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Title: Do you have a new framework for understanding reality?
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SocialFabric
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(Date Posted:19/04/2014 6:06 PM)
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Hi All,

I have just joined this forum.  I am an ex-RCA member from many years ago, that has embraced evolution and rejected all forms of superstition.  I have a new framework for understanding reality these days.  Some of the features of this framework, which I call Emergentism, and its method, which I call The Emergent Method, are as follows:

  • The evolution of life is a subset of the emergence of everything and the Scientific Method is a subset of the Emergent Method

  • There is no such thing as laws outside their embodiment in physical existence.  The universe is fully self-contained

  • Disorder is the default state of the universe that does not need explaining; order is a transient phenomenon that needs contingent explanation and provides temporal meaning and value

  • The ‘ought’ emerges from the ‘is’, and consciousness emerges from matter-space; these are not separate realms.  There is no dualism, just an emergent monism

  • Values arise though the increasing order of all emerging systems.  They are not the invention of conscious minds

  • The border or boundary itself is the source of all cognition and intelligence

  • If life is a system of autopoiesis and cognition, then consciousness is necessarily autopoietic, cognitive and ethical

  • Moral agency emerges from objective reality, yet subjectivity necessarily circumscribes every moral agent, including every god

  • The environment is increasingly the outcome of subjective moral agents; it is therefore misleading to consider reality as purely objective.  It is indirectly subjective, just as we are

  • The classical ethical frameworks of deontology, consequentialism and virtue ethics are perhaps converging.  One arising synthesis is what I call Emergentism’s Vremetic Ethics

  • The life-stance choices of atheism, agnosticism, believing or ‘emergent monism’ are subordinate to the topic of wellbeing because they represent parts of the available methods of realising wellbeing

  • The Emergent Method would help us make better informed choices with respect to wellbeing, and would help to draw humanity towards an optimistic and prosperous future

  • The four self-constraints of the Emergent Method are risk-weighted, positive, normative, and selfish in an enlightened sense

  • Objective behavioural change occurs at a subconscious level.  I would not seek to force deep behavioural change for the better, even if I could.  I would seek to enlighten consciousness-with-instincts through our interpenetrating ideas and experiences

 

Do you have a framework for understanding reality yourself?  Would you like to add your own bullet-points to the above, or discuss any of the above bullet-points?

Kind Regards,

SocialFabric
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RE:Do you have a new framework for understanding reality?
(Date Posted:19/04/2014 10:21 PM)

Good afternoon, 'Social Fabric'.

Let me begin my philsophical response to your cut-and-paste by expressing the postulate, 'ho, hum' :)

Emergentism as a theory has been around for about a century; it owes its broad contours to the intellectual efforts of the likes of Lewes, Mill, Morgan and von Bertalanffy. Consequently, I'm not too sure how it is that you came to claim it as your own personal creation.

Such ponderings aside, the direct answer to your direct question, "Do you have a framework for understanding reality yourself?" is, 'yes'. My paradigm begins with the logical proposition, 'God is', and proceeds thence.

Ian  
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Re:Do you have a new framework for understanding reality?
(Date Posted:19/04/2014 11:52 PM)

Hi Ian,

Thanks for your response. 

Yes, it’s difficult to find a unique name for a philosophy these days.  I considered Antinomianism (and antinomian ethics), but that too was already taken. Therefore, I decided to stick with Emergentism.  I found it was close enough for my purposes.  The problem with any named framework is all the errors and misconceptions associated with it.  The good thing about it is at least someone can look up Wikipedia to get a glimpse ofit.  The rest of it can be slowly redefined and corrected over time. I jest a little.

As far as your axiom "God is"...

If the axiom can be shown to be faulty, does that mean everything built upon it in your life can crumble?  If yes, then thank you for sharing your deep foundation and profound basis of belief with me.  Axioms are offered without proof, but are meant to be difficult to refute.

If 'God is', then your axiom rests on the idea that the greatest intelligence and most complex arrangement ever conceived did not emerge from simpler beginnings, but magically and simply always was.  Can you think of any other free lunches in this cosmos, assuming that besides the axiom of yours, you would normally reject the idea of magic?  Can you think of anything else that does not emerge from simpler beginnings?  If not, your axiom stands shivering in the cold, doesn't it?

I understand something from nothing, in the sense the Lawrence Krauss uses the concept - that is order probabilistically arising in a vast, jostling sea of disorder.  However, I don't understand an organised something for nothing.  That's just a magician's trick.  Have you been spellbound Ian?  All arrangements of real and virtual particles emerge, naturally or artificially, but not magically...

Where is the logic for a highly organised Something for nothing?  What bears witness to this logic Ian, rather than all that proceeds thence?  Do Qantas jumbo jets leap into being in the logical cosmos you inhabit?  Surely, any axiom is ultimately a matter of faith rather than logic, which others are free to adopt or reject, also without proof?

Our society seems to leave us with only three alternatives: The axiom “existence exists” and atheism, the idea that ‘existence is uncertain’ and agnosticism or the belief that ‘existence is subordinate’ and blind faith in ‘Something’.  That is, if we are to take a certain life-stance, then it seems we must make a blind assumption, make a blind denial or make a blind belief (and shiver in the cold).

Personally, I think the lesson that an emergent universe offers us is a more satisfactory fourth alternative.  It enables us to get to the nub of the issue.  It teaches us to reject an axiomatic stance as a basis for atheism and to reject agnosticism’s  uncertainty with respect to an emergent self that surely is not illusory.  It also encourages us to reject the dea of a ‘Something’ for nothing or an eternally self-organised ‘Something’ (either way, a ‘Something’ that is effectively a magical free lunch that is denied in any material and logical universe). 

What it teaches us is that existence not based on any axiomatic assumption, but rather based on a wondrously and statistically emergent yet disorderly universe, fundamentally and paradoxically unable to banish the border or asymptote between something and nothing, is the most easily defended approach.   So I replace a poorly defined axiom with a carefully defined paradox consistent with observation.  Not a great advance for some, but I think a huge leap forward, and one Ockham's razor would prefer. 

May I be so bold as to suggest a fourth life-stance called Emergent Monism, which incorporates the philosophy of Emergentism and its Emergent Method?  At the core of this life-stance is not atheism as some kind of protest against a present and dominant theism, but an enlightened selfishness that recognises our context and unique role in the unfolding cosmos.  May I also suggest that just as agnosticism is a weak form of believing, so atheism is a weak form of enlightened selfishness and emergent monism?

Cheers,

SocialFabric




(Message edited by SocialFabric On 20/04/2014 12:00 AM)
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RE:Do you have a new framework for understanding reality?
(Date Posted:20/04/2014 12:08 AM)

Social Fabric,

Your philsophically naive response has me thinking you've never properly grappled with what's implied by the axiom "God is". Further, from what you've just shared, I get the distinct feeling you don't fully understand Emergentism either :)

Let me be so bold as to suggest to you that orthodox, historic Christianity offers a coherent, internally-consistent worldview. However, given your RCA background, I'm under no illusions that you would have much in the way of an informed understanding about the subject.

Ian
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Re:Do you have a new framework for understanding reality?
(Date Posted:20/04/2014 12:13 AM)

 Hi Ian,

I would welcome a debate, in the tradition of the Socratic Method, but I'd like to think we could conduct it ad hominem and with a minimum of 'feelings' and assumptions.

Cheers

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RE:Do you have a new framework for understanding reality?
(Date Posted:20/04/2014 12:43 AM)

Hello again, Social Fabric.

I would welcome a debate, in the tradition of the Socratic Method, but I'd like to think we could conduct it ad hominem and with a minimum of 'feelings' and assumptions. Methinks you're not a particularly careful philosopher. Please, go back and review the number of significant attention-to-detail errors in your first two posts, and then reflect on the massive one that you've just now made in your third.

Next, I warmly welcome the opportunity of engaging with you. However, I do wonder that you would believe the elenctic method is the most suitable form for the discussion you've just proposed :)

In any case, pray, proceed.

Ian
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Re:Do you have a new framework for understanding reality?
(Date Posted:20/04/2014 1:15 AM)

 Hi Ian,

You don't give me much, do you?  However, thanks for your agreement.  You are right, I am not legalistic about form, but it does provide some appropriate and obvious constraints.

We could proceed 2 ways.  You could take a bullet point and ask me for more if you need or want it before reply, or you could explain to me the strengths of your axiom, which I am asking for now if you are still in agreement...

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RE:Do you have a new framework for understanding reality?
(Date Posted:20/04/2014 1:30 AM)

Social Fabric,

You don't give me much, do you? Given the logical fallacies and presuppositional over-reaches in your introductory post, I believe I've been quite restrained in my dealings with you thus far :) ... You are right, I am not legalistic about form, but it does provide some appropriate and obvious constraints. Philosophising, like theologising, demands precision; it requires that most necessary of attributes that I've yet to see from you: the capacity for nuance.

We could proceed 2 ways.  You could take a bullet point and ask me for more if you need or want it before reply, or you could explain to me the strengths of your axiom, which I am asking for now if you are still in agreement ... I can think of at least six potential trajectories; however, I'd like to see you contend with my basic axiom, "God is", first.

Have at it :)

Ian


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Re:Do you have a new framework for understanding reality?
(Date Posted:20/04/2014 1:46 AM)

 I  believe I have already done that, however inadequately in your estimation...
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RE:Do you have a new framework for understanding reality?
(Date Posted:20/04/2014 1:48 AM)

You've in no way done so ...
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Re:Do you have a new framework for understanding reality?
(Date Posted:20/04/2014 2:00 AM)

 It was in my first reply.  It began, "As far as your axiom "God is"..."  However, you already know this.  If you do not want to play this game, that's ok too...
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RE:Do you have a new framework for understanding reality?
(Date Posted:20/04/2014 2:02 AM)

Social Fabric,

Au contraire. All that you did was provide a series of personal opinions. You have yet to provide a shred of logical, historical or epistemological evidence, such that demonstrates the axiom itself describes a self-defeating, internally-inconsistent fallacy.

Ian

P.S. I'm off to enjoy my partner's cooking. I might catch up with you, to see how you're getting along, in a day or two :)


(Message edited by Didaktikon On 20/04/2014 2:07 AM)
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Re:Do you have a new framework for understanding reality?
(Date Posted:20/04/2014 4:31 AM)

Hi Ian,

I asked several questions to get my reply off on the right footing, to which so far you have chosen not to reply.  This is the part of  the method, is it not?

...

"If 'God is'...  Can you think of any other free lunches in this cosmos, assuming that besides the axiom of yours, you would normally reject the idea of magic?  Can you think of anything else that does not emerge from simpler beginnings?  If not, your axiom stands shivering in the cold, doesn't it?

"Where is the logic for a highly organised Something for nothing?  What bears witness to this logic Ian, rather than all that proceeds thence?  Do Qantas jumbo jets leap into being in the logical cosmos you inhabit?  Surely, any axiom is ultimately a matter of faith rather than logic, which others are free to adopt or reject, also without proof?"

...

My first rebuttal of your logic was in the last question.  Axioms are not arrived at through logic, are they?  Yet you wrongly described your axiom as a logical proposition.  If it is a logical proposition, then clearly it is not axiomatic.  If it is axiomatic, it is not logical, but more simply an assumption that sits outside the system of logic it underpins and hopefully is difficult to refute.

The Ancient Greeks seemed to assume the universe was essentially ordered and organised and thus must have had an orderly First Cause, but I have refuted this assumption (see bullet point 3), as does Lawrence Krauss in his book "A Universe from Nothing".

How would you defend the logic of "God is", if it is not an axiom?  Otherwise, if it is axiomatic, then I don't need logic to reject it, just free choice.  Nevertheless, I have gone further than this here, suggesting that the axiom is misplaced because it comes from a mindset that also  believes there was a First Cause that plugs an imagined infinite regress of cause and effect.  Emergentism would suggest there is no problem of an infinite regress because of bullet point 3.

In the emergent view we don’t need a beginning symmetry or organisation.  In this sense, to point to one particular disorganised beginning rather than another is meaningless – any disorganised and meaningless beginning will do: Beginnings are illusive.  Mutations could have come and gone for eons before anything interesting happened against the backdrop of whatever level of energy and disorder existed in the local region or in total.  More eons could have passed before any of those interesting phenomena gained any emergent continuity.  That is, all causes emerge from antecedent effects or states, including chaotic or probabilistic ones.  In other words, relatively meaningless effects came first, and all meaningful causes emerged later from them.  In this sense, disorganisation is the necessary precursor of causation.  (Paradoxically, because of what follows it, this grants disorder a kind of retrospective proto-meaning). With an emergent view of the universe, we do not have to see wider reality in terms of orderly causes and their effects anymore, thus circumventing the whole problem of the original cause creating the original disturbance.  If asymmetry and disturbance is the normal state of a wider reality then we only need to explain abnormal local symmetry and temporal organisation within vast realms of statistical disorganisation.

In summary, absolutely everything emerges from relatively meaningless beginnings.  "God is" is not an axiom or piece of logic required to explain our universe or its beginnings.  It is a superfluous concept retained for superstitious purposes only.  Evidence from the universe would teach us that nothing is created in the biblical sense; everything is naturally or artificially moulded from what already is, but with many surprising outcomes interms of emergent properties.  You don't need a physicist and cosmologist to confirm this for yourself - just look around you...  Did that jumbo jet always exist or leap into being, or did any other something for nothing

Regards,

SocialFabric




(Message edited by SocialFabric On 20/04/2014 4:35 AM)
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RE:Do you have a new framework for understanding reality?
(Date Posted:20/04/2014 6:08 AM)

Social Fabric,

I had a jolly good dinner, and now I'm enjoying equally jolly good fun with you!

To business ...

I asked several questions to get my reply off on the right footing, to which so far you have chosen not to reply. This is the part of  the method, is it not? You might need to rethink your approach if you believe flippant and/or dismissive statements was the correct way to "... get off on the right footing", but more of this shortly. As for my 'method', it comports to the general principles of philosophical inquiry: the establishing of precision in meaning, so as to adequately test propositions :)

"If 'God is'...  Can you think of any other free lunches in this cosmos, assuming that besides the axiom of yours, you would normally reject the idea of magic? Well, how about, 'time is'? Or 'matter exists'? Can you think of anything else that does not emerge from simpler beginnings? 'Time' itself, for starters. If not, your axiom stands shivering in the cold, doesn't it? Nope. My axiom is feeling rather snug, and warm as a warm thing.

Next, perhaps you might tell me who was discussing magic? And while you're doing so, could you please explain for me how you arrived at the untested assumption/postulation (= 'axiom') that God's creative activity must automatically equal, or be equivalent to, 'sleight of hand'?   

"Where is the logic for a highly organised Something for nothing? What bears witness to this logic Ian, rather than all that proceeds thence? How about 'the universe'? It's certainly very widely believed to constitute a 'something' from a 'nothing'. Well, it is if the prevailing theory of universal origins is to be accepted. Do Qantas jumbo jets leap into being in the logical cosmos you inhabit? How many faeries can dance on the head of a pin? Surely, any axiom is ultimately a matter of faith rather than logic, which others are free to adopt or reject, also without proof?" An axiom is but simply a starting point of reasoning. Definitively, all reasoning commences with axioms/postulations :)

...

My first rebuttal of your logic was in the last question.  Axioms are not arrived at through logic, are they? Given that logic itself comprises inductive reasoning, deductive reasoning or abductive reasoning, all reasoning commences with ... wait for it ... axioms. Yet you wrongly described your axiom as a logical proposition. If it is a logical proposition, then clearly it is not axiomatic. Really? According to whom? Please consider: in traditional logic, an axiom or postulate is a proposition that is not proved or demonstrated but considered to be either self-evident, or subject to necessary decision. Therefore, its truth is taken for granted, and serves as a starting point for deducing and inferring other (theory dependent) truths. Ergo, axioms serve as the logical bases for all subsequent logical propositions. If it is axiomatic, it is not logical, but more simply an assumption that sits outside the system of logic it underpins and hopefully is difficult to refute. Given you clearly draw much of your material from the Internet, I really think you should read the first sentence of http://editthis.info/logic/The_Laws_of_Classical_Logic

The Ancient Greeks seemed to assume the universe was essentially ordered and organised and thus must have had an orderly First Cause, but I have refuted this assumption (see bullet point 3), as does Lawrence Krauss in his book "A Universe from Nothing". You're the one to finally refute Aristotle, huh? With respect to Lawrence Krauss, you may be interested to discover that Christian philosopher Dr William Lane Craig decisively refuted his epistemological premises during their debate at North Carolina State University in 2011. It was a moderated debate, by the way, and Craig was declared the winner.

(I 'snipped' your repeated misunderstanding of the foundational role of axioms in logic)

In the emergent view we don’t need a beginning symmetry or organisation. In this sense, to point to one particular disorganised beginning rather than another is meaningless – any disorganised and meaningless beginning will do: Beginnings are illusive. Mutations could have come and gone for eons before anything interesting happened against the backdrop of whatever level of energy and disorder existed in the local region or in total.  More eons could have passed before any of those interesting phenomena gained any emergent continuity.  That is, all causes emerge from antecedent effects or states, including chaotic or probabilistic ones.  In other words, relatively meaningless effects came first, and all meaningful causes emerged later from them.  In this sense, disorganisation is the necessary precursor of causation.  (Paradoxically, because of what follows it, this grants disorder a kind of retrospective proto-meaning). With an emergent view of the universe, we do not have to see wider reality in terms of orderly causes and their effects anymore, thus circumventing the whole problem of the original cause creating the original disturbance.  If asymmetry and disturbance is the normal state of a wider reality then we only need to explain abnormal local symmetry and temporal organisation within vast realms of statistical disorganisation.

Remarkable. In three short posts you've sought to take me to the woodshed over the axiom "God is", but you've just now spent 204 words outlining assumption after untested assumption. Inconsistency in method does not a competent philosopher make. Oh, that's another axiom, by the way ;)

In summary, absolutely everything emerges from relatively meaningless beginnings. Untested postulation (= 'axiom') 1. "God is" is not an axiom or piece of logic required to explain our universe or its beginnings. I've demonstrated that it can function as a logically valid explanation, and at this stage has as much going for it as does your perferred theory. It is a superfluous concept retained for superstitious purposes only. 'Superstitious' purposes? Untested postulation (= 'axiom') 2. Evidence from the universe would teach us that nothing is created in the biblical sense; everything is naturally or artificially moulded from what already is, but with many surprising outcomes interms of emergent properties. Untested postulation (= 'axiom') 3. You don't need a physicist and cosmologist to confirm this for yourself - just look around you ... An appeal to phenomenology as an indicator of 'reality'? Untested postulation (= 'axiom') 4. Did that jumbo jet always exist or leap into being, or did any other something for nothing? And it's now that you've finally presented me with a significant conundrum! Deciding whether what you've just postulated can best described as petitio principii, circulus in demonstrando, post hoc ergo propter hoc, or the Ludic fallacy.

Ian
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Re:Do you have a new framework for understanding reality?
(Date Posted:20/04/2014 8:44 AM)

 

Some see space, time and matter as axiomatic, but not theoretical physicists.  String Theory, M-Theory, etc. suggests otherwise.  We even have theorists here in Australia that spend their time explaining how this might be so.  This is not new.  See for instance Cahill, Reginald T."Process Physics", Flinders University, Adelaide, 2003 (available freely on the web).  This is a paper that suggests a very specific mechanism for the emergence of space, time and matter in the early universe.  It is worth a read.

Black holes that have now been discovered through the testing of theory contain singularities where matter, space and time break down into other, perhaps more primitive forms where the difference between the real particles of matter and the virtual particles of space become less distinct.  ‘Matter is’ is no longer axiomatic in the eyes of the world’s leading physicists.  See Lawrence Krauss, Stephen Hawking, John Barrow, etc.

In terms of the supposed axiomatic nature of time, what are we to make of quantum entanglement, whereby space separates two particles yet the particles can behave instantaneously together in terms of a feature of their momentum, i.e. spin?  It is as if they share a linked quantum mechanical time with respect to spin but different times with respect to their other spacetime features.  What do we make of time passing in indeterminate particles before quantum collapse?  Does time also become indeterminate?  What do we make of the mirrored relationship between particles and their antiparticles in terms of their charge, which we can understand in terms of the negative energy modes of the electron field being backward in time?  Time is by no means linear or independent from space and matter, or simple or universal. We should begin to perceive time to have an order that locally, temporally and continually, emerges with spacetime's arrangements.  ‘Time is’ is also an axiom of a bygone era. 

However, ‘God is’ is in a class of its own, where those who accept the axiom don’t dare begin to break it down into its components or look  for disconfirmation in nature or logic. They just rely on the idea of Something for nothing, even though such an idea is supported nowhere in reality – hence my allusion to magic…

The universe is not widely believed to constitute a something for nothing at all.  You didn’t read what I wrote carefully.  The universe is said to emerge from ‘nothing’ in the sense of no order or organisation. But an organised universe emerging from disorganisation is very different to a universe popping into existence out of thin air – or by a magician’s words, such as ’abra cadabra’ or ‘let therebe light’, or ‘let me pull a rabbitout of my hat’…

Yes, an axiom is the starting point of logical reasoning, but the axiom itself is outside the system of logic itself, because it underpins it.  Your words are correct, an axiom “is not proved or demonstrated”, but considered to be either “self-evident”, or “subject to necessary decision”.  That is, an axiom is not subject to logical interrogation.  It is simply accepted “by decision” or by “commonsense”.  As you say, “its truth is taken for granted”.

So when you said that “god is” is a logical proposition of yours, did you really mean it was all of the above – that is, “not proved ordemonstrated”, “self-evident”, “subject to necessary decision” and a “truth taken for granted”?  Is this what you mean by logic?  Sounds like a medieval kind of logic to me…

“Classical logic rests upon a foundation of axioms”.  Yes, my point exactly.  Have you heard of Gödel’s Incompleteness Theorems?  Kurt Gödel showed us that all formal mathematical proofs are incomplete and incapable of demonstrating their own consistency because they rely on axioms that are outside the proof itself!  Sorry – an axiom is not a logical proposition.  You have not demonstrated that “God is” can function as a logically valid explanation of anything.

““Evidence from the universe would teach us that nothing is created in the biblical sense; everything is naturally or artificially moulded from what already is, but with many surprising outcomes in terms of emergent properties”. Untested postulation”. 

Hey, if you would like to give me a demonstration of your miracle-workingpower, please do so.  The rest of us will bake cakes, make houses, etc. in the normal way, and in so doing, fail to disconfirm my totally wild postulation on a daily basis…

Cheers,

SocialFabric



(Message edited by SocialFabric On 20/04/2014 8:50 AM)
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RE:Do you have a new framework for understanding reality?
(Date Posted:20/04/2014 5:27 PM)

SocialFabric,

Goodness, dare I even think of entering into this conversion. You left this 'Rookier IV' for dead the first verse of your original post.

But, this I would ask of you to ponder; a simple question: What is 'ONE'?

I may ask, where did it originate, who thought it up, did it always exist or suddenly come into existence, or did it suddenly appear in the mind of somebody some stage in life ,etc.? Without 'one' numbers or mathematics would not exist, hence life would not exist.

These like questions we ask about the existence of God.

Give me a logical answer to what is 'one', then you have the answer, 'God is'.

Ralph.


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RE:Do you have a new framework for understanding reality?
(Date Posted:20/04/2014 8:02 PM)

Social Fabric,

Thanks for the feedback, but I reckon your approach to this discussion has been decidely inconsistent. You seem to struggle with me placing confidence in the theo-centric axiom 'God is', yet all you've provided by way of alternatives are equally 'faith-based' naturalistic-centric axioms.

Some see space, time and matter as axiomatic, but not theoretical physicists. And they're called 'theoretical physicists' for a reason. Theories describe postulates that have not been established definitively or concretely. Ergo, they are no more provable than are the axioms they are based on. String Theory, M-Theory, etc. suggests otherwise. Sure. And as I understand it, both require a significant number of theoretical dimensions for the mathematics to work (i.e. at least 10 for basic String Theory, and 11 for M Theory/String Theory +). However, your choice of the word 'suggests' is telling. We even have theorists here in Australia that spend their time explaining how this might be so. Again, 'might' or 'is'? Unproven postulates. This is not new.  See for instance Cahill, Reginald T."Process Physics", Flinders University, Adelaide, 2003 (available freely on the web).  This is a paper that suggests a very specific mechanism for the emergence of space, time and matter in the early universe. And we note 'suggests' again. Unproven postulates. It is worth a read. Perhaps one day :)

Black holes that have now been discovered through the testing of theory contain singularities where matter, space and time break down into other, perhaps more primitive forms where the difference between the real particles of matter and the virtual particles of space become less distinct. 'Theory'? 'Perhaps'? More postulates that are no more provable than are the axioms they are based on. ‘Matter is’ is no longer axiomatic in the eyes of the world’s leading physicists. See Lawrence Krauss, Stephen Hawking, John Barrow, etc. Really? I believe you've overdrawn your bow in several respects. First, you've admitted your positions are based on theories (i.e. they are axiomatic) rather than on concretely, universally established facts. Second, you've inferred there are no dissenting voices numbered among the undefined and unqualified group, 'leading physicists'. Are you certain such is the case?

In terms of the supposed axiomatic nature of time, what are we to make of quantum entanglement, whereby space separates two particles yet the particles can behave instantaneously together in terms of a feature of their momentum, i.e. spin?  It is as if they share a linked quantum mechanical time with respect to spin but different times with respect to their other spacetime features. Hmmm. 'As if'? How is this qualifier materially different to your formerly used 'perhaps'? What do we make of time passing in indeterminate particles before quantum collapse?  Does time also become indeterminate?  What do we make of the mirrored relationship between particles and their antiparticles in terms of their charge, which we can understand in terms of the negative energy modes of the electron field being backward in time?  Time is by no means linear or independent from space and matter, or simple or universal. We should begin to perceive time to have an order that locally, temporally and continually, emerges with spacetime's arrangements. Are we breaking new ground in this discussion by considering established facts? Or are we simply revisiting theories? Have you introduced certainty? Or simply more in the way of possibility?

However, ‘God is’ is in a class of its own, where those who accept the axiom don’t dare begin to break it down into its components or look  for disconfirmation in nature or logic. They just rely on the idea of Something for nothing, even though such an idea is supported nowhere in reality – hence my allusion to magic… I agree with you that 'God is' indeed is in a class of one; the Judeo-Christian conception of God as the universal constant demands that we view him in this way. However, I'd be interested in seeing you establish your pejorative corollary.

The universe is not widely believed to constitute a something for nothing at all. You didn’t read what I wrote carefully. The universe is said to emerge from ‘nothing’ in the sense of no order or organisation. But an organised universe emerging from disorganisation is very different to a universe popping into existence out of thin air – or by a magician’s words, such as ’abra cadabra’ or ‘let therebe light’, or ‘let me pull a rabbitout of my hat’… Might I suggest, again, that you're guilty of overreach? First, you've postulated (i.e. axiomatically) that an 'organised' universe emerged from 'disorganisation'. As I understand it, Quantam mechanics doesn't/can't establish what happened before the universe came into being (a la the 'Big Bang'). Neither can it state with surety what happened in the instant following its creation. 'Planck time' (i.e. the first 10^-44 seconds after the beginning) remains very much 'blank time' :) So for you to categorically state 'organisation' from 'disorganisation' is no less a statement of faith, than it would be for me to claim creation ex nihilo. Further, Quantam mechanics postulates everything from half dead/half alive cats, through to the paradox that apparently impossible things such as teleportation (a la Krauss) are just improbable. Theories - postulations - axioms, call them what you will, they do not hold the same authority in demanding assent as do established facts. Noting this, how are your rather lengthy defences qualitatively different to my two-words-long, somewaht pity axiom: 'God is'?

Yes, an axiom is the starting point of logical reasoning, but the axiom itself is outside the system of logic itself, because it underpins it. Your words are correct, an axiom “is not proved or demonstrated”, but considered to be either “self-evident”, or “subject to necessary decision”.  That is, an axiom is not subject to logical interrogation.  It is simply accepted “by decision” or by “commonsense”.  As you say, “its truth is taken for granted”. Yes. And as I previously indicated, all logical inquiry is based on underlying axioms/assumptions/guesses, your own included.

So when you said that “god is” is a logical proposition of yours, did you really mean it was all of the above – that is, “not proved ordemonstrated”, “self-evident”, “subject to necessary decision” and a “truth taken for granted”? Indeed I did. Note the context of your original question. In your very first post you asked, "Do you have a framework for understanding reality yourself?" To which I responded with the postulation, 'God is'. Sounds like a medieval kind of logic to me… Actually, it's just as valid a starting point for building a logically defensible ontology as is anything that you've provided. In fact, mine is likely more valid given that, unlike you, I didn't commence by rejecting a priori the very possibility of there being a God. And I quote, "I am an ex-RCA member from many years ago, that has embraced evolution and rejected all forms of superstition."

“Classical logic rests upon a foundation of axioms”. Yes, my point exactly.  Have you heard of Gödel’s Incompleteness Theorems?  Kurt Gödel showed us that all formal mathematical proofs are incomplete and incapable of demonstrating their own consistency because they rely on axioms that are outside the proof itself!  Sorry – an axiom is not a logical proposition.You have not demonstrated that “God is” can function as a logically valid explanation of anything. Neither, might I add, have you demonstrated that your beliefs are in any way materially different. You take them on faith, just as I do mine.

“Evidence from the universe would teach us that nothing is created in the biblical sense; everything is naturally or artificially moulded from what already is, but with many surprising outcomes in terms of emergent properties” ... 'Untested postulation?'  Hey, if you would like to give me a demonstration of your miracle-workingpower, please do so.  The rest of us will bake cakes, make houses, etc. in the normal way, and in so doing, fail to disconfirm my totally wild postulation on a daily basis… Was this previous statement of yours an 'untested postulation', or was it not?

In summary what you've introduced thus far is assumption after axiom after postulate after theory. I don't think less of you for having done so, as neither one of us will likely be able to convince the other to think differently. I remain perfectly content understanding reality after a theist construct; you've not provided any new data that would warrant a re-think on my part.

Ian

(Message edited by Didaktikon On 20/04/2014 9:13 PM)
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Re:Do you have a new framework for understanding reality?
(Date Posted:21/04/2014 8:07 AM)

Hi Ralph,

Just got back from a day out with the family to Wentworth Falls.  It was excellent.

"What is 'ONE'? ... where did it originate, who thought it up, did it always exist or suddenly come into existence, or did it suddenly appear in the mind of somebody some stage in life ,etc.? Without 'one' numbers or mathematics would not exist, hence life would not exist.

These like questions we ask about the existence of God.

Give me a logical answer to what is 'one', then you have the answer, 'God is'."


Wow - a lot of issues here Ralph.  The story of mathematics is a fascinating one.  I would suggest you research it on the internet.  Perhaps the most interesting story is around the late development of the concept of zero rather than one.  The problem with zero is that it was an indirect or virtual concept - it was not a real concept.  That is, we understand the virtual concept of zero oranges is different to zero apples, but of course in reality, there is no difference - zero apples will do just as nicely as zero oranges.  So zero was confusing - but it absolutely revolutionised mathematics.  Using this new concept or tool, mathematicians were able to solve problems like never before.  Today every school child just take this for granted.  The concept of zero also made us realise that there are indirect concepts like zero that help us explain reality far better than we can without such virtual concepts.  Much later, the history of the development of the concept of infinity (i.e. something divided by zero) was also fascinating.  Even more recently, imaginary numbers, defined by the virtual concept of the square root of minus one, also became important in the solution of all kinds of engineering and theoretical problems.

Similarly in physics, virtual concepts are also very important in explaining the behaviours of reality.  For instance, physicists speak of real particles that have mass and make up atoms as well as virtual particles that either don't have mass at all or reflect the quality of having mass only fleetingly (i.e. for split seconds before disappearing again into the soup of space).  These virtual particles are carriers of the forces or interactions between items of mass, such as the nuclear strong or weak interactions, the electromagnetic interaction, or the gravitational interaction.  Since 2013 we have also understood that mass itself is mediated between virtual and real particles by the virtual particle known as the Higgs Boson.

Perhaps the most fruitful areas of scientific research are in the areas of limits between the real and the virtual.  For instance, amazing things happen near the limit of zero degrees Kelvin (where superconductivity kicks in), at  the speed of light (e.g. where mass is said to become infinite), within the Planck Length (where classical physics breaks down and within black holes, even reality in terms of matter-space-time breaks down), etc.  In each of these situation zero and infinity is not finally reached, but they are indirectly changing system behaviours as  they are approached.  There is something profound about the approaching meeting or clash of something and nothing, epitomised by the clash of 1 divided by 0.

My point of mentioning all of this is to answer your question, "what is one?" or "what is the nature of one?"  However I have broadened the question because I am sure there was a reason why you didn't rather ask, "what is seven?", or "what is ten?".  That is, I think you were really asking, "why is there something such as one, generally?"  Further, I think you were asking, "why was there the first something?" and "why was there a something rather than nothing for the very first time?"  These are very profound questions, as you suggest.

Obviously, I can't answer these questions in detail, but I can provide a framework for their answers.  "Why is there something at all?" is altogether perplexing, but if I asked the complimentary question, "Why isn't there only nothing?", I think we would find this just as perplexing.  That is, the only alternative to something (that is, zero) is just as humanly unacceptable as the original problem of something (that is, one).  This is a paradox.  In reality, there seems to be an uneasy truce or war between these two, expressed in the real and the virtual and the border between them.  It is a fact in reality that the real and the virtual cannot be extricated from each other.  They are absolutely bound together in every arrangement or system.  So much so, that part of the nature of a real "1" (rather than a mathematical "1")  is that it is always attached to a virtual "0".   This is the basis of the Theory of Supersymmetry.  The string of string theory also recognises this (strings can be the basis of real or virtual particles, so they are proto-particles that are a kind of gooey mix of both).  It is also at the centre of controversy of the mind/body, where the mind is a virtual or indirect arrangement or concept, but the brain/body a real or direct arrangement or concept.

The resolution in reality of this contradiction between something and nothing/zero or something and everything/infinity can be thought of in terms of a boundary problem, or in terms of finite systems blindly seeking equilibrium or homeostasis through emergent self-organisation.  That is, even the tiniest something creates a border or boundary between itself and anything else (including its virtual environment in terms of interactions and their virtual particles).  Something (any system or arrangement) is thus always limited or bounded and thus incomplete in the sense that everything else exists separate to it, and it is only the combination of something and everything else that represents completeness.  Perhaps the best way to understand reality is as an infinitely unfolding arranging process of the real and the virtual (or 1 and 0).  This also hints at the idea that a bounded something is also incomplete in the sense of Gödel’s Incompleteness Theorems (i.e. a system cannot demonstrate its own consistency or complete set of truths).

The reason why a something cannot demonstrate its own consistency is that to do so would depend not only on itself, but also on absolutely everything else.  However, here we run into another problem,because many would also say that an explanation that depends on everything also explains nothing.  What a conundrum.  It seems we are stuck with our incompleteness and our null hypotheses.  All we can do is deal with our challenges ever more proficiently as we apply ourselves to learn more about the borders between 0 and 1.  Now if something (material or immaterial like the massless photon, it does not matter) is incomplete, then it is also subject to instability or uncertainty or probability.  This is the nature of the war between 0 and 1.  It is thus part of the nature of 1.  That is, while a natural or artificial system may always achieve a certain level of order, there will always be a certain level of disorder or uncertainty caused by the necessary limitations or boundaries or partial dependencies of that system.

In classical thermodynamics, we call the universe’s march towards disorder entropy or decay.  In quantum mechanics, we might describe the prevalence of disorder through Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle, perhaps best demonstrated by the quantum fluctuations of so-called empty space.  In living systems, we call inherent disorder mortality and in conscious systems, we might call the struggle against disorder a search for meaning and (moral) value.  In all these systems, at all levels and in all dimensions material or immaterial, the successful local struggle (or statistical advance) against disorder can be labelled examples of emergence.  That is, emergence stumbles upon new levels of order that temporarily stave off the problems at the boundary and caused by the boundary between the real and the virtual, or something and nothing (or 0 and 1).  It does this by diversifying, i.e. by forming new and often more complex or carefully differentiating boundaries (soft and hard). 

From this quick description of the nature of "1", we note that:

* 1 directly exists because 0 exists indirectly, and vice versa. In reality, something and nothing are always interpenetrating and always changing each other; they are never the same, so it is difficult to call them eternal - they are originating continually, just like the quantum fluctuations of space. This is part of the paradox of why there is not only something and why there is not only nothing.

* Nobody thought up 1 and thus caused it to be.  Mankind's consciousness of 1 emerged over time, just as mankind's consciousness of 0 did later.

There is lots more that could be said here, but it's late.    

In all of the dynamic arrangements of reality that find temporal solution to the problem of uncertainty, or the problem posed by the paradox of something and the equivalent paradox of nothing, and their interpenetration, "God is" is not a required axiom.  In fact, reality cannot be axiomatic - only our understandings of reality.  If we understood reality in its entirety, it may never be incomplete.  This would be a nonsense.  This is why we should seek to understand reality by reducing or removing axiomatic plugs.  We shouldn't be content with them; we should question them.

Cheers,

SocialFabric














(Message edited by SocialFabric On 22/04/2014 12:22 AM)
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Re:Do you have a new framework for understanding reality?
(Date Posted:21/04/2014 8:08 AM)

 Sorry Ian, I will reply tomorrow night.

Cheers,

SocialFabric

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Re:Do you have a new framework for understanding reality?
(Date Posted:21/04/2014 8:07 PM)

 Hi Ian,

Certainly, we are struggling with the big issues of reality, such as your “matter is” or “time is”.  I cannot presume to understand fully these issues.  If I gave you black and white explanations of these things, I would either be a fool or the smartest guy alive.

Therefore, I have been more modest and presented to you theories that don’t as yet destroy faith in yourmatter and time axioms totally, although manyphysicists may disagree.  

In presenting theories, I am sure everyone would agree I have been open and honest in my approach to these “big” issues.  I have simply tried to reflect the current state of play and through this, show that these axioms are not being accepted as a fait accompli – they are being tried, tested and disputed all over the world.

My aim was to find a sufficient level of support for the alternatives to the axioms such that they would fail to stand in a criminal proceeding, that is all.   That is, if I have achieved doubt as to their absolute veracity in the mind of the juror, I have done well – I have opened the mind of the juror to the pursuit of other nuanced possibilities beyond or within these crude axioms.

How do we proceed past the axiom?  The first thing we do is not accept it as the bottom line.  And neither we should.  After all, the axiomatic plug is not a reflection of reality itself, just a reflection of the limits of our understanding.  We insert untested common sense and held belief as axioms to complete our models of reality – but that axiom can never explain reality and so can never help us truly find meaning, value, purpose or wellbeing.  Worse, if we defend axioms as absolutes, we stymie any chance for human advancement and flourishing.

Perhaps you might concede that ‘matter is’ is an absolute in your understanding.  However, you cling to your axiom “God is” as an absolute because you say this is demanded by its Judeo-Christian conception!  Jurors – please make a note!

You say that quantum mechanics doesn’t/can’t establish what happened before the Big Bang.  However, there are many scientists willing to work on the theory that will eventually provide the supported explanation.  Today, we casually contemplate creating mini black holes in the LHC at Cern.

You say Planck time is blank time – but the realm of quantum mechanics (which operates within Planck time) is the basis of every modern electronic device you and I own!

You suggest organisation from disorganisation is wild overreach, but plant and animal breeding (artificial emergence) supports the idea and observation of natural evolution and emergence on a mundane, daily basis.  As Darwin once said, you do not have to fully understandthe origin of life to see that life evolves. However, creation ex nihilo remains wild over-reach.

You then carry on about dead cats, etc. that require no response.

However, I am glad you then agreed that “God is” is not logical, but merely a truth taken for granted.  This is why I said in my first response to your proposed axiom that it is offered without proof.  In a later response, I suggested that as such, I need no counter-proof or logicto reject it, just free choice.  Again, jurors please take note.

However, it would be unsatisfactory to me to leave the axiom there, simply rejected because you have provided no compelling reason to accept it.  This was the point of my very first post: To provide an alternative framework for thinking that could continue to be tried and tested over time.  The advantage of such testing is that it promotes the discovery of temporal yet continually emergent or continually originating meaning, value, purpose and wellbeing.

You then charge me with a remarkable list of untested assumptions.  Yet I headed that paragraph with “in the emergent view”.  That is, I was not trying to present fact, just a view.  However, this view is based on theobserved fact of evolution and the fact of orderly systems emerging in the midst of disorder, such as a cyclone arising above a humid sea and then racing across the North Queensland coast.

Postulations are subtly different to axioms.  Postulations are often the beginnings of a new theory or argument, whereas axioms are usually the agreed plugs for old theories or arguments.  Further, postulations are typically offered in the spirit of open debate, whereas your “God is” is demanded by its Judeo-Christian conception.  Finally, postulations are not presented as the basis of complete systems of logic, just parts of those systems.  Sometimes they are offered as simple enhancements rather than bases of complete systems.  Thus, I would reject the idea that my postulations are axioms.

Everything emerges from relatively meaningless beginnings.  Is this really so radical?  Try to think of an instance where this is not the case and we come back to your “x is” axioms again.

By your own words, you have not demonstrated how “God is” can function as a logically valid explanation, because you have emphatically agreed with me that it is indeed an axiom.  That is, you have agreed that “God is” is based on common sense or belief rather than part of a deeper framework based on a deeper axiom.  You made a basic error when you departed from the Christian idea that the acceptance of Christianity is based on faith alone.  However, this was an idea you reverted to late in your response.

You accuse me of rejecting superstition “a priori”, yet I told you I was once an RCA member.  This suggests to me that my views have emerged over time, wouldn’tyou say?

You say I take my beliefs “on faith”, yet all the way through this discussion I have encouraged the reader to put their own views and test mine, as I continue to do.  If someone shows me the error of my postulations, I will gladly modify them so that I end up with a framework that better reflects reality.

Again and again you treat my statements as outrageousuntested postulations.  E.g. “nothing is created in the biblical sense – everything emerges from what is”.  However, these postulations are simple extrapolations of what naturally is.  Besides the idea of biblical creation planted in your head, where have you seen it in action?  Conversely, we see unique offspring born to parents every day.  We also see the technical development of jumbo jets every day.

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Re:Do you have a new framework for understanding reality?
(Date Posted:21/04/2014 8:13 PM)


I may not have caused you any reason to rethink your fixed position Ian, but I hope I have given reason to the jurors to think more carefully.

Regards,

SocialFabric


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RE:Do you have a new framework for understanding reality?
(Date Posted:21/04/2014 10:52 PM)

Social Fabric,

Hoping to visit the Blue Mountains this year myself, looks great.

I did 'dare' to enter in to this conversation and thank you for your much writing to explain your views. I don't even consider to know anything about what or where you are coming from with all that, it to me is like some text from a "madman's nightmare", except maybe you might be trying to prove to us what you might know or that God doesn't exist, or something like that. I very much show my ignorance in these matters and cannot dispute what you are saying.

My question to you was intended as a comparison (poor as it is) to what God is, that everything is built from that. Without 'one' there wouldn't be a number 2 or 3 and so on, even '7', take away one you don't have 7 but you are left with 6 which still has one as a building block.... It's non exhaustive.

The topic is about a 'framework for understanding reality' based on Axioms.

You mention '0', which is 'nothing'. If God is nothing, then he isn't, but this reality doesn't exist.

If someone was to say "God doesn't exist", I would have to agree with them in a way. If God had come into existence, as we comprehend it, then we could use that as an axiom, but God 'is' and we know he 'is' because he reveals himself to mankind 'Father' 'Son' 'Holy Ghost', by his Word.

I'll leave it at that and continue to enjoy further conversions between you and Ian wise men.

Ralph.
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Re:Do you have a new framework for understanding reality?
(Date Posted:22/04/2014 12:31 AM)

Hi Ralph,

Sorry to disappoint.  I got the idea before that you might be alluding to a concept of Logos, such as the Word made Flesh.

I think such a concept requires an over-reach well beyond humble and conservative Emergentism.

Are there any ex-Christians visiting this site, or am I the only one?

Cheers,

SocialFabric  

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Reply To SocialFabric
(Date Posted:22/04/2014 1:09 AM)

Reply to SocialFabric

Hi Ralph,

Sorry to disappoint.  I got the idea before that you might be alluding to a concept of Logos, such as the Word made Flesh.

I think such a concept requires an over-reach well beyond humble and conservative Emergentism.

Are there any ex-Christians visiting this site, or am I the only one?

Cheers,

SocialFabric  

Not disappointed. Just lost with the 'science', so called.smiley18

Ciao.


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RE:Do you have a new framework for understanding reality?
(Date Posted:22/04/2014 1:43 AM)

Social Fabric,

I may not have caused you any reason to rethink your fixed position Ian, but I hope I have given reason to the jurors to think more carefully. First, the term you were seeking was 'established', not 'fixed' ;) Second, I welcome your input here, and echo your hope: there is nothing to fear from the truth; we should all seek it out, wherever it is to be found.

Unfortunately, you'll likely need to be patient in awaiting further interraction with me. Duty calls ...

Ian

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Re:Do you have a new framework for understanding reality?
(Date Posted:22/04/2014 2:57 AM)

 ok Ian,

Thanks for your input.  I might take a break as well.

Cheers

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Re:Do you have a new framework for understanding reality?
(Date Posted:22/04/2014 11:20 PM)

 

Hi Ian,

I’ve been thinking about your responses a little more, and I think they deserve a little more commentary, with the vague hope of actually getting you to realise that your demanded axiom of “God is” is a poor basis for your life, my life, and the life of any readers of this blog.  Thus, I am going to summarise our discussion as I see it, and then wax a little evangelical…

Ian, you and I have established that “God is” is the most personal axiom held by you.  As such, it is accepted by you on the grounds of common sense or blind belief. It is not ascertained on the grounds of something investigated or tested.  That is, “God is” is an investigative beginning, but never an investigative end for you.  You have decided that this axiomatic plug is something that your beliefs demand is accepted, and thus not made subject to a future testing.  Ian, you thus claim to be a man of faith, blind faith.

Ian, you also see yourself as a man who respects logic.  You like to think your axiom, which as we can see is much deeper than a proposition, is firmly established rather than just subjectively fixed.  Yet the nature of this establishment is by mutual agreement at best, because as we have seen, an axiom is not established by a process of deductive reasoning.  Therefore, it is clear that your demanded axiom is established by mere subjective fiat even though you would like to think otherwise.

I don’t think Ian, that you would like to make an argument for “God is” based on inductive or abductive reasoning because you agree “God is” is axiomatic and all your other beliefs proceed thence, thus describing the intended directionality of your axiom in relation to all your other consciously held beliefs or logical propositions.

Ian, if you wish to maintain that you are a man who uses logic and reason to establish your path in life, then it is clear that you need to denounce your demanded axiom.  On the other hand, if you are prepared to stand up and say you are a man of blind faith, then you do not need to denounce your demanded axiom.  However, you should be under no illusion that any of your derivative logic or proposals built on your unquestionable axiom is treated with any deep respect by your future interlocutors of any other persuasion.  The efficacy of your preaching would be confined to the converted and the gullible.

A middle path might be possible for you, Ian.  That is, you could say “God is” is a contingent axiom presently and temporarily held, and subject to further investigation.  That is, you could become an agnostic rather than a firm believer. Through this path, you could hold an honest intellectual scepticism that you are unable to hold presently.  However, faith in God would be as effectively dethroned by this path as a rejection of the axiom altogether. More seriously, the life of an agnostic not only rejects the certainty of a god, but the certainty of any philosophical position, including self-certainty.  This is not necessarily a bad thing, but it is a very serious step to take.

My preferred direction for you, Ian, would be to consider a monist view of reality and through that deep consideration, finally arrive at the rejection of the dualist view of reality.  This rejection would not be made as a protest against dualism, but as a realisation of dualism’s deficiencies in terms of its narratives, its verifiable proofs, and its way of life.  These deficiencies would come to light when openly compared with the much simpler narratives of emergent monism, the more simply abundant monist evidence, and the very hopeful and rewarding life of the emergent monist. If you would like to know more about the path of enlightened selfishness, I could help you.

Take Care,

SocialFabric



(Message edited by SocialFabric On 03/05/2014 3:06 AM)
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Re:Do you have a new framework for understanding reality?
(Date Posted:23/04/2014 1:20 AM)

Hello SocialFabric,

I will leave Didaktikon to make his own case, I guess you could consider me a member of the jury.
As I am not a student of philosophy, you will have to excuse my terminology which will be a lot more basic than yours.

I find myself taking issue with several of the points that you raised.
It seems that your central argument against the existence of God is the "chaotic" way the Universe evolved out of nothingness.
Firstly, I am not sure that "chaos" can be adapted to infer that everything that happened was "random"
Do you have a view on "determinism"?
As you were quick to point out, there is no "magic" in the Universe, therefore I could suggest that every reaction however small was always going to happen exactly the way that it did. Subscribing to a theory of truly random occurrences involves the acceptance of other theories such as the "many worlds" theory, or other theories which to be fair are as equally unproven on either the deterministic or random side.

I am also unsure that you are placing the same burden of proof on your own position as you do on Didaktikon's.
You take great exception to the axiom that "God is".

What if I was to make the following statement:
"We have written eye witness accounts of Jesus resurrection from the dead. We know that deceased people do not rise from the dead, therefore claims by Jesus that he was the Son of God are via Occam's razor are most likely true. Jesus as the Son of God said that 'God is', therefore we have a logical axiom."

Now, you could proceed in disassembling that statement line by line, but you must apply the same rules for your own arguments.
Early Christian writings that hold eye witness testimony may not be dismissed as bias based on their content. Doing so would imply all first hand sources on both sides of the argument must be dismissed on equal grounds which eliminates all sources. 
Historical evidence comprises much of what we call "known fact" today and cannot be subjectively dismissed.
You could also propose that you only accept facts where a scientific proof may be established, yet you have introduced facets of quantum mechanics that are still without mathematical proofs.

Just a couple of points to consider.

Regards,

Shoes


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Re:Do you have a new framework for understanding reality?
(Date Posted:23/04/2014 3:04 AM)

 

Hi Sh0es,

Thank you sincerely for taking your position on the jury.

Firstly, I am not against Ian’s axiom of “God is”.  This is perhaps as good a starting point for inquiry as any other.  What I am against is to state that this is a demanded axiom.  That is, it is an end point of sorts, rather than a starting point - anathema in terms of the Scientific Method.  If Ian was right that my own paradoxical starting point – nothing is every much as unfathomable as something; we simply observe that the former exists indirectly and the latter directly – was demanded by my framework, then I wouldn’t have a leg to stand on.  I would simply profess a blind faith of a different flavour, like the atheist that demands there is no god.  However, I am not closed to frameworks that better reflect reality.  I would relish them.  Further, I even doubt that my starting point is axiomatic, even if it is paradoxical, because the paradox doesn’t prevent us from exploring observations about the majestical interpenetration of the direct/real and indirect/virtual.

It is only as we question axioms such as ‘God is not’, ‘God might be’ or ‘God is’ that we can say we are open to reality’s lessons.  An axiomatic life-stance is a closed life-stance inconsistent with the Scientific Method and the intellectual integrity it implies.  An axiomatic life-stance starts with a tightly held and untestable presumption, and then goes about trying to defend or reinforce it.  Such a method cannot reliably advance our knowledge of reality and may seriously mislead its adherent.

On reflection, I admit that I could have been unfair with respect to Ian’s intellectual honesty.  That is, I have no reason to believe Ian is dishonest in any way, shape or form. This was not my intention at all. It’s just that his intellectual curiosity is stunted by his demanded axiom, so his opinions are circumscribed by his demanded axiom rather than reality taken at face value for what it is.

I understand your post raises a number of other issues that belong to Ian’s proceeding thence, so I would prefer to deal with them later, after Ian has had the right of reply.  However, I will note them here for future reference:

  1. The strength of the logical argument of “God is” if it is not treated as a demanded axiom

  2. Determinism (hard and soft) and its relationship with Emergentism

  3. The nature of quantum mechanics in terms of its verifiability.  This is probably the least interesting issue – it can be easily explored by surfing the internet or reading a good book.

Cheers Shoes – thanks for giving me the opportunity to clarify the issue.

SocialFabric



(Message edited by SocialFabric On 03/05/2014 3:07 AM)
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Re:Do you have a new framework for understanding reality?
(Date Posted:24/04/2014 7:20 AM)

 Hi Social Fabric.

A while back you mentioned you were writing for the "jurors", so I thought I'd add my 2c and contribute some comments and notes from the sidelines. I've been enjoying your exchange with Ian to date. I strongly disagree with your position (in a friendly way) as I think it is self -contradictory and therefore illogical.

For example, you advise thus: "More seriously, the life of an agnostic not only rejects the certainty of a god, but the certainty of any philosophical position, including self-certainty.  This is not necessarily a bad thing, but it is a very serious step to take."

Suppose I took this advice and decided to act on it.. well, tried to act on it.. well... hang on - it is impossible. I'm being advised to lose certainty in *any* philosophical position by means of simultaneously *adopting* a new philosophical position... hang on hang on, I can't adopt a new position as this is "against the rule", I've just taken on your advice and cannot subscribe even to strong agnosticism. Do you see my difficulty? I'm stuck right away :)

And even if I managed to momentarily forget that I should not have any philosophical certitude (as you said) and actually did manage to become a bona-fide agnostic/sceptic (That is, to accept the truth of this philosophy) Now I'm stuck again! Because now I have no genuine knowledge of anything --> doubts do not knowledge make. I can never take on any other philosophical (or scientific) position, no matter how sound it seems to me because my one rule tells me I must doubt everything. Such an intellectual state is definitely possible, and I have met people in such a state before, but it can never lead to any kind of assent in any other philosophy. There is only one way out of  this kind of agnosticism - to snap out of it and reject it for the intellectual incoherence that it is.

OK enough about that :)

Having said all of this, I'm a bit surprised at the initial direction this discussion has taken, and that nobody has challenged the notion that "God is" is an axiom rather than something which can be concluded on the basis of reason. I think it would be correct to say that the vast majority of Christians (throughout history) have believed that it is possible to conclude that God exists rather than to take this as a starting point. Bear in mind that I'm talking about arguments and reason here. (There have always been many who do not think it through or who rely purely on intuition, feelings etc but that is neither here nor there when we are discussing logical arguments)

For example, take Aquinas' famous cosmological argument - the "First Way". I don't particularly have the time now to lay it out, or even to defend whether it is correct or not (that would get us side-tracked in the details) I merely want to point out that the argument takes the existence of *change* as it's premise (axiom) and arrives at the existence of God as the *conclusion* in the logical chain of reasoning. Which is the exact opposite of what you two have been discussing.

Few more quick comments:
-You have Godel exactly wrong. He definitely did not state that "all mathematical proofs are incomplete", as you claimed a few posts down. What his Incompleteness Theorem says is that in any formal mathematical system, there exist some true statements which cannot be proven within that system (my paraphrase). And in his famous paper, he actually *proved* this, which would not be possible if "all proofs were incomplete" ;) Maybe you meant that "all mathematical systems are necessarily incomplete"? That is more in line with Godel and also with Theism (Godel was a Theist after all ;) So the way you were quoting Godel doesn't really support the point you were making.

-"God is" is not a free lunch, if you understand the classical definition of God.

I'd echo Ian's exhortation to proceed slowly and carefully in philosophical reasoning. I'd also welcome discussion of Emergentism using the Socratic method, but would request if you want to do this, that we should keep the posts short (unlike my current post), perhaps sticking to one thought at a time, in order to thoroughly scrutinize our reasoning.

Cheers,

Gurthang

P.S. to old forum regulars - Gurthang is the same person as Sin Tax Error, but for some reason I cannot post under that name, even though I can log in.
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Re:Do you have a new framework for understanding reality?
(Date Posted:24/04/2014 6:29 PM)

 

Hi Gurthang,

 

Thanks for acting as juror.  It really helps.  Unfortunately, this is going to be a long post.

 

Yes – that first quote does need some explaining, I agree.  I said, "More seriously, the life of an agnostic not only rejects the certainty of a god, but the certainty of any philosophical position, including self-certainty”.  To put this in context with all my other statements and therefore understand it as intended, you will recall that any axiomatic stance is ok if it is treated tentatively and as a starting point for inquiry with respect to reality. However, if we treat any axiomatic plug as an end in itself, as an unquestioned life-style, then we cross a line – our axiom becomes our dogma.

 

For the atheist, she or he may start with an axiom like “existence exists” and by deductive reasoning arrive at the idea that there is no god, because only an entity as something capable of our perception is able to have a characteristic or attribute or action. Further and by the same logic, the only form of consciousness possible is an incarnate consciousness.  I’m not advocating atheism as an axiomatic life-stance; bear with me…

 

If we don’t assume the axiom “existence exists”, but we continue to rely on our reasoning and common sense, then this leaves us with the possibility that our conceptualisation of a material cosmological beginning might be defective or incomplete.  Further, God becomes an incomplete concept awaiting closure and agnosticism becomes a logical stance.

 

However if we do this, then existence itself becomes an incomplete concept awaiting closure (partly because non-existence, or a game-like simulated existence, becomes a logical corollary of an uncertain beginning).  This axiomatic idea that “existence is uncertain” is ok until it becomes our dogma.  Once it becomes a dogma, then uncertainty becomes life’s rule and unrelenting scepticism its poison. 

 

I agree with you that there are logical problems with this dogmatic life-stance.  I was not advocating it.  If you look at a Siberian Tiger moving in its natural environment, do intention, certainty and resolution dominate the tiger’s actions or does environmental uncertainty and self-doubt dominate its actions?  Obviously all life forms seem to flourish as they move with growing certainty or implicit meaning in the environments to which they are adapting. Instincts and limited consciousness seem to invest animals with predominating certainty, modified by their careful risk assessments as the environment becomes more uncertain.  Likewise, if we want to get the best out of this life, our level of uncertainty should relate to the nature of our local environment rather than to the nature of our innate existence however defined.

 

To take this a step further.  If we drop the axiom “existence exists” and as David Deutsch (The Fabric of Reality,1997, p61 etc.) suggests, we let go of our faulty inductive reasoning (i.e. we simply accept that knowable reality does not reveal to us anything of the possible objective reality 'behind the veil'), then ‘God is’ becomes possible.  However, its deduction must be in a state of suspension because deduction in this case would rely on an arbitrary reasoning to operate.  Such a belief in ‘Something’, whilst not necessarily bringing existence into uncertainty, would thus subordinate any evidence from existence to blind faith.

 

In summary, our society seems to leave us with only three axiomatic alternatives: The idea 'existence exists' and atheism, the idea that ‘existence is uncertain’ and agnosticism or the idea that ‘existence is subordinate’ and blind faith in ‘Something’.  That is, if we are to take an axiomatic life-stance rather than an emergent one, then it seems we must make a blind assumption, make a blind denial or make a blind belief!

 

“Having said all of this, I'm a bit surprised at the initial direction this discussion has taken, and that nobody has challenged the notion that "God is" is an axiom rather than something which can be concluded on the basis of reason. I think it would be correct to say that the vast majority of Christians (throughout history) have believed that it is possible to conclude that God exists rather than to take this as a starting point. Bear in mind that I'm talking about arguments and reason here.”

 

I think this falls into bullet point 1 in the prior post.  However, I think you are saying you believe in God because you, like most other Christians, have concluded God exists on the basis of reason.  You may wish to ask Ian why he didn’t choose this path.  His path was that the Judeo-Christian conception of God demanded the axiomatic plug “God is”.  That is, the basis of Christianity is blind faith, not reason.  I agree with Ian on this one.  I think the argument for basic faith is stronger scripturally too.  However,I’d just ask you guys to decide.  Which is it?  Faith or Reason?  An axiomatic life-stance or an acceptance of temporal and contingent meaning and purpose within a wonderfully emergent universe?

 

I said, “Kurt Gödel showed us that all formal mathematical proofs are incomplete and incapable of demonstrating their own consistency because they rely on axioms that are outside the proof itself”.  Ok, taking on board your suggestion, how about the following.  “Kurt Gödel showed us that all formal mathematical systems (including in those systems their axioms and their theorems) are incomplete, or incapable of proving all truths about all the relations and statements they contain.  They are also incapable of demonstrating their own consistency because they rely on axioms”.  I think my point about axioms still stands.  An axiomatic plug prevents a system from being proved to be complete and internally consistent.  The system can be shown to be consistent in all that proceeds thence from the axiom, but not when taken as a whole, including the axiom.

 

Cheers,

SocialFabric



(Message edited by SocialFabric On 24/04/2014 6:39 PM)
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Re:Do you have a new framework for understanding reality?
(Date Posted:25/04/2014 4:31 AM)

 

Hi Ian and Gurthang,

I am amazed that you guys don’t think in the 21stcentury that we can improve on the philosophical nous of Plato, Aristotle and Aquinas!  Back in May, 2011, Stephe nHawking announced to the world, “Philosophy is dead!”  Do you remember that?  Let me quote The Telegraph, 17/5/2011 :

“Speaking to Google’s Zeitgeist Conference in Hertfordshire, the author of 'A Brief History of Time' said that fundamental questions about the nature of the universe could not be resolved without hard data such as that currently being derived from the Large Hadron Collider and space research. “Most of us don't worry about these questions most of the time. But almost all of us must sometimes wonder: Why are we here? Where do we come from?Traditionally, these are questions for philosophy, but philosophy is dead,” he said. “Philosophers have not kept up with modern developments in science. Particularly physics.”

“Prof Hawking went on to claim that “Scientists have become the bearers of the torch of discovery in our quest for knowledge.” He said new theories “lead us to a new and very different picture of the universe and our place in it””.

Wow – how apt.  I think he makes a really good point, even though I would not agree that philosophy is dead – because a scientist doth not a philosopher make, to use your phraseology.  Hawking said this 2 years before the God particle (sorry, Higgs Boson) was discovered and the Nobel Prize awarded.  “Matter is” – well except for the non-matter part that makes it matter, i.e. the Higgs Field and the Higgs Boson!  Would you be the one to dis-award the Nobel Prize?  “Time is”, i.e. it just ticks away in quanta of ‘the Planck Length divided by the Speed of Light’, well, except for when it stops ticking (before quantum collapse), or ticks here when everything around it is ticking to a different beat (in quantum entanglement), or ticks backwards (in antimatter), or ticks differently here to there (due to general relativity).  So if “matter is” and “time is” fail as axioms (let alone demanded or undeniable ones), all you have left is “God is”, unless you can introduce another undeniable “x is”?  “Space is” perhaps, or the “universe is”?  Hang on, if the universe is, and we are part of the universe, wouldn’t that obviate the need for God?  Alternatively, would we have to break the idea of the universe down into its natural and supernatural parts?  Woops – can’t do that, because then it wouldn’t be an axiom anymore.  So clearly there isn’t any demanded or undeniable “x is” apart from God, because that would mean He isn’t.  It still seems to me “God is” as a demanded axiom is shivering in the cold, all by it lonesome. 

Maybe I should write a very accurate treatise on why Aquinas was wrong (and sinful in suggesting you could come to God through reason?) 5 times out of 5!  Maybe you have thought about my sloppy arguments yourself Ian, and are now ready to help me write it.  I hope so.  I think we could do a much better job than did Richard Dawkins.  It might save ex-Revivalists from wasting time in their lives.  At least it could get them to focus on the basic issue here: Basic Faith versus Basic Reason.  From what you say, Gurthang, most Christians have missed the basic point of Ian’s demanded axiom and the basic point of the scriptures themselves.  Maybe you could at least help Gurthang, Ian, or is it the other way around?

Cheers,

SocialFabric



(Message edited by SocialFabric On 25/04/2014 4:36 AM)
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Re:Do you have a new framework for understanding reality?
(Date Posted:25/04/2014 8:14 AM)

 Hi Social Fabric,

I don't think anyone here has suggested that there haven't been any improvements in philosophy since Plato or Aquinas - not sure how where you got this from? I mentioned Aquinas' argument as a counterexample to your claim re taking "God is" as an axiom. Having said that, it is unfortunately fashionable these days to thumb one's nose at anything which is old, as if automatically assuming that it is false. Some of these attitudes are due to the great recent advances in science and technology, I guess. But a valid argument is valid on Thursday just as much as Tuesday, right ;) The "history" part is secondary.

And contra Stephen Hawking, I think all of us here (you included) agree that philosophy is still alive, no? Heck, the convo started with you presenting your personal philosophical view for consideration. It is fashionable of late to bash philosophy (Dawkins, Hawking, Krauss et al) but often those doing the bashing don't even realise that they themselves are "doing philosophy" rather than science, when they make these comments. Sad times in this respect :(

Regarding the axioms you claim to have demolished, I'd say that you have done nothing of the sort. Just because we now know that "time" and "matter" are quite different beasts than we thought perhaps 120 years ago, doesn't imply that there is no such thing as time or matter. Consider: suppose I thought my neighbour to be an honest person and 10 years later I find out that he'd actually been a career criminal and had only *appeared* honest to me, should I then conclude that my neighbour doesn't actually exist? ;) So, all of the axioms, God included, are safe and sound for now :). For you to demolish them you would have to present an *argument* attempting such, rather than vaguely pointing to recent scientific advances.

Lastly, why on earth would it be sinful to consider the existence (or non-existence) of God via rational thought? And why would this constitute "missing the basic point of the scriptures themselves"? I would understand why an anti-intellectual revivalist would say that, given that they abhor rational argumentation, but again, I would stress that it is not in the least un-Christian  to engage in such. Of course the scriptures were written in a culture where there was no overt speculation of this sort (Theism vs Atheism etc), and because of this the existence of God is basically presupposed. But most of us live in quite a different intellectual / cultural environment to that which produced the Bible, and debates/speculation on this topic is unavoidable.

Re Ian, I think he must be busy with work stuff since he usually responds promptly on this forum. He is more than capable of speaking for himself, but I suspect (correct me if I'm wrong Ian) that he threw the axiom "God is" into the ring, as it were, to stimulate discussion. I don't think he'd agree with your characterisation that axioms are taken prior to any logic, or that they are taken solely on faith.

Cheers,
Gurthang


(Message edited by Gurthang On 25/04/2014 8:16 AM)
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RE:Do you have a new framework for understanding reality?
(Date Posted:25/04/2014 8:19 AM)

Hi Social fabric
I didn't notice your previous post, only the latest one. Will re-read now...

Cheers,
Gurthang
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Re:Do you have a new framework for understanding reality?
(Date Posted:25/04/2014 7:59 PM)

 

Hi Gurthang (and Ian),

I don’t think Dawkins and Krauss can be charged with saying philosophy is dead, just Hawking.  Dawkins obviously wants to contribute to philosophy by debunking its mistakes.  I do too.  Krauss is also using his scientific background to tackle superstition and scientific ignorance, thus aiding philosophy.

If I had an axiom that stated “water is”, would you agree that this is an axiom, or would you dispute it? I think you would dispute it.  However, does this mean water does not exist?  Of course not!  It simply means that water does not qualify as an axiom because we now know it is made up of hydrogen and oxygen.  Likewise, matter.  We now know that matter gets its mass (its fundamental property) from subatomic particles in the presence of the Higgs field and interacting with the Higgs boson – neither of which are material/real/direct in the usual sense.  Thus, “matter is” does not qualify as an axiom in exactly the same way as “water is” does not qualify.  People have more difficulty with the concept of time because it is not material/real/direct. However, the same principle applies. If we can show that what we call time is a derivative property of interacting particles, such that the differing motions of particles induce differing states or kinds of time, then we can no longer treat time as a monolithic entity worthy of the title “axiom”. Water has the same problem.  We can see it has different forms – solid, liquid, gas – even before we know its chemical formula.  The fact of its observed different forms very much proves it is not axiomatic.  We can treat it as an axiom until we establish its formula, even while we know it is not axiomatic in reality.

Time arises out of the asymmetrical interpenetrations of matter and space.  The physicist John Wheeler once summarised Einstein’s explanation of the relationship between matter and space as follows: “Matter tells space how to curve.  Space tells matter how to move”.  It is in the telling that time emerges as a property.  The physicist John Barrow once remarked, time “is a quality that emerges when the universe gets large enough for the distinctive quantum effects to become negligible: time is something that arises concretely only in the limiting non-quantum environment”.  What he means by that is that time emerges from within the Planck Length, as we get to reality in dimensions greater than the Planck Length.

Are you now willing to concede that “matter is” is not true, that is, matter is real but it doesn’t qualify an axiom?  Likewise, even though time is not real in a material sense, but indirect or virtual and therefore a part of reality, it too does not qualify as an axiom – that is, “time is” is not true.  If you guys don’t get it by now, I fear you never will.

“Lastly, why on earth would it be sinful to consider the existence (or non-existence) of God via rational thought? And why would this constitute "missing the basic point of the scriptures themselves"?”

My comment about “sinful reason” was cast as a question in a light-hearted fashion for you to think about.  But it seems you would prefer I do the thinking for you.  Fair enough.  It would not be sinful to consider the existence of God via rational thought as long as you accept Ian’s axiom “God is” first.  This is Basic Faith.  This logic is based on Heb. 11:6 (KJV).  “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is”.  Secondly, this same verse suggests that if you come to God on the basis of reason without first accepting “God is”, then you will fail to please him and fail to do as he demands.  This would be sinful.  This is to be contrasted with your comment, “I think it would be correct to say that the vast majority of Christians (throughout history) have believed that it is possible to conclude that God exists rather than to take this as a starting point.  It follows that if “BasicFaith” is not the starting point, but rather “Basic Reason”, then the vast majority of Christians would be “Basic Sinners”.  So what is the point of Aquinas’ proofs of God if we can’t use them to “cometh to God” as Christians or potential Christians?  At best, they are there to condemn the unbelievers.  However, I am not sure Aquinas saw it this way – I suspect he just made the same axiomatic error that you do, but Ian does not do.  Ian, can you help now that I have done most of the heavy lifting for you?  Can you please explain your response to “I don't think he'd agree with your characterisation that axioms are taken prior to any logic, or that they are taken solely on faith.

Ian’s God –logic starts with the demanded presumption that “God is” and “proceeds thence”.  However, his basic Christian righteousness is the Scientific Method’s basic sin. What a conundrum.  What shall it be guys, Basic Reason or Basic Faith?

Cheers,

SocialFabric



(Message edited by SocialFabric On 25/04/2014 8:09 PM)
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Re:Do you have a new framework for understanding reality?
(Date Posted:26/04/2014 11:07 PM)

 

Hi Shoes,

I have made some updates, marked in bold type.

I just finished watching the ABC’s DVD, “Keating: The Interviews”.  It was really excellent.  I don’t want to get political, but I always liked something about that guy!

Anyway – it seems like Ian is not going to reply to my Basic Faith vs Basic Reason challenge, so I will move on to consider your derivative issue – Can we prove that ‘God is’ deductively? However, be aware Christians, if I fail to effectively refute Aquinas’ 5 proofs in my typically sloppy fashion, you cannot use the surviving proof to ‘come to God’ in a basic way anyway.  In fact, any surviving proof might be a stumbling block to your ongoing blind faith!

Alternatively, maybe you would prefer that I use William Lane Craig’s 5 proofs at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TqANWuXQ3Z0, (as perhaps advocated by Ian)?  I will consider these as well, however, I’ll rely on Wikipedia’s summaries for Aquinas’ 5 proofs.

I am prepared to attest and affirm here that I have received no help in the preparation of this post. It is all my own work, except for the references supplied.  Oh, I stumbled across Ian’s 4 claimed proofs as well at 28# and 29#, http://forum1.aimoo.com/revival/The-Ex-Christian-Chatroom/A-very-funny-few-words-of-logic-Enjoy-1-1041009.html.  You will note that my reply is very different to that of Lawrence Krauss in the earlier link.  This means my post may contain errors or could be stated more clearly.  If there are any ex-Christians who would like to contribute to the improvement of this post, that would be appreciated.  While I was aware of Aquinas’ 5 proofs some time ago, I have never studied them in detail.  I have not studied any refutations of Aquinas’ proofs except as by Dawkins (see Dawkins, Richard “The God Delusion”, Bantam Press, Sydney,2006), so this is kind of casual.  Sorry about the stuffed up numbering system - I don't know how to correct it.  Anyway, here goes…

  • The unmoved mover (not used by William Lane Craig, but is used by Ian(1)):
  1. Some things are in motion.
  2. A thing cannot, in the same respect and in the same way, move itself: it requires a mover.
  3. An infinite regress of movers is impossible.
  4. Therefore, there is an unmoved mover from whom all motion proceeds.
  5. This mover is what we call God.

My Reply:

    1. Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle says all things must be in motion, so the observation and logic in ‘a’ and ‘b’ is wrong: All things real and virtual must be in motion. This means there cannot be a first movement.  Aquinas made a scientific mistake with respect to things he thought he observed in a steady state.

    2. It is likely that the infinite quantum motion resulting from uncertainty, described by Aquinas as impossible in ‘c’, is the paradoxical outcome of the interpenetration of something and nothing and the boundary between them.  In more common terms, it is the result of the particle-wave duality of all things.

    3. Aquinas also suggests the idea of an unmoved mover (‘d’), or a ‘something for nothing’, which suggests a violation of the law of the conservation of energy.

    4. Aquinas assigns the impossible unmoved mover  to the Judeo-Christian conception of God (in ‘e’) - a god-of-the-gaps.  He could have just as easily assigned this impossibility to any other god or conception.  Thus, the logic of ‘e’ is inconclusive.

    5. The so-called proof fails and is thus rejected

       

  • The first cause (also used by William Lane Craig(2), in which he suggests that everything has a cause, the universe has a cause, and the universe’s cause is explained by God.  It is also used as part of Ian(1))
  1. Some things are caused.
  2. Everything that is caused is caused by something else.
  3. An infinite regress of causation is impossible.
  4. Therefore, there must be an uncaused cause of all that is caused.
  5. This cause is what we call God.

My Reply:

    1. Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle says you cannot know beforehand the exact position and momentum of anything simultaneously, so the idea of classically separable causes and effects is not correct in the quantum world.  Thus the observation and logic in ‘a’ and ‘b’ is wrong.  This means the idea of a first cause is incorrect. We begin with many effects and assign causes.  Aquinas made a scientific mistake with respect to causes because he thought he observed separable causes.

    2. It is likely that the inability to describe all causes with infinite certainty is the paradoxical outcome of the interpenetration of something and nothing (or the dynamic interaction of the direct and indirect, or 1 and 0) and the boundary between them.  In more common terms, it is the result of the particle-wave duality of all things.

    3. Aquinas also suggests the idea of an uncaused cause (‘d’), or a ‘something for nothing’, which suggests a violation of the law of the conservation of energy.

    4. Aquinas assigns the impossible uncaused cause to the Judeo-Christian conception of God (in ‘e’) - a god-of-the-gaps.  He could have just as easily assigned this impossibility to any other god or conception.  Thus, the logic of ‘e’ is inconclusive.

    5. The so-called proof fails and is thus rejected

       

  • The argument of contingency (also used by William Lane Craig (1), in which he suggests that the universe’s existence is explained by God – the god of the gaps.  It is also used by Ian(2) and Ian(3))
  1. Many things in the universe may either exist or not exist and are all finite. Such things are called contingent beings.
  2. It is impossible for everything in the universe to be contingent, for then there would be a time when nothing existed, and so nothing would exist now, since there would be nothing to bring anything into existence, which is clearly false.
  3. Therefore, there must be a necessary being whose existence is not contingent on any other being or beings.
  4. This being is whom we call God

My Reply:

    1. Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle says the idea of classical determinacy and contingency is incorrect, so the premise of the proof is not correct in the quantum world.  Thus the observation and logic in ‘a’ and ‘b’ is wrong.  Aquinas made a scientific mistake with respect to determinacy and contingency because he thought he observed only fully determinate contingencies.

    2. Itis likely that the inability to describe all contingencies with certainty is the paradoxical outcome of the interpenetration of something and nothing and the boundary between them.  In more common terms, it is the result of the particle-wave duality of all things.

    3. Aquinas (and Ian) also suggests the idea of a non-contingent, non-evolved or non-emergent being (in ‘c’), or a ‘something for nothing’, which means a violation of the law of the conservation of energy.

    4. Aquinas assigns the impossible non-contingent being to the Judeo-Christian conception of God (in ‘d’) - a god-of-the-gaps.  He could have just as easily assigned this impossibility to any other god or conception.  Thus, the logic of ‘e’ is inconclusive.

    5. Theso-called proof fails and is thus rejected

 

  • The argument from degree  (not used by William Lane Craig or Ian):
  1. Varying perfections of varying degrees may be found throughout the universe.
  2. These degrees assume the existence of an ultimate standard of perfection.
  3. Therefore, perfection must have a pinnacle.
  4. This pinnacle is whom we call God.

My Reply:

    1. Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle says that uncertainties and instabilities cannot be eliminated.  Thus, all objective material perfections are impossible, so the premise of the proof is not correct in the quantum world.  Thus the observation and logic in ‘a’ and ‘b’ is wrong.  Aquinas made a scientific mistake with respect to perfection because he thought his subjectively judged standard of perfection was objective.  He naively followed this ancient Greek notion, rather than testing it.

    2. It is likely that the inability to describe anything with perfection is the paradoxical outcome of the interpenetration of something and nothing and the boundary between them.  In more common terms, it is the result of the particle-wave duality of all things.

    3. Aquinas also suggests the idea of a manifest but dualistic perfection (in ‘b’ and ‘c’), which is an impossible subjective notion.

    4. Aquinas assigns the impossible dualistic perfection to the Judeo-Christian conception of God (in ‘d’) - a god-of-the-gaps.  He could have just as easily assigned this impossibility to any other god or conception.  Thus, the logic of ‘d’ is inconclusive.

    5. The so-called proof fails and is thus rejected

Perhaps you might argue that just as we can trace our universe back to the Big Bang, so we can trace the first movement, first cause, first contingency and original perfection back to the same event, the Big Bang.  Thus, it seems these four proofs regress not indefinitely, but to the first Planck Time quantum of the local Big Bang.  However, even here we must contend with Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle.  That is, things cannot become still, unaffected, nothing or perfect at the Big Bang, as Aquinas’ so-called proofs might suggest.  That is, necessary motions, effects, indeterminacy and uncertainty must extend past the local Big Bang, because energy must be conserved.  If there was stillness or nothing at the beginning of the first Plank Time quantum, there would have been nothing at the end of it.  That is, by the law of the conservation of energy, the Big Bang would not have proceeded to the next moment.

This point is not to be under-appreciated. How was the Higgs Boson found?  Primary because of the past failure to disconfirm the theory of the conservation of energy, and thus the tentative

(Message edited by SocialFabric On 03/05/2014 3:02 AM)

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Re:Do you have a new framework for understanding reality?
(Date Posted:27/04/2014 5:56 AM)

 Hi SocialFabric,

Sorry I haven't responded to your posts yet- have been flat out with work over the long weekend due to a horrible deadline :(

I think it deserves a detailed response, so hopefully I will have time on Monday.

As for Ian, I wouldn't interpret his silence as anything but him not being currently available (as he previously stated). He's never shy of debating - I suspect an urgent work matter might be preoccupying him as well, due to his line of work??

Cheers,
Gurthang
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Re:Do you have a new framework for understanding reality?
(Date Posted:29/04/2014 7:30 AM)

 Hi Social Fabric,


I broadly agree with your comments regarding agnosticism as part of a process of discovery, in post #30. I think I mis-understood your prevoius comment as advocating for strong agnosticism.

However, hopefully you can see that agnosticism is not a viable long-term position for a thinking person. I'll even try to prove this from one of your quotes:

You said:

"To put this in context with all my other statements and therefore understand it as intended, you will recall that any axiomatic stance is ok if it is treated tentatively and as a starting point for inquiry with respect to reality. However, if we treat any axiomatic plug as an end in itself, as an unquestioned life-style, then we cross a line – our axiom becomes our dogma."

So let us take this statement: "any axiomatic stance is ok if it is treated tentatively" and let's call this "Tentativism". Now I know a lot of people, agnostics, who take this Tentativism as kind of an axiom, he he. But the funny thing is, they usually don't treat Tentativism tentatively. They hold it as a self evident truth, some like a dogma. What I think, is that as soon as one acknowledges that they must take Tentativism tentatively (i.e be consistent) they will see that eventually (during their process of learning and intellectual discovery) they will probably become convinced that one or other philosophy or religion or worldview is correct. And as soon as they realise this has happened (it can sneak up on you) they will have already thrown their belief in Tentativism out of the window (Sometimes people surprise even themselves!). Indeed, if they were to force themselves to become "unconvinced" again through sheer willpower and to hold fast to their prior Tentativism, well , this would just be "holding on to a dogma", which of course is a big no-no in their former Tentativism - hence they are stuck in the exit lane from this particular philosophy :)

Basically what I'm saying is that once an agnostic has exchanged even a tiny bit of doubt, and instead starts holding to a philosophical view with any actual content (as opposed to just doubts), then agnosticism is gone on pain of self-contradiction. So it is not a long-term proposition, but it can be a useful, albeit limited and temporary holding pattern for people who have just rejected a particular worldview and who are looking around, so to speak. 

I can't respond to all your other comments due to time constraints, other than to say: Don't try to refute Aquinas before you've tried well to understand his arguments. Wikipedia won't help you here, even great philosophers such as David Hume and Bertrand Russell have misunderstood Aquinas' cosmological argument, not to mention philosophical jesters like Dawkins. Maybe read "Aquinas" by Edward Feser and then see if it can be refuted by referring to scientific developments, or if there might be more to it than that?

Happy to continue chatting, but I just can't do long posts. Lack of time being the bane of the self-employed, and all that..

Cheers, Gurthang


(Message edited by Gurthang On 29/04/2014 7:32 AM)
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Re:Do you have a new framework for understanding reality?
(Date Posted:30/04/2014 5:46 AM)

 

Hi Gurthang,

Maybe we could get back to Aquinas and the Uncertainty Principle later.  In terms of agnosticism, I was arguing that any axiomatic life-stance is not a viable long term position for a rational person.

However, let’s take a step back.  How does the Scientific Method work?  We need to be familiar with this to understand the broader Emergent Method I am advocating for both moral and scientific endeavour.

  1. We start with common sense, an axiom, or perhaps even a subconscious belief recently made consciously explicit

  2. We diligently and transparently test the belief through both competition and cooperation

  3. If we can’t disconfirm the belief, we accept it as a tentative and contingent truth because of the systemic boundary problem mentioned earlier

  4. We move on, perhaps using our new knowledge to develop a new technology or systemic enhancement

  5. We gain other knowledge from other areas that through a kind of moral incongruence or scientific incoherence causes us to revisit our tentatively trusted belief

  6. We form a new belief or hypothesis based on our new knowledge or hunch

  7. We then go back to step 2 and advance around what we used to call the Kuhnian or Scientific Revolution again

That is, knowledge emerges, because of its interpenetration with everything else!

Thus, the problem with the axiomatic life-stance of any description, not just agnosticism, is the unwillingness to keep the revolution going.  We don’t have to get hung up on the logical or theoretical problem of what you have called Tentativism, either as an agnostic or anything else.  I don't see a kind of halting Tentativism as the axiom of the typical agnostic or any other axiomatic life-stance holder, perhaps because of the natural delay built in by the ultimately unstoppable Scientific or Emergent Revolution.

What we have to do is a dance of sorts, between faith in our tentative current knowledge and faith in what reality is suggesting to us might be a superior future knowledge.  We can compare this dance to the shuffling of genes in the population that over the long term leads us to better adaptation with our environment.  The dance is a kind of shuffle if you like.  Just as wrong as endlessly rejecting current knowledge (your Tentativism?), is to endlessly reject the revision of that knowledge in the light of new experience in a changing environment.  In a similar analogy, we can think of how we shuffle elected parties to form new governments based on their policies that hopefully improve on average over time.  Policies improve through their political struggle with the environment to survive.

Therefore, the Emergent Method, or the method of emergent monism that I would advocate, is to learn how to move between the two extremes, boundaries or limits of faith and scepticism in an antinomic shuffle that best promotes our emergent wellbeing.

No rational decision can come to resolution in a world of imperfect information without a leap-of-faith compromise, just as a purchase decision in the supermarket cannot be fully rationally analysed due to imperfect information and lack of time. Eventually we have to make the emotional leap of faith and exercise our volition – we make the risky purchase decision, pay for the product and proceed home to continue our busy lives.

However, there is a difference between this kind of leap of faith and axiomatic blind faith (either as atheist, agnostic or believer).  It is in the level of blindness.  Dogmatic blind faith takes a stance as to what may or may not be behind the veil whereas faith in life-and-being here-and-now does not.  For instance, religious blind faith in an unprovable afterlife cannot be directly and objectively tested by experience (ever) while we (any of us) remain alive.  This is very much unlike a product purchase that proves later to be poor value-for-money, or a naturally selected gene mutation that later gets reversed in a modified environment.

The kind of dogmatic blind faith we are talking about here is missing the vital feedback path we see every day informing nature’s initially blind but self-bootstrapping advances. If axiomatic blind faith cannot teach us anything via feedback while we live on this side of the veil, it cannot contribute to our enlightenment, personally, socially, objectively, or even subjectively.  The subjective and axiomatic life-stance models we build up in our minds over time can only reinforce our blindness.

This is perhaps a very disturbing idea.  If living nature followed a concept of axiomatic blind faith, evolution would come to a halt and eventually life would come to a halt as the non-living environment continued to change.  Axiomatic blind faith is elitist in the sense that it separates the living from the all-inclusive and self-contained concept of interpenetrating life.  Axiomatic blind faith presents the living with a discontinuity or incompleteness that is not present in reality.

So what is your choice, axiomatic blind faith or Basic Reason?

Cheers,

SocialFabric



(Message edited by SocialFabric On 30/04/2014 6:06 AM)
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Re:Do you have a new framework for understanding reality?
(Date Posted:02/05/2014 6:06 PM)

Hi ShOes and others,

I think I might make this my last post because the rate of response is too low for me to keep it interesting.  Nevertheless, I think I owe you ShOes, one last response regarding determinism and the emergence of free will.

Determinism says antecedent events determine all future things.  To determinists, it would not matter much whether these antecedent events were linearly deterministic or every-now-and-then quantum-mechanically stochastic – and most of us would probably agree.  However, to hard determinists this means there can be no room for free will if all effects are caused or locked in by prior events.  In effect, the argument suggests that if there are nil independent causes, there can be no freedom, harking back to what I believe to be, by Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle, the faulty ancient Greek idea of a Prime Mover or First Cause.  Hard determinists would also add that while humans can make choices, they cannot bear a moral responsibility for those choices because they were locked in by antecedent causes.  If they are right, there would be little room for humanity being the moral species, at least not by free choice.  The basis for self-actualisation via the Emergent Method would seem undermined.

On the one hand, self-aware consciousness seems illusory and on the other, antecedent cause and effect seems to drive everything we do.  On top of this, many neuroscientists quote the findings of Libet’s experiments, in which “researchers recorded mounting brain activity related to the resultant action as many as three hundred milliseconds before subjects reported the first awareness of conscious will to act”.[i]  That is, they assure us that the subconscious instinctive brain kicks in before any conscious neo-cortical functions can have an effect.  What we perceive as a conscious decision is in fact a subconscious one, only claimed to be conscious by the ego’s deluded narratives.  At best, according to Dennett and others who hold this view, we have “free won’t”.  That is, consciousness’s acquiescence is often required for asubconscious decision to flow intoaction.  However, even this notion has an obvious flaw to the hard determinist, because both consciousness and subconsciousness are set by antecedent events. So what room can there be for free will, human moral agency and a non-illusory introspective consciousness from a neurophysiological perspective?

Richard Dawkins (“The Selfish Gene”, Oxford University Press, USA, 1990 (originally 1976), Chapter 11, Note 8, also available on the internet) supports the idea of a soft determinism.  He is clearly someonewho thinks we can take moral responsibility for our futures, through “conscious foresight” or “our capacity to simulate the future in imagination”.  This imagination is also the essence of the benefit of consciousness - as Einstein once said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge”.  Likewise, Dennett describes a neurophysiology in which a kind of soft determinism, or an evolutionary compatibilism, is possible. He suggests we can have determinism and a version of free will as well, although at the cost of a possibly illusory conscious self-awareness.[ii]  I would suggest that Dennett’s approach can support a view of conscious self-awareness that is not necessarily labelled as illusory, but indirect, virtual and subjective[iii]instead.

This would be a view in which our actions are dependent on our environment.  We build a mental map of that environment in our brains, attenuate certain features of it and amplify others, perhaps in conscious anticipation of likely futures.  As we apply our values to that modified environment within, merged with our conscious observations, it becomes our own local reality and an emergent cause of our future subconscious computations and behaviours.  That is, as we through many iterations of Hofstadter’s strange loops of self[iv], act on the largely self-generated and  self-referencing subjective mental model rather than actual reality, we find some level of apparent independence or pseudo-freedom within reality, which I prefer to label emergent rather than illusory or independent.  However, there is more…

I suspect this emergent freedom is provided to us from the self-constraints of the body’s homeostatic systems.  These systems seem to say to subconsciousness and consciousness, ‘you can do whatever you please within these upper and lower limits, but if you stray towards these limits, we are going to jolt you back towards our middle paths’.  Actually I suspect the operation of the body’s homeostatic systems is more like a continuum of biological influence that tapers off to its lowest level at the point of the brain-body’s optimal environmental operation.  I also suspect subconsciousness in turn has its own set of psychological influences that drive us to its middle paths of operation as well.  Finally, I suspect consciousness has its own set of sociological influences as well, which drive us towards its middle paths of operation.

Thus, what is left is an area or island of perhaps near-optimal operation over which there is little behavioural preference coming from our underlying systems of triune self.  Here within this oasis there is room for probabilistic and unique behaviours within bell-curve limits.  Note:I don’t make an appeal to quantum indeterminacy for this probabilistic behaviour to operate.  This unique behaviour simply relies on unique time and place.  However, the uniqueness of every member of every species ultimately relies on quantum indeterminacy.

It is here, within the operating boundaries of our triune systems of self, that unique personality, making unique decisions, can emerge with age and experience.  It begins as more bland personality traits in childhood and becomes more colourful in adulthood.  As this unique personality emerges, it affects those conscious, subconscious and homeostatic systems, and their limits.  In this fashion, a partly indeterminate uniqueness fully governed by reality’s interpenetrating monism gives rise to our subjective moral agency, just as it has also given rise to our universe[v].

I would agree that of themselves, unique behaviours within bell-curve limits do not equate with the common notion of free will.  However, this uniqueness is the basis of the psychosocial claim of free will, that just like any other such claim, is transformed into objective legitimacy by its worldly success.  That is, the explicit worldly value of our claims to sentience, self and freedom is the basis and evidence of our moral agency.  Thus, free will requires a transformation from unique, self-aware claims to self-aware success through a kind of environmental acquiescence.  The environment is thus our necessary partner in our emergent agency.

Our interrelationship with the environment at various levels and through various emergent loops enables our objective moral agency.  We don’t have an independent freedom from the world, but rather an interdependent freedom with the world!  We cannot make our claims to self in an environmental vacuum, but nor can we claim a self if we cannot observe ourselves within the environment.  This is an extremely important point.  There is a kind of ‘separation of duties’ between our minds and environments that enable their combination to develop. Without this separation of duties, no monistic emergence of new properties is possible.  Further, in the case of human agency, all that was initially required was the emergence of a systemic loop of self-observation or self-reflection.  I think Damasio (2010) describes this process brilliantly.[vi]

We also need to be free enough in our self-aware ‘inner world’ to make mistakes, or faulty claims, and to learn from those mistakes after environmental feedback.  Thus, the self expands and emerges just as the universe expands and emerges, and for similar reasons.  In both cases, it is because there is an asymmetrical and interpenetrating dance between that which tells the other how to ‘do’ (space and our environment) and that which tells the other how to ‘be’ (matter and the self that claims its free will).  The expansion and emergence of self is not essentially within steps of Planck Length and Planck Time, but steps as small as Libet Gaps.  For humans, it is the Libet Gap that enforces the separation of duties between doing and being and thus enables the monistic free will of self.  Our partial success in the environment underpins the idea that the self is at least a limited illusion.  However, the independence of the self from our environment and its determinism is definitely an illusion.

This separation of duties that is essential to the emergence of free will is like the political version in the USA that separates between executive or doing powers and legislative or being powers.  That is, the legislative powers tell the executive powers how to do, like space and self’s free will, whereas the executive powers tell the legislative powers how to be, like matter and the self’s environment (internal and external). If the separation breaks down, the opportunity for the emergence of new political solutions is greatly diminished and the opportunity for despotism and political stagnancy is greatly enhanced.  

Exactly the same is true of free will.  That is, as we allow the self’s environment to work in a way that is unhampered by dogma, yet still within the bounds of our tentative knowledge, it can enhance the adaptive emergence of our wellbeing.  Likewise, if we allow free will to operate in a way unhampered by material constraints except those proven to support wellbeing, it can also work to enhance our material standing.

Each side of the coin (doing and being, or direct and indirect, or something and nothing) needs the other to operate: Take either side away and emergence collapses.  Put both together in a dynamic asymmetrical arrangement and everything emerges, including the time that marks the dynamic asymmetry. It is important to note that this arrangement is not a dualistic arrangement, but more akin to a bisection or bifurcation.  That is, self is not independent from the environment with which it interpenetrates. When you add self and environment together, there is completeness, and when you split the two, there is incompleteness.  This means that the only true and complete model of self is not triune, but quadune; the fourth part represented by the environment!  Our free will is made freer as we interpenetrate with the environment more fully, not as we seek elusive independence from it.  To make our free will freer, we have to ditch dogma, most especially an axiomatic dogma...

Cheers,

It has been fun.

SocialFabric


[ii] See Dennett, Daniel C. “Freedom Evolves”, Penguin Books, USA, 2004

[iii]Some would argue here that we have moved away from an objective neurophysiological discussion when we start to talk about subjectivity, which I think Dennett addresses well with his idea of heterophenomenology.  See Dennett, Daniel C. “Consciousness Explained”, Penguin Books, USA, 1993

[iv]See Hofstadter, Douglas “I Am a StrangeLoop”, Basic Books, USA, 2007

[v]See Krauss, Lawrence M. "A Universe from Nothing", Free Press, New York, 2012

[vi]See Damasio, Antonio “Self Comes to Mind”, Vintage Books, New York, 2010





(Message edited by SocialFabric On 02/05/2014 7:07 PM)
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Re:Do you have a new framework for understanding reality?
(Date Posted:04/05/2014 9:17 PM)

 Hi Social Fabric.

You wrote: "To make our free will freer, we have to ditch dogma, most especially an axiomatic dogma..."

Quick question: would you regard the Principle of Non-contradiction as a dogmatic axiom which must be ditched, or would this one miraculously be an exception to the rule?

If it was to be ditched, then we would also have to ditch the whole of logic, and mathematics, and that would mean getting rid of science too. Do you see the irony? Axioms and dogmas can never be totally ditched, except by those who are philosophically naive and non-introspective. Even to think a single thought means to implicitly accept certain axioms.

I think that's the crux of our disagreement. One of them, anyway.

Cheers, Gurthang.
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Re:Do you have a new framework for understanding reality?
(Date Posted:07/05/2014 3:57 AM)

 Hi Ian,


Sincerely, are you ok?  I hope so.  Is the website administration ok?  I noticed I have not been getting email messages of posts to this blog since 30/4, more than two weeks ago.  I assume Sh0es and others haven't got email messages either.


Regards,

SocialFabric

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Re:Do you have a new framework for understanding reality?
(Date Posted:07/05/2014 4:03 AM)

 Hi Gurthang,


Is there a difference between a principle and an axiom?  If yes, then there is my first answer.


Are dogmas reasonable?  If no, then there is my second answer.


Cheers,

SocialFabric 

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Re:Do you have a new framework for understanding reality?
(Date Posted:07/05/2014 4:12 AM)

Hi Sh0es,

Thought I'd try to give a more complete picture of my monistic explanation of emergent free will.  I'll try to finish on a more up-beat note that doesn't focus attention back on the main issue so far (the problem with the demanded axiom, "God is").

Our freedom arises from the use of information and the construction and organisation of symbols within the brain and body, providing each of us our own ‘coloured world’ that includes our subjective and heuristic evaluations and judgments.  Consciousness thus gives us an opportunity to limit our futures.  It does not give us an ability to directly change our present.

This subjective and indirect rather than illusory view of consciousness (that is, as an emergent process within Gaia[i] rather than as an independent object) again suggests that what is happening in consciousness is a lot like what Dennett describes as happening in Conway’s Life World game.[ii] In the game, programmers compete to create 2D entities (moving arrangements of blinking pixels on a computer screen) that must retain their shape to survive encounters with other 2D entities.  The programmers thus act like the trial-and-error process of artificial and natural selection in the real world.

2D shapes seem to slide across the PC screen but in fact are just a series of blinking pixels. Nevertheless, the behaviour of e.g. 2D ‘gliders’ can be described in their own space/time terms, such as how they negotiate a barrier or an on coming‘eater’ or ‘puffer train’.  Their behaviours do not have to be described in terms of the basic space/time of blinking screen pixels, and even if they are, this seems to lack insight into the information (or understanding) being manipulated at the higher 2D-entity level.  A glider is an ephemeral manifold of pixels that displays properties or behaviours in its own right (separate from individual pixels) in its own level of space/time without contradiction of processes turning on and off pixels at lower levels.  It is this behaviour across its non-near-present time and non-near-here space that gives each glider personality or soul in its normal, pixelated environment.  By the same analogy, the blinking pixels in the here-and-now grant the glider its spirit.  The Life game also seems to be a very good analogy for the neurophysiology and behaviour of consciousness in terms of its fleeting manifolds of blinking neurons, etc.

In the Life game, a new and more complex reality with more complex self-constraints – the 2D world of seemingly interacting entities - is emerging from an old and simpler reality with simpler self-constraints – the blinking pixel world.  This is much like how we saw the world of molecules emerge from and coexist with the simpler world of quarks and gluons in the early universe.  In either case, the subjective world of consciousness or the new world of Conway’s Life Game, are the emergent properties of the more complex arrangements of the world an illusion? More carefully, would we call the interactions of electromagnetism giving rise to molecules an illusion simply because their arrangements emerged out of the prior nuclear soup of our early universe?

For instance, is the emergent property of the wetness of arranged water molecules, an illusion? Would it be right to call gluons and quarks the real stuff of the universe and water molecules something less real?  If not, then perhaps we have a right to call the more complex gliders of the Life game and the process that brings them about legitimate, non-illusory and somewhat distinguishable from the blinking pixels of the older and simpler but underlying reality.  By the same logic, we might call the introspective world of looping subroutines created within consciousness a quasi-independent yet fully embedded and more complex world that is emergent from the brain’s neurons, cortices, molecules, etc. but non-illusory.

Hofstadter asks the very pertinent question here – “who shoves whom around inside the cranium?”[iii] Is it consciousness pushing around neurons or is it neurons pushing around consciousness?  Besides environmental influences, is it water’s structure that pushes around its component atoms, or is it the component atoms that make water’s structure?  In terms of John Wheeler’s characterisation of General Relativity (matter tells space how to curve [take position]; space tells matter how to move [take velocity]) and Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle (nil movement is impossible; a beginning cause is impossible), I think we would now agree that the answer is, both.  However, because of the apparent self-contained nature of the universe or Gödel’s Incompleteness Theorems, perhaps we could further argue that this picture is incomplete – Gaia incorporates its water-components and its water-arrangements.  Water is a manifestation of Gaia rather than something independent of it. Nevertheless, this view is not necessarily helpful when wanting to understand how water or consciousness exists or emerged.  However, it is helpful in encapsulating the paradox in Hofstadter’s question.

Helping to answer Hofstadter’s question at the more complex level of human behaviour, Dennett uses the term “evitability” to describe our emergent freedom of choice.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freedom_Evolves (accessed 2012), referring to Dennett (2004), says Dennett’s definition of evitability is, “the ability of an agent to anticipate likely consequences and act to avoid undesirable ones. Evitability is entirely compatible with, and actually requires, human action being deterministic”.  My suggested improvement of the last line would read, “Evitability is entirely compatible with, and actually requires, human action being deterministic and probabilistic (just as is the rest of reality)”.  This revised definition makes allowance for quantum indeterminacy, but perhaps more importantly, the indeterminacy of the Libet thought-gap, i.e. the approximately 300ms between subconscious stirrings of an act and its conscious awareness. However, the agent could be anything from insects to humans.  More complex and adaptive living systems will thus possess more evitability than less well-equipped ones.

Inevitability speaks of the future arising from the present whereas determinism speaks of the past giving rise to the present.  Quantum mechanics seems to support the idea that the future can be non-deterministic and in fact is non-determined, whereas the past is determined or locked-in. Past and future seem different. The nature of the present is perhaps less clear – but most would agree it is overwhelmingly determined by past events, even if indeterminate within the limits of Planck length, Planck time and perhaps for humans, Libet thought-gaps.

Are there real options or opportunities to affect the future in a quantum mechanical world?  You cannot change the past.  However, can you change the future?  Well, whether the present is deterministic or not, we cannot. We can only affect the present. In essence, past and future are just constructs of the pre-frontal lobes that explain reality’s ‘becoming’ in the here-and-now quite successfully. Nevertheless, what an agent or computer program can change is something anticipated to happen.  That is, we can modify an internal or external program (an extended phenotype embedded within a piece of technology if you like) to allow for new contingencies before they happen.  That is all.

Dennett claims determinism does not imply inevitability, i.e. he wants to show that determinism allows for evitability, or the ability of an emergent agent to anticipate likely futures and act to avoid the unwanted ones and thus mould wanted ones. However, surely this view is a little simplistic or misleading.  If subconscious action is determined by unconscious chemicals and nerves, then surely conscious action is determined by subconscious action too.  As we have seen, this is largely true.  The secret to understanding our emerging evitability and agency is not to see it as independent from the environment, but as a manifestation of the monist and largely deterministic environment in us, via its most basic property of separating being from doing, as discussed in the prior post.

Can we describe a simple deterministic world in which there is such evitability?  Well yes – we see this in chess games and game theory all the time.  ‘I have learned to act in the future in this way, even mechanistically, if you act in that way’.  We have evolved to be good game players, competitors, avoiders, future-modellers, or future-trappers.  This is the essential source of our agency.  All our largely deterministic loops are evolving to improve our evitability, on average.

Yet parts without agency make up moral agents, and these sub-atomic parts are subject to cold and monistic determinism (with the occasional stochastic twist).  Thus, it seems we have a soul or consciousness but it is made of lots of subroutines or tiny automatons of pixelated spirit.  How can this be?  This is like asking, ‘How can a TV screen be perceived as a beautiful landscape when all its parts are not what lies within that landscape, but are mere plastics, metals, ceramics, electronics and blinking pixels?’  The answers are in the TV’s ability to render various scenes compatible with human systems or loops that create or enhance consciousness, and not just in the reductionist particle physics of the TV’s components. Put another way, uncertainty and emergent possibility arises from the asymmetrical wave-particle arrangements of all things, not the components alone.

This was also true of the Life game and its competing programmers, who may be compared to a set of beneficial mutations brought about through the blind agitations of a statistical and pixilated vastness.  That is, it is the emergent configurations and combinations of parts and processes (being and doing) that bring about the immaterial properties and behaviours of a system in monistic reality.  In this sense, human consciousness is very much like a virtual reality machine. Just as Deutsch[iv] suggests, consciousness enables us to act like the hero in various subjectively construed environments.

As in a contest of two competing computer programs, whereby the two programmers can learn off of each other to write better code to avoid check-mate, so genes and memes learn by experience (and competition/cooperation).  More correctly, the genes and memes struggle to survive and those that succeed, because they are compatible with environmental interrelationships, reproduce and those that fail in their struggles reproduce less often.  The population that develops thus has better-adapted genes and memes built into it. We thus evolve a level of success, freedom or evitability, not available to our predecessors, in a manner perhaps often rudely ignorant of conscious choice, but not always.  Consciousness affects our choices when spiked by instinctive emotion and our choices affect our development from within our deep ecology.

Now we have an explosive growth of evitability or avoidability in our modern world due to the emergence of language and memes.  It has taken a lot of competence (blindly learned and retained strategies) and evolutionary R and D to achieve this.  Memes and the socialisation of narratives have been able to bring about change much quicker than genes were able to do in the past.  Memes increased the speed of winnowing out failures so we could reinforce more quickly any new competencies in our neuronal networks. These competencies also include moral competencies in reasoning and decision-making – and thus moral responsibilities. 

To whom do we ultimately hold out this moral responsibility?  I would argue it is to Gaia herself, if anywhere, and to the values that maximise her sustainable wellbeing and robustness.  More and more, Gaia is of our own making, so more and more, we owe this responsibility to our most enlightened selves – hence the idea of enlightened selfishness mentioned in my first post.

This perhaps makes us ask, what is learning from the point of view of consciousness itself?  It is the ability to reflect on what we believe and retain those multi-level reflections in order to modify the mind’s programs or subroutines such that they deal with contingencies in more successful ways in the future.  Nevertheless, how can we modify the program?  We do it by trial-and-error.  We reflect, think, feel, choose, act and practice.  We run the trials repeatedly, hopefully until patterns of success arise in and are reinforced in our neuronal circuits, memes, vremes and subconsciousness. As we indirectly modify subconsciousness, we can modify and rebel against our mores and taboos or what Damasio (2010) perhaps calls our Core-selves.

In summary, we can picture a simple draft model of thinking, learning and evitability as follows:

"New inputs from the environment (including all our internal and external stakeholders),

" Lead to newly detected (and largely non-conscious) patterns, which

" Lead to new or modified (and largely subconscious) belief reinforcement, which

" Produce and focus (mostly subconscious) feelings, emotions and intentions, which

" Lead to (more conscious) choices between beliefs or explanations or hypotheses according to their subjective convenience, fit, efficacy or ability to add consciously measured value, which

" Lead to considered acts or behaviours before or as contingencies arise, which

" Lead to outcomes in the environment, which

" Lead to new inputs from the environment, and so on around the loop"

Note: Every stage of this loop can feed back to earlier ones; there is no intention here to make the process a linear one.

This simple draft model of increasing evitability is algorithmic, recursive and naturalistic. It is also asymmetrical and emergent with respect to the biological and sociological environment without breaking its deterministic framework at the level of individual neurons within the cranium. Yet the sense of conscious self and subjective freedom can still emerge in this model over time.  ‘I am a strange loop’ indeed!  The simple message we can gain from this draft model is that the more we expose ourselves to new opportunities to learn, the more our evitability and personally-objective agency can grow.  Our moral agency is not in our parts, it is also in our arrangements of those parts across space and time.  Yet those arrangements can indirectly influence those parts!

One other point that arises here is the evolution or emergence of new causes and new risks. Can we keep up with the risks our evitability engenders?  It seems to depend to some extent on the proficiency and efficiency of our explanations of the cosmos.  Yet whatever is the answer - the self, evitability, freedom and morality evolve.

It seems that the more we learn about consciousness, the more we will learn about evolution and space-time, and vice versa.  For this reason, it is my guess, along with DeutschActions

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Re:Do you have a new framework for understanding reality?
(Date Posted:07/05/2014 6:04 AM)

 Hi SocialFabric (and others??)

There is definitely something strange going on with the forum. For example, I can see your replies to Shoes, but I cannot see any of Shoes' posts. Has Shoes been posting, or are you guys communicating mostly via private messages? No dramas either way, I'm just trying to make sense of what is going on.

Also, my latest post to you was visible to me in the thread but didn't come up at all in the chronological feed (I.e not visible on the "Today" page which is the one I usually check).

Is there any moderator around? Unkoolman are you there?

Cheers,
Gurthang
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Re:Do you have a new framework for understanding reality?
(Date Posted:07/05/2014 6:30 AM)

 Hi Social Fabric,

An axiom would be a fundamental statement upon which a logical argument is built, right? Generally, things picked for axiom candidates are things which are considered self-evidently true by all parties involved; if this condition is satisfed, the argument can then be laid out and analysed. (There are other methods, such as Ian chucking in "God is" for the purposes of stimulating some discussion with someone who obviously disagrees he he).

But then when you disputed some other axioms ("matter is" and "time is") it seems that you were using the term axiom to mean something a little bit different. It seems you were claiming that "matter is" and "time is" are faulty axioms because we now know that these two concepts are not actually the fundamental aspects of reality. However, simply to make the axiomatic claim "matter is", for example, is not to say that it is the fundamental aspect of the universe, rather only to make the observation about it existence (or lack thereof).

In logic, arguments cannot proceed from the fundamental aspect of the universe anyway, since even if we already knew what that fundamental aspect was, we would know it as a valid conclusion of a rational argument, not as it's starting point, right?

On the contrary, arguments often proceed from quite mundane and self-evident starting points which are often non-controversial.

One of those which has generally been held non-controversial (at least in philosophy in the West) is the principle of non-contradiction. It is an axiom underpinning all rigorous logical thought. It is a dogma of sorts, he he. But if you deny it, then pretty much anything can be proven by logical argument. It was Bertrand Russell who said that if 1=0, he could then  prove that he was the Pope ;)

http://www.physicsforums.com/showthread.php?t=3694

Do you accept the principle of non-contradiction? Or do you think that recent scientific discoveries and theories (such as quantum mechanics and its implications) somehow destroy even this fundamental axiom?

My claim is that if we chuck non-contradiction out of the window, then this immediately destroys logic and maths, which in turn destroys science (and philosophy and theology and anything else which relies on rational underpinning). And if that is the case, then what is the point of sitting around even talking about any of this stuff? ;)

Cheers, Gurthang



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Re:Do you have a new framework for understanding reality?
(Date Posted:08/05/2014 4:49 AM)

 

Hi Gurthang,

Axioms are normally applied to mathematical or philosophical systems of thought.  When applied to the physical world, they are equivalent to scientific hypotheses, which, after testing, we try to deconstruct through reductionist techniques, etc. or directly reject.  This physical testability often doesn’t exist in the mathematical or philosophical world. This is what makes the axioms of “matter is”, “time is” or “God is” different.  These ideas can be tested in direct and indirect reality.

As I said earlier, I do not object to the axiom “God is”, or an axiom relating to the principle of non-contradiction – as a starting point of investigation.  What I object to is to demand an axiom like “God is” or “A is A” (the law of identity applicable to reality, rather than the logical law of non-contradiction) without allowing the so-called axiom to be scrutinised by reality.

When we state the principle of non-contradiction as it applies to things in the axiomatic form “A is A”, we find it is very much strained by findings in the quantum world to do with indeterminacy, etc.  However, that just means we must modify the axiom until we understand more.  Are you or Ian prepared to do that for “God is”?  If not, then this is the heart of my objection. It is not an objection to the axiom per se, but how you choose to hold and deal with the axiom.

When we modify an axiom such as “A is A, or Things cannot be Contradicted in direct and indirect reality except:

  • When we count zero quantity, in which case zero oranges can become zero apples

  • Before quantum collapse or in the case of quantum entanglement

  • When a subatomic particle interacts with the Higgs Field to inherit mass

  • For its complement in antimatter

  • When the universe expands so quickly that matter-antimatter pairs are not annihilated in the normal, fleeting way – in which case something comes from nothing, but still preserves conservation of energy

  • When we use imaginary/complex numbers to find engineering solutions to real problems that would be inaccessible to us any other way

  • Etc.”

- then it is obvious our simple axiom is no longer simple – that is, you can’t intuitively get to all these observations or ideas from the statement “A is A”.  It indicates that there is something wrong with the axiom.  It no longer satisfies Ockham’s razor, so we should be wary.  To me, it suggests that emergence from relative disorder in direct and indirect reality is a better explanation of what we observe or are likely to observe than the axiom “A is A”.  It suggests to me the ‘principle of the non-contradiction of all things’ is not really getting to the nub of the issue even though it works well most of the time.  In fact, it could mislead us in new areas of inquiry, which is perhaps an axiom’s most important test.  It doesn’t mean we need supernatural explanations that defy the conservation of energy (that until now has served us well, even under intense scrutiny).

The failure of the axiom to remain a simple explanation of reality usually means a paradigm shift is in play and we are about to undergo another round in a Kuhnian Revolution.  This is exactly what happened with the introduction of Quantum Theory in the early twentieth century.  Its successes had huge implications for both Ancient Greek ideas of “First Cause” and the equivalent of “A is A” that influenced Aquinas, William Craig and Ian so deeply.

Now that the law of identity in reality has been challenged, what does this say to you about the law of non-contradiction in logic, or the related law of the excluded middle?  What implications are there in terms of logic and the excluded middle when it comes to:

  • complex numbers,

  • Mandelbrot sets,

  • chaos theory,

  • fractals that can have dimensions between 0 and 1, 1 and 2, etc.,

  • fuzzy logic variables that may have a truth value degree between 0 and 1, or

  • Gödel’s theorems that suggests a system of logic cannot be both consistent and syntactically complete?

You could argue some of the details, but it suggests to me that due to uncertainty, nothing is as simple or 'common sense' as it seems.  It suggests to me that you can’t make sense of this if you choose to continue to look at reality exclusively from within the classical ‘principles of non-contradiction’ paradigm.  Do you think mathematicians like Cantor, Poincaré, or Mandelbrot could have been so successful in their careers if they viewed the world through only this paradigm?

Cheers,

SocialFabric



(Message edited by SocialFabric On 08/05/2014 5:01 AM)
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Re:Do you have a new framework for understanding reality?
(Date Posted:10/05/2014 3:21 AM)

 

Hi Gurthang,

 “(There are other methods, such as Ian chucking in "God is" for the purposes of stimulating some discussion with someone who obviously disagrees he he)”.

I don’t agree that this was Ian’s motivation.  My basis for this is Ian’s earlier serious discussion at 28# and 29#, http://forum1.aimoo.com/revival/The-Ex-Christian-Chatroom/A-very-funny-few-words-of-logic-Enjoy-1-1041009.html. 

I don’tagree with your interpretation of what Ian intended with his claimed axioms “matter is” and “time is” either.  In context, I did understand them to be claims about fundamental aspects of the universe, and Ian did not deny this understanding.  As you suggest, if this was not his intention, then his statements would have been ‘mundane’ and not worthwhile or sensible.

“One of those which has generally been held non-controversial (at least in philosophy in the West) is the principle of non-contradiction. It is an axiom underpinning all rigorous logical thought. It is a dogma of sorts, he he”.

I don’tagree the principle is a dogma at all. That doesn’t depend on the content of the principle itself, but the way you choose to hold or deal with the principle.

Finally, are you aware of the impact of Gödel’s theorems on Bertrand Russell’s book, ‘Principia Mathematica’?  As the Wikipedia article on ‘Kurt Gödel’ puts it, Gödel’s “theorems ended a half-century of attempts, beginning with the work of Frege and culminating in Principia Mathematica and Hilbert's formalism, to find a set of axioms sufficient for all mathematics”. That is, Gödel won, and Russell lost, the argument about the basis of all mathematics.

I hope you don’t find my rebuttals offensive.  They are not intended to be.  They are intended in the sense of 'presenting a new framework for understanding reality'.

Cheers,

SocialFabric



(Message edited by SocialFabric On 10/05/2014 3:29 AM)
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Re:Do you have a new framework for understanding reality?
(Date Posted:11/05/2014 9:16 PM)

 Hi Social Fabric,

Don't worry about offending me, that's a pretty hard thing to do! :) I'll try to reply tonight. I read through some of that other debate you linked to, and it seems that unfortunately Ian also misunderstands Aquinas' "First Way" argument. Tsk tsk tsk Ian! (now if that comment doesn't make him appear, then there really must be something wrong ;)

I'm well aware of Russell, Hilbert, and Godel and their work, but I think it hangs together in a different way than you say. Will try to illustrate it tonight. I even think if one combined Einstein's General Relativity and compared with Godel's mathematical discoveries, one could elucidate a powerful argument against a materialist worldview. The blessings of the discoveries of the early 20th century :)

But first I should address your comments in your latest posts. Alas, lunchtime is at an end... will give it a shot tonight.

Cheers, Gurthang
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Re:Do you have a new framework for understanding reality?
(Date Posted:13/05/2014 9:05 AM)

 Hi Social Fabric,

Better late than never, as they say.

I've been having a bit of a re-read and think about our interactions to date, and have come to the conclusion that our philosophical views are opposed to such a degree at a fundamental level, that it will not be fruitful to continue discussing. In an ideal world I'd try to persuade you of some fundamental issues, but it could be a very protracted process and I'm also short on time. So, I'll make this my last post, with some comments on the issues you raised in your latest posts, but I won't go into too much detail re any new arguments etc..

Re the principle of non-contradiction - if you really don't subscribe to this as a valid principle in logic, then for me this is a showstopper in terms of discussion. You said: "You could argue some of the details, but it suggests to me that due to uncertainty, nothing is as simple or 'common sense' as it seems. It suggests to me that you can’t make sense of this if you choose to continue to look at reality exclusively from within the classical ‘principles of non-contradiction’ paradigm." I would say that none of the issues you raised (complex numbers, imaginary numbers et al) manage to destroy the principle of non-contradiction in logic or mathematics.

The reason I originally asked whether you subscribed to this fundamental axiom was that you were presenting a theory which contradicted itself and I was wondering whether you were aware of this and whether it bothered you or not. You were suggesting that "axiomatic dogma" was bad, yet you yourself were introducing so many assertions in your exposition of the"Emergent worldview" that your list of axioms was proliferating on the one hand, while on the other hand you were advocating skepticism viz axioms and rejecting any simple axioms anyone else brought up.

But now it even stranger. When I ask you whether you subscribe to the principle of non-contradiction as an axiom, you seem to say that sometimes it does apply (I presume it you believe it applies whenever you make an assertion, otherwise why make an assertion since it could simultaneously mean the exact opposite of itself), but you also attempt to show examples of when this principle doesn't apply. But this doesn't help your position at all, because you are simply pushing the problem one step back. You now need another principle, which tells you when the principle of non-contradiction is valid and when it isn't. Which would prove my main point: You can't just jettison axioms, since in the process of doing so you've just managed to create a new one. One way or another, you're stuck with them.

Put simply, it is impossible to "ditch dogma", for in doing so often the person is simultaneously adopting another dogma. The only way out of this is to become a vegetable and not participate in the rational sphere. Any other option, strong agnosticism included, involves adherence to some kind of dogma or axiom

The whole Godel/Hilbert thing plays neatly into this. Consider: Godel didn't destroy Hilbert's program of mathematical formalism by striking at axioms or demolishing them at all. On the contrary, Godel proved that any consistent mathematical system can never be complete in and of itself. In other words, there will always be more axioms needed and the mathematical edifice will always grow, literally to infinity. If you take Hilbert's program/attempt/wish to find the complete mathematical system of axioms which would fully describe all of mathematical reality, and imagine this in an analogy as a great building, Godel didn't destroy Hilbert's vision by striking at the foundations of the building (the axioms), he destroyed the vision by proving that the building went on upwards for ever, with a never-ending progression of levels and never a roof in sight.

Anyway, having cast doubt on the principle of non-contradiction, you can no longer employ logic in presenting your worldview. What you have left is rhetoric. (Not always a bad thing, mind you, guess it depends on the dosage though :).

Lastly, you bring up Bertrand Russell vs Kurt Godel (sorry about the missing umlauts), and the battle between these two titans of mathematical logic. Russell was like Goliath, having written the huge Principia with Whitehead, a massive work which was never fully completed as it intellectually exhausted both authors. And along comes Godel, like David, writes a paper only several pages long which turns the whole Principia on its head. I agree with you that Godel won. He was one of the greatest minds of the 20th century. Einstein, in his later years, used to keep going to Princeton every day just so he could have chats with Godel on the way there in the morning. And guess what... this great mathematical logician was...    .... a believer in God. Shock horror ha ha ha

Anyway, there you go, hopefully some entertainment for you. We never got to Aquinas' argument, but if you ever do look into it... please please remember this: It has nothing to do with the big bang or a temporal beginning to the universe. As soon as you think it is an argument about the beginning or eternity of the universe I can guarantee you you are misunderstanding the argument.

Feel free to comment/argue/refute etc and if time permits I may keep at it but can't make any promises.

Thanks for chatting. I dunno whether any of our discussion is or will be relevant to Revivalists who may be reading, since most of them don't give two hoots about any of this kind of stuff (Why would you worry about the mundane bits like this when you have God's own voice speaking through you every Sunday in the spiritual gifts eh?) but it's been fun to chat.

Cheers, Gurthang


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Re:Do you have a new framework for understanding reality?
(Date Posted:13/05/2014 9:48 PM)

 P.S. Just to clarify..

That last bit I mentioned about Godel the theist and Russell etc. That isn't the "powerful argument" I alluded to in the earlier post, he he. If that was it, it would be a pretty weak argument ;)

Gurthang
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