Politics, God and Religion vs. Science

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Riley Wyna

Trad climber
A crack near you
Dec 15, 2012 - 12:34am PT
If mathematics describes something in the universe, then why doesn't religion, or art, or narratives, or the gibberish of infants, or tea leaves at the bottom of a cup, or the rantings of deranged fools, or Plato's writings?


The Law of the Small Instrument: give a child a hammer, and you will find that everything he encounters needs hammering.

The problem lies not in mathematics, but what folks make of the results of mathematics. Think of a question, any question. My answer is, "2." Your response is, "Two WHAT?" The issue always lies in the interpretation, not the number.

Mathematics is only a problem when scholars or expert practitioners become enamored with the elegance of mathematics. Then the beauty of mathematics becomes an end in itself. Indeed, mathematics can be beautiful, but beauty is not truth.


EDIT: Some time ago, I worked as an institutional broker for a primary government securities dealer. My area was options and futures. Lots of well-accepted math modeling and statistics that looked good, but . . . . well, you know how it turned out in the mortgage and banking communities, and for millions of mortgage holders. There might be 10-20 people on the planet who understand how an option on an option might behave theoretically. And then there is the real world. I'm a little over-sold on the value of "smart people." Seen them, been there, done that, got the t-shirt.

I've been over sold for a long time.

Very interesting - you are on to something with the math thing in the first part of post - i got a real feel for it there - what you are communicating - i had a bit of an epiphany..
It's a feeling of grandness so beyond us there is no analogy to describe it - math is a system we have created to understand the universe but it amounts to a scratch on the side of the sun - there is no more truth to it than there is truth to the simplest of simple - a very incomplete and untrue model to help describe something that is indescribable and utterly unknowable. The vastness of it, the reality of it makes a fool out of us.
I feel that right now....our knowledge like little tentacles shooting out into forever.
How laughably silly we are....lol
Creation - man...it's........... there...the feeling is gone...
fascinating...
healyje

Trad climber
Portland, Oregon
Dec 15, 2012 - 12:40am PT
I would entirely disagree.

MikeL: If mathematics describes something in the universe, then why doesn't religion, or art, or narratives, or the gibberish of infants, or tea leaves at the bottom of a cup, or the rantings of deranged fools, or Plato's writings?

If you can't qualitatively distinguish between mathematics, religion, art, [music,] narratives, the gibberish of infants, tea leaves at the bottom of a cup, the rantings of deranged fools, or Plato's writings in their representation of 'reality' then you way have bigger problems than the meaning of the universe or the roots of consciousness.
MH2

climber
Dec 15, 2012 - 08:16am PT
Mathematics is only a problem when scholars or expert practitioners become enamored with the elegance of mathematics. Then the beauty of mathematics becomes an end in itself.


Strange that this is followed by talk of banking and mortgages, which are far from the beauty of mathematics as an end in itself. I think someone spilled tea leaves on Plato's writings and deranged the infant.
go-B

climber
Hebrews 1:3
Dec 15, 2012 - 08:20am PT
Joy to the World!

1. Joy to the world! The Lord is come.
Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare Him room;
And heav’n and nature sing,
And heav’n and nature sing.
And heav’n and heav’n and nature sing.

2. Joy to the world, the Savior reigns
Let men their songs employ.
While fields and floods, rocks, hills, and plains
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat the sounding joy
Repeat the sounding joy

3. No more let sin and sorrows grow,
Nor thorns infest the ground;
He comes to make His blessings flow
Far as the curse is found,
Far as the curse is found,
Far as, far as the curse is found.

4. He rules the world with truth and grace,
And makes the nations prove
The glories of His righteousness.
And wonders of His love,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders, wonders of His love.

photo not found
Missing photo ID#278415

John 1:29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!

35 Again, the next day, John stood with two of his disciples. 36 And looking at Jesus as He walked, he said, “Behold the Lamb of God!”

37 The two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus. 38 Then Jesus turned, and seeing them following, said to them, “What do you seek?”

They said to Him, “Rabbi” (which is to say, when translated, Teacher), “where are You staying?”

39 He said to them, “Come and see.” They came and saw where He was staying, and remained with Him that day (now it was about the tenth hour).

40 One of the two who heard John speak, and followed Him, was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. 41 He first found his own brother Simon, and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which is translated, the Christ). 42 And he brought him to Jesus.



Jesus is the KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS, the Righteous One, the true gift of God! In everything He said and did He always hit His mark...


Matthew 7:28 And so it was, when Jesus had ended these sayings, that the people were astonished at His teaching, 29 for He taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.

Luke 4:35 But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be quiet, and come out of him!” And when the demon had thrown him in their midst, it came out of him and did not hurt him. 36 Then they were all amazed and spoke among themselves, saying, “What a word this is! For with authority and power He commands the unclean spirits, and they come out.”



Revelation 5:8 Now when He had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each having a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. 9 And they sang a new song, saying:

“You are worthy to take the scroll,
And to open its seals;
For You were slain,
And have redeemed us to God by Your blood
Out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation,
10 And have made us kings and priests to our God;
And we shall reign on the earth.”

11 Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne, the living creatures, and the elders; and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands, 12 saying with a loud voice:

“Worthy is the Lamb who was slain
To receive power and riches and wisdom,
And strength and honor and glory and blessing!”

13 And every creature which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, I heard saying:

“Blessing and honor and glory and power
Be to Him who sits on the throne,
And to the Lamb, forever and ever!”

14 Then the four living creatures said, “Amen!” And the twenty-four elders fell down and worshiped Him who lives forever and ever.



Worthy Is the Lamb!
cintune

climber
The Utility Muffin Research Kitchen
Dec 15, 2012 - 08:44am PT
Well, at least we can agree on that.

MikeL

climber
SANTA CLARA, CA
Dec 15, 2012 - 11:19am PT
Donald and Werner:

I understand there is a place where beauty, truth, and ethics are one, but that place no longer exists conventionally in Man's worldview. Previous states of consciousness (e.g., religious mythical structures) united all three. There is a unity, an intersection among the three pillars of wisdom, but since the French Enlightenment, those three wisdoms have been separated without ties to each other. It's been challenging to re-unite them ever since (which is partially why contemporary Man / Woman is so fragmented).

Healyje:

You've misread the writing. I am asking why can't other forms of articulation be seen as descriptive? Of course they are qualitatively different. Mathematics is a system of symbols. So are the rest. Symbols stand for meaning.

Would you be arguing that some meanings are more important than others? Are there some meanings that arise from mathematics that religion, art, narratives, or the randomness or incomprehensibility of other symbols that would make them categorically or absolutely more meaningful? Is it more than simply a choice of preference?

Again, I'm asking you for specific issues. In my eyes, you seem to ridicule other people's ideas without really saying anything concrete or detailed about them. I understand that is the practice around here, but I sense you have real familiarity with science and analytical thinking, so make an effort. I feel sure you have something substantive to say, but you're not saying it.

MH2:

You might not think that people in the financial industry would see mathematics as elegant and beautiful, but they may be people you have never met or worked with.

By the 1980s, with the rise of the theoretical promise of program trading, Merrill, Goldman, Solly, Morgan, etc. were all hiring a cadre of newly minted physics Ph.D.s, giving them their own offices with expensive workstations, and having them work on modeling the random walk of securities prices. Mainly they were trying to model the noise in the markets. To do so, they were using non-linear models (e.g., chaos and / or catastrophe theory looking for strange attractors). Out of that work came large program-trading departments (State Street Bank in Boston was perhaps one of the largest). Simultaneously, Black-Scholes and Merton's work on options was gaining popularity among traders, and, as the models were very data-intensive and mathematical, computers pushed the science beyond what most anyone really understood intuitively. I submit the models appeared elegant, reasonable, and seemed to explain things that people's mental capabilities did not allow them to have access to.

When maths are parsimonious, elegant, and symmetrical, I think people have a tendency to think they know more than they can prove.
healyje

Trad climber
Portland, Oregon
Dec 15, 2012 - 11:25am PT
MikeL: Would you be arguing that some meanings are more important than others?

Out of that list? Absolutely and you betcha.
jogill

climber
Colorado
Dec 15, 2012 - 01:12pm PT
If mathematics describes something in the universe, then why doesn't religion, or art, or narratives, or the gibberish of infants, or tea leaves at the bottom of a cup, or the rantings of deranged fools, or Plato's writings?

Entertaining commentary, but it falls a little short of JL's literate and vigorous flourishes.

;>)

Mathematics is only a problem when scholars or expert practitioners become enamored with the elegance of mathematics. Then the beauty of mathematics becomes an end in itself. Indeed, mathematics can be beautiful, but beauty is not truth

I suspect you are thinking of the quants here (many of them were physicists - sorry, Ed!), and your experiences with them. Would you deny that in poetry there is, at least occasionally, truth?

The Law of the Small Instrument: give a child a hammer, and you will find that everything he encounters needs hammering

I admonish you for being far too subtle in your criticism of mathematicians. Tell us what you really think.

When maths are parsimonious, elegant, and symmetrical, I think people have a tendency to think they know more than they can prove

An odd statement in that rigorous proof is at the heart of math. But you must mean irrational hubris in its application.

I appreciate your honesty, MikL, for not editing out these amusing pronouncements after giving them some thought. And, yes, my speculations about math underlying the fabric of the universe warrants honest criticism - admittedly it is far-fetched, as much so as religion.


Anytime we take a measurement, each proceeding measurement will NOT be exactly the same

But the mathematics, not the numbers, probably will be.

The math that takes our Shuttle to Mars, changes every second

No, but the numbers do. That's why mathematical algorithms exist.

Norton

Social climber
the Wastelands
Dec 15, 2012 - 01:21pm PT
And the single most disastrous failure of those highly complex mathematical market trading models was the underweighting of the likelihood of the "Black Swan".

Deep in the bowels of the non-conforming mortgage servicing departments, the first signs of late payments were appearing as early as 2005

No one talked about it because there was too much money yet to be made selling CDOs laced with those toxic derivatives.

What man created, the greed of man destroyed, and along with it the US economy.

But let us not "regulate" the children, for they should be "free" to do it all over again.
High Fructose Corn Spirit

Gym climber
-A race of corn eaters
Dec 15, 2012 - 06:52pm PT
re: mechanisms of action at work...


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K4JhruinbWc

Notable: No over-philosophizing. No deep introspection. No rhetorical flourish. No mathematical rendering in differential equations or what not. Just a simple illustration and explanation. Of the mechanism of action. Go figure.
MH2

climber
Dec 15, 2012 - 07:45pm PT
You might not think that people in the financial industry would see mathematics as elegant and beautiful


That isn't what I don't think. I don't think that the applications of math in banking, finance, and trading are good examples of the beauty and elegance of the field. I may of course have misunderstood what you were trying to say: "Math only becomes a problem when scholars or expert practitioners become enamored with the elegance of mathematics." I couldn't see what the problem was and I wondered just how, or if, you were saying the crash of '08 could be attributed to mathematics.


I know that for decades now mathematicians and physicists have looked for and tried to take advantage of patterns in price fluctuations. It now appears to be an arms race among algorithmic traders to detect and take advantage of the strategies used by others before they can do the same to you.

I think trading should all be done out in the open by making everyone announce publicly their intention to buy or sell, in a binding contract, a week before the transaction. Then maybe we could get back to companies being valued by how good a product they make for how good a price, etc., and not by what happened in the Middle East in the last hour. Our attempts to look into the future and to make decisions based on what we think everyone else will do are hurting us. But the insiders do well.
Jan

Mountain climber
Okinawa, Japan
Dec 15, 2012 - 10:44pm PT
actually what the models showed was the prevalence of behavior indicative of insider trading... a conclusion it has taken 20 years to act on... and one that would not have been arrived at by manipulating alphabetic symbols

Personally, I'm betting a well trained anthropologist hanging out in bars frequented by stock brokers could have picked this information up from non mathematical sources.

Maybe that's a lesson: we should support the theoretical aspects of sciences so as to provide a place for those inclined to thrive...

I'm not sure it's a good idea to promote the view that scientists can do great harm to society if we don't treat them well. Enough people suspect that already, and such a view makes it too easy to focus on scientists as the scapegoats of the people with the power to really do harm.

Somehow scientific brain power needs to be put to work figuring out how to convince people of the need and ultimate payoff for basic research.

TomCochrane

Trad climber
Santa Cruz Mountains and Monterey Bay
Dec 15, 2012 - 11:17pm PT
i don't post here seeking reinforcement for my world view, but to share and learn and grow in awareness

we are all subjected to a barrage of information, and have to discriminate in what we choose to believe, or disbelieve

it is obvious to anyone paying attention that the news media in the USA are heavily monopolized and controlled

it is also obvious that certain topics are at the same time heavily suppressed and meanwhile subjected to very extensive disinformation...

and one might wonder why there is so much official interest in denying the reality of something that it appears could otherwise just be dispatched with a shrug

if you choose to restrict your belief system to the world view heavily supported in the official media, then you have to severely limit your scope of interests and also discount a huge amount of contrary information

basically you just raise the BS flag at everything outside your comfortable world view

however if you choose to expand your scope of study and interest to a much wider world view, then you also have a much larger volume of information to sift through and an even more challenging task to discriminate truth from fantasy

one might argue this is impossibly challenging...

i think the only way through the morass is a wide angle vision search for patterns that indicate underlying truths

i have always been an avid reader with a very large personal library of the history of climbing, the US and Soviet space programs, systems engineering, computing, ships and the sea, sky diving, SCUBA diving, film making, native peoples, tracking, edible and medicinal plants, management methodologies, philosophy and mental practices, the physical sciences, world religions and unusual phenomena...my own personal odd pattern of interests

admittedly my interest in unusual phenomena has led me down some pretty strange paths, and this seems to be where some people have the most trouble keeping a straight face

the essence of this thread seems to be that there is nothing there to be seen, nothing to see folks, just move along now...

so what do i do about someone who is very close to me, who in otherwise very ordinary circumstances in broad daylight, recently had a closeup clear look at something extremely unusual and unlike anything i have ever read about or heard about or seen anything like it?

do you think i should maintain strict scientific integrity and say they are either lying or hallucinating, since i have no way to either repeat or verify their report?
TomCochrane

Trad climber
Santa Cruz Mountains and Monterey Bay
Dec 16, 2012 - 12:19am PT
thank you, Ed

and yes, i greatly respect the sciences

while yet facing the frustration of how to relate to reports of unique unusual phenomena

Jan

Mountain climber
Okinawa, Japan
Dec 16, 2012 - 05:45am PT
I think it depends on whether the unique unusual experience was seen internally or externally. If internal, then my questions would concern the personal meaning of it for the one who experienced it. If they don't know I work with them trying to figure it out. If it is an unusual external experience, I have always had the best luck mentioning it to my military students, especially those who work in intel.

I'm very good at reading faces, including when they are doing their utmost not to reveal anything, which means it's a real phenomenon and they know about it. If they ask a lot of questions, then they don't know about it but think they should and will report it to a higher up even though they may tell me it's nothing. Occassionally, if I know them well, they will hint at something. Thus I learned that what I thought must be an underwater nuclear test in the Pacific which I both heard and felt while lying on the floor during a time when I was doing intense meditation, was indeed such a test. Whose test I do not know as it was never announced or protested anywhere in public and the person who gave me a hint, kept that part classified.
cintune

climber
The Utility Muffin Research Kitchen
Dec 16, 2012 - 06:25am PT
so what do i do about someone who is very close to me, who in otherwise very ordinary circumstances in broad daylight, recently had a closeup clear look at something extremely unusual and unlike anything i have ever read about or heard about or seen anything like it?

Why do you have to do something about it? Just file it under "unexplained." Plenty of room there.
MH2

climber
Dec 16, 2012 - 07:48am PT
An intermediate approach between denying or accepting unusual reports is to take them as imaginative fodder for a book and let the reader wonder whether it is fiction or not.

http://www.susanketchen.ca/


Susan Ketchen just told us on the radio that an 'animal communicator' was told by one of Susan's horses that it was wondering if Susan thought it was walking too fast for her. It was, and Susan asked the communicator to tell the horse to slow down. Susan said the horse did slow down, for a while, she thought, but then went back to walking fast.
High Fructose Corn Spirit

Gym climber
-A race of corn eaters
Dec 16, 2012 - 01:11pm PT
Alas, if only the American public were into... however you want to say it: (a) biochemistry; (b) how living things work; (c) the machinery of life; (d) respect for our mechanistic nature...



http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hj_WKgnL6MI

...imagine what conversations we could have.

Glory to ATP!

.....



http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GR2GA7chA_c

QT Of course chloroplasts are green because they absorb green photons, right?

.....

Imagine if we were all graduates of the Khan Academy by age 23, what kind of a world we'd have.

I know, an overactive imagination today.
go-B

climber
Hebrews 1:3
Dec 16, 2012 - 01:30pm PT
O Little Town of Bethlehem

1. O little town of Bethlehem,
How still we see thee lie!
Above thy deep and dreamless sleep
The silent stars go by.
Yet in thy dark streets shineth
The everlasting Light;
The hopes and fears of all the years
Are met in thee to-night.

2. O morning stars, together
Proclaim the holy birth!
And praises sing to God the King,
And peace to men on earth.
For Christ is born of Mary
And gathered all above,
While mortals sleep the Angels keep
Their watch of wondering love.

3. How silently, how silently,
The wondrous gift is given;
So God imparts to human hearts
The blessings of His Heaven.
No ear may hear His coming,
But in this world of sin,
Where meek souls will receive Him still,
The dear Christ enters in.

4. Where children pure and happy
Pray to the blessed Child,
Where misery cries out to Thee,
Son of the Mother mild;
Where Charity stands watching
And Faith holds wide the door,
The dark night wakes, the glory breaks,
And Christmas comes once more.

5. O holy Child of Bethlehem,
Descend to us, we pray!
Cast out our sin and enter in,
Be born in us to-day.
We hear the Christmas angels,
The great glad tidings tell;
O come to us, abide with us,
Our Lord Emmanuel!



Christ’s Birth Announced to Mary

Luke 1:26 Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, 27 to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And having come in, the angel said to her, “Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!”

29 But when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and considered what manner of greeting this was. 30 Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus. 32 He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. 33 And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.”

34 Then Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I do not know a man?”

35 And the angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God. 36 Now indeed, Elizabeth your relative has also conceived a son in her old age; and this is now the sixth month for her who was called barren. 37 For with God nothing will be impossible.”

38 Then Mary said, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.



The Song of Mary
46 And Mary said:

“My soul magnifies the Lord,
47 And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.
48 For He has regarded the lowly state of His maidservant;
For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed.
49 For He who is mighty has done great things for me,
And holy is His name.
50 And His mercy is on those who fear Him
From generation to generation.
51 He has shown strength with His arm;
He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.
52 He has put down the mighty from their thrones,
And exalted the lowly.
53 He has filled the hungry with good things,
And the rich He has sent away empty.
54 He has helped His servant Israel,
In remembrance of His mercy,
55 As He spoke to our fathers,
To Abraham and to his seed forever.”
jstan

climber
Dec 16, 2012 - 01:40pm PT
so what do i do about someone who is very close to me, who in otherwise very ordinary circumstances in broad daylight, recently had a closeup clear look at something extremely unusual and unlike anything i have ever read about or heard about or seen anything like it?

do you think i should maintain strict scientific integrity and say they are either lying or hallucinating, since i have no way to either repeat or verify their report?

Tom, I think your suggestion falls short of being "strict scientific integrity." You have no evidence to limit the possibilities to the two you posit. A better and less pejorative response would have been to ask," when it happened could you have done something to investigate what was going on?"

If they then said, "No! I was frightened out of my wits." you would then have begun to collect some evidence as to the witness's state of mind.
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