pm PT
I can understand that philosophers have had a great deal of difficulty with understanding science. Luckily, it hasn't affected our ability to do science.

Actually, history has shown that it is the scientists that don't understand science. Fortunately, that hasn't affected their ability to DO science. It HAS, however, radically affected their ability to STATE what science is really doing and what it can really demonstrate. And THAT is the nature of the divide here!
rrrADAM

Trad climber
LBMF
Nov 2, 2010 - 04:08pm PT
In short, it is a well-worn fable in this day and age that "Christianity suppresses scientific development." And specifically today, what Christians oppose (even though they could not articulate it in this way) is the logical positivism that has reemerged among physicists! If physicists were CAREFUL to cast all of their statements with humility and in provisional terms, there would be no conflict. But instead, the "new atheism" has turned the practice of modern physics into hard-core metaphysics and loudly proclaimed that God is dead (or at least really, really unnecessary). But that is a logical leap that is completely unsustained and unsustainable.
What's happened in the last 2 years with the Texas School Board, shows differently:

-Voting to revise all science text books in middle and high schools to remove any and all references to the age of the universe and the Earth, in order to 'leave enough room for the Earth and Creation to be <10,000 years old', among other nonsense.
-Recently voting now to rewrite social studies books to lessen, or remove entirely, people like Thomas Jefferson, and replace him with people like John Calvin and his importance in the "Christian Founding of our Nation", and other absurd nonsense.

Have you heard of Historical Revisionism/Negationism?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Historical_revisionism_(negationism)


Sorry, dude, but history and science shouldn't be determined by a vote. Dismissing FACTS, and proactively hiding them from our next generation so as to better control what they believe is absurd. Those kids, and all the others this will effect, will be intelectually handicapped in a time when we as a nation are already sliding further behind other nations educationaly, and have to compete on many levels in the world... In fact, in a recent survey, the US ranked 18 out of the top 20. Intelectually handicaped do not compete well for jobs, and their futures are bleak.


This would be funny, if it weren't such a possibility:
[img]


Because of people confidently who think this is what a transistional speacies should look like:


Simply because they refuse to understand this:



Not that I hthink you'll read this, but I composed this some time ago on rc.com:
(At least read the bold, especially where ID is created by Phillip Johnson, to try to teach Creationism in schools, then later abandoned by him, and he even states that "it is not a theory than can compete in any way with the theory of Evolution.")
After centuries of advancement in our understanding of nature and the world around us, even the cosmos... We entered the 'Age of Enlightenment', and in the early 20th Century we even saw the Quantum Revolution, responsible for the computer you are reading this on right now. An understanding of evolution is what is responsible for the flu vaccine you may have gotten recently.

Yet, in less than 100 years, religious fundamentalists have succeeded in moving a signifigant portion of the population's understanding of the world backwards...


Here's a timeline that shows this move backwards:
Creationism and Creation science

1920s: Fundamentalist-Modernist Controversy – in an upsurge of fundamentalist religious fervor, anti-evolutionary sentiment stopped U.S. public schools from teaching evolution, through state laws such as Tennessee’s 1925 Butler Act,[1][2] and by getting evolution removed from biology textbooks nationwide.[3]

1959 National Defense Education Act, responding to fears of backwardness raised by the 1957 Sputnik, promoted science and Biological Sciences Curriculum Study textbooks teaching evolution were used in almost half of high schools, though the prohibitions were still in place and a 1961 attempt to repeal the Butler Act failed.[4]


1961 publication of The Genesis Flood.[5]

1965 The term "scientific creationism" gained currency.[5]

1967 Michael Polanyi article argued that “machines are irreducible to physics and chemistry” and that “mechanistic structures of living beings appear to be likewise irreducible.” [6]

1968 Epperson v. Arkansas ruled against state laws prohibiting the teaching of evolution, concluding that they violate the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution which prohibits state aid to religion.[7] States may not alter the curriculum to conform to the beliefs of particular religious sects:[2][4]

1975 Daniel v. Waters rules that a state law requiring biology textbooks discussing "origins or creation of man and his world" to give equal treatment to creation as per Genesis is unconstitutional, creationists change to Creation science omitting explicit biblical references.[4]

1977 Hendren v. Campbell rules that use of the 1970 Creation Research Society textbook Biology: A Search For Order In Complexity, though claimed to present a balanced view of evolution and Biblical Creation, promotes a specific sectarian religious view, and is unconstitutional in public schools. "We may note that with each new decision of the courts religious proponents have attempted to modify or tailor their approach to active lobbying in state legislatures and agencies. Softening positions and amending language, these groups have, time and again, forced the courts to reassert and redefine the prohibitions of the First Amendment. Despite new and continued attempts by such groups, however, the courts are bound to determine, if possible, the purpose of the approach."[8]


Creation science school textbooks and the Foundation for Thought and Ethics

1980 Foundation for Thought and Ethics (FTE) formed by ordained minister Jon Buell as a "Christian think-tank", its first activity to be the editing of a book "showing the scientific evidence for creation.".[9]

1981 state of Arkansas passed a law, Act 590, mandating that "creation science" be given equal time in public schools with evolution, and defining creation science as positing the “creation of the universe, energy, and life from nothing,” as well as explaining the earth’s geology “by occurrence of a worldwide flood.”[5] McLean v. Arkansas ruling issued on January 5, 1982, is that the Act was unconstitutional, the creationists' methods were not scientific but took the literal wording of the Book of Genesis and attempted to find scientific support for it.[5] The clear, specific definition of science used to rule that “creation science” is religion, not science, had a powerful influence on subsequent rulings.[2]

1982 Louisiana's "Balanced Treatment for Creation-Science and Evolution-Science in Public School Instruction" Act (Creationism Act) forbids the teaching of the theory of evolution in public schools unless accompanied by instruction in "creation science."[7] Thus two states had passed these "equal time" laws.[10]

late 1982 as work on The Mystery of Life’s Origin (see 1984) nears completion, start made on what will become Pandas.[6]

1983 Percival Davis and Dean H. Kenyon produce Creation Biology Textbook Supplements, an early draft of the work later retitled Of Pandas and People.[11] Charles Thaxton was the project chairman and academic editor.[12]


The ID movement begins

1984 book The Mystery of Life’s Origin by Charles Thaxton and others, foreword by Kenyon, argues for ‘a profoundly informative intervention' by an intelligent cause, "the authors conclude that while design can be detected in biology, science cannot determine from this evidence whether the design was from a creator outside the cosmos."[6] Barbara Forrest describes this as the beginning of the ID movement.[12]

1984 Kenyon's affidavit for what becomes Edwards v. Aguillard gives Definitions "Creation-science means origin through abrupt appearance in complex form, and includes biological creation, biochemical creation (or chemical creation), and cosmic creation.", "Creation-science does not include as essential parts the concepts of catastrophism, a world-wide flood, a recent inception of the earth or life, from nothingness (ex nihilo), the concept of kinds, or any concepts from Genesis or other religious texts." Satements included "The creationist scientific conclusion is that empirical data currently in hand demand the inference that the first living organisms were created." and "The origin of printed texts, manufactured devices, and biomolecular systems require intelligent design and engineering knowhow (Wilder-Smith 1970). In each case the characteristic order of the system must be impressed on matter 'from the outside.'"[13] It claims creation and evolution the only scientific explanations of life - what Forrest calls "the dual model".[11]
This is later described by the DI's Witt as "There Kenyon described a science open to intelligent causes but one free of religious presuppositions or assertions about the identity of the designer. He described how he did origins science, how a science open to intelligent causes ought to be done." Witt claims that this is a different creation science from Young Earth Creationism (YEC).[6]

1985 District Court "Aguillard v. Treen" held that there can be no valid secular reason for prohibiting the teaching of evolution, a theory historically opposed by some religious denominations. The court further concluded that "the teaching of 'creation-science' and 'creationism,' as contemplated by the statute, involves teaching 'tailored to the principles' of a particular religious sect or group of sects." (citing Epperson v. Arkansas (1968)). The District Court therefore held that the Creationism Act violated the Establishment Clause either because it prohibited the teaching of evolution or because it required the teaching of creation science with the purpose of advancing a particular religious doctrine. The court of Appeals affirmed.[7]
DI's Witt claims that "In Edwards, the Court found Louisiana’s act entailed the teaching of religion by virtue of a specific religious construction, comprised of particular teachings clearly paralleling the ‘Book of Genesis. Thus, it was a specific set of teachings or doctrines from a religious source that constituted religion." and so didn't apply to Kenyon's definition of the term “creation science”.[6]

1985 Michael Denton's book: Evolution: A Theory in Crisis. Prominent figures in ID credit his critical examination of Darwinism with their change of view (Behe, Johnson).

1986 FTE copyrighted draft entitled Biology and Creation by Kenyon & Davis. [11] (note Charles Thaxton academic editor, not clear from when)
Autumn 1986 FTE, under the name of "Austin Analytic Consulting", carried out survey of 300 high-school science teachers to show potential mainline publishers that a market existed for a supplementary textbook to "balance" evolution teaching in class.[14][9][15]

1987 FTE copyrighted draft entitled Biology and Origins by Kenyon & Davis.[11]

1987 FTE's founder Jon Buell sought a publisher for the book, telling a Boston firm "A new independent scientific poll (report enclosed) shows almost half of the nation's biology teachers include some creation in their view of biological origins. Many more who don't still believe it should be included in science curriculum.... The U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals says that teachers are free to teach scientific information that happens to support creation if they wish. In ruling on the so-called Louisiana "Balanced Treatment Act" this Spring the U.S. Supreme Court may not affirm state-mandated teaching of creation, but they will almost certainly let stand the above academic freedom for teachers." "The enclosed projections showing revenues of Over 6.5 million in five years are based upon modest expectations for the market provided the U.S Supreme Court does not uphold the Louisiana "Balanced Act". If, by chance it should uphold it, then you can throw out these projections, the nationwide market would be explosive!" "the book will not be subject to the major criticism of creation, that the supernatural lies outside of science, because its central statement is that scientific evidence points to an intelligent cause, but that science is silent as to whether that intelligence is within or beyond the material universe. So the book is not appealing to the supernatural."[16]

. . .

Creation becomes intelligent design, “cdesign proponentsists”

1987 (according to a 2005 apologia by the DI's Witt) Thaxton's definition of "creation-science" had been overruled at Edwards by being equated to YEC, so he needed a new term and found it in a phrase he'd picked up from a NASA scientist – intelligent design. He thought "That’s just what I need, it’s a good engineering term….. it seemed to jibe... And I went back through my old copies of Science magazine and found the term used occasionally." Soon the term intelligent design was incorporated into the language of the book.[6]

1987 In a new draft of Pandas, approximately 150 uses of the root word "creation", such as "creationism" and "creationist", were systematically changed to refer to intelligent design,[19] with "creationists" being changed to "design proponents" or, in one instance, "cdesign proponentsists".[20] Accordingly, in the definition "creation" was changed to "intelligent design", so that it now read "Intelligent design means that various forms of life began abruptly through an intelligent agency, with their distinctive features already intact. Fish with fins and scales, birds with feathers, beaks, wings, etc." This wording was essentially unchanged when published in 1989 and in the 1993 2nd. edition.

. . .

Campaign to get intelligent design into schools

1989 Haughton and the FTE campaigned to get Pandas into schools across the U.S. – mobilizing local Christian conservative groups to push school boards and individual teachers to adopt the book and also to get themselves elected to school boards and local educational committees. They claimed that intelligent design was "accepted science, a view that is held by many highly qualified scientists".[15]

September 12, 1989, at the Alabama hearings on approved school textbooks. Pandas was on the list but not in the libraries for public viewing as required. An Eagle Forum chapter director praised Pandas as an exemplary scientific text presenting an alternative to modern evolutionary theory based on "intelligent design". With NCSE assistance, written criticism was sent to committee members and on October 2, a majority of the State Textbook Committee voted against Pandas, partly because of its thinly disguised religious underpinnings. This decision was subject to adoption by the State Board of Education in December.[29]

November 1989, Haughton advertised Pandas in the monthly of the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) and other journals, claiming it had been "prepared with academic integrity" and had been "Authored by mainstream, published science educators",[30] and promoted it at teachers’ association conventions.[31]

November 1989, Pandas was promoted by members of religiously-oriented citizen pressure groups like Concerned Women for America and Citizens for Excellence in Education. It was under consideration for state adoption in both Idaho and Alabama, and to be submitted in Texas and other states in the coming months. With grass-roots promotion it also had a good chance of showing up in local districts of non-adoption states.[31]

December 1989 a church campaign in Alabama gathered over 11,800 signatures on a petition to add Pandas to the list of approved school textbooks, after weeks of urging from a Christian radio station in Tuscaloosa.[32]

December 14, 1989, at the Alabama State Board of Education meeting to consider adoption of the textbook list, Haughton Publishing made an elaborate presentation. A Birmingham businessman presented petitions with over 11,800 signatures urging the board to adopt supplementary materials presenting "Intelligent Design" as an alternative to evolution. The attorney for Haughton, Hare, charged that opponents had falsely painted Pandas as a creationist text, and said that "Intelligent Design" does not compel belief in the supernatural. The Board requested legal advice, and a January hearing was set up just to consider Pandas.[32]

January 8, 1990, Buell and Thaxton were amongst speakers for Pandas at the hearing, but the publisher Haughton tried to withdraw and end the hearing on procedural grounds. The meeting continued, but Haughton then threatened to sue the committee members if they rejected the book rather than accepting that it had been withdrawn, as rejection would injure future sales prospects. The committee passed a resolution recognizing its withdrawal.[32]
Active promotion by creationists of "Pandas for public school use continued throughout the 1990s, then after 2000 activity largely died down.[27][18]


Discovery Institute founded, Johnson's views

November 30, 1989, Johnson's "informal summary of my views" (from the book he was working on) stated "The important issue is not the relationship of science and creationism, but the relationship of science and materialist philosophy." He wanted school textbooks to acknowledge alleged problems with evolution. "More importantly, the universities should be opened up to genuine intellectual inquiry into the fundamental assumptions of Darwinism and scientific materialism. The possibility that Darwinism is false, and that no replacement theory is currently available..."[25]

1990 Haughton admitted sales of Pandas so far had been single-copy. Instead of attempts to get state textbook approval, the FTE was now directing efforts "outside the schools" to the grass-roots level, targeting local school boards, teacher's groups, and parents.[9]

May 1990 a FTE letter by Jon Buell announced a new sales campaign as they'd found it best to approach the local school system through the biology teacher. It included an 18-minute video with the endorsements of a number of scientists, educators, and an authority on First Amendment law, and a Suggested Plan of Action for volunteers suggesting: finding a sympathetic biology teacher (perhaps a fellow church member) who then convinces the curriculum committee and/or administration to approve use of Pandas without need for funding, then a local church purchases the books and donates them to the school.[33]


1990 Discovery Institute (DI) is founded by Bruce Chapman,[34] but lacks a defining issue.[35]

1990 Johnson's booklet Evolution as Dogma: The Establishment of Naturalism was published under the auspices of the FTE by Haughton Publishing. He claimed that science holds a metaphysical materialist viewpoint that rejects the possibility of a Creator, so cannot countenance evidence for supernatural intervention.[36]

October 1990 -Johnson's article "A Reply to My Critics" stated that "Victory in the creation-evolution dispute therefore belongs to the party with the cultural authority to establish the ground rules that govern the discourse. If creation is admitted as a serious possibility, Darwinism cannot win, and if it is excluded a priori Darwinism cannot lose." He cited the logic of what he called "the Natural Academy of Sciences", as accepted by the Supreme Court at Edwards, that "creation-science" is not science because it does not rely upon naturalistic explanations, but holds "that the creation of the universe, the earth, living things, and man was accomplished through supernatural means inaccessible to human understanding".[37]

1991 professor Phillip A. Bishop at the University of Alabama was told to stop proselytizing students in class and teaching "intelligent design theory" in an optional class. At Bishop v. Aronov he sued the college on free speech and academic freedom grounds, and won at District Court but the Appeals Court found that the university had a right to set the curriculum.[36]

. . .

Still need a theory, teach controversy

1999 strategies: argue that individual teachers have a constitutional right to present creationist material, and that "evidence against evolution" should be taught in the science classroom as a way to improve teaching and learning. Attempts to teach IC and introduce Pandas. Resources for teachers... abundantly available from both "creation science ministries" and conservative religious groups.[26]

1999 David DeWolf, Stephen Meyer and Mark DeForrest coauthored a 40-page booklet, Intelligent Design in Public School Science Curricula: A Legal Guidebook, published by the FTE. It claims Edwards v. Aguillard mandated "teaching a variety of scientific theories about the origins of humankind" subject to a "clear secular intent of enhancing.. science instruction."[18]

1999 Skagit County's Burlington-Edison School District finds that for almost 10 years the high-school science teacher Roger DeHart had been omitting state-approved biology textbook teaching on evolution, and using Pandas.[35]

Aug. 17, 1999, Philip Kitcher, professor of the philosophy of science at Columbia University, in online debate in Slate magazine with Johnson, coins neo-creo: "Enter the neo-creos, scavenging the scientific literature, they take claims out of context and pretend that everything about evolution is controversial. . . . But it's all a big con."[24]

May 10, 2000, DI briefing of Congress, "Scientific Evidence of Intelligent Design and its Implications for Public Policy and Education," also addressed the social, moral, and political consequences of Darwinism. Creation-evolution debate had primarily been active at the state and local level, a new effort to involve Congress, took place as the Senate entered its second week of debate on overhauling federal K-12 education programs. Nancy Pearcey "For Darwinists, religion must give way to a new science-based cosmic myth with the power to bind humans together in a new world order. She then asked what this means for morality and argued that people were right to be concerned that all the above would undercut morality."[63]

July 2000 Dean Kenyon and David DeWolf of CRSC: Kenyon states "Scientific creationism... is actually one of the intellectual antecedents of the Intelligent Design movement.[64]

June 2001 Rick Santorum introduces The Santorum Amendment to "Teach the Controversy" partially written by Johnson (and based on a law journal article written by DI activist David DeWolf) inviting , left out of bill but kept in conference report.[4]

December 2002 DI lobbying to get ID into Ohio science standards Ohio House Bill 481. Bills all failed, ID excluded by name in the approved standard but it included the phrase "critically analyze aspects of evolutionary theory" used as excuse for the new "teach the controversy" strategy.[4][65]

Jan 2004 Dembski The Design Revolution: Answering the Toughest Questions About Intelligent Design ISBN 0830823751 page 22 "Theism, whether Christian, Jewish, or Muslim, holds that God by wisdom created the world. The origin of the world and its subsequent ordering thus result from the designing activity of an intelligent agent, God.
Naturalism, on the other hand, allows no place for intelligent agency, except at the end of a blind, purposeless, material process."
2004 ©. FTE, draft for new version of Pandas, mentions 10th anniversary, authors listed as Michael J. Behe, Percival Davis, William A. Dembski, Dean H. Kenyon, Jonathan Wells. Contents list, preface, notes to teachers, notes to students, epilogue, but no main content.[28]

March 10, 2004, Ohio State Board of Education approved model lesson Critical Analysis of Evolution – Grade 10.[65][66]

2004 Paul Nelson interviewed by a magazine called Touchstone: A Journal of Mere Christianity – "Easily, the biggest challenge facing the ID community is to develop a full-fledged theory of biological design. We don't have such a theory right now, and that's a real problem. Without a theory, it's very hard to know where to direct your research focus. Right now, we've got a bag of powerful intuitions and a handful of notions such as irreducible complexity and specified complexity, but as yet, no general theory of biological design."[22]

2004 the school board of Grantsburg, Wisconsin, voted to have ID taught as an alternative to evolution. By late summer 2005 letters urging reversal had been organised by a department of University of Wisconsin–Madison and clergy nationwide, the Clergy Letter Project, resulting in the board largely reversing their decision.[10]


Kitzmiller

June 7, 2004, at Dover, Pennsylvania, the Dover Area School District School Board considered a new biology textbook. William Buckingham objected, wanting a textbook that gave a balanced view between creationism and evolution. He subsequently proposed Of Pandas and People, after acrimonious debate it was left off the list on August 2.[18]

October 4, 2004, Buckingham announced acceptance of 50 donated copies of Pandas. On October 18 the full School Board voted 6-3 to amend the district's curriculum to include intelligent design. Buckingham states a law firm has offered pro bono legal representation.[18]

December 12, 2004, Phillip Johnson stated in an interview "What the Dover board did is not what I'd recommend.... Just teach evolution with a recognition that it's controversial..."[18]

December 14, 2004, 11 parents, ACLU, Americans United and Pepper Hamilton LLP file lawsuit Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District, lead plaintiff Tammy Kitzmiller, the mother of a ninth grader in the biology class. On December 20, the District voted for the Thomas More Law Center to represent it pro bono.[18][4]

May 2005 Kansas school board hearings led by John Calvert, director of the Kansas office of the Intelligent Design Network, boycotted by mainstream scientists as an "anti-science crusade."[67]

September 26, 2005 to November 4, 2005, Kitzmiller trial before Judge John E. Jones III

November 2005 Kansas school board voted 6-4 for new science standards criticising evolution, redefining science, then turned out in elections.[67]

December 20, 2005, Kitzmiller decision; Judge Jones issued his findings of fact and decision as his 139 page MEMORANDUM OPINION.


After Kitzmiller

February 2006 Kansas school board voted 6-4 for new standards supporting evolution.[67]

February 2006 Ohio Governor Bob Taft requests legal review of the state's "teach the controversy" curriculum standards, Ohio State Board of Education members vote 11-4 to drop all of the "teach the controversy".[4]

Spring 2006 Johnson states in interview "I also don’t think that there is really a theory of intelligent design at the present time to propose as a comparable alternative to the Darwinian theory, which is, whatever errors it might contain, a fully worked out scheme. There is no intelligent design theory that’s comparable. Working out a positive theory is the job of the scientific people that we have affiliated with the movement. Some of them are quite convinced that it’s doable, but that’s for them to prove…No product is ready for competition in the educational world."[46]

June 2007 Behe's new book and new theory The Edge of Evolution: The Search for the Limits of Darwinism, claims that variation for the building blocks of evolution are not due to random mutation in DNA, but instead produced by an intelligent designer. Reiterates argument for irreducible complexity, calculating improbability on 2 or more beneficial mutations happening simulataneously, rather than one by one as evolutionary theory requires.[68]

2007, A new biology textbook intended to replace Of Pandas and People, entitled Explore Evolution is published by Hill House Publishers. The book is authored by Stephen C. Meyer, Scott Minnich and Paul A. Nelson, Jonathan Moneymaker and Ralph Seelke.[69][70][71]

2007 William A. Dembski and Jonathan Wells rewrote "Of Pandas and People" as a college textbook, The Design of Life.[72][71] When asked in a December interview whether his research concluded that God is the Intelligent Designer, Dembski stated "I believe God created the world for a purpose. The Designer of intelligent design is, ultimately, the Christian God."[73]

April, 2008, the pro-intelligent design movie Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed is debuted.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timeline_of_intelligent_design

Intelligent Design is nothing more than a political movement by a fringe minority of religious fundamentalists, ALL ASSOCIATED WITH THE DISCOVERY INSTITUTE, to get Creationism (read: Religion) into schools, and/or discredit evolution and other scientifically accepted theories that show their narrow misguided views are WRONG!

All who participate in this, including those that believe it has any scientific validity are either actively perpetrating fraud or are have been successfully conned by those pushing their agenda. And, currently, it is the agenda of one man: Phillip Johnson.

So, despite many of the Fundie's belief that a literal interpretation of the Bible that leads to Creationism has always been believed in the manner it is today... Nope! You are someone's tool acting on their agenda and believing their constantly changing bullshit!



madbolter1

Big Wall climber
Walla Walla, WA
Nov 2, 2010 - 04:09pm PT
And, Ed, you still have not indicated how you are not a logical positivist. Tell me more about these non-empirical truth conditions. Or are you instead saying that truth really has nothing to do with it?

If so, then you seem to (finally) be admitting that science is NOT in the position of saying how the world REALLY is (all Hawking's bravado to the contrary). And you also then seem to be saying that there COULD be other sorts of (non physical) truth conditions. But that seems to give away the farm.

I'm off traveling now for several days, so won't be responding for days now.
rrrADAM

Trad climber
LBMF
Nov 2, 2010 - 04:13pm PT
Boo! That pic didn't take, and I can't edit all of that post for some reason... Must be too big.

Should be...

This would be funny, if it weren't such a frightening possibility:
rrrADAM

Trad climber
LBMF
Nov 2, 2010 - 04:23pm PT
And this appears relevant to the discussion at hand:

A couple paragraghs from a really nice blog entry/essay at BackReaction:
The Future of Rationality
By Bee *

. . .

So here's a thought I've been pushing around for a while. Are we on the path towards more or less rationality? The last several hundred years were marked by increased rationality: the rise and success of the scientific method, the Age of Enlightenment, the decline of religion and superstition, and so on. But you look around these days it seems that increasingly more people seem to be scared by the prospect. If you extrapolate that trend where will it lead us? Maybe there are just things we don't want to know. (See also The Right Not to Know).

It seems to me there's a sentiment in the air that we need more "spirituality," more "magic," more "wonders" in our increasingly technological world based on mechanical engineering and computer algorithms. Some people want to "reinvent the sacred," others emphazise "emotional intelligence" or "the power of thinking without thinking." Blink.

. . .

...I think there is at any one time a limit to what humans can possibly know, possibly even a limit to what we can ever know and we should be more aware of that. That means for example instead of being scared by gaps in our knowledge it or discarding them as a failure of scientists we should recognize the relevance of acknowledging and dealing with uncertainty, incomplete knowledge and 'unknown unknowns,' as well as be vary of The Illusion of Knowledge.

But besides that putting an emphasis on rationality neglects other cognitive abilities we have. For example, many of us have on some occasion met somebody who, through their experience, have developed a strong intuition for what might or might not work. Even though they might not be able to come up with any precise "rational" argument, they have a feeling for what seems right or doesn't. Granted, they might be mistaken, but more often then not you'll benefit from listening to them. One of the most important gifts, so I believe, of the human mind is to make what Plato called on some occasion at this blog an 'intuitive leap' into the unknown. Without such leaps our space of discoveries would be strongly limited. Rationality isn't always the path towards progress. (While not many insightful points were raised in the aftermath of the publication of Lee's book, I found it very interesting what Joe Polchinski had to say on the role of rigor in physics.)

http://backreaction.blogspot.com/2009/05/future-of-rationality.html

* Sabine 'Bee' Hossenfelder is a theoretical physicist at the Permimter Institute is Waterloo, Ont, Ca.
High Fructose Corn Spirit

Gym climber
Full Silos of Iowa
Nov 2, 2010 - 05:35pm PT
Perhaps the most important question in all of this for many is... who's got the narrative that's most inspiring, most motivating, most empowering to live by, the Pope or Hawking?

Personally, I oscillate. In my answer. Depending on (a) who I have in mind - not necessarily myself - and (b) the circumstances - not necessarily my own.


EDIT

Probably varies, too, as a function of age group. (In my teens, 20s and 30s, equally motivated by chasing women, I didn't oscillate so much.)

....

Adam, much agree with all that.
Crodog

Social climber
Nov 2, 2010 - 05:41pm PT
rrrADAM

Trad climber
LBMF
Nov 2, 2010 - 05:44pm PT
This is a pretty cool aplet that moves you from the Plank scale all the way through to the entire universe:
http://htwins.net/scale/

Just grab the little scroll bar and move it to where ever you want... IT'll give oyu a GREAT understanding of the whole scale of things, both small and big.
High Fructose Corn Spirit

Gym climber
Full Silos of Iowa
Nov 2, 2010 - 06:23pm PT
rAdam, that's a great flash file! Just saved it. Thanks.
.....

Crodog, amended it some:
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Nov 2, 2010 - 06:47pm PT
I'm not sure it needs to be stated... and what I think bothers non-scientists is the degree to which the world around us becomes susceptible to scientific inquiry.

The origins of the universe, for instance, and the driver cosmology. In some ways these things are becoming more and more addressable by observation and experimentation. But as that happens it starts to infringe on other traditional ideas of how, what, when and why these things happened. It might seem that scientists are barging in uninvited to this particular party, but it is really just an extension of their work in much less noticeable and more arcane areas of thought.

Another example is evolution, which in its modern form is a potent framework to understand life, it just also happens to make claims about human origins that are hard for many traditions to accept. The science is solid, it is predictive, and it is consistent with what we observe. So the empirical basis of this work succeeds to provide a manner in overcoming our traditional "common sense" because we demonstrate understanding through this empirical procedure, this even though we have very different personal beliefs and experiences than what we come to after being lead by this empirical procedure.

You can say that science isn't doing what some scientists claim its doing. But I'd say it is a quibble, not a substantive criticism, because there is no philosophical refutation to the validity of the process. Worrying over whether or not this is "the truth" is a side show, and a very dreary one at that, when under the big top the real show is the detailed understanding of the universe that we have gained.

We aren't going to wake up from a dream... we haven't dreamed these things... they are real, and they are as true as you wish to make them, empirically.

The position of humans in the universe take a big hit at each major advance in this show. First we learn the earth is not the center of the universe. That was the first "revolution" (and the origin of the meaning of that word used in that way). We learn later that we got to where we are the same as all the other life forms around us... our sun is banished to the outer edge of a galaxy, one of a huge number... that the matter we are composed of is a tiny fraction of what makes up the universe, most of which we are puzzling over to figure out... we exist in a few dimensions of a multidimensional space and that we may be one of a very large number or coexisting universes...

We've been pushed way under the couch, even the dust bunnies seem to be more important that us...

...and so people feel threatened by the further interpretation of this world view on us. I never understood why.

Do you, madbolter1 have any criticism of substance? Science works, it continues to work, it produces knowledge that is applied in many forms, wonderful to terrible. But that path starts with our experience and formulates a set of empirical tests... and guides us to a description of what happens.

If something cannot be tested in this manner, it is beyond science. But what is that?



Tony Bird

climber
Northridge, CA
Nov 2, 2010 - 07:12pm PT
i got a good definition of philosophy from a classical greek philosophy class i took:

philosophy is the discussion, among friends, about the way things are.

it'd be nice to engrave that in granite somewhere, within reading distance of camp 4 fire circles. when discussion turns to argument turns to shoving your former friend into the fire, you can no longer claim to be a philosopher.

albert baez was an interesting figure, authoring a textbook which became a standard of the day, participating in a number of inventions thought to be ahead of their time, including the electron microscope, producing many films for physics education. i wonder if they skipped over the formulas. his scrupulous conscience transferred directly to his family's activism, which wasn't limited to joan's. i happened to meet john bachar's dad earlier this year and found he had traveled a similar route, quitting an aerospace job and devoting his life to the teaching of mathematics at about a 50 percent cut in pay at the time. he also marched against the war. perhaps such parents produce brilliant and independent-minded children.

father guido--heard him on a latino radio "garage show" a couple years back. he casually mentioned that pope john paul 1 had been assassinated. strictly fictional, of course. everyone knows that's just a conspiracy theory.

if you read "father sarducci's guide to the confessional," it'll help you remain catholic, get right with god, and go to heaven--and still lead a fairly normal life.

___

"but god does not play dice!" -- albert einstein

"yes he does, you mofo!" -- niels bohr (rough translation from the danish)
bestill

Trad climber
s. ca.
Nov 2, 2010 - 07:30pm PT
Seems to me most of you have overlooked something apropos to this discussion and that is that the Giants won the series. The Giants hail from the supposedly most "gay" city in the U.S. While these games were going on I noticed people praying for their team to win in both cities. So my question is was it dark matter that presided over the games played in San Francisco or was dark matter also present in Texas? An inquiring mind wants to know. brian
Crodog

Social climber
Nov 2, 2010 - 07:34pm PT
God Plays Dice


Einstein was very unhappy about this apparent randomness in nature. His views were summed up in his famous phrase, 'God does not play dice'. He seemed to have felt that the uncertainty was only provisional: but that there was an underlying reality, in which particles would have well defined positions and speeds, and would evolve according to deterministic laws, in the spirit of Laplace. This reality might be known to God, but the quantum nature of light would prevent us seeing it, except through a glass darkly.

Einstein's view was what would now be called, a hidden variable theory. Hidden variable theories might seem to be the most obvious way to incorporate the Uncertainty Principle into physics. They form the basis of the mental picture of the universe, held by many scientists, and almost all philosophers of science. But these hidden variable theories are wrong. The British physicist, John Bell, who died recently, devised an experimental test that would distinguish hidden variable theories. When the experiment was carried out carefully, the results were inconsistent with hidden variables. Thus it seems that even God is bound by the Uncertainty Principle, and can not know both the position, and the speed, of a particle. So God does play dice with the universe. All the evidence points to him being an inveterate gambler, who throws the dice on every possible occasion.

http://www.hawking.org.uk/index.php/lectures/64
High Fructose Corn Spirit

Gym climber
Full Silos of Iowa
Nov 2, 2010 - 07:59pm PT
"...but i have found that in real life religion and what someone believes about this stuff is the least important thing to who we are and what kind of person we are."

Couldn't disagree more.

It's time people dealt with it. (Instead of leaving it in the closet or under a rug.) Perhaps now that it is an internet-driven info age - supported by science - they will.

Beliefs matter. Beliefs (i.e., mental holdings) are "behavioral" drivers. They are a HUGE determinate in one's practice of living, walk of life, chosen lifestyle, however you prefer to say it. -Whether it's individual or group (community) or nation or species at large.

.....

EDIT

Actually, it probably depends on context, that is, on how crazy passionate or casual you are about what you believe. My ancestral family was, and my extended family is, traditional fundamentalist in its beliefs. Obedience to God was fundamental to their daily practice. Everything from sex to procreation to combating atheist Communism and science education (esp regarding evolution) was seen and guided through their fundamentalist lens.

And to this day, 10 years after 9/11 most Americans still don't get how fundamentalist Muslims of the Arab world are - motivated in their behavior by what they think Allah (Jehovah) wants. Over there it's way more what you can do for God rather than what God can do for you. Over there, God is perceived as real as the Arabian camel, he's no allegory or mythical figure. Over there, the Abrahamic narrative is taken for real.

Just as Americans in this election cycle don't get why we're experiencing a loss of jobs, so too, they don't get what motivates the average Muslim of the Arab and Persian worlds.
Crodog

Social climber
Nov 2, 2010 - 09:42pm PT
Many people would claim that the boundary conditions are not part of physics but belong to metaphysics or religion. They would claim that nature had complete freedom to start the universe off any way it wanted. That may be so, but it could also have made it evolve in a completely arbitrary and random manner. Yet all the evidence is that it evolves in a regular way according to certain laws. It would therefore seem reasonable to suppose that there are also laws governing the boundary conditions.


Stephen Hawking - "The Quantum State of the Universe", Nuclear Physics (1984)
donini

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
Nov 2, 2010 - 11:59pm PT
History is cyclical, it seems like a little visit to the Middle Ages is in order- can the Dark Ages be far behind? Damn, how stupid of me, I completely forgot about the Rapture.
High Fructose Corn Spirit

Gym climber
Full Silos of Iowa
Nov 3, 2010 - 12:03am PT
This election night it occurs to me I can put it this way: Till an "atheist" or "nonchristian" or "irreligious" person can be elected to high public office in America (while not having to lie about it, that is, of course), beliefs matter SIGNIFICANTLY in our age and culture. This could be the so-called "litmus test" proving that one's beliefs are not irrelevant or trivial. And so far in sociopolitical history, one of these types could NOT be elected. That's a way to address the point I was trying to make earlier.

We're fools to overlook the role that religious belief - and moreover all belief - plays in electing the political leadership in this democracy.

.....

By the way, sometimes political pundits aren't so smart: Harry Reid's kickin some Angle butt in Nevada tonight. BigMagic!
rrrADAM

Trad climber
LBMF
Nov 3, 2010 - 07:44am PT
For a significant portion of Americans, especially in, but NOT limited to, the Bible Belt, religion IS THE MOST IMPORTANT THING IN THEIR LIVES, and they often and openly state this... Confidently believing it 'makes God happy' and that they get some extra "God Points" for doing so. They believe it with all their hearts, and it shapes the way they live their lives, and even how they think others should live their lives... So, they organize, lobby, and vote en mass, and the end result is the many "Blue Laws" and practices that all have to live buy.(E.g., "dry counties"; no buying alcohol on Sundays; no buying ANYTHING other than food stuffs or toiletries until after 1PM on Sundays; even just last weekend - no Halloween trick-or-treating on Sunday (the 31st), had to do it on Saturday instead' last 4th of July (also on a Sunday) having North Carolina's largest 4rth of July Festivle Parade on Monday the 5th, not Sunday, voting in Fundie morons to school boards, many of whom who have children that have NEVER even been to public schools, etc.)

Many of these same people confidently smile as they deny or dismiss undeniable facts, also like they believe they are being virtuous and thus rewarded with extra "God Points" for 'maintaining the faith' despite reality. Seems for them, ignorance and denial IS considered a virtue.



Think about that for a moment, as a significant potion of people live their lives guided by the desire to please their own version of a mythical figure... They even work together to try to get ALL others in their community (local and national) to live by what they believe 'pleases their God'.
rrrADAM

Trad climber
LBMF
Nov 3, 2010 - 07:52am PT
I think Carl puts it well, in The Dragon In My Garage:

The Dragon In My Garage

by Carl Sagan


"A fire-breathing dragon lives in my garage"

Suppose (I'm following a group therapy approach by the psychologist Richard Franklin) I seriously make such an assertion to you. Surely you'd want to check it out, see for yourself. There have been innumerable stories of dragons over the centuries, but no real evidence. What an opportunity!

"Show me," you say. I lead you to my garage. You look inside and see a ladder, empty paint cans, an old tricycle -- but no dragon.

"Where's the dragon?" you ask.

"Oh, she's right here," I reply, waving vaguely. "I neglected to mention that she's an invisible dragon."

You propose spreading flour on the floor of the garage to capture the dragon's footprints.

"Good idea," I say, "but this dragon floats in the air."

Then you'll use an infrared sensor to detect the invisible fire.

"Good idea, but the invisible fire is also heatless."

You'll spray-paint the dragon and make her visible.

"Good idea, but she's an incorporeal dragon and the paint won't stick." And so on. I counter every physical test you propose with a special explanation of why it won't work.

Now, what's the difference between an invisible, incorporeal, floating dragon who spits heatless fire and no dragon at all? If there's no way to disprove my contention, no conceivable experiment that would count against it, what does it mean to say that my dragon exists? Your inability to invalidate my hypothesis is not at all the same thing as proving it true. Claims that cannot be tested, assertions immune to disproof are veridically worthless, whatever value they may have in inspiring us or in exciting our sense of wonder. What I'm asking you to do comes down to believing, in the absence of evidence, on my say-so. The only thing you've really learned from my insistence that there's a dragon in my garage is that something funny is going on inside my head. You'd wonder, if no physical tests apply, what convinced me. The possibility that it was a dream or a hallucination would certainly enter your mind. But then, why am I taking it so seriously? Maybe I need help. At the least, maybe I've seriously underestimated human fallibility. Imagine that, despite none of the tests being successful, you wish to be scrupulously open-minded. So you don't outright reject the notion that there's a fire-breathing dragon in my garage. You merely put it on hold. Present evidence is strongly against it, but if a new body of data emerge you're prepared to examine it and see if it convinces you. Surely it's unfair of me to be offended at not being believed; or to criticize you for being stodgy and unimaginative -- merely because you rendered the Scottish verdict of "not proved."

Imagine that things had gone otherwise. The dragon is invisible, all right, but footprints are being made in the flour as you watch. Your infrared detector reads off-scale. The spray paint reveals a jagged crest bobbing in the air before you. No matter how skeptical you might have been about the existence of dragons -- to say nothing about invisible ones -- you must now acknowledge that there's something here, and that in a preliminary way it's consistent with an invisible, fire-breathing dragon.

Now another scenario: Suppose it's not just me. Suppose that several people of your acquaintance, including people who you're pretty sure don't know each other, all tell you that they have dragons in their garages -- but in every case the evidence is maddeningly elusive. All of us admit we're disturbed at being gripped by so odd a conviction so ill-supported by the physical evidence. None of us is a lunatic. We speculate about what it would mean if invisible dragons were really hiding out in garages all over the world, with us humans just catching on. I'd rather it not be true, I tell you. But maybe all those ancient European and Chinese myths about dragons weren't myths at all.

Gratifyingly, some dragon-size footprints in the flour are now reported. But they're never made when a skeptic is looking. An alternative explanation presents itself. On close examination it seems clear that the footprints could have been faked. Another dragon enthusiast shows up with a burnt finger and attributes it to a rare physical manifestation of the dragon's fiery breath. But again, other possibilities exist. We understand that there are other ways to burn fingers besides the breath of invisible dragons. Such "evidence" -- no matter how important the dragon advocates consider it -- is far from compelling. Once again, the only sensible approach is tentatively to reject the dragon hypothesis, to be open to future physical data, and to wonder what the cause might be that so many apparently sane and sober people share the same strange delusion.
rockermike

Trad climber
Berkeley
Nov 3, 2010 - 10:02am PT
Nice discussion between Madbolter and Ed. In fact it has been one of the few discussions where I actually felt like I could learn something. But all up I'll give the victory to MB.

As to the Sagan quote above, it just serves to highlight how scientism and its high priests just don't get it. Its like trying to explain the subtleties of a Shakespeare play to a soap opera addict. Clueless. Its almost amusing to hear Sagan going on and on while so drastically missing the point (the point of reality I would say - but that's another argument).

Humans are accustomed to being the alpha entity in this world. If we see an ant walking across the sidewalk, we can ignore it, or we can bend down and block its path, or pick it up, or burn it with a magnifying glass - as is our pleasure. These actions are all expressions of OUR will, not the ants. But if we stand up and walk away, the ant has no capacity to understand what just happened. Its aware that something touched it. But it doesn't know what or why, and it can't investigate and put us in its lab for further probing so to speak. We as humans are the supreme conscious acting subjects of the material world and accustomed to manipulating the other objects of material reality for our own pleasure or curiosity.

But there are - so the argument goes - dimensions of reality (and willful spiritual beings or being in most religions) where we are no longer the subject but the object of THEIR will. Reality - in the big picture - doesn't have to conform to our will nor our probing, but rather, in certain realms we have to conform to the will of an ontologically higher reality. I know its a great blow to the human ego to acknowledge this but we aren't the biggest baddest smartest thing ever to exist.

By definition you can't make God an object of your investigation. If he/she chooses to reveal himself he can do so, and if he chooses to leave us to our own devices he can do that. His/her will is superior to ours.

Now of course Sagan (presumably) hasn't had any spiritual experiences and he doesn't believe in the claims of others as to the existence of other dimensions or higher beings, and that is fine. But all he can honestly say is that he hasn't had any experience with such things and he doesn't trust the reports of other individuals. But to make fun of theists and argue that if he can't capture God in his flour trap then God doesn't exist is beyond stupid.


(edit: point taken- he doesn't say God doesn't exist - he ridicules those who don't limit their conclusions to material evidence.)

Once again, the only sensible approach is tentatively to reject the dragon hypothesis, to be open to future physical data, and to wonder what the cause might be that so many apparently sane and sober people share the same strange delusion.
jstan

climber
Nov 3, 2010 - 10:14am PT
Sagan does not say that god(the dragon) does not exist. He says there is no evidence he does exist. Actually he said it over and over again. So you could not accidently miss it.
It is very easy to refute things that were not said. You just make up something you can refute.

Election season does rub off on people, doesn't it?
High Fructose Corn Spirit

Gym climber
Full Silos of Iowa
Nov 3, 2010 - 10:24am PT
Rockermike wrote-
"Nice discussion between Madbolter and Ed."

Alright, I'll go there with you. Help me understand. What exactly did you get out of this discussion that was useful? Let's discuss.

My opening view: I think you bullsh'it. Prove me wrong.

.....

Regarding your post, (1) you conflate "higher beings" and (presumably impersonal) "dimensions." Why not talk about each separately so others can better understand you and so you don't sound so ethereal as Madbolter. (2) You speak of God. Again be more clear so the interested reader can respond. "God" is an indefinite term (kinda like the unitless number 17), so are you referring to the God of Moses (Jehovah), some other ancient local Mesopotamian God (e.g. Marduk) or some "God" (higher power) of your own conception. (3) You say, "all up I'll give the victory to MB." This is so vague, please elaborate.


Who are you, are you an evolutionist, a Christian, a Muslim, perhaps a "theistic evolutionist" - tell us, so we can better understand your thinking. And what is your background, might it be philosophy?

Maybe you're the one missing a point or two. Maybe it is okay that others (Carl Sagan to science educators in general to some of us here on this forum) (a) dare to make decisions (e.g., regarding how life works and how the world works and how we anthropes ought to live our lives) for themselves and (b) dare to express them here at the Taco.

.....

So, let's hear what you got. Some specifics.
High Fructose Corn Spirit

Gym climber
Full Silos of Iowa
Nov 3, 2010 - 10:46am PT
Rockermike wrote-

"But to make fun of theists and argue that if he can't capture God in his flour trap then God doesn't exist is beyond stupid."

This is actually every bit as sloppy and flippant as Madbolter's lines.

.....

Perhaps it was this gem of Madbolter that was so intellectually or spiritually satisfying to you, that inspired you to "give the victory" to him:

"Ed, I think that you are basically correct in this assessment. But there is another significant difference between physics and philosophy, and that is what the "truth" predicate is doing.

In a robust Tarskian notion of truth: "'Snow is white' is true iff snow is white." At first blush, this seems consistent with what physics is saying: "We know that 'snow is white' is true iff empirical observation reveals that snow is white."

But the physical interpretation of Tarski's truth predicate builds in epistemological presumptions not found in the original. On Tarski's model, we are correlating "is true" with the FACTS in a robust, metaphysical way having nothing to do with any particular empirical bias. That vast majority of philosophers (apart from deflationists, etc.) accept that Tarski's truth predicate is the best account of "truth" that we have: it correlates an assertoric sentence with the way the world REALLY is (leaving the epistemological question of discovery out of the definition).

Physicists buy the Tarskian model of truth, but also build empiricism into their analysis of "the way the world is.""
rrrADAM

Trad climber
LBMF
Nov 3, 2010 - 10:48am PT
(edit: point taken- he doesn't say God doesn't exist - he ridicules those who don't limit their conclusions to material evidence.)

Once again, the only sensible approach is tentatively to reject the dragon hypothesis, to be open to future physical data, and to wonder what the cause might be that so many apparently sane and sober people share the same strange delusion.
Nice...

How is what he saying 'ridicule'? Seriously? Do you think the word 'delusion' is a word of ridicule? Would you be 'ridiculing' Fundie Muslims who blow themselves up by saying they had a delusional belief that lead them to it, or would you just be using the correct term to describe the flawed confident belief in somehting that is wrong?

Perhaps this will help:
delusion

A delusion is a fixed belief that is either false, fanciful, or derived from deception.


Or, since, by implication, YOU may be in a group that is seen as delusional, and that your belief in a "dragon" isn't taken as seriously as you think it should, and that offends you since you believe it your "dragon" so strongly?


What, and even how, he is saying it is not ridiculing anyone... What I am saying is not ridiculing anyone, however, HOW I say it often does, as I just don't have the patience to try to explain anything to someone who doesn't CARE to understand...

And, as Thomas Jefferson wrote:
"Ridicule is the only weapon that can be used against unintelligible propositions. Ideas must be distinct before reason can act upon them."

And that belief is "dragons" is NOT distinct... It is nebulous.


I will try though, and show the utmost patience and courtesyif one only even HINTS and wanting to understand.




You know, Russell's Teapot is another great example trying to point out this type of flawed thinking.





Now of course Sagan (presumably) hasn't had any spiritual experiences and he doesn't believe in the claims of others as to the existence of other dimensions or higher beings, and that is fine. But all he can honestly say is that he hasn't had any experience with such things and he doesn't trust the reports of other individuals. But to make fun of theists and argue that if he can't capture God in his flour trap then God doesn't exist is beyond stupid.

Jan

Mountain climber
Okinawa, Japan
Nov 3, 2010 - 11:02am PT
I've been giving a lot of thought lately to whether spiritual experiences are created within the brain only, the materialist view, or come from an unseen source. I do believe it is one of the most interesting questions of our times.

Then I came upon an analogy from my own experience in Nepal and it is this. For many years Radio Beijing, Voice of America and BBC South Asia broadcast into Nepal. This was unknown in the villages however because there was no electricity or radios. Radio waves can't be seen, felt, heard, or tasted with the ordinary senses.

Eventually though, the physical technology improved, the first transistor radios appeared in the villages, and people experienced a whole new dimension to life, becoming aware of something invisible for the first time.

Many people were frightened. Others were sure there was a visible, physical explanation. Thus a number of transistor radios were dismantled, poked and prodded, in an effort to discover the little people hiding out in the small plastic box. Some declared listening to something unseen to be evil. Others however were entertained and began learning new things, leading better lives.

So what if the evolved human brain is like the transistor radio? Finally after millions of years of evolution, capable of picking up invisible energy that permeates our universe, though so far not evident to the human sense organs, only to the brain? Can we really be certain that the perception of an experience produced by human induced electrical stimulation could not also be duplicated by other sources ranging from space aliens to God?

Could we not be equally unsophisticated in our understanding of what the source is, so that like the Nepalese villagers, we can't distinguish between the equivalent of Radio Free Europe and Radio Moscow?
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Nov 3, 2010 - 11:14am PT
rockermike - you do not know whether or not Carl Sagan had a "spiritual" experience, I would presume that he had, as that sort of experience is common, it is nothing special. But the point I would like to make is that Sagan most likely examined that experience and tried to make sense of it, and in the end he obviously rejected a super-natural explanation. That might be difficult for you to understand or believe, but it is not unlike many other people.

Also, Sagan was not a part of scientism, he was a scientist. His interest in making a popular science series about the universe came at the beginning of the period when we were capable of making precise measurements which laid the foundations for the astrophysics that today has made such amazing progress.

You example of our supposed unique mental abilities is also written in a sloppy manner, but certainly orthodox, that we possess free will and a mental capacity that is quite different from the other living beings. That sort of uniqueness may or may not be an advantage, but there are aspects of our mental capabilities that can be found elsewhere in life. And certainly the ants exist now and have existed long before humans were around to be curious about them, and are likely to exist long after our species is extinct. Your world view has humans at the center of everything, an understandable if childish.

As for "where's Waldo(God)" science does not have a program to eliminate God from the universe. It is simply that as we understand more and more about the universe, there is less and less that we need to attribute to some external intelligence with the capability to create and control the universe. It might have already seemed that way to the Deists in the 17th century, whose God does not intervene in the natural world, having configured the natural laws in the beginning. Knowing God, to a Deist, is to understand the natural world through reason.

Now that science is addressing the origin of "natural law," contemplating the physical parameters of "creation" and the fate of the universe, the Deist's God's role as the "grand architect" is starting to look irrelevant... the logical extension of all this is God's "banishment" from the physical universe.

Even that will that you speak of above is the subject of scientific investigation. I have no doubt that its origin can be tracked down and explained, without resorting to any supernatural explanation.

Simply put, there is no reason to invoke the super-natural to explain the natural, and that becomes more and more obvious as we make scientific progress. It was obvious to a few brave thinkers 300 years ago.
rrrADAM

Trad climber
LBMF
Nov 3, 2010 - 11:15am PT
I've been giving a lot of thought lately to whether spiritual experiences are created within the brain only, the materialist view, or come from an unseen source. I do believe it is one of the most interesting questions of our times.


Jan, perhaps you may find some info here, or here.
Jan

Mountain climber
Okinawa, Japan
Nov 3, 2010 - 11:40am PT
rrrAdam-

I am not referring to religious belief which starts from an already established set of premises. I am referring to mystical spirituality where one quiets the mind and waits to see what happens. I am more interested in the experimental than the theoretical.

In my experience so far what I have found is that changes first occur to the biochemistry of the the brain and body, then the electrical activity, and then there are many things that happen unexpectedly even when one is not meditating. Of course this process takes many years and one's world view is changed though one doesn't necessarily interpret these experiences within an established religious framework.

Eventually, things that are said to be scientifically impossible (healings, precognition, intuitions that put a person in the right place at the right time to help someone, maybe even save their life, are experienced which help oneself or others, if one is open to them. Of course a materialist will just write them all off as statistical anamalies but for those who experience them, they are real, and they were worth making the effort for.

Perhaps it is even the wrong approach to ask where such experiences come from. Maybe it is enough to simply be grateful that the human mind is capable of experiencing such things, whatever the source.
High Fructose Corn Spirit

Gym climber
Full Silos of Iowa
Nov 3, 2010 - 11:45am PT
Here's another gem by Madbolter:
Things get sticky when "the way the world IS" is made synonymous with, in effect, "the way the world appears to us," which is what physicists do. Thus, physicists think that "snow is white" is synonymous with "snow appears white to us." In other words, empirical observations (that are themselves thoroughly interpreted) are made synonymous with what the actual metaphysical facts are.

I didn't know physicists did that. I didn't know they "made synonymous" reality and perception of reality. I don't think Ed "makes synonymous" the two.

When this sloppiness (of writing or thinking) is combined with the convoluted high-falutin phraseology (that is so characteristic of traditional academic philosophy and theology, that is so unneccessary) is it surprising he isn't understood any better than this alexander-solz guy (of the Taco) or is it surprising someone like Atkins thinks academic philosophy (as an academic discipline) has run its course? Not to me.

After investing some time working through his convolutions that ultimately leads one in circles, I learned last year better to skip his posts, to spend the limited time and energy I have elsewhere in interesting subjects, of which there are many.
rrrADAM

Trad climber
LBMF
Nov 3, 2010 - 12:02pm PT
rrrAdam-

I am not referring to religious belief which starts from an already established set of premises. I am referring to mystical spirituality where one quiets the mind and waits to see what happens. I am more interested in the experimental than the theoretical.

In my experience so far what I have found is that changes first occur to the biochemistry of the the brain and body, then the electrical activity, and then there are many things that happen unexpectedly even when one is not meditating. Of course this process takes many years and one's world view is changed though one doesn't necessarily interpret these experiences within an established religious framework.

Eventually, things that are said to be scientifically impossible (healings, precognition, intuitions that put a person in the right place at the right time to help someone, maybe even save their life, are experienced which help oneself or others, if one is open to them. Of course a materialist will just write them all off as statistical anamalies but for those who experience them, they are real, and they were worth making the effort for.

Perhaps it is even the wrong approach to ask where such experiences come from. Maybe it is enough to simply be grateful that the human mind is capable of experiencing such things, whatever the source.
Understand... My bad.

I would suggest that since it is apparent that people who are trained to meditate show much more evidence of what you suggest than those who aren't (baseline), and can even influence and control it, that it is a physical process occuring in the brain, with zero outside influence.

Why zero outside influence? Because there is no REASON to infer one. And, again, as I sure you will agree... A lack of knowledge in all areas of something physical does not equal or require something suprnatural is involved.


Sure, it's [ipossible that an alien species, or even God, lives behind the event horizons of black holes, forever hidden form our view... But that they, or he/she, can manipulate our experiences by exploiting some unknown energy (that can leave the blackhole) in relation to some also unknown recievers in our brains... But It is pretty unlikely. And for me to suggest that as a real possibility, isn't gonna bear much fruit.
Tony Bird

climber
Northridge, CA
Nov 3, 2010 - 12:05pm PT
i was quite impressed by sagan's one and only novel, contact, which laid down an outline for a dialogue between the spiritual and the scientific. don't go by the movie, which isn't bad, but it doesn't do justice to the book.

shortly after contact was published, sagan gave a talk at ucla. i got to comment on how i enjoyed his venture into noveldom, and did he intend to do it again? yes, he said, he thought he might, and then he told us how jody foster had been signed for a movie version.

sagan came out with one very disappointing book after that, his demon-haunted world: science as a candle in the dark, which effectively destroyed the outline for dialogue he drew in contact and demonstrated an ignorance of matters spiritual and mythical which belies the basic threat these things represent to all close-minded scientists. i sometimes wonder what happened with the guy.
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Nov 3, 2010 - 12:09pm PT
it is a common criticism of science: that we make things up to conform to our own world view... problem with that criticism is that the independent reproducible results. One can go on to say we have mass delusion, but it's hard to explain a nuclear explosion as a delusional act, we certainly didn't conjure it up out of our collective will or our belief in something that is not real.

madbolter1 is actually questioning whether what is accessible empirically is all there is to the universe. Certainly we have thoughts that are not realizable, that is, violate what we know to be empirical fact. The question at hand is whether or not to promote those thoughts and experiences to have an equal or greater authority than empirical knowledge.

It also gets to the primacy we place on our consciousness and our specialness as a species... but if those thoughts and that consciousness is a set of behavior traits that we learn to experience in a particular way through our enculturation, then it is difficult to argue which explanation is more correct than any other. There is no guide but our experience, and our experience is limited and heavily influenced by what we learn. Philosophy doesn't help you decide as there is no criteria that selects one way of interpreting our experience over another,

...except for empirical demonstration.

You have real experiences... but you may not be able or even capable of understanding them. Empiricism probably is the only way out of this...
High Fructose Corn Spirit

Gym climber
Full Silos of Iowa
Nov 3, 2010 - 12:10pm PT
Well, I have Contact, the book, the movie, too, and I have Demon Haunted World - there's nothing inconsistent between any of them. I give them all Grade A. So that's another data point for you, a contrasting one.

.....

Of course the works of Carl Sagan would eventually rub ANY paranormalist the wrong way.

Obvious throughout his work, Sagan thought paranormal (hyperatics) was bunk. So do umpteen million others who have made nature investigation (e.g., through science) their life work.
rrrADAM

Trad climber
LBMF
Nov 3, 2010 - 12:11pm PT
sagan came out with one very disappointing book after that, his demon-haunted world: science as a candle in the dark
Wow! I thought that was an awsome book.
rrrADAM

Trad climber
LBMF
Nov 3, 2010 - 12:27pm PT
Sumerians Look On In Confusion As God Creates World
rockermike

Trad climber
Berkeley
Nov 3, 2010 - 12:30pm PT
HFCS writes:
When this sloppiness (of writing or thinking) is combined with the convoluted high-falutin phraseology (that is so characteristic of traditional academic philosophy and theology, that is so unneccessary) is it surprising he isn't understood any better than this alexander-solz guy (of the Taco) or is it surprising someone like Atkins thinks academic philosophy (as an academic discipline) has run its course? Not to me.

I'm not sure how you criticize MB for "sloppy thinking/writing" then criticize him for "high-falutin phraseology". The language of "academic" philosophy is extremely precise. Otherwise everyone would be just blowing steam and read into others arguments just what they themselves already think. But admittedly there is a bit of a guild language to it, and if you aren't initiated its hard to follow - but not so much as quantum physics IMHO. But then my academic background is in philosophy, intellectual history and theology - though not at the level that MB is discussing. Hence I have something to learn. Whereas Ed's stuff is mostly Greek to me. ha

jstan

climber
Nov 3, 2010 - 12:39pm PT
A few minor things:
Meditation is an iterative training process and most of the human functionalities adapt in such an environment. It is a survival mechanism. One who meditates would be expected to achieve change.

We don't have all the answers. Life has to be incredibly dull if you feel you do have all the answers. There is strong data that whales and now perhaps even birds are able to sense the earth's magnetic field and are able to navigate using it. Indeed I expect before long we will see experimentation in which some large migratory birds are fitted with a GPS and specially designed conductors on or about the head. To see if the birds lose their way when the current is turned on.

Very high magnetic fields are reported to induce changes in a person's sense of taste. Indeed I expect we have a lot to learn about our own sensory capabilities. At the present rate of progress in science - it could show up in tomorrow's newspapers.

Finally a comment on philosophy. You pick it up very quickly when a person has the intention of talking philosophy. Individually, words are used very sloppily but they are assembled with great attention to detail. How they sound and how they fit together.

Actual philosophical discussions are driven by fascinating ideas and do not show this characteristic.
Jan

Mountain climber
Okinawa, Japan
Nov 3, 2010 - 12:42pm PT
rrrAdam and Ed-

I do believe we have a kind of concurrence. It seems to me that it has taken about a year and a half and about four of these threads, but finally we understand what the parameters of the discussion really are.

I see things as an anthropologist, so to me we are talking two different cultures and two different languages here, but since all of us have scientific training, we are able to have a civilized discussion and see the benefits and limits of both world views.

If we truly are an insignificant species with little that resembles free will, perhaps physics, philosophy, and meditation are all just guilty pleasures on the way to extinction?

Meanwhile I would really like to thank all the scientific types who have participated in these threads as I had't thought about the world of physics for almost 40 years and it has been a really interesting challenge to learn what has been happening in the meantime.
High Fructose Corn Spirit

Gym climber
Full Silos of Iowa
Nov 3, 2010 - 12:42pm PT
Well, Rockermike, if it works for you, great.

Later.
Crodog

Social climber
Nov 3, 2010 - 12:43pm PT
Without God, September 25, 2008 - Steven Weinberg

It is not my purpose here to argue that the decline of religious belief is a good thing (although I think it is), or to try to talk anyone out of their religion, as eloquent recent books by Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, and Christopher Hitchens have. So far in my life, in arguing for spending more money on scientific research and higher education, or against spending on ballistic missile defense or sending people to Mars, I think I have achieved a perfect record of never having changed anyone’s mind. Rather, I want just to offer a few opinions, on the basis of no expertise whatever, for those who have already lost their religious beliefs, or who may be losing them, or fear that they will lose their beliefs, about how it is possible to live without God.

First, a warning: we had better beware of substitutes. It has often been noted that the greatest horrors of the twentieth century were perpetrated by regimes—Hitler’s Germany, Stalin’s Russia, Mao’s China—that while rejecting some or all of the teachings of religion, copied characteristics of religion at its worst: infallible leaders, sacred writings, mass rituals, the execution of apostates, and a sense of community that justified exterminating those outside the community.

When I was an undergraduate I knew a rabbi, Will Herberg, who worried about my lack of religious faith. He warned me that we must worship God, because otherwise we would start worshiping each other. He was right about the danger, but I would suggest a different cure: we should get out of the habit of worshiping anything.

I’m not going to say that it’s easy to live without God, that science is all you need. For a physicist, it is indeed a great joy to learn how we can use beautiful mathematics to understand the real world. We struggle to understand nature, building a great chain of research institutes, from the Museum of Alexandria and the House of Wisdom of Baghdad to today’s CERN and Fermilab. But we know that we will never get to the bottom of things, because whatever theory unifies all observed particles and forces, we will never know why it is that that theory describes the real world and not some other theory.

Worse, the worldview of science is rather chilling. Not only do we not find any point to life laid out for us in nature, no objective basis for our moral principles, no correspondence between what we think is the moral law and the laws of nature, of the sort imagined by philosophers from Anaximander and Plato to Emerson. We even learn that the emotions that we most treasure, our love for our wives and husbands and children, are made possible by chemical processes in our brains that are what they are as a result of natural selection acting on chance mutations over millions of years. And yet we must not sink into nihilism or stifle our emotions. At our best we live on a knife-edge, between wishful thinking on one hand and, on the other, despair.

What, then, can we do? One thing that helps is humor, a quality not abundant in Emerson. Just as we laugh with sympathy but not scorn when we see a one-year-old struggling to stay erect when she takes her first steps, we can feel a sympathetic merriment at ourselves, trying to live balanced on a knife-edge. In some of Shakespeare’s greatest tragedies, just when the action is about to reach an unbearable climax, the tragic heroes are confronted with some “rude mechanical” offering comic observations: a gravedigger, or a doorkeeper, or a pair of gardeners, or a man with a basket of figs. The tragedy is not lessened, but the humor puts it in perspective.

Then there are the ordinary pleasures of life, which have been despised by religious zealots, from Christian anchorites in the Egyptian deserts to today’s Taliban and Mahdi Army. Visiting New England in early June, when the rhododendrons and azaleas are blazing away, reminds one how beautiful spring can be. And let’s not dismiss the pleasures of the flesh. We who are not zealots can rejoice that when bread and wine are no longer sacraments, they will still be bread and wine.

http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2008/sep/25/without-god/?page=3
Jan

Mountain climber
Okinawa, Japan
Nov 3, 2010 - 12:51pm PT
jstan-

It has been found that Taoist temples which are cited on places which are thought to contain strong chi energy, so called acupuncture points on the earth, are all mountains with strong magnetic properties where compasses don't work.

If Taoists could locate magnetic mountains, then the interesting question is whether some people are genetically more sensitive to magnetic energy or whether this is something that can be achieved through meditation, or possibly both. Indeed, some Tibetan temples had meditators sit under large magnets surrounded by copper walls.

It is a common experience of intense meditators that their senses do become more finely atuned and that is why those serious about it go on retreats or seek solitude in isolated places.
rrrADAM

Trad climber
LBMF
Nov 3, 2010 - 12:53pm PT
Jan...

Magnetism (a form of electromagnetic radiation) is a pretty well understood force. It is understood that magnetism can deflect electrons... And since elctrical impulses in our brains work in conjunction with chemical changes to produce sensations, it is no far stretch to see that an intense magnetic field can alter someone's perception of somehting.

The exact "how" is what would be looked at.


We can navigate with our vision, which relies on light (another form of electromagnetic radiation), many insects can see into the UV spectrum of light, and many repiles lower into the IR. Why would it be so hard to understand that other animals, birds and whales, can sense magnetism (still eletromagnetic radiation) in a way that we cannot?
High Fructose Corn Spirit

Gym climber
Full Silos of Iowa
Nov 3, 2010 - 12:56pm PT
re: "the worldview of science is rather chilling."

Certainly aspects of it. Agreed.

So I say we NOW need a new discipline (of belief and practice, apart from religion with its reliance and central focus on supernaturalist belief) to help us cope with this. With an emphasis on life guidance, life strategies, and best practices in the practice of living. And, best of all, I'm confident before this century is over, we will have it.

.....

Thanks Crodog. Bears repeating:

"Worse, the worldview of science is rather chilling. Not only do we not find any point to life laid out for us in nature, no objective basis for our moral principles, no correspondence between what we think is the moral law and the laws of nature, of the sort imagined by philosophers from Anaximander and Plato to Emerson. We even learn that the emotions that we most treasure, our love for our wives and husbands and children, are made possible by chemical processes in our brains that are what they are as a result of natural selection acting on chance mutations over millions of years. And yet we must not sink into nihilism or stifle our emotions. At our best we live on a knife-edge, between wishful thinking on one hand and, on the other, despair."

His next two paragraphs, too.

.....

EDIT

The Cosmic Governance (that I sometimes call "God") knows that I do try my best to not "sink into nihilism" -

...as I contemplate things (e.g., the human condition, American culture and American politics, the appalling science illiteracy in America and the world, the end of the American Dream, calls to end industrial civilization, etc. -So far I haven't. But I have come to grips with death and (ecological) succession as natural dynamics. This helps.
Crodog

Social climber
Nov 3, 2010 - 01:03pm PT
Bravo!
Jan

Mountain climber
Okinawa, Japan
Nov 3, 2010 - 01:08pm PT
rrrAdam-

Agreed. Another interesting thing I read recently is that some Japanese scientists set out to try to understand if there was any truth to some so called Japanese superstitions. The one that interested me the most was the phenomenon of "Buddha's Lights". It has been reported for many centuries that the candles on Buddhist alters turn blue and bow toward the ground just before a big earthquake, giving warning to the inhabitants to run out of the house.

The scientists noted that lightning strikes, typhoons, and earthquakes all release enormous amounts of electromagnetic energy so they placed candles within a chamber that was subjected to levels of such energy as occur during an earthquake. Sure enough, the candle flames turned blue and bent downward for a few seconds.

Meanwhile, the Chinese government keeps herds of deer in various parts of China as they are thought to act strangely for three days before an earthquake and thus predict them in advance. Whole cities of hundreds of thousands have been evacuated before quakes occured. Japanese noted and filmed the same phenomenon with laboratory mice a day or two before the Kobe earthquake.
jstan

climber
Nov 3, 2010 - 01:08pm PT
Many years ago at an APS meeting I listened to a paper claiming animal sensory capabilities are quantum limited. We even hear via a heterodyne process and, visually, single photon detection is achievable.

Whales possess a large semi-liquid reservoir at their head end that apparently is active in navigation. Investigators are rather stumped however by birds that have no way to devote any substantial mass to navigation. Recent studies showing birds stay in the air for weeks at a time while travelling 10,000 miles has put into contention the thought that they navigate using the sun. They don't get off course at night, even in storms.

Frankly, it is what we do not know that makes life fascinating. Just as it is the climbs one has not done, occupy the imagination.
rrrADAM

Trad climber
LBMF
Nov 3, 2010 - 01:15pm PT
re: Buddha's Lights

Can you give me some materail on this? I tried to google it, and all I got were some returns about an association, but nothing about what you speak of.

I got a couple hits for "Earthquake Lights", but that has nothing to do with candles.
rrrADAM

Trad climber
LBMF
Nov 3, 2010 - 01:22pm PT
re: Taosist temples - compasses not working, etc...

Can You please provide me with some info on this as well?
Mr_T

Trad climber
Northern California
Nov 3, 2010 - 01:22pm PT
rrrADAM

Trad climber
LBMF
Nov 3, 2010 - 01:36pm PT

High Fructose Corn Spirit

Gym climber
Full Silos of Iowa
Nov 3, 2010 - 01:38pm PT
^^^^^Steven Weinberg wrote-
"In some of Shakespeare’s greatest tragedies, just when the action is about to reach an unbearable climax, the tragic heroes are confronted with some “rude mechanical” offering comic observations: a gravedigger, or a doorkeeper, or a pair of gardeners, or a man with a basket of figs. The tragedy is not lessened, but the humor puts it in perspective."

"The humor puts it in perspective."

.....

BTW, where's Pate? :)
Jan

Mountain climber
Okinawa, Japan
Nov 3, 2010 - 02:05pm PT
rrrAdam-

Here is a short description by the researcher himself. I got to the information with this google: earthquake superstitions and science in Japan

http://ex.isc.osaka-u.ac.jp/oussep-sa/information/oussep/19971201.html

I used to have photos of the candle flame bending about an inch down the candle but that disappeared with a past computer crash. I assume the photo was from his video and is probably reproduced in the book.

(I used to believe in the religion of Macintosh until my Mac Mini abruptly crashed with no warning. My faith shattered, I now belong to the sub sect of backup hard drives).

Meanwhile another site briefly notes:

A bent candle flame, or a candle that is hard to light or burns inefficiently has been noted as an AERP. Ikeya reproduced this effect by generating a charge on the ground that attracts the flame. Ikeya reproduced many other precursor phenomena in the lab by exploring the effects of electrical fields and EM waves. He produced very good evidence to suggest that these conditions are occurring as part of the earthquake progression and showed that the values that could be produced in nature are reasonable to show effects

http://idoubtit.wordpress.com/2007/01/16/whisperspart-3-anomalies-and-a-new-science/

The same author has produced a multipage pdf file on the subject of earthquake prediction based on natural phenomena

http://home.comcast.net/~idoubtit/whispers_complete.pdf

Too bad Juan isn't here to joing the conversation!
Jan

Mountain climber
Okinawa, Japan
Nov 3, 2010 - 02:09pm PT
The Taoist temple information came from a British based series on China called The Heart of the Dragon. One hour long video was on Taoism and its influence on Chinese science, noting that the Chinese were the first to make a working compass. He also included Chinese medicine and filmed cataract surgery where the only anesthetic was one needle in the ear which was hooked up to a mild electrical current.

http://www.columbia.edu/itc/eacp/japanworks/china/society/heart.htm#Understanding

You know also I assume, that Mt. Blanc is a mountain with magnetic properties that screw up compasses? We were warned right away in Europe not to rely on a compass during a storm on that mountain as many people had walked off of cliffs following what they thought were correct readings.
High Fructose Corn Spirit

Gym climber
Full Silos of Iowa
Nov 3, 2010 - 02:22pm PT
rAdam- Where'd your bit about "free will" go? Was it edited out? I was going to call that up. And then suggest we save THAT for later, maybe tomorrow. But now I can't find it.

Food for thought: So-called "free will" is one more subject confounded by early and medieval philos and theology, also today's Am. politics. It's a red herring, easy to work through off of an evolutionary psychological basis. -Which I think you support.

Easy as "God" and "spirit" and "fate" and "faith." Again, only philosophy and theology and all the historical baggage they bring with them mucks it up, the conversation and thinking, that is.

Later.
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Nov 3, 2010 - 02:51pm PT
Jan - if there is "energy" we detect, we can figure out a way to detect that energy other than through the rather crude biological process which is hypothesized. We can detect our detecting that energy by looking at brain activity, we can pose a large number of direct and indirect tests, rigorous tests, that attempt to provide an empirical basis for such things.

No such thing has been found, which puts a limit on just how weak the signal is, and how good our detection of that signal needs to be.

Explanations of the experiences you have cited may have more to do with human perception, the incorporation of that perception into our consciousness, and the attempt to explain something that is interpreted in such a way as to be unexplainable... strongly dependent on how we are taught to interpret these sorts of experiences.

As a practicing scientist I have learned to be very critical of the measurements that I make, to try to separate what is an artifact of the instruments from what I am trying to observe. That training also has me questioning my scientific interpretation and stripping it of all preconceived notions, down to the bare essence of the measurement, so, as I.I. Rabi once put it to us, a group of graduate students at tea before a seminar "we can have a conversation with nature."

Putting our human experience to such rigorous criticism is one way to confront those confounding experiences... and to start to get to the explanation of them.

rrrADAM

Trad climber
LBMF
Nov 3, 2010 - 03:08pm PT
HFCS... Not sure where it went... I often tweak/edit replies, unless someone has replied to it, clarifying and correcting my many typos. But the whole thing is gone. Apparently, I must have jacked it up.


What I said was (to Jan), I believe in free will, don't think I have all the answers, and the more I learn the more questions it tends to raise, but often (but not always) just ones of detail or "how".



Jan... Thanx for the rapid reply with info. I will look at that.
Crodog

Social climber
Nov 3, 2010 - 05:35pm PT
LHC researchers 'set to create a mini-Big Bang'


By Katia Moskvitch, Science reporter, BBC News, 3 November 2010

Researchers at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) are getting set to create the Big Bang on a miniature scale.

Since 2009, the world's highest-energy particle accelerator has been smashing together protons, in a bid to shed light on the fundamental nature of matter.

But now the huge machine will be colliding lead ions instead.

The experiments are planned for early November and will run for four weeks.

The LHC is housed in a 27km-long tunnel on the Franco-Swiss border and is managed by the European Organization for Nuclear Research (Cern).

The collider consists of four different experiments and one of them, ALICE, has been specifically designed to smash together lead ions.

The goal of these collisions is to investigate what the infant Universe looked like. Colliding protons at high energies was aimed at other aspects of physics, such as finding the elusive Higgs boson particle and signs of new physical laws, such as a framework called supersymmetry.

Cern's spokesman James Gillies told BBC News that besides ALICE, the ATLAS and Compact Muon Solenoid (CMS) experiments will also be temporarily colliding ions.

Big Bang

He said the tests could provide an insight into the conditions of the Universe some 13.7 billion years ago, just after the Big Bang.

They will look at the Universe fractions of a second after a tiny but very dense ball of energy exploded to create the cosmos as we know it today. Scientists believe that it was back then that a special state of matter existed, different from the matter the Universe is formed of now.

"Matter exists in various states: you can take a material like water and if you deep freeze it, it'll be solid, and if you put it on a table, it'll turn into a liquid, and if you put it into a kettle, it'll turn into a gas," said Dr Gillies.

"It's all the same stuff, but those are different states of matter. And if you take materials into laboratories, you can pull the electrons off the atoms and you have another state of matter which is called plasma."

But at the very beginning of the Universe, there might have been yet another state of matter. Physicists have dubbed this "stuff" the quark-gluon plasma.

"And this is the state of matter you have if you're able to effectively melt the nuclear matter that makes up atoms today, releasing the things that are inside, which are quarks and gluons," Dr Gillies explained.

Quark and gluon soup

If the researchers at the LHC are able to recreate that state of matter and study it, they could get important clues about how it "evolved into the kind of matter that can make up you and me".

One of the scientists who will be taking a part in the experiment is David Evans from the University of Birmingham, UK.

Dr Evans is one of the scientists who will take part in the new experiment
"Although the tiny fireballs will only exist for a fleeting moment (less than a trillionth of a trillionth of a second) the temperatures will reach over ten trillion degrees, a million times hotter than the centre of the Sun," said Dr Evans.

"At the temperatures generated, even protons and neutrons, which make up the nuclei of the atoms, will melt, resulting in a hot, dense soup of quarks and gluons."

The researcher said that the temperatures and densities that the collider will aim to create will be the highest ever produced in an experiment.
rrrADAM

Trad climber
LBMF
Nov 3, 2010 - 05:48pm PT
Jan,

Both of those articles about "bending candle flames" only state that it was observed, but nothing wiht any real data to look at.

While I wouldn't be surprised if there were subtle magnetic anomolies or fields generated by earthquakes, I would think that they would be WAY too subtle to have any noticable effect on a flame, AND that is only if there is a significant plasma componant to the flame... I thought the flame of a candle was mainly black body radiation (EM), and electromagnetic radiation has no charge, thus it is NOT effected by a magnetic field... Only charges particles are effected by a magnetic field, and that would be the plasma part of a very hot flame.

I really would like to know more about this... Do you have any more info on this?



As to the Taoist temples... I understood your reply to imply that the monks purposely built all Taoist temples were in locations (on mountains) that had large magnetic fields, that they interpreted as chi... That they could detect this, thus they chose to build there. Is that correct? If so, I was asking for data that supports the statement that all (or even most) Taosist temples were built in areas with large magnetic fields on purpose.
WBraun

climber
Nov 3, 2010 - 08:26pm PT
Crodog -- "LHC researchers 'set to create a mini-Big Bang'

Here the researchers are set to create

Hypocrisy!

First they say there's no creator and now they need to "create".

Stupid modern scientists always just plain "guessing mental speculators".
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Nov 3, 2010 - 08:27pm PT
I never guessed it was a mental speculator...
my guess was an event display from LHC...
Mike Bolte

Trad climber
Planet Earth
Nov 3, 2010 - 08:35pm PT
OK, after sleeping here tonight, I answer everyone's questions with the Truth tomorrow.

High Fructose Corn Spirit

Gym climber
Full Silos of Iowa
Nov 3, 2010 - 11:38pm PT
Look forward to this Mike.

Could we start with your take on... "free will" - with special attention given to VARIETIES of free will as conceived by primitive and modern humans, also religious ones (e.g., the Pope) and science-respecting ones (e.g., Hawking).

Once again, I have been giving extra time and thought to this most exciting subject and its relationship to ability, power, also decision-making - so really look forward to your input.

Thanks.
Crodog

Social climber
Nov 3, 2010 - 11:43pm PT
I guess all creators aren't created equal.
StahlBro

Trad climber
San Diego, CA
Nov 4, 2010 - 01:36am PT
Still debating the "how?" vs the "why?"...two different things, but maybe they will intersect at some point
Jan

Mountain climber
Okinawa, Japan
Nov 4, 2010 - 04:41am PT
rrrAdam-

Sorry that's all I have for bending flame references. I would suggest that you order Iheya's book or get a library to do that since it is expensive.

As for Taoist temples, I believe they said that all major Taoist temples were cited on hills with specific magnetic properties. I would have to watch the video again to catch the exact language.

MH2

climber
Nov 4, 2010 - 04:57am PT
I hope Mike Bolte comes through on his promise, or prediction?

I think many people have a strong contrarian streak. The more you explain the less they agree with you. On rare happy occasions this can lead to important new knowledge but only if the ideas are testable and the results connect in significant ways to what we already know.

Fortunately, we don't know everything, yet. We still live in an Age of Exploration.
Mike Bolte

Trad climber
Planet Earth
Nov 4, 2010 - 10:32am PT
Nope, sorry. Slept in the room where Einstein statyed for a few months in 1930, but woke up just as dumb as ever. They must have cleaned the room or something between then and now.
originalpmac

Mountain climber
Anywhere I like
Nov 4, 2010 - 10:47am PT
any of you guys read any Hawking? "Brief History of Time" was a great book. He mentions the whole laws of physic ruling out an intelligent creator. Fascinating stuff.

Carl Sagan also has some great books out there on the universe and evolution.







oh yeah.....

......Fvck the Pope!
Crodog

Social climber
Nov 4, 2010 - 11:50am PT
The Most Powerful People on Earth 2010

by Nicole Perlroth and Michael Noer, Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Tony Bird

climber
Northridge, CA
Nov 4, 2010 - 12:20pm PT
this gang discussed all this before, and i can't find the book for reference, although i believe i interested jan in it and she went out and purchased it.

sagan himself admitted the genuineness of some paranormal phenomena. the one that sticks with me is his acknowledgement that certain very young children seem to have memory of a previous life, which has been checked out and proven to be remarkably accurate. this is on a par with karl baba's experiences, which we've discussed on this thread and others.

like you fellows, sagan worked hard at closing his "scientific" mind to the rest of it. i wonder if he decided it was bad for business to keep it too open.
High Fructose Corn Spirit

Gym climber
Full Silos of Iowa
Nov 4, 2010 - 12:29pm PT
"sagan himself admitted..."

Yeah, like I said before, that's bullsh'it. Post up ANY indication of this from anything of his HUGE body of work. Till you do, you're no better than Sharon Angle, just another disinformationist. A dime a dozen.

.....

"Chances are, for every piece of bullsh'it you see, there are 50 you don't see."
Crodog

Social climber
Nov 4, 2010 - 12:38pm PT
High Fructose Corn Spirit

Gym climber
Full Silos of Iowa
Nov 4, 2010 - 01:04pm PT
del cross- Thank you for your accuracy and attention to detail on this.
rrrADAM

Trad climber
LBMF
Nov 4, 2010 - 01:15pm PT
Nope, sorry. Slept in the room where Einstein statyed for a few months in 1930, but woke up just as dumb as ever. They must have cleaned the room or something between then and now.

Try one of these:
rrrADAM

Trad climber
LBMF
Nov 4, 2010 - 01:18pm PT
like you fellows, sagan worked hard at closing his "scientific" mind to the rest of it. i wonder if he decided it was bad for business to keep it too open.
It's good to have an open mind... But not so open that your brain falls out.
WBraun

climber
Nov 4, 2010 - 01:27pm PT
Those that try to understand only thru the material senses will always fail.

The material senses are always subjected to the four defects.

1) Sure to commit mistakes
2) Is invariably illusioned
3) Has the tendency to cheat others
4) Is limited by imperfect senses.

Using the ascending process of trying to gain knowledge of that which is beyond the senses will always prove failure.

Modern materialistic science will always remain in complete failure to understand the real truth due to using their imperfect senses.

All their instruments are ultimately defective because the creators of those instruments, (modern materialistic scientists), are themselves defective.

Mighty Hiker

climber
Vancouver, B.C.
Nov 4, 2010 - 01:31pm PT
Who are the other people in the photo of Einstein that Mike Bolte posted? Ed?
High Fructose Corn Spirit

Gym climber
Full Silos of Iowa
Nov 4, 2010 - 01:48pm PT
The material senses are always subjected to the four defects.

1) Sure to commit mistakes
2) Is invariably illusioned
3) Has the tendency to cheat others
4) Is limited by imperfect senses.

Agree. Finally, at long last!

But to then link that to the rest of the post goes too far.
rrrADAM

Trad climber
LBMF
Nov 4, 2010 - 01:48pm PT
Curious Werner... Where/how do you attain your knowledge, and how do you judge it accurate?

Please, be specific.
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Nov 4, 2010 - 01:58pm PT
a picture taken January 10, 1931 at CalTECH

Original caption:
"Dr. Albert Einstein, father of relativity, recently met Dr. Robert A. Millikan and Dr. Albert A. Michelson, foremost American scientists at the California Institute of Technology. The three professors will work in solitude on new theories of the universe. Einstein also met a group of noted astronomers, mathematicians, chemists and physicists with whom he will become associated in his work. Here, left to right, at the California Institute of Technology, are: Walter S. Adams; Dr. Albert A. Michelson, who measured the speed of light; Dr. Walther Mayer of Vienna; Dr. Einstein; Max Farrand; and Dr. Robert A. Millikan, discoverer of the cosmic ray and president of the California Institute of Technology."
Crodog

Social climber
Nov 4, 2010 - 02:06pm PT
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Nov 4, 2010 - 02:09pm PT
Werner has interesting criticisms, most of which are taken into account by experimental sciences...

first off though, it's not about seeking "truth" or even "Truth" but gaining understanding. I think the record stands for itself... Werner can communicate to me his criticisms via some alternative to this particular instantiation of technologies which are a result of our imperfect way of gaining understanding.

Otherwise, we expand our senses, but it is true that things beyond our senses remain a "speculation"... and what senses we have are finite, and so knowledge we gain through those senses and the extension of those senses is limited. However, or imperfect understanding leads to provisional predictions of what lays beyond our senses, and we devise tests, including the development of sensory apparatus, so that we can push that boundary out a bit at a time.

We make better and better instruments and have more and more refined understanding.

I don't know about "Truth"
perhaps Werner can fill us in on that...
Crodog

Social climber
Nov 4, 2010 - 02:34pm PT
Tony Bird

climber
Northridge, CA
Nov 4, 2010 - 03:54pm PT
thanks for the original quote on that, del cross. yes, a fairly closed mind not quite totally slamming the door shut. as i noted, sagan underwent some changes at the end of his career. his last book preached to choirboys such as we have here.

the evidence, of course, continues to be apparent. we've had more than one discussion about such things on ST, and those who sincerely report genuine experiences are invariably dismissed with the kind of crap crodog posted up there. give ed credit for not calling karl a liar. he was too much of a gentleman even to call him a dupe, but, bottom line, i think that's how he feels about it. faced with reliably witnessed evidence, however, you guys, as you appear to the other half here, are clearing duping yourselves. i found it significant that the one article ed could cite involved a guarded study which did not address the factor of psychic ability, but rather the kind of mumbo-jumbo you get in astrology columns of american newspapers.
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Nov 4, 2010 - 04:55pm PT
I didn't do an exhaustive search on this stuff, but I can... standby

We all "dupe" ourselves by assuming that we shouldn't examine our experiences in a much more skeptical and rigorous manner. The issue is to not waste time fooling ourselves about the significance of those experiences if, in fact, they aren't what they appeared to be. As Werner posted above, it is easy to be deceived, but the story of science for the last 400 years has been learning how to achieve understanding with imperfect information.

Everyone who climbs knows that the most coveted ascent is the one where the incorrect, sandbagging beta is overcome... so it is in science, but we actually do it to ourselves.

But I truly listen to peoples' experiences, I might not accept their interpretations of those experiences but that doesn't make them less real.
Crodog

Social climber
Nov 4, 2010 - 04:56pm PT
jstan

climber
Nov 4, 2010 - 05:04pm PT
We each, swim in imperfect knowledge. Accepting this gives us what chance we have,

to reach the shore
rrrADAM

Trad climber
LBMF
Nov 4, 2010 - 05:31pm PT
thanks for the original quote on that, del cross. yes, a fairly closed mind not quite totally slamming the door shut. as i noted, sagan underwent some changes at the end of his career. his last book preached to choirboys such as we have here.

the evidence, of course, continues to be apparent. we've had more than one discussion about such things on ST, and those who sincerely report genuine experiences are invariably dismissed with the kind of crap crodog posted up there. give ed credit for not calling karl a liar. he was too much of a gentleman even to call him a dupe, but, bottom line, i think that's how he feels about it. faced with reliably witnessed evidence, however, you guys, as you appear to the other half here, are clearing duping yourselves. i found it significant that the one article ed could cite involved a guarded study which did not address the factor of psychic ability, but rather the kind of mumbo-jumbo you get in astrology columns of american newspapers.

1. Carl was pretty much attacked by the likes of Reagan, and many in his administration, as well as by some scientists didn't like the way he 'dumbed down science, as they put it. He was on the front line when the anti-science, anti-inteligencia types got public oppinion swaying their way... He had cause to be dismayed.

2. As far as ANYTHING psychic goes... There is still an unclaimed X Prize (substantial monetary award) for ANYONE who can show genuine psychic ability while in controlled condidtions*. Problem is, it never works when a scientist is around to witness it in a controlled environment. Why do you suppose nobody has been able to collect this substancial prize? Because scientists have some "voodoo vortex" associated with them that makes it not happen, or that perhaps it isn't real, but is instead a sham?

Big difference between psychic events witness by some, under the psychic's conditions, vs psychic events under controlled condidtions*.

*Controlled conditions are only such that scientists can detect and thus eliminate fraud.
High Fructose Corn Spirit

Gym climber
Full Silos of Iowa
Nov 4, 2010 - 06:10pm PT
re: evil

Hawking and the Pope would also probably disagree on the root of evil in the world. Anyone know if there is a science of evil? Yet?

When a boy asks his father, "Papa, why do bad things happen?" it would be nice if fathers of the 21st century were able to give him an answer on a basis of science, or in different terms, on a basis of ecology and biology.

Why there is no worked out science of evil yet - under a discipline with its own name - is astonishing every time I think about it. Maybe soon tho, I hope.
Crodog

Social climber
Nov 4, 2010 - 06:21pm PT

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j50ZssEojtM&feature=player_profilepage
WBraun

climber
Nov 4, 2010 - 11:56pm PT
Dry speculative theories have no taste.

Food should always be fresh, juicy and full of life.

Dead meat kills the soul .........
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Nov 4, 2010 - 11:58pm PT
physics = jerky
WBraun

climber
Nov 5, 2010 - 01:41am PT
The materialists are worst then children playing with matches.

They have no real power.

Power comes from above.

One must always bow down to the One power then real knowledge is revealed.

The materialists always think they can "Lord it over" and grab some power.

Their illusionary knowledge and powers drag them farther and farther away from the true goals.

And then they are kicked very severely ......
corniss chopper

Mountain climber
san jose, ca
Nov 5, 2010 - 01:51am PT
A brief interruption of this profound discussion for a separate reality.

http://haysvillelibrary.files.wordpress.com/2009/08/victoria-crater-mars-mro-1.jpg
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Nov 5, 2010 - 02:27am PT
here's something for you to read Tony:
http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m2320/is_n4_v59/ai_18445600/
http://www.susanblackmore.co.uk/Chapters/Kurtz.htm

For a counter balance:
http://www.paradigm-sys.com/ctt_articles1.cfm
http://www.paradigm-sys.com/ctt_articles2.cfm?id=27
http://www.stat.ucdavis.edu/~utts/air2.html

unfortunately, the amount of scientific reporting is getting less and less as time goes on...
rrrADAM

Trad climber
LBMF
Nov 5, 2010 - 07:25am PT
Again, Werener, I'll ask...
Curious Werner... Where/how do you attain your knowledge, and how do you judge it accurate?

Please, be specific.


As, this...
One must always bow down to the One power then real knowledge is revealed.

Suggests that these people are in the midst of attaining "real knowledge":

As they truely believe they are "bow[ing] down to the One power".
rrrADAM

Trad climber
LBMF
Nov 5, 2010 - 07:44am PT
And Tony... Regarding the anti-science that Carl was fighting against...

This is what it culminated in:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Science_wars

And, during this time, to show that most acedemic critics of science knew little about the science they were critiquing, Alan Sokal, a physics professor, submitted a hoax paper to the accedemic journal Social Text, published by Duke University, to show that they couldn't even tell nonsense from valid science, as they published it:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sokal_Affair
(Remember, one test IS worth a thousand 'expert opinions'... And scientists like to test.)

Note - This goes both ways, as the peer review system used for publication in physics journals isn't perfect either,
and has had it's own issues.

...more recently some of the leading critical [social] theorists have recognized that their critiques have at times been counter-productive, and are providing intellectual ammunition for reactionary interests. Writing about these developments in the context of global warming, Bruno Latour noted that "dangerous extremists are using the very same argument of social construction to destroy hard-won evidence that could save our lives. Was I wrong to participate in the invention of this field known as science studies? Is it enough to say that we did not really mean what we meant?"[17] Some have suggested that this paper represented Latour's recanting his earlier claims, but others say that the paper's attack on "social construction" is consistent with positions he has taken since the second edition of his book Laboratory Life was published in 1979; see Bruno Latour.
ref: wiki/science wars


The effects of the Science Wars, and what lead to it, are still being felt today, and even evidenced in the beliefs, misconceptions, and arguments of many in this thread.

This lead to things like: the defunding of the Super Conducting Super Collider in Texas, to recent decisions of the Texas State School Board to remove much science and alter history in their text books, to global warming deniers, to endless banal arguments about "what is knowledge" in order to undermine science, bluring the line of physics (science) and metaphysics (non/psuedo-science), "creation science", to a political candidate's stance on evolution/creation winning or losing him/her votes, etc...

HUGE difference between Eisenhower and Kennedy's stances on science back in the 50's and 60's, and the fruit that those stances lead to, even in education, and Reagan and both Bush's stances on science from the 80's through today, and the dismal state of science and education in America today.



Superstition is making a huge return, pushing out science... Thus, it really IS becoming a Demon Haunted World to many, as they do not trust Science As A Candle In The Dark.
Tony Bird

climber
Northridge, CA
Nov 5, 2010 - 09:41am PT
now that's a purty thang, corniss.

----


i do hope you've read all that material yourself, ed. ray hyman has made a career of trying to stomp out the paranormal. interestingly, like james randi, he began with skill as a sleight-of-hand magician. i guess if you know the card trick, the rest must be gobbledy-gook too.

susan blackmore is a different story. she lists a compendium of frustrations in her lifelong quest for the paranormal. i'd say she's expecting the wrong things. she wants psychic ability to function as some sort of telephone, when she wants it, for whom she wants it. she wants the crystal charm hillary clinton wears around her neck to work for her too. and she wants to be able to afford it. she doesn't seem to understand that you have to be king arthur in order to pull the sword out of the stone.

i do appreciate the tart references. UNLV was once a seat of paranormal research, now defunct, tart and dean radin sent to fend for themselves in foundationland. i think thelma moss was the great leader in this field. ucla has disinfected itself of her legacy and her promising graduate students sent to the wilderness of hollywood. that's the flipside of your science wars, rrradam. scientism is the aggressor here, not the victim of rabid "humanities" departments.

the transference of genuine data in a single instance by psychic means indicates the existence of a phenomenon. if a tribe of australian abos can communicate over distance by means of a demanding ritual developed over the eons (something far too inconvenient for blackmore, i'm sure), if a complete stranger in the bazaars of india can tell that karl's girlfriend's sibling had died, if a psychic can give me information about my dead relatives, long gone thousands of miles away--that's information. it leaves the realm of the random and becomes data. if you can't repeat it in your laboratory, the problem is probably your laboratory.

your last reference, ed, makes the point i've been trying to get you to make all along:

"Using the standards applied to any other area of science, it is concluded that psychic functioning has been well established. The statistical results of the studies examined are far beyond what is expected by chance. Arguments that these results could be due to methodological flaws in the experiments are soundly refuted ...

"It is recommended that future experiments focus on understanding how this phenomenon works, and on how to make it as useful as possible. There is little benefit to continuing experiments designed to offer proof, since there is little more to be offered to anyone who does not accept the current collection of data ..."

statisticians like professor utts are always trying to be useful. utility could be a mistake in setting up laboratories for future experimentation. you have to be careful in order not to kill schrödinger's cat.

-------------


i'm glad the subject of evil has come up. religion feeds off the idea of evil. science generally ignores the question, dumping it off to psychology and its pseudoscientific ways, producing its own sort of worried priesthood for dealing with the problems of society. religion conveniently ignores the essential evil of tooth and claw, calling it a "natural order" and allowing god to escape all responsibility for this set-up.

william blake asked the question long ago, and i think it has yet to be answered:

Tyger! Tyger! burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

In what distant deeps or skies
Burnt the fire of thine eyes?
On what wings dare he aspire?
What the hand dare seize the fire?

And what shoulder, and what art.
Could twist the sinews of thy heart?
And when thy heart began to beat,
What dread hand? and what dread feet?

What the hammer? what the chain?
In what furnace was thy brain?
What the anvil? what dread grasp
Dare its deadly terrors clasp?

When the stars threw down their spears,
And watered heaven with their tears,
Did he smile his work to see?
Did he who made the Lamb make thee?

Tyger! Tyger! burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?
High Fructose Corn Spirit

Gym climber
Full Silos of Iowa
Nov 5, 2010 - 11:36am PT
re: (1) evil (2) Hawking vs. the Pope

"Papa, why do bad things happen?"

Since science hasn't gotten around to it, to explaining the basis of evil, why don't we? That's right, right here at the Fire, we're smart enough.

For starters, here's a couple of ideas, starting premises: (1) Living things are fragile, they can be hurt. (2) Because we live in a moving universe characterized by entropy, things (a) bang into each other or (b) fall down. And then sometimes living things (honey bees to humans) get in the way. -Which means they get hurt, injured, and this is bad.

So, so far this is giving us a science supported model we might call the Hawking model (or ecological dynamics model) to distinguish it from the Pope model.

Of course the Pope model would consist of Original Sin (the Fall) and fallen angels (headed by Satan). Does anyone here still believe any of this model? Does anyone believe that before the Fall, lamb and lion weren not prey and predator? Also, it would consist of Man's "free" will to do evil.

Haven't yet mentioned competition and predation as part of the natural basis (or ecological basis) of the "Hawking model." One thing about these though- which was helpful to my thinking - they existed on earth (just like entropy) BEFORE humanity evolved. (Assuming you support the evolutionary model.)

re: competition, predation

Seems to me this is another "pressure" - besides entropy - set against us. Set against living things in general, set against humans, too. So we need to include this factor in the mix as we develop a science-based model of evil.

Okay, so this is just a start. Mentioned were two "pressures" set against us. Against living things. Can anyone think of a third? I don't want to hog the whole thread here. Anyone want to contribute. We can do it right here at the fire, let's develop a science-based eco model that Hawking would be proud of.

So contribute. I mean, besides... "Sh'it happens."

.....

EDIT

re: "I'm not perfect." Another source of offense if not evil: When one person's efforts or one group's efforts don't meet the expectations or standards of another. For sake of conversation and model development we could call this "ellipsis" or "elliptic shortcoming" or "elliptic imperfection." Sometimes we all have to make decisions and follow up on these with action that ultimately isn't well thought out, causes harm or injury to another, and is labeled "evil" or monstrous.

So this would be a third "pressure" set against us. All these pressures so far have a natural basis. -None have anything to do with "The Fall" (ancient Hebrew) or "Pandora's Box" (ancient Greek) - both of which are myth and rely on the supernatural for understanding.

Seems to me, humanity would do itself well in the 21st century to develop a model for evil (a) that doesn't rely on the supernatural (b) that's congruent with evolutionary theory and ecological dynamics. Eventually it will, I think.

.....

EDIT 9:37a It is a reasonable conclusion (one a lot more reasonable than Pandora's Box) that predation existed on earth before the arrival of hominids (let alone H. sapiens). But for those who don't want to "believe" this, there are alternatives, you can stay with those.
WBraun

climber
Nov 5, 2010 - 12:35pm PT
BEFORE humanity evolved

And here they completely foolishly guess and speculate again.

Maybe like this or maybe like that.

Millions of years ago and you where there?

and yet .... They can't even get TODAY correctly ....

And still this rascaldom is going on in the name of "Science"
Crodog

Social climber
Nov 5, 2010 - 12:59pm PT
Tony Bird

climber
Northridge, CA
Nov 5, 2010 - 01:05pm PT
werner dodged the question. for once, i'm agreeing with huffcuss:

humanity would do itself well in the 21st century to develop a model for evil (a) that doesn't rely on the supernatural (b) that's congruent with evolutionary theory and ecological dynamics.





Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Nov 5, 2010 - 01:07pm PT
Using the standards applied to any other area of science, it is concluded that psychic functioning has been well established. The statistical results of the studies examined are far beyond what is expected by chance. Arguments that these results could be due to methodological flaws in the experiments are soundly refuted ...

except that the experimental results don't show this, and these articles are almost all in the 90's where's the progress since then?

Your reaction is one that rejects the possibility that there is no effect. Statistically, it is very subtle, and cannot be unentangled from the statistical assumptions. Utt makes a reasonable assumption that the underlying probability distribution functions are known, but this is not the case, especially as we have no idea of the underlying mechanism that causes the effect. One cannot presume the cause of the effect yet.

Independent of Hyam's views, his criticisms are apt and on target in terms of scientific method. If there is evidence at all, it is statistical evidence of a not very strong effect. Think about that for a moment. What it means is that there is no single event that convincingly demonstrates any of these abilities. All the experimental results of the most optimistic researchers show a slight departure from the null hypothesis, that is, random chance. This is at variance with the popular perception, such as LEB's ghost-cat, that these paranormal events are distinctly real. Doing a properly controlled statistical analysis of these events would indicate that taken as a whole, most of these are just random occurrences.

So where are these results now? they are in the dust bin, as Hyam also pointed out, there is no accumulating base of experimental results showing these effects. Generally in science, when you're on the right track, you can hone in on the effect making better and better, and more convincing experimental progress. It seems in this area that no progress is made. Even with good experiments being done.

At some point, Tony, you have to say you don't consider scientific research to be valid, as a whole, certainly if you considered it valid then you would rule out the paranormal interpretation of these experiences and start the interesting business of understanding what it is that actually causes them... which might be interesting, and even important.

I'll continue on this fool's errand you've sent me on, since you appear to be fully aware of all these issues... and the literature.

So far, however, I don't see the science pointing in the direction of support. As you point out, statistics is not science, it is a tool of science, and statistics can be used incorrectly.
High Fructose Corn Spirit

Gym climber
Full Silos of Iowa
Nov 5, 2010 - 01:11pm PT
That's a Peter Atkins book, do you have it? If so, want to sell it or trade it?

.....

P.S. There are several paranormalist threads. All that was dealt with in the 70s and 80s. Arguably, that is what those decades were for. Reminder: We are the species that makes decisions. We're the decision-making species. Many in science education made decisions already concerning the paranormal and moved on. Same with astrology.
rrrADAM

Trad climber
LBMF
Nov 5, 2010 - 01:22pm PT
Personally, I believe we label "evil" things that man don't sit well with us, and even that depends on who the "us" is, as some groups consider the acts of other groups "evil", while within that group, it is perfectly OK...

But I think that what 'causes' what we call "evil in man" stem from greed, lust for power, malice, revenge, hate, and even sport (many would call killing things for sport, evil), or even natural insticts.


Thing is, while we look inward at ourselves, and see this, and call it "evil"... Animals do it to0, but likely for different reasons, and we don't call it "evil". Male bears will kill cubs (infanticide)... Many animals will just kill other animals because that's what they do, even if they aren't hungry.... Groups of chimps will "war" with other groups over females and territory, and will even kill (murder) members of other groups on sight, like gang members... Orca have been seen often playing with and tormenting sea lions before killing and eating them... Some chimps and all bonobos practice homosexuality, and even have sex with juvinile bonobos regardless of age, even infants.

If human males killed babies, hoping to mate with the mom, that would be "evil" to most, right? Or, killing members outside our group, "just because", evil, right? Or, playing tormenting animals, evil, right? Sex with infants, evil, right?


So, I think it's all a matter of perspective... When we see it in humans, many like to call it "evil", but when we see it in nature, we call it nature or instinct.

I think that, early on, we sought to understand and catagorize "good and bad, so maybe we could have some control over it... And we did this with "Good and Evil". Because we couldn't just accept, or understand, that 'shit happens'.... And why would they want to accept that anyway? As that gives us absolutely no control. Instead, we create beliefs that explain and give us some form of control, like the belief in "The Fall". That explains it, and if we make that God happy, we can in effect have some control over it (I.e., God will protect me from evil).
High Fructose Corn Spirit

Gym climber
Full Silos of Iowa
Nov 5, 2010 - 01:35pm PT
Yes, savvy (understanding) across many and various animal ecologies could be a MAJOR stepping stone to the development of a science-based model of evil. Model development on a 100 per cent natural basis. Hundreds of years ago, let alone thousands, our ancient ancestors knew little about fratricide in birds for instance, the killing of offspring in lion prides when a new alpha takes control, cat and mouse play between leopard seals (or killer whales) and penguins, the barbaric "evils" that take place in chimp societies, etc.

If human males killed babies, hoping to mate with the mom, that would be "evil" to most, right? Or, killing members outside our group, "just because", evil, right? Or, playing tormenting animals, evil, right? Sex with infants, evil, right?

Right!

"So, I think it's all a matter of perspective..."

Arguably, anthropocentrism (aka humanocentrism).

rAdam, all nicely put.

EDIT 10:38a
Now... Let's wait for another sage reply from Werner, to set us straight.

Or not. Don't feed the troll. Just leap and forge ahead.
rrrADAM

Trad climber
LBMF
Nov 5, 2010 - 01:37pm PT
Exactly. We ALL tend to look through a soda straw all too often, and it takes considerable effort and dicipline to look at the big "picture", especially if it's not what we were hoping to "see".

"The whole wide world, an endless universe, yet we keep looking through the eyeglass in reverse."
~RUSH



Now... Let's wait for another sage reply from Werner, to set us straight.
jstan

climber
Nov 5, 2010 - 01:45pm PT
Using the word "evil" can be nothing more than an attempt to marginalize. Indeed, it is possibly this nearly always.

Use of the word may itself be "evil."

Edit:

On ridicule:

Many eons ago I was urged to ridicule people who continued to use pitons. I have never known ridicule to change a person's behavior. It tends only to solidify that behavior. When you look at our current political process it becomes apparent ridicule is applied as a means to influence the crowd. The crowd is urged to feel personally superior because the criticism is not directed at them. In my opinion this is not a socially useful process.

In the case of pitons it was transparently counterproductive since EVERY person had to stop using them.
High Fructose Corn Spirit

Gym climber
Full Silos of Iowa
Nov 5, 2010 - 01:52pm PT
Language is indeed a MAJOR issue. New terminology, new vocabulary, is sorely needed. One without all the ol' time religious slant.

When it eventually arrives, and I believe it will, I hope those of you who are truly interested in these subjects don't ridicule it (or criticize it too harshly) straight away, taking into account our species' inherent biases against new words, also new ways of thinking.

We've grown accustomed already to new language concerning medicine, engineering, computers, internet and electronics. We'll eventually have a new way of talking in regard to new practices of living, models based on these, and we'll eventually grow accustomed to them also, I think.
Crodog

Social climber
Nov 5, 2010 - 01:56pm PT
Antisocial Personality Disorder


The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders fourth edition, DSM IV-TR = 301.7, a widely used manual for diagnosing mental disorders, defines antisocial personality disorder (in Axis II Cluster B) as:[1]

There is a pervasive pattern of disregard for and violation of the rights of others occurring for as long as either childhood, or in the case of many who are influenced by environmental factors, around age 15, as indicated by three (or more) of the following:

1.failure to conform to social norms with respect to lawful behaviors as indicated by repeatedly performing acts that are grounds for arrest;

2.deceitfulness, as indicated by repeatedly lying, use of aliases, or conning others for personal profit or pleasure;

3.impulsivity or failure to plan ahead;

4.irritability and aggressiveness, as indicated by repeated physical fights or assaults;

5.reckless disregard for safety of self or others;

6.consistent irresponsibility, as indicated by repeated failure to sustain consistent work behavior or honor financial obligations;

7.lack of remorse, as indicated by being indifferent to or rationalizing having hurt, mistreated, or stolen from another;

8.promiscuity;

9.having shallow or seemingly nonexistent feelings.

New evidence points to the fact that children often develop Antisocial Personality Disorder as a cause of their environment, as well as their genetic line. The individual does not need to meet a certain age requirement in order to be diagnosed with this disorder.

rrrADAM

Trad climber
LBMF
Nov 5, 2010 - 01:58pm PT
Good point, HFCS... To many, "theory" means wild assed guess, and is synonymous with speculation.

But in science, it has an entirely different meaning... It is a very precise word.
rrrADAM

Trad climber
LBMF
Nov 5, 2010 - 02:20pm PT
theory does mean speculation.

You just use a very narrow version of the word.


Skip

Here, enlighten yourself:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theory

Then reread what I said about the word as used in science [I.e., qualifier].
rrrADAM

Trad climber
LBMF
Nov 5, 2010 - 02:30pm PT
I just read what you posted from wikipedia.
No, you didn't... As you said, you read the very first sentence.

Keep reading... As it's what the GREAT BULK of the entry is about.

C'mon... You can do it... As I said, "enlighten yourself"... LEARN SOMETHING.


Then, just to see if you can actually comprehend what you read, tell me...
How is the word used in science? Which, again, is what I said.
Crodog

Social climber
Nov 5, 2010 - 02:31pm PT
I've got a theory about skipt
High Fructose Corn Spirit

Gym climber
Full Silos of Iowa
Nov 5, 2010 - 02:31pm PT
Skip- I venture to guess you're about as informed on this subject as you were on the electrical battery shock thread. So why not move on? You know, Pate might've been a fan of yours - besides an interest in nuns - that, too, distinguished us.
Crodog

Social climber
Nov 5, 2010 - 02:44pm PT
High Fructose Corn Spirit

Gym climber
Full Silos of Iowa
Nov 5, 2010 - 02:50pm PT
A couple of other subjects - both of them sorta "hairy" - that could be taken into account in the development of a model of evil on an ecological basis are (1) game theory (basis for evolution selecting for cheaters, defectors, deceivers) and (2) tribalism (not only tribal mentality but tribal dynamics involving partisan rivalry, us vs. them). The good news is that here at the start of the 21st we know a lot more about these subject areas than ever before.

.....

Thank you, Crodog. -As timely as ever.

.....

EDIT Skipt- my apologies, feel free to contribute.
High Fructose Corn Spirit

Gym climber
Full Silos of Iowa
Nov 5, 2010 - 03:08pm PT
Also, there is a lot of deception in animal ecologies. Expert knowledge systems in these areas would also be a useful stepping stone, I think, to a modern scientific model of evil that operated on an ecological basis.

.....

EDIT Yeah, I took it away because it didn't contribute, because it was immature, off topic, and I don't want to engage in mindless tit for tat (btw, a game theory concept) that characterizes so many threads.

EDIT EDIT Beat you to it. Read again! LOL.
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Nov 5, 2010 - 03:16pm PT
don't know what all the bruhaha is about...

the good British professors of physics (e.g. Rutherford) would bombast regarding the thoughts of the local theorists: "perhaps that is an interesting speculation"

that is what theory is... once it is shown consistent with experiment, it becomes even more interesting...
rrrADAM

Trad climber
LBMF
Nov 5, 2010 - 03:18pm PT
The definition of tribalism is demonstrated in spades when someone I am backing up (albeit in a different way) takes it as some type of argument against him.

It is exactly why I stated it the way I did ... Hook.

The taco science tribe would do well to read your definition.


Skip
Touche'
High Fructose Corn Spirit

Gym climber
Full Silos of Iowa
Nov 5, 2010 - 03:27pm PT
It's great that Jean Valjean was brought up. Because the frosting on the cake to any new scientific model of evil would be narratives - a system of narratives - like Les Miserables - congruent with it.

Perhaps some starter definitions:

good - that which promotes life
evil - that which defeats life

Since they're bridge words to religion, pop culture and history, by design, they're necessarily general in definition.

.....

So right away, we can see that what is evil would be a function of perspective, point of view. In this case and others, point of view being that of an individual, a group, a tribe or nation, a species (in relation to another).

And this of course would point the way to the view that morality (good and evil) is not absolute. -Which is a HUGE BREAK from the traditional view as advanced through the Abrahamic religious model over the millenia.

.....

So with any acceptance of a modern scientific model of evil, it seems, comes the challenge of dealing with a model that doesn't feature any "absolute" framework of absolute evil. Narratives, follow-up narratives, could deal with this "challenge" also.

EDIT 12:35p Jean Valjean would not be evil for wanting to feed his family. From his point of view.

Under the science model of evil so far, evil then would have to have a frame of reference, e.g., Valjean or Javert, for instance, to be meaningful.
Tony Bird

climber
Northridge, CA
Nov 5, 2010 - 03:46pm PT
you're assuming, ed, that paranormal research has been as fully funded and prosperous as the "harder" sciences and should therefore be "moving forward". as i've mentioned, it's a real victim of the so-called science wars, and research nowadays is not nearly so daring as that defined by thelma moss.

your mistake is your failure to differentiate. you lump a whole realm of data and experience into a category which you are impatient to disqualify. LEB's fruitless cat experience somehow disproves the existence of all ghosts. the niceties of statistics in laboratory-controlled ESP experiments somehow refute a mind-blowing experience such as karl's. yours is an obvious and familiar hostility.

on the other hand, the engagement of the credibly paranormal by science offers the opportunity to progress in the very realm we spend so much time discussing here. we live in a society where it's okay to believe all the remote paranormalities of jesus, but you're a kook if you think you saw a ghost yesterday. attention to the paranormal actually offers a more comforting prospect of the afterlife which would put a lot of fire-and-brimstone as#@&%es out of business. there are vested interests at stake.

yes, peter atkins, huff, but it's not for sale. i hear the man is an atheist, but he nevertheless seems to believe in hell.

i hadn't heard that we moved on from the paranormal after the 70s and 80s, and i managed to have quite an introduction to it in the 90s. a friend of mine had some just last year. how out of step!
High Fructose Corn Spirit

Gym climber
Full Silos of Iowa
Nov 5, 2010 - 04:13pm PT
good - that which promotes life
evil - that which defeats life

So, from the perspective of a penguine, a leopard seal would be evil, an evil beast.

Also, getting killed by lightning or a falling tree would be an evil occurrence.

-Under above definitions, that is, were they included as "bridge" words (to history, religion, pop culture, etc.) in the vocabulary of any scientific model of evil.

.....

So far the "pressures" we've discussed that are innately "set against us" are (1) entropic pressure and (2) competitive predatory pressure and (3) elliptic pressure. That's a lot of pressure.

The more pressure, the more potential for "dystropy" - in other words, the more potential for things to turn out bad.

Heck, we might as well call these "dystropic pressures" and add this term to our model's vocabulary. Note they all have a natural basis. No fallen angels or Devil required.
rrrADAM

Trad climber
LBMF
Nov 5, 2010 - 04:22pm PT
Tony... Paranormal research and practicioners have LOADS of wealthy [duped] partons who pour money into it, always has. And, there are even a couple series on some of the cable channels devoted to just this. So don't play the "no money, no interest" card.

Fact is... After well over 100 years not one iota of anything with substance has come to light. If Houdini could, he'd get in touch with us... He promised he would, remember?

The CIA and the Russians both spent quite a bit. How much money should one throw at this, until they stop? How much would need to be spent, until YOU are convinced it is a waste of money? Perhaps the same amount of money that 'should be spent' investigating the "real cause" of 9/11?


BUT... I'd really like to know how those televangelists can read the minds and woes of the people in the audience, then cure them. Now that's some practical "psychic" stuff... I've seen it myself! Right on live TV! Explain that!

Now, Dowsing! That's real... How about let's see some serious national funding for the study of dowsing rods. People have used those for centuries, so it MUST be working. Wait!!! That's been funded and studied in depth... Then we need MORE FUNDING!!! Because I am sure it works, therefore we need to fund it till it's proven that it works!



Sorry to sound so condescending and sarcastic (read: be an ass), but c'mon man... How much should be spent on it, brutha? Seriously? Is your stance, "fund it till it's proven"?
Crodog

Social climber
Nov 5, 2010 - 04:47pm PT
Crodog

Social climber
Nov 5, 2010 - 04:51pm PT
rrrADAM

Trad climber
LBMF
Nov 5, 2010 - 05:03pm PT
Nice CD...

Got afterlife?

Life after death is the same as life before birth.
High Fructose Corn Spirit

Gym climber
Full Silos of Iowa
Nov 5, 2010 - 05:51pm PT
re: (1) personification of evil (2) Hawking model of evil

So I think our modern scientific model of evil (that we are developing right here at the Taco, yay) on an ecological basis would benefit from a personification. Just as the Abrahamic religious model benefits from Satan. The difference is, everyone embracing the modern scientific one knows it's just that, a personification, nothing more.

So I nominate... Dinostrophes. (From the Greek meaning terrible to turn. Refer to dinosaur. Also apostrophe for etymology, morphemes.) Then we're empowered all the more (a) to think and express ourselves in terms of the Satanic model (of the Pope) or the Dinostrophic model (of science, of Hawking); and (b) to develop narratives (stories) on the scientific model that promote it.

So I think we're done now. We've done it. Religion has Satan to scapegoat. Our Taco science club has Dinostrophes to scapegoat. Satan represents evil in supernaturalist terms; Dinostrophes represents evil in natural terms. Big difference. At least this is a starting point. That the science community didn't get around to. (Yet.)

I think this would make Hawking proud. Job well done!

.....

"Dinostrophes made me do it!"

.....

P.S. Right now, Dinostrophes doesn't get even one hit when you google it. But in a few days it will. Under this site. So that will be proof the dinostrophic model (cf: Satanic model) had its roots right here. How cool is that!

Dinostrophes (di nahs' truh feez) personification of evil in the modern scientific model of dystropy (why bad things happen).

Off to read The Moral Landscape now, by Sam Harris.
Crodog

Social climber
Nov 5, 2010 - 05:54pm PT
Large Hadron Collider Pauses Protons; Looks Ahead to Lead

November 04, 2010, Paul Preuss

The joint news release that follows is issued by the Department of Energy’s three national laboratories that host U.S. collaborations in experiments at CERN’s Large Hadron Collider (LHC)—Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory for ALICE, Brookhaven National Laboratory for ATLAS, and Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory for CMS.

The LHC has completed many successful months of colliding protons (hydrogen ions) at record-breaking energies and now begins four weeks of colliding much more massive lead ions, giving access to different physical phenomena. ALICE is designed specifically to study these heavy-ion collisions, which give rise to a unique phase of matter, the quark-gluon plasma. Berkeley Lab scientists led development of ALICE’s Electromagnetic Calorimeter (EMCal) component, which enables efficient study of jet quenching, a phenomenon not yet discovered when ALICE was originally designed. Only part of EMCal is in place for this first lead-lead run.

Berkeley Lab is also a major participant in the ATLAS experiment, one of the other LHC experiments that will study lead-lead collisions. ATLAS will capture a broad range of products of the hot, dense medium formed when heavy ions collide.

Batavia, IL, Berkeley, CA and Upton, NY—The Large Hadron Collider’s first record-setting run of high-energy proton collisions ended today, and scientists are now readying the accelerator to meet its next challenge: the world’s highest-energy collisions of lead ions.

“Over the last seven months, the intensity of the LHC’s proton beams has increased 200,000 times, and the scientists from the LHC experiments have quickly converted proton collisions into scientific results,” says Dennis Kovar, Associate Director of Science for High Energy Physics at the U.S. Department of Energy. “This is excellent progress for the brand-new accelerator and detectors, and bodes well for discoveries in the years to come.”

The LHC at the CERN particle physics laboratory in Geneva, Switzerland will spend the next month colliding lead ions—atoms of lead with all of their electrons stripped off during the acceleration process. The teams operating three of the four major LHC experiments—ALICE, ATLAS and CMS—will record and analyze data from these record-setting “heavy-ion” collisions, in which up to 10,000 particles will stream from each high-energy collision. This next phase of the LHC will provide the first full test of the capabilities of the ALICE experiment, which was designed specifically to record heavy-ion collision data. The lead-ion collisions will be used to investigate the quark gluon plasma, a state of matter that physicists believe existed millionths of a second after the Big Bang.


“The LHC’s lead-ion collisions may generate temperatures up to 500,000 times hotter than the center of the sun,” said Timothy Hallman, Associate Director of Science for Nuclear Physics at the U.S. Department of Energy. “The LHC experiments’ investigations into how the quark gluon plasma behaves at such temperatures will provide vital insight into why and how quarks and gluons cool from such high temperatures to bind together to form more complex particles and thus how our universe evolved into the form it has today.”
Jan

Mountain climber
Okinawa, Japan
Nov 5, 2010 - 06:41pm PT
Science vs Religion vs the Paranormal vs Mystical Spirituality


I used to think before these discussions on ST, that a synthesis of science and spirituality could be reached. Now I believe it is hopeless. The best we can do is see the above as a continuum with the experts leaning one direction or the other while most human beings are seeking a middle path.


If Susan Blackmore gave up research on the paranormal yet continues with both science research and meditation, this ought to tell us that neither science or personal spirituality are totally satisfying for most people. The fact that she uses specifically Buddhist vocabulary even though Buddhism is a religion with a long history of psychic phenomenon, is also a wonderfully ironic demonstration of the same type of bias that she accused her paranormal subjects of engaging in!


That said, I will agree with the scientists that it is not cost effective to continue searching for explanations of paranormal events by the already tried laboratory methods. It is much more useful to understand them within the materialist context of brain scans on the one hand and the humanistic fields of transpersonal psychology and spirituality on the other. The world's spiritual traditions have always taught that such experiences are rare and can not be replicated at will.


Of course this will not end the causation versus corelation debate, but will almost certainly, redefine it. I'm guessing that religion will become more personal, and as man is placed within the context of evolution and nature, more pantheistic.


WBraun

climber
Nov 5, 2010 - 06:42pm PT
“The LHC’s lead-ion collisions may generate temperatures up to 500,000 times hotter than the center of the sun,” said Timothy Hallman,

"MAY generate"

Big mega guess again. Like they've been to the center of the Sun planet and stuck a thermometer in it. Heh heh

Tax the citizens with big expensive machines that cost fortunes and dazzle em with fancy words.

See the poor guys on the street starving to death with no jobs and no food.

But instead we'll give you Gluons and Quarks and maybe a few wars tossed in for good measure to keep the economy going, .... of course, to even farther send us to hell.

Ah yes ..... this wonderful modern life ...... :-)
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Nov 5, 2010 - 07:11pm PT
Werner, STFU, at least on this forum... as the Web came into being at CERN, and the total annual commercial revenue from the web equals the total global amount spent on High Energy Physics over its funding history!

But you have a point, it probably hasn't made life any better...

[edit: do I get to be banned now for dissing Werner?]
jstan

climber
Nov 5, 2010 - 07:28pm PT
Not my area but interesting to think about.

"“The LHC’s lead-ion collisions may generate temperatures up to 500,000 times hotter than the center of the sun,” said Timothy Hallman,"

Temperature is usually thought of in terms of the kinetic energy of the particles present. In the sun the density of ionized particles is so large radiation scattering lengths have to be short. Furthermore gravitational forces have to be high in the center so physical scattering also must be strong. Very hard for energy generated by the atom burning to escape the center of the sun. So temperature, I would think, has meaning and can be calculated approximetely. Mind you atom burning may be occurring via more than one reaction.

Now in the LHC you have individual particles colliding head on but there will be error bars on the precision of that collision. By the nature of the accelerator you will know the center of mass energy and you know momentum and energy are conserved, at least to the extent mass has not been converted to energy in the collision. Presumably there are a number of possible exit products and those will further emit energy with time. But there will not be the intense particle scattering important for the equipartition of energy and the definition of average temperature.

I think temperature is quoted only because it is thought the lay person can understand that. This lay person can't. I would think it would depend upon how you define temperature as a physical quantity in a collider. Interesting.

Edit:
Right.

I had not considered the brief existence of an extended state. That gets us closer to our intuitive concept of "temperature."
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Nov 5, 2010 - 07:36pm PT
no, there is a formal definition of temperature in these reactions...
it is the kinetic energy of the objects, we measure it from the emitted hadrons, whose momentum perpendicular to the axis the collision takes place along is indicative of the temperature of their constituents, the quarks and gluons.

There are also hydrodynamic effects that take place dumping that much energy into that small a space, as the "phase diagram" up thread indicates...

...the energy comes from getting all that quark-gluon stuff close together, usually the quarks pair with an anti-quark or another pair of quarks to form the hadronic matter which we observe directly. When the energy density of space is sufficiently large, the quarks and gluons form a plasma and exist in an extended state, unconfined.

The critical temperature for that happening is near the pion mass, ~140MeV/c^2

There are other hydrodynamic phenomena that are observed and the experiment ALICE specializes in observing them at the LHC.

Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Nov 5, 2010 - 07:38pm PT
Tony, you have a scientific article to refer to that you consider "the gold standard"?
if so, post the reference...
...so far I haven't come up with much beyond the 90s,

And once again, Hyam's criticism of non-accumulating experimental data seems to be borne out as the results of the 80s and 90s fail to be replicated and pass to the dumper...
High Fructose Corn Spirit

Gym climber
Full Silos of Iowa
Nov 5, 2010 - 07:43pm PT
re: "scientific" models (of evil, etc.)

Note one has to be careful with language here. A so-called "scientific" model might mean it is only based on science; it does not necessarily mean it is developed by the science community or by scientists. Big difference.

Someday maybe EVERYONE will get it: Science is not an entire "house" of functions like religion is - answering "what is" and "what matters" and "what works" in the practice of living; it is only a tool concerned with "what is" or "what are."

Don't make science out like it is a full-bodied house - or full-bodied functionality - like religion and then attack it because it isn't, because it doesn't measure up across the full spectrum of human concerns, interests, values, etc.

You don't try to use a hammer to waterski behind and then when it performs miserably as a ski boat attack it as failing the job.

One or two at the Taco consistently put science on the same plane as religion when they are different beasts. They only cross each other's path in regard to giving explanations for how the world works in terms of facts. Science doesn't address issues of "what matters" at all.

(Is it night time in Japan?)
Crodog

Social climber
Nov 5, 2010 - 07:46pm PT
Brain surgery is dangerous
By Kevin Fong, Date: Thursday, October 21 2010


The past month has seen extraordinary scenes; the usually mild- mannered brotherhood of science has taken to the streets in protest at the proposed cuts to science spending. Some 2,000 of them marched on Downing Street, armed with a modified Pink Floyd ditty and a single message for the Chancellor: "Hey. Osborne. Leave our Geeks alone." By all accounts it was an impressive display with luminaries from across the science community and beyond stepping up to the mike to make themselves heard.

Whitehall is no stranger to protest, but this was, in substance, far more than some vaguely coherent rebel yell. These are rational people; rational and logical thought is what they do and so their arguments tend to hold water. Their illustrations of the great benefits of science are unassailable to all but the most obtuse. They go something like this: Just look around you at the modern world and then start to delete any item, or industry, that wouldn't be here if it weren't for some historical, esoteric, scientific musing or other and you rapidly get back to Stone Age standards of living.

That army of scientists and their supporters who took to the streets represents a brilliant body of professionals of which this country should be proud. They are without doubt of immeasurable value to society. And that is part of the problem. Their value is as plain as the nose on any face but it cannot be measured or expressed in terms that the man from the Treasury is prepared to accept.

It is a great shame that the pursuit of science has somehow been painted as a singularly self-indulgent affair; as a disposable luxury that can be set aside now that the economy is tanking. By any measure of academic success, the bang for buck that we get from our research scientists is impressive.

They are first among the G8 nations for the number of scientific publications produced per unit of GDP invested, they are third in the league table of citations per researcher and 90 per cent of all their research output is considered "world class". But when it comes to the public funding of science, as a fraction of GDP, we are outspent by everybody in the G7 group of industrialised nations other than Italy.

In short, the science base is just about as lean and mean as it could possibly be; to subject it to further cuts would be to leave it positively skeletal.

These are clearly times of unprecedented challenge but it is not scientists' lack of effort or productivity that has saddled us with this horrific fiscal deficit. On the contrary, science and innovation, properly resourced and encouraged, could play a significant role in the economy's later salvation. But the current course on which our government appears set conjures a perfect and deadly storm.

In previous years a different kind of deficit preoccupied our ministers: the deficit in the supply of science graduates. The past two decades have seen schoolchildren and undergraduates deserting core science subjects. Politicians struggled to come up with initiatives to try to make science more attractive; among these a broad reaffirmation of the value of science and scientists to our country. But the proposed cuts in science spending send a clear signal to our sixth formers: that a worthy but less well remunerated life, dedicated to the advancement of science and the pursuit of knowledge, is, in the eyes of the government, worth little or nothing at all.

And these are the same prospective undergraduates who will shortly be heavily incentivised to consider, principally, the bankability of their costly degree courses before they choose and embark on them. I cannot help but imagine that they will, for the most part, seek out careers and courses other than science or the teaching of science as a result.

And those brave science graduates, uncowed by the debt mountain, will be left to consider their future prospects. In the row over bankers' bonuses we were constantly reminded that there is a market rate payable for talented individuals; that if sufficient reward cannot be found here then there are other countries in which to settle. Presumably these rules apply to graduate scientists too. Is it not entirely likely that they would consider deserting the UK for sunnier climes; for any one of the overseas economies throughout the world that, in the face of austerity, has chosen to invest in science rather than abandon it? All of this has happened before and, if the cuts go ahead as planned, it will happen again.

It is not hard to convince oneself of the economic value of maintaining science funding even in the face of this recession; indeed several of our global competitors have done just that and chosen to invest. But the arguments that articulate the value of our science base reach beyond its immediate market return. Albert Einstein once taught us that "not everything that counts can be counted". This is a tutorial that the coalition would do well to heed. The proposed changes to higher education and science funding will sit like an airlock in the pipe that supplies the future generation of technologically and scientifically literate graduates upon whom the economy depends.

While the immediate needs of the economy must be served, it is always worth remembering that money doesn't make the world go round without the laws of physics to assist it.
WBraun

climber
Nov 5, 2010 - 07:47pm PT
Ed -- [edit: do I get to be banned now for dissing Werner?]


LOL Hahaha

I still love ya Ed.

I knew I would probably tick you off with those posts of mine up thread although they never were intended at you or anyone personally.

I do support modern science believe it or not, although most of my posts on this form have the "look" and "feel" as NOT.

Really ...... :-)
rrrADAM

Trad climber
LBMF
Nov 5, 2010 - 07:55pm PT
"MAY generate"

Big mega guess again. Like they've been to the center of the Sun planet and stuck a thermometer in it. Heh heh

Tax the citizens with big expensive machines that cost fortunes and dazzle em with fancy words.

See the poor guys on the street starving to death with no jobs and no food.

But instead we'll give you Gluons and Quarks and maybe a few wars tossed in for good measure to keep the economy going, .... of course, to even farther send us to hell.

Ah yes ..... this wonderful modern life ...... :-)
And, I'm confident that nobody has EVER counted from 1 to 1 billion, as counting 1 number every second would take ~31.5 years counting NON-STOP, with no sleap, including leap years. Does that mean that the number 1 billion may not exist?

Your are using extremly flawed logic to dismiss something that is fairly well understood (astrophysics).


Werner... I asked you a couple pages back how you attain knowledge and judge it accurate? And to be specific. You can't even articulate anything wityh any substance, can you? It's almost like you have turrets syndrome, dude... Just shouting out nonsense.

And, if they'd finished the Super Conducting Super Collider (SCSC) in Texas, it would be ~3 times the energy of the LHC, and would have employed LOTS of people, with high paying jobs, as well as contributed much to the position of the US scientifically and educationally. They don't seem to be doing too bad in that part of France and Switzerland. We, and the world, lost a HUGE opportunity.




jstan... Atoms are fused, not burned, in the sun. The sun is in a state of hydrostatic equilibrium between the inward pressure of gravity, causuing heat and fusion, releasing energy, which in turn causes radiation (heat, light, radiation) pressure outward... It is in a balance between the two. And, as stars use up their hydrogen fuel, they cool and thus the fusion slows, causing radiation to ebb, gravity crushes it more, heating it up to start fusing helium, which in turn put out more radiation pressure... It keeps going through these cycles of burning larger atoms, usually up to iron, then one of a few endings depending on the mass of the star.

A couple novel facts... A photon created in the core of the sun can take up to ~100,000 years just to reach the surface (a la interactions described by QED), then just 8 minutes and 20 seconds to reach us here on earth. And, every second, ~500 million tons of Hydrogen is fused into ~496 million tons of Helium, and the missing ~4 million tons is converted to energy (via E=mc^2). For comparison, the Trinity bomb converted only ~8.5 grams into energy (via E=mc^2, though through fissin not fusion), and that was a LOT of energy (big boom).
jstan

climber
Nov 5, 2010 - 07:59pm PT
I have seen "burning" used colloquially to refer to reactions in a star. They say a star of a particular age and mass is a "silicon burning" star etc.

The physics for the production of transuranic elements is a very active field of study right now, as you know. Fascinating what the satellites are teaching us when coupled with massively distributed processing.

Cosmic ray telescopes. Who would have thought it?
rrrADAM

Trad climber
LBMF
Nov 5, 2010 - 08:01pm PT
You're right... And I say that too. I was being pedantic.
Jan

Mountain climber
Okinawa, Japan
Nov 5, 2010 - 08:16pm PT
Fructose-

It's 9 am on Saturday Nov 6 over here. Anyone who wants to ponder time and relativity only needs to move to Japan and then try to coordinate with folks in the States.
WBraun

climber
Nov 5, 2010 - 08:18pm PT
Vivasvān the sun-god.

He rules the sun planet, which is controlling all other planets by supplying heat and light.

So Vivasvān can easily explain the temperatures in his house and across the material universe.

Oh wait!

There's no such person says the materialist. Impossible!

We have not measured him yet with our instruments.

In the future we may invent an instrument.

That damn nut case Werner, WTF does he really know?
High Fructose Corn Spirit

Gym climber
Full Silos of Iowa
Nov 5, 2010 - 08:20pm PT
Oh, good, so you're up in Japan. Sake with your tea?

So food for thought: Earlier you referenced "spiritual traditions." Just a short step from that is "spiritual discipline." Now if I said I practiced a modern "spiritual discipline" that is science based and focused on life guidance and life strategies for better practices in the art of living, could YOU meet me there? -A meeting of the minds? I'm reaching out...

.....

Science is one beast. My "spiritual discipline" is another. Like a hammer and a water ski boat, they are different.

Science addresses "what is" and (my) spiritual discipline addresses "what is" and "what matters" and "what works" - what I call the "cardinal trinity."
Jan

Mountain climber
Okinawa, Japan
Nov 5, 2010 - 08:30pm PT
Fructose-

No problem. It sounds like we've both settled on compartmentalization.

The advantage of following traditional spirituality is that it has dealt for a couple thousand years or more with the sorts of problems likely to be encountered in spiritual practice. Anytime you deal with the human mind, weird things happen.

So far all the brain scans have been of advanced practitioners who were sucessful at the process. It would be really interesting to see scans from people in the midst of the messy intermediate stages, and quite a challenge to come up with scientific labels to get around the traditional angels and demons stuff.

WBraun

climber
Nov 5, 2010 - 08:35pm PT
Science is one beast. My "spiritual discipline" is another. Like a hammer and a water ski boat, they are different.


They are different?

The real correct words are: achintya-bheda-abheda tattva

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Achintya_Bheda_Abheda
rrrADAM

Trad climber
LBMF
Nov 5, 2010 - 08:40pm PT
Another Sun God, eh, Werner?

What day would one worship a Sun God on? SUNDAY, perhaps?

Remember, the 4th Commandment, about "keeping the Sabbath Holy", refferes to Saturday...

Lots of Sun Gods were popular prior to and after the time of Christ... Then, Constantine, declared Sol Invictus (day of the sun - SUNDAY) the official day of rest in the 4th century(?).

Remember, Jesus is also called "The Light of the World" and "The Light", names used for these very same Solar Dieties at the time, and the same halo depicted on Jesus, is also seen on other Sun Gods like Apollo.


Why? Because, Christianity absorbed many different pagan beliefs into it, and that was applied to Jesus afterwards. Dec 25th... Easter... Virgin birth... Dying, then ressurected after 3 days... Turning water to wine... ALL from pagan beliefs that predate Jesus, and most of them are Sun Gods.
High Fructose Corn Spirit

Gym climber
Full Silos of Iowa
Nov 5, 2010 - 08:40pm PT
Jan: Great news!

Just so you know, I draw a bright red line between (a) my spiritual discipline and (b) "religion" esp as practiced in the West because the latter is (1) associated, tightly bound up, with supernaturalist belief and (2) focuses on God Jehovah ("God"). -Whereas the "spiritual discipline" that I practice, as I said above, focuses on life guidance and life strategies in the art of living and does not rely - not one iota - on supernaturalist belief of any kind for anything.

And I might add, unlike science, my "spiritual discipline" is a most excellent support system (or platform) I have found for exploration and discovery, also organization, of "what matters" and "what works" in my practice of living.

Just as it is often helpful to distinguish between skiing and snowboarding language-wise, so too, I have found it helpful both in my own thinking and in conversation with like-minded believers to distinguish between a religion (with its emphasis on God and supernaturalist belief) and a spiritual discipline (with its emphasis on life guidance, life strategies, performance in the art of living, spiritual development, etc.).

Thank you for your reply. Maybe there is hope?

.....

I wonder if Werner and I might ever have a meeting of the minds? (Even though he's called me a "leg-humper" more than once.) Hmm...

.....

"Jesus is also called "The Light of the World"

I've always thought it interesting that in the Abrahamic religions "Lucifer" derives from the Latin for Light Bearer. Go figure!
Tony Bird

climber
Northridge, CA
Nov 5, 2010 - 09:02pm PT
ed, i wouldn't use the term "gold standard"--not my approach to science, and i doubt yours either. there are no real standards in science, only models which are continually re-thought. ne c'est pas? you physicists have a "standard model" these days in talking about the particle garden, but i doubt anyone considers it gold.

i will talk about thelma moss a little, who i think was a turning point in modern attitudes. thelma was a child of the 60s, had her share of emotional problems, and got involved in drug use when it was the fashion, especially LSD. eventually, however, she became scientifically interested in paranormal matters, an outgrowth of that experience, and established a major research effort at ucla. her book the probability of the impossible is a survey of the ground she covered. the investigation of an extended paranormal event in culver city, undertaken with her graduate students, was eventually made into a movie, the entity. it's scary, well-documented and thoroughly witnessed. the movie takes some liberties, indulging in the scientismic wet dream of bringing the entity into a modern laboratory, something i don't think thelma ever did.

it's true that paranormal research goes on, probably more enthusiastically than before, without the fetters of academia, one reason you haven't found much published since the 90s. sadly, discipline is lacking as well, making it more vulnerable to the usual criticisms.

here's a taste of it, for what it's worth. i'm not a researcher myself and don't feel the need to pursue it, but it'd be a good way of turning a corner here.

from The Probability of the Impossible by Thelma Moss

p. 133 and ff.

LEVITATION IN OUR LABORATORY

Occasionally the lab will receive an excited phone call from someone who has attended a "sitting" and has seen "with his own eyes" a table lift all four legs from the ground. In the early days, we would pay house calls on such seances. When such a seance would begin, usually nothing at all would happen. Sometimes we could observe the table performing little jumping movements, and on rare occasions, we have seen a table tilt so that it was perched daintily on one leg, remaining there when no one was touching it. But none of these observations satisfied the criterion that all four legs must be off the ground at the same time. Whatever else it might be, such movement is not levitation. There is, though, a simple demonstration which suggests that levitation might not be so paranormal or "occult" as it might seem on reading Batcheldon's account. (Why not try it and see for yourself? The directions folow.)

AN EXERCISE IN LEVITATION

1. Any five people may serve as the subjects, and one more acts as the experimenter.

2. The largest and heaviest subject sits on a small chair, preferably one without arms.

3. The four other people stand around the seated person, two behind him and two a little forward on either side, adjacent to his knees.

4. The experimenter gives the following instructions:

"The seated person simply remains seated where he is, and not to do anything: not cooperate, not resist, not become active in any way. The four participants must perform a specific set of movements, in a rhythm which will be called out by me. The movements are simple and are divided into two parts.

"Person 1, at the seated person's right, places his right hand on top of the head of the person who is sitting down. Person 2, right rear, then places his right hand on top of Person 1's right hand. Person 3, left rear, places his right hand on top of Person 2's right hand, and Person 4, left front, places his right hand on top of the others."

There are now four hands, one on top of the other. Continuing, the experimenter tells Person 4 to place his left hand on top of the pile of hands, and Person 1 and Person 2 to do likewise. These movements should be practiced until each person moves in an easy, rhythmic, flowing manner.

5. After a rhythm has been achieved, in this movement, the participants must make another set of rhythmic movements in unison. When the experimenter calls out, "Lift!" all will move their hands from the seated person's head, extend the forefingers of each hand, palm down, and place these fingers as follows:

Person 1 will place his forefingers under the right knee of the seated person; Person 2 will place his under the right armpit; Person 3 will place his under the left armpit; and Person 4 will place his under the left knee.

These movements should be practiced until they are effortless and smooth. Then the experimenter should explain: "When I say "Lift' you will move to this last position (under armpits and knees) and you will easily lift the seated person up into the air."

Usually when this statement is made all five participants will laugh, because the idea is absurd. It is. To show how absurd it is, suggest that the four persons all place two fingers in the designated places under knees and armpits and try to lift the person seated in the chair. It will be obvious that it takes an enormous amount of effort to lift the seated person (if they can) by so much as an inch.

6. The success of the experiment is in the rhythm with which these simple movements are carried out. The experimenter chooses the tempo. It can be as slow or as fast as he wishes, provided the rhythm is maintained. Keep rehearsing until the flow is nice and easy. When it is, the experimenter should count out the rhythm until everyone is in the correct position and then cry, "LIFT!" At this point, in unison, each person moves to the next position and lifts.

It is to be expected that the first three or four attempts will be unsuccessful. People will laugh, movements will be out of synch, and the ridiculousness of the movements will cause embarrassment. But if you persevere, after three or four false starts, the group will become cohesive and rhythmical. When the experimenter cries "LIFT!" the seated person will be lifted from two to four feet into the air, without any effort being experienced by the lifters. Usually, the participants are astonished, and the seated person experiences a sensation of lightness and exhilaration.

I have included this demonstration in several parapsychology classes I have taught and have met only once with failure. Therefore, it is with confidence that I offer the experiment. Furthermore, when some skill has been obtained (and this is easily achieved by having each of four lifters become, in turn, the seated person), you may find it is no longer necessary to go through the procedure of placing the hands on top of the head. All that seems necessary is for the four persons to chant a phrase in unison five or six times. Any phrase will do, provided it is done in rhythm. We have used with repeated success the phrase "chocolate cake". Another good phrase is "hot fudge sundae". "Abracadabra" doesn't seem too successful.

What happens in this simple process that enables a hefty man to be raised several feet in the air, supported by the backs of eight fingers? Lifting him that way, without the rhythm, is almost impossible. Done with rhythm, there is little sensation of energy being expended.

This apparently age-old experiment, which can be done by just about anyone, may be a variant of the extraordinary feat performed by 123-pound Mrs. Maxwell Rogers who, in 1960, lifted one end of a 3,600-pound automobile which, after the collapse of a jack, had fallen on her son. She was not aware, during that stress, that she had done anything remarkable. While performing this experiment, there is no sensation of anything remarkable.

(I am permitted a delicious side note here. The publisher of this book, a reasonable and conservative gentleman, was loath to print this recipe for Instant Levitation without proof that it worked. At first, he refused to attempt it; but eventually, without my being present, he did attempt it with wife and friends and found that it was [as he told me brusquely, with averted eyes] "simple, very easy". Shortly after his experiment was successfully concluded, he was visited by a physicist friend, who was immediately asked to supply a reasonable, mechanical explanation for the phenomenon. The physicist answered that he himself had performed the experiment but was at a loss to explain how it happened.)

Jan

Mountain climber
Okinawa, Japan
Nov 5, 2010 - 09:16pm PT
Fructose-

I think most in the West who continue to have a spiritual life will in a few centuries, be following either an Eastern tradition or a scientific one such as you describe. Even those who keep with Christian traditions will have members so heavily influenced by both science and eastern thought as to be un-recognizeable to traditional western Christianity.

Rather than rejecting religion altogether, I personally practice several. I find mixing both East and West gives me balance and after living in Asia all these years, I have no problem with the concept of the unity of opposites. To do that however, one has to concentrate on the mystical level of it all, about as far from fundamentalism as one can get.
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Nov 5, 2010 - 11:24pm PT
I wasn't ticked off, Werner, but I just had to respond like I was...

...I don't take it personally

and I too still love you!
Crodog

Social climber
Nov 5, 2010 - 11:57pm PT
Foil


In fiction, a foil is a character who contrasts with another character (usually the protagonist) in order to highlight various features of that other character's personality, throwing these characteristics into sharper focus.

A foil's complementary role may be emphasized by physical characteristics. A foil usually differs drastically. For example in Cervantes' Don Quixote, the dreamy and impractical Quixote is thin in contrast to his companion, the realistic and practical Sancho Panza, who is fat. Another popular fictional character, Sherlock Holmes, is tall and lean; his right-hand man Doctor Watson, meanwhile, is often described as "middle-sized, strongly built." The "straight man" in a comedy duo is a comic foil. While the straight man portrays a reasonable and serious character, the other portrays a funny, dumb, or simply unorthodox one.

Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Nov 6, 2010 - 01:04am PT
Please Tony, that is a trite example and not levitation

Definition of LEVITATION

: the act or process of levitating; especially : the rising or lifting of a person or thing by means held to be supernatural

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/levitation

what you described was not supernatural, but very natural... though it seems surprising and not "common sense," which is exactly what happens when you encounter something like that and say to yourself "gee, I don't understand it, it must be supernatural!"

The fact of the matter is, there are no good examples of this supernatural stuff which is supported by any significant experiment. The statistical significance of the tests is very very weak.

In this study by Bem and Honorton "Does Psi Exist?"
http://www.dina.dk/~abraham/psy1.html

they provide a statistic for a series of ganzfeld experiments (then the "gold standard" of psi research):

As Table 1 shows, there were 106 hits in the 329 sessions, a hit rate of 32% (z = 2.89, p = .002, one-tailed), with a 95% confidence interval from 30% to 35%.

where 25% "hit rate" is expected by random chance. This is not a very convincing "signal" and all it says is that the "hit rate" was higher for the assumed statistical analysis of that experiment, NOT that the ganzfeld was explained by some paranormal mechanism... the reason for departure could be due to poor experimental design.

In physics we'd go back and design a better experiment, correct the oversight in the past experiment and if the effect were real, it would come in with a higher statistical significance. For instance, when we do an experiments which discover new particles, we require a signal of at least "6 sigma" significance, that is, 3 chances in a million... but not only that, the particle has to "act" like a particle in our analysis, it should probably have an anti-particle, it should have various properties that can be explained in the context of our "standard model" as Tony so kindly reminded me....

...when that does not happen, that that particle cannot be explained in our "standard model" we then go into high gear and try to figure out what is happening. That was the case in 1973 when a particle was discovered, simultaneously, at SLAC and at BNL. It took a full year of everyone in particle physics working hard to understand the results. And what we learned changed our view of particle physics to a version of what we now accept as the "Standard Model."

If the original discoveries had been incorrect (as a particle reported in 1976 by a Fermilab group, which was not there, in the end, even though it's statistical significance was much larger than the psi results reported above) we would have figured it out and rejected the measurement, seeking to understand the data and the models better in other situations.

Oh, and the significance of the discovery of those particles was recognized with the awarding of a Nobel Prize in Physics to the main proponents of the experiments.

If the "psi" experiments were correct, they consequences would be more profound than the particle experiments. On the wiki page: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ganzfeld_experiment

http://www.psy.unipd.it/~tressold/cmssimple/uploads/includes/MetaFreeResp010.pdf

The interesting plot is of their "meta-analysis" of all of the results:

which does not show a very robust result, over 35 years. Apparently we are not learning very fast in that field. Note that the entire literature of particle physics has changed, as the result of the experimental work starting with that particle discovery in 1973....

So we what are we to conclude? Things are not getting better for ganzfeld research. It is possible that this is not a productive avenue of research because there is NO EFFECT.

It is an unfortunate waste of time for smart people to pursue a line of research, for decades, that probably should have been abandoned long ago.

That is what Feynman means when he warns us "dont' fool yourself!"
http://www.lhup.edu/~DSIMANEK/cargocul.htm

he writes in 1974:
"Another example is the ESP experiments of Mr. Rhine, and other people. As various people have made criticisms--and they themselves have made criticisms of their own experiments--they improve the techniques so that the effects are smaller, and smaller, and smaller until they gradually disappear. All the parapsychologists are looking for some experiment that can be repeated--that you can do again and get the same effect--statistically, even. They run a million rats no, it's people this time they do a lot of things and get a certain statistical effect. Next time they try it they don't get it any more. And now you find a man saying that it is an irrelevant demand to expect a repeatable experiment. This is science?

This man also speaks about a new institution, in a talk in which he was resigning as Director of the Institute of Parapsychology. And, in telling people what to do next, he says that one of the things they have to do is be sure they only train students who have shown their ability to get PSI results to an acceptable extent-- not to waste their time on those ambitious and interested students who get only chance results. It is very dangerous to have such a policy in teaching--to teach students only how to get certain results, rather than how to do an experiment with scientific integrity."
Tony Bird

climber
Northridge, CA
Nov 6, 2010 - 08:39am PT
ed, i really think you're intellectually challenged in this department. you dismiss moss's report as "trite", then you take recourse to an arbitrary definition of levitation involving some concept of the "supernatural", then you go back, like a worrier to his wart, to 1930s esp experiments and the attendant mountain of statistics.

let's put it this way. this stuff is dependent upon mood. the attack of laboratory rationalists affects mood, an uncontrolled factor in all those ganzfeld experiments. a paranormal scientist would suggest that energies for the levitation derive from the action of the several living human bodies involved. somehow, they overcome the normal action of the gravitational field of the entire planet. esp is an entirely different matter, and most will agree that it's a talent which some have far more than others, and that even for the gifted it works differently at different times. that'll trip up the ganzfeld herd in no time. the reason people like radin have gotten involved in this little sidelight of paranormality is that the real interesting stuff, such as moss dealt with, has be driven out of respectable academia.

i've never tried moss's experiment, but it seems simple enough to do if you get a little group together willing to give it a go. assuming this "trite" thing works the way she predicted, please explain to us in down-to-earth physics the mechanism involved. according to moss, that other physicist could not.

while you're at it, you might check out the story of joseph of cupertino, the famous italian levitating saint of the 17th century. to mix a little shakespeare with a little feynmann, don't fool yourself, horatio.
rrrADAM

Trad climber
LBMF
Nov 6, 2010 - 08:41am PT
"In general we look for a new law by the following process. First you guess. Don't laugh, this is the most important step. Then you compute the consequences. Compare the consequenses to experience. If it disagrees with experience, the guess is wrong. In that simple statement is the key to science. It does not matter how beautiful your guess is or how smart you are or what your name is. If it disagrees with experience, it's wrong. That's all there is to it."
~Richard Feynman


"The human understanding is no dry light, but receives an infusion from the will and affections; whence proceed sciences which may be called "sciences as one would." For what a man had rather were true he more readily believes. Therefore he rejects difficult things from impatience of research; sober things, because they narrow hope; the deeper things of nature, from superstition; the light of experience, from arrogance and pride, lest his mind should seem to be occupied with things mean and transitory; things not commonly believed, out of deference to the opinion of the vulgar. Numberless, in short, are the ways, and sometimes imperceptible, in which the affections color and infect the understanding."
~Francis Bacon
rrrADAM

Trad climber
LBMF
Nov 6, 2010 - 08:58am PT
let's put it this way. this stuff is dependent upon mood. the attack of laboratory rationalists affects mood, an uncontrolled factor in all those ganzfeld experiments. a paranormal scientist would suggest that energies for the levitation derive from the action of the several living human bodies involved. somehow, they overcome the normal action of the gravitational field of the entire planet. esp is an entirely different matter, and most will agree that it's a talent which some have far more than others, and that even for the gifted it works differently at different times. that'll trip up the ganzfeld herd in no time. the reason people like radin have gotten involved in this little sidelight of paranormality is that the real interesting stuff, such as moss dealt with, has be driven out of respectable academia.
This is the very same arguments many of the "faithful" use regarding their being convinced of their expeiriences as "proof" that God exists, and works in their lives, when skeptics question their "proof"... They say that only those who believe in, and accept God can experience Him. That people who have already decided have effectively cut themselves off from experiencing this evidence.

Do you agree with them? If not, then why does that argument work for you in this situation, but not for them in theirs?



i've never tried moss's experiment, but it seems simple enough to do if you get a little group together willing to give it a go. assuming this "trite" thing works the way she predicted, please explain to us in down-to-earth physics the mechanism involved. according to moss, that other physicist could not.
Well, since you are convinced it works, AND you are "in the mood", then you should try this, and report back. Because, you are convinced of something based on authority of the author (see above quote from Bacon), because it supports and reinforces what you belive. BUT, again, oyu have not doen this "simple" experiment to verify whether or not it works... You just take it as a "proof", yet you haven't verified this.

Problem is, as I read that, it only says, on her authority, that physicists witnessed it (the positive result) and can't explain it, but it doesn't list them, nor their own words of what they said. Therefore, ALL of the above is "according to her".

See... Your confidence does not equal the evidence, and you even have the opportunity to verify, for yourself, the veracity of what you present as evidence, but choose not to do so... Why is that? Perhaps that you are not all that confident that it will work, and where would that leave you?



Why you, and not me? Because you have already pre-accounted for the null result that I might get (see above regarding belief in God required to experience God), by saying that I lack the "mood" to perform the experiment... You, however, believe it, thus have the appropriate "mood".

But you aren't gonna do it, are you?


Edit: Damn... I fat fingered the hell out of that... Please bear with me.
Tony Bird

climber
Northridge, CA
Nov 6, 2010 - 09:51am PT
i think experience is important, rrradam. after all, it's all any of us have. if we take to believing in something like truth--and i think everyone going to bat here does--it comes to sorting through our experiences to find something which underlies them--an understanding. admit it, you have your own beliefs and moods, like everyone else. from what i know of you here, you're better at some times than you are at others. :-D (reminds me of a joke my grandpa used to tell.)

you're right, i should try moss's experiment. it isn't convenient for me to do so right now, but maybe i will someday. but i find her book rather credible, though a bit hard to get ahold of these days. you should get her book and read it.

thelma was a tenured, established professor at ucla in her day and a leader in her field. this was before i spent any time there, but i think she's to be taken seriously. i guess i gave her a worse rap than she deserves on her earlier life too. she was a successful screenwriter and underwent lsd therapy for depression, back before it became the illegal drug it is now. the depression was occasioned by the death of her husband, and she fought it for quite some time until she got into her scientific career.
High Fructose Corn Spirit

Gym climber
Full Silos of Iowa
Nov 6, 2010 - 11:34am PT
Crodog- I've been coming to terms lately: Science (including science edu) is always going to be an uphill battle in this entropic universe. Lately, I've been making peace with (ecological) succession. In the wake of learning more about Peak Oil, Overshoot, and the likely collapse of industrial civilization. Recently saw the latest Robin Hood starring Russell Crowe, it featured an interesting motto: "Rise and rise again." I'm guessing you're British.
FRUMY

Trad climber
SHERMAN OAKS,CA
Nov 6, 2010 - 12:17pm PT
pope - hawking = what is the difference.
pope = let there be light ----- bang and there was light.
hawking = the big bang theory ----- and there was light.
Crodog

Social climber
Nov 6, 2010 - 12:23pm PT
Hawking = Infinity Universes
Pope = 1 Universe
Infinity - 1 = Infinity = Hawking

Inifinity - 1 = a big difference (Inifinity)

Presentation as before but in one block:
http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=98a_1194232512&p=1

or

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=44LF7Aqc8so


See def. #3
FRUMY

Trad climber
SHERMAN OAKS,CA
Nov 6, 2010 - 12:30pm PT
infinite universe = one universe
or is that math to hard
High Fructose Corn Spirit

Gym climber
Full Silos of Iowa
Nov 6, 2010 - 07:04pm PT
So get this:

"I will argue that morality should be considered an undeveloped branch of science."

Sam Harris
The Moral Landscape, c2010

Wow, pretty interesting stance, I think.
Food for thought.
Crodog

Social climber
Nov 6, 2010 - 08:35pm PT
“Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.” —Eleanor Roosevelt - discussing people
Captain...or Skully

Big Wall climber
Transporter Room 2
Nov 6, 2010 - 09:04pm PT
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sYYFjQS5m_o&feature=related
FRUMY

Trad climber
SHERMAN OAKS,CA
Nov 6, 2010 - 09:41pm PT
infinite universe if its infinite includes everything it's infinite
High Fructose Corn Spirit

Gym climber
Full Silos of Iowa
Nov 6, 2010 - 09:53pm PT
Here's another Sam Harris piece that was interesting:

"In the fall of 2006, I participated in a three-day conference at the Salk Institute entitled Beyond Belief: Science, Religion, Reason, and Survival. This event was organized by Roger Bingham and conducted as a town-hall meeting before an audience of invited guests. Speakers included Steven Weinberg, Harold Kroto, Richard Dawkins, and many other scientists and philosophers who have been, and remain, energetic opponents of religious dogmatism and superstition. It was a room full of highly intelligent, scientifically literate people—molecular biologists, anthropologists, physicists, and engineers—and yet, to my amazement, three days were insufficient to force agreement on the simple question of whether there is any conflict at all between religion and science. Imagine a meeting of mountaineers unable to agree about whether their sport ever entails walking uphill, and you will get a sense of how bizarre our deliberations began to seem."

The Moral Landscape, c2010
.....

By the way, this Beyond Belief 2006 seminar is available on the internet as video. Highly recommended.
Mighty Hiker

climber
Vancouver, B.C.
Nov 6, 2010 - 10:07pm PT
Imagine a meeting of mountaineers unable to agree about whether their sport ever entails walking uphill, and you will get a sense of how bizarre our deliberations began to seem.
As we don't agree on whether or not mountaineering is a sport (it's not), why should that be a surprise?
Crodog

Social climber
Nov 6, 2010 - 10:38pm PT

A Multiverse consists of Universes such as where there is a Pope.
Jan

Mountain climber
Okinawa, Japan
Nov 7, 2010 - 02:05am PT
This is the very same arguments many of the "faithful" use regarding their being convinced of their expeiriences as "proof" that God exists, and works in their lives, when skeptics question their "proof"... They say that only those who believe in, and accept God can experience Him. That people who have already decided have effectively cut themselves off from experiencing this evidence.

Do you agree with them? If not, then why does that argument work for you in this situation, but not for them in theirs?

Good question regarding the value of consistency.

Certainly the scientists on this thread have a consistent world view. It seems to me that those who have experienced things not currently explained by science must have one too, so the honest answer must be yes to the particularism of both religion and the paranormal.

As I see it, problems arise only when:
1) Either side claims exclusive truth
2) One side or the other has the power to enforce their version of truth.

Meanwhile, the more interesting question is why can't we have both? Why must we always choose one side or the other?

Of course my own personal truth is that I want to develop both halves of my brain and explore both the physical and spiritual worlds. Probably my academic discipline which continuously debates whether it is more science or more humanities and wavers between the two, encourages this type of thinking. Then again, I chose that academic discipline because of my own personality and life experience up to that point.

In the interests of consistency, I think the many scientists, engineers, and computer programmers on this thread should ask themselves, what elements of their life brought them into those career fields? I'm guessing the answers won't involve pure logic, but the influence, both positive and negative, of other human beings and their belief systems. No one's answer will be based on pure reason.
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Tony Bird

climber
Northridge, CA
Nov 7, 2010 - 10:41am PT
so then, how much is six apples minus five oranges?