• Relativist
    851
    Mostly we make these 'decisions' unconsciously. We give them little or no conscious attention. So we don't really know if we're trying to make our best guess or not, do we? :wink:Pattern-chaser
    I'm referring to conscious decision making, of course, and we are also free to re-think many of our unconscious decisions. My fundamental point is that there are tools of reasoning available to us IN ADDITION to deduction and numerical probability, that - when applied correctly- lead to better (more reasonable, more rational) decisions than otherwise. You seem to be evading this, and merely stressing that these other tools do not lead to certainty. I agree that we tend to feel more certain than we're warranted, but that doesn't imply we should be abandon all tools of critical reasoning other than deduction and probability.
  • Relativist
    851
    I absolutely agree that some opinions (and some guesses or estimates) ARE better than others. But why not just call them opinions or guesses or estimates.Frank Apisa
    Because when we use non-standard terminology, it impedes discussion. I don't have a degree in philosophy, but I've read a bit of epistemology and based on my limited knowledge - "belief" is a general, but core, term. The qualified term "categorical belief" entails treating the belief as a certainty. But epistemology also deals with "degree of certainty" also termed "epistemic probability." There's also a matter of justifying beliefs, and of belief formulation. This toolbag of terms and processes seems adequate to address the (valid!) issues you raise, and if everyone uses them we will at least understand each other better. I'm not saying it's intrinsically better than the terminology you prefer, but its problematic for everyone to use different terminology - you need to attach a lexicon in order to be understood.

    The point is that when we come to the "I 'believe' (in) God" kind of thing...we actually introduce a factor of, "We must all respect the 'beliefs' of others"...AND INSTALL IT INTO LAWS we must all follow.
    When someone says "I believe in God", I can ask them what degree of certainty they have, how they formulated that belief (with attached level of certainty), and their continued justification. The issue of "respecting" others' beliefs would be a complicated, but interesting, discussion - so I'll defer responding to that for now.

    The "belief" in these cases are blind guesses about the true nature of the REALITY of existence. Everyone has a right to his/her guesses...but to change the word "guess" into "belief" and afford it a status above the guess status it deserves...does a disservice to humanity.
    This sounds very similar to arguments I've made elsewhere: I often run into theists who proclaim they "know" the nature of reality, and they justify this solely on their proclaiming some particular metaphysics to be the factual basis of reality (Aristotelian-Thomist metaphysics seems popular). It's nonsense, of course, because it's entirely guesswork.
  • I like sushi
    1.4k
    Have ever read any Schiller? If not check out Letter 24 from “On the Aesthetic Education of Man”. I’m sure you can find it online (trust me, you’ll appreciate it!)
  • Pattern-chaser
    1.8k
    Why isnt a quantity of evidence not equal to conclusive evidence? You keep avoiding the question.Harry Hindu

    I'm sorry, I didn't realise you wanted an answer to that. I thought it was clear of itself. Conclusive evidence is evidence that, taken together, logically justifies reaching a conclusion. No mere amount (quantity) of (lesser) evidence can do this.

    The blackest of black-and-white examples is where our conclusions can be deduced from the evidence. Provided the evidence is gathered and understood without error, the conclusion is guaranteed, and thereby justified.

    The farther we drift away from the deduction scenario, the less well-founded (justified) our conclusions are. I don't think this is a secret? :chin:
  • Pattern-chaser
    1.8k
    My fundamental point is that there are tools of reasoning available to us IN ADDITION to deduction and numerical probability, that - when applied correctly- lead to better (more reasonable, more rational) decisions than otherwise. You seem to be evading this, and merely stressing that these other tools do not lead to certainty. I agree that we tend to feel more certain than we're warranted, but that doesn't imply we should be abandon all tools of critical reasoning other than deduction and probability.Relativist

    It's usually me that argues for using the best tool for the job, and that logic and science are often not the best - or only! - tools available. :up: I haven't been evading this, it's just that I'm focussing on certainty: unjustified certainty. If we are building our theories on axioms and assumptions - and we are, because we have no choice - we need to be aware, I think, that this is what we're doing. Our world, in practice, is uncertain. That's my point. :smile:
  • Devans99
    2.1k
    I have been giving some thought to the closely related question of: are there any possible models for the universe without a first cause? The following options are the only ones I can think of:

    Quantum Fluctuations

    Virtual particles appear out of the void and disappear shortly afterwards (according to QM). These quantum fluctuations respect the conservation of energy; no net new matter is created permanently, so they cannot have been the source of the universe’s matter/energy.

    If permanent matter was created naturally, infinite time would result in infinite matter density so this is clearly not possible; mass producing natural processes imply a start of time.

    Everything Has Existed ‘Forever’ in Time

    In this model, particle collisions could be regarded as forming an infinite regress - which is impossible. In this model, nothing has a temporal starting point so nothing can logically exist.

    A Cyclic Universe

    Could the universe have created itself? Considering the two dominant theories of time:

    If it were a presentist universe, the past and future do not exist, so it is impossible that the universe could be in a temporal cyclic (of causing itself).

    If it were a (future real) eternalist universe, one can imagine the universe as an eternal circle of time; uncreated it just exists ‘’always’. It would form a causal loop with the Big Crunch causing the Big Bang. We would all live identical lives over and over again (Eternal Return). This possibility gains theoretical support from the Closed Timeline Curve; a class of solutions in general relativity that result in causal loops in spacetime.

    But one needs to account for the fact that we can differentiate ‘now’ from ‘past’ and ‘future’ - there must be something different about ‘now’. This is sometimes conceptualised as a moving spotlight - we can imagine the eternal circle of time and a spotlight rotating about it; where the light falls is ‘now’. So what causes the spotlight to start rotating? - Even these types of eternalist models appear to need a timeless first cause to start time in motion initially.

    Also the universe is expanding ever faster and faster - it does not appear (currently) to be in a cycle of Big Bang / Big Crunch required for a cyclic universe. And finally, the universe exhibits signs of fine-tuning for life - which requires a timeless first cause to causally precede the universe.

    Multiple First Causes

    Time is a created singleton; it could only be created by one cause. Two causes of time would have to work as cooperative agents; implying we can regard them logically as one logical cause.



    So In summary, I think that time/causality absolutely requires a first cause. As far as causeless effects go, only quantum fluctuations qualify (arguably - it could be said they are caused by a field in space) and they are micro rather than macro phenomena (the cause of universe is a macro question).

    Could the first cause be classified as a causeless effect? Not really I think - it is timeless so beyond causality.
  • I like sushi
    1.4k


    Here is the pdf:

    http://public-library.uk/ebooks/55/76.pdf

    Take a look see at Letters 23-25 if you don’t fancy the whole thing. It’s a really nice read. Schiller isn’t afraid of being a little vague here and there which adds to the writing - I read this as part of my interest in art and morality. He does touch on the difficulties of causation and science in the letters I’ve mentioned. There is something of a Taoist feel to some of what he says throughout this work.
  • Relativist
    851
    So In summary, I think that time/causality absolutely requires a first cause.Devans99
    You overlook one possibility: that there is an initial state.

    A few years ago, Sean Carroll hypothesized that there is a ground state of the "quantum system of reality." He believes in the "Many Worlds Interpretation" of quantum mechanics, so he sees quantum fluctuations as merely being eigenstates of the ground state. Some quantum fluctuations result in universes, and each universe is a space-time, causally and temporally separated from one another. Time passes in each universe, but all originate in that initial point of time that is that ground state.
  • Devans99
    2.1k


    1. Quantum fluctuations do not produce matter; they respect the conservation of energy
    2. If they did produce matter, we'd be at infinite matter density by now
    3. If Eternal Inflation is natural and time is infinite, there should be an infinite number of eternal inflation instances simultaneously. There is only one instance; an unnatural singleton. If eternal inflation theory is actually happening then the whole process of eternal inflation was initiated by an intelligent first cause.
    4. An intelligent first cause would want a multiverse teeming with life (=design objective).
  • Pattern-chaser
    1.8k
    2. If they did produce matter, we'd be at infinite matter density by now
    3. If Eternal Inflation is natural and time is infinite, there should be an infinite number of eternal inflation instances simultaneously.
    Devans99

    I think an infinite 'space' into which expansion, and the like, could take place, would rather change your assertions. An infinite space could hold infinite matter without overflowing. No, I don't think this is fertile speculation, worthy of further thought. I merely offer possibilities that you seem to have glossed over. :smile:
  • Devans99
    2.1k


    Space cannot have been expanding forever - if we trace back in time, there must have been a time when it was not expanding. So that is suggestive of either a start of time (leading to a first cause) or that space is in a cycle of expansion and contraction (leading to infinite matter density).
  • Pattern-chaser
    1.8k
    I only pointed out that there are always alternatives. Again and again you assert that your one answer is the one and only answer, when other possibilities exist.
  • Relativist
    851
    1. Quantum fluctuations do not produce matter; they respect the conservation of energyDevans99
    That's an antiquated understanding. What is conserved is mass-energy: energy and mass are interchangeable. According to Quantum Field Theory (QFT), the building blocks of matter and energy are the quantum fields. e.g. an up-quark is a "ripple" in an up-quark field- a ripple that persists if the energy is a quantum of energy. Fluctuations that are not at the quantum level are referred to as virtual particles: i.e., these are fluctuations in a quantum field that interact with other fields. Carroll's hypothesis entails the quantum fields existing in a ground state ( "zero energy"), but such a state is a superposition of eigenstates with different energy levels (+ and -) that add to zero. The "fluctuation" refers to the uncertainty of a hypothetical measurement: a measurement would entangle with one eigenstate of the superposition; the wave's energy amplitude equals the quantum uncertainty.

    2. If they did produce matter, we'd be at infinite matter density by now
    Nope. The energy amplitude is limited by the quantum uncertainty, which is (in principle) a calculable finite number.

    3. If Eternal Inflation is natural and time is infinite, there should be an infinite number of eternal inflation instances simultaneously.
    The theory of eternal inflation refers to FUTURE eternal. Under Carroll's hypothesis, time is an aspect of thermodynamics: each distinct universe has its own, independent arrow of time. The direction of its arrow is a result of its starting energy being positive or negative. This means the total energy of the multiverse always adds to zero. It also means the individual universes are causally isolated from one another.

    4. An intelligent first cause would want a multiverse teeming with life (=design objective).
    That's a curious assertion, because the same reasoning leads to the expectation that THIS universe should be teeming with life.
  • Devans99
    2.1k
    Nope. The energy amplitude is limited by the quantum uncertainty, which is (in principle) a calculable finite number.Relativist

    I'm still a little unclear where exactly does the matter/energy come from in Carroll's hypothesis? Or is it that it always existed?

    Under Carroll's hypothesis, time is an aspect of thermodynamics: each distinct universe has its own, independent arrow of timeRelativist

    We don't see time running at different rates depending on the rate of entropy increase so I think that the 2nd law of thermodynamics does not cause time; time and causality cause the 2nd law. As cause and effects multiply with time so entropy increases.

    If each universe has its own time; what passes for time/causality as far as the multiverse goes? I would of thought some overarching time/causality would have to apply to allow the birth of new universes?

    That's a curious assertion, because the same reasoning leads to the expectation that THIS universe should be teeming with life.Relativist

    I believe it is. We have a sample size of one saying it is. The onerous nature of interstellar travel means we are not overrun by aliens.
  • Relativist
    851
    I'm still a little unclear where exactly does the matter/energy come from in Carroll's hypothesis? Or is it that it always existed?Devans99
    Quantum fields are the fundamental basis of all that exists, and the assumption is that these simply exist by brute fact. In the ground state, time is non-existent. This means there is no time at which the ground state didn't exist - because time passes only as spacetime emerges from the ground state. This emergence is an aspect of thermodynamics: a high energy eigenstate (of the ground state) has low entropy, and time is associated with the thermodynamic gradient of decaying from low to high entropy.

    We don't see time running at different rates depending on the rate of entropy increase so I think that the 2nd law of thermodynamics does not cause time; time and causality cause the 2nd law. As cause and effects multiply with time so entropy increases.Devans99
    On the contrary, time does run at different rates. I expect you're aware that a hypothetical spaceship traveling close to the speed of light will experience a slower rate of time. The entropy of a melting ice cube on the spaceship will be a function of the rate at which time runs on that spaceship.

    If each universe has its own time; what passes for time/causality as far as the multiverse goes? I would of thought some overarching time/causality would have to apply to allow the birth of new universes?Devans99
    There is no multiverse time. This is consistent with special relativity: even within a universe, time is relative to a reference frame. Between universes there is no reference frame.

    Carroll's hypothesis does not preclude child universes (nor grandchild universes...), but it provides an overarching landscape for everything.

    That's a curious assertion, because the same reasoning leads to the expectation that THIS universe should be teeming with life. — Relativist

    I believe it is. We have a sample size of one saying it is. The onerous nature of interstellar travel means we are not overrun by aliens.
    Devans99
    That's more or less reasonable. I've argued elsewhere that if God exists, there's a much greater liklihood of life elsewhere in the universe than if there is no God. Unfortunately, a single sample doesn't provide enough data to point in either direction. That said, theists have more reason than atheists for fearing alien invasions!
  • Devans99
    2.1k
    Quantum fields are the fundamental basis of all that exists, and the assumption is that these simply exist by brute fact. In the ground state, time is non-existent. This means there is no time at which the the ground state didn't exist - because there is no time until it emerges from the ground stateRelativist

    Fields are a property of space, which is part of spacetime, which was created 14 billion years ago. There would be no fluctuation of these fields and thus no particles if there is no time - if something exists for 0 seconds it does not exist - space requires time as a prerequisite. So before the start of time there can be no quantum fluctuations.

    There is no multiverse time. This is consistent with special relativity: even within a universe, time is relative to a reference frame. Between universes there is no reference frame.Relativist

    Surely the birth of a new universe must involve causality of some form?
  • luckswallowsall
    61
    Causeless effects are not possible because if an effect has no cause it's by definition not an effect.
  • Frank Apisa
    896
    luckswallowsall
    13
    Causeless effects are not possible because if an effect has no cause it's by definition not an effect.
    luckswallowsall

    Which is the reason several of us have taken exception to the assertion that the universe is an effect...which requires a cause.

    If one calls the universe "the Creation"...that gratuitously implies a Creator.

    If one calls the universe "an effect"...that gratuitously implies a cause.
  • luckswallowsall
    61
    The universe only has a cause if you consider the big bang to have happened before the universe. If the universe refers to the totality of everything then it cannot have a cause.
  • Pattern-chaser
    1.8k
    Causeless effects are not possible because if an effect has no cause it's by definition not an effect.luckswallowsall

    Yes, yes, OK. :smile: So the question should properly be: can/do spontaneous events occur, or can/do events occur spontaneously? :chin:
  • earthlycohort
    9


    Effect implies cause. Definitively, for something to exist it must have a cause. It would be unhelpful to describe examples of causality as I believe it's unnecessary, instead I would ask that you or others try to imagine something that you know to exist but that which does not have a cause. Beware not to conflate cause with meaning, as the two are certainly distinguishable. Cause is simply A hits B, B becomes sore and A feels guilty, assuming psychopathy is absent.

    Patterns are the study of cause and effect.
  • Pattern-chaser
    1.8k
    Effect implies cause. Definitively, for something to exist it must have a cause. It would be unhelpful to describe examples of causality as I believe it's unnecessary, instead I would ask that you or others try to imagine something that you know to exist but that which does not have a cause.earthlycohort

    Imagine it's 100 or so years ago, before Einstein released his findings concerning relativity and the like. And imagine you, saying "I would ask that you or others try to imagine how Newton's Laws could possibly not be adhered-to." Now, we know that those laws don't work at velocities approaching the speed of light, but then we didn't. And we couldn't even imagine how things could be different.

    Not being able to imagine a spontaneous event does not mean there are none. [Or that there are.]
  • earthlycohort
    9
    Imagine it's 100 or so years ago, before Einstein released his findings concerning relativity and the like. And imagine you, saying "I would ask that you or others try to imagine how Newton's Laws could possibly not be adhered-to."Pattern-chaser
    True, until such an event can be evidenced then I'll maintain that regardless of whether or not we're aware of the cause, it exists.

    Not being able to imagine a spontaneous event does not mean there are none.Pattern-chaser
    True but likewise, being able to imagine a spontaneous event does not mean that there are. Both spontaneous and determined, premeditated events have a cause and I think the only difference is, as implied in their literal definitions, we're only consciously aware of the latter. Would an effect be causeless because I was too cognitively inept to see it? Perhaps only to me.

    I think the answer to the question "Are causeless effects possible"? can simply be written as no as a grammatical truth. How do you find something that will not be found? If it were possible for me to rationalise an effect without a cause then would I not have done it? Like Isaac, none of this is to say that in the future I will not come across a causeless effect, perhaps then I can relinquish the burden of responsibility.
  • Pattern-chaser
    1.8k
    Not being able to imagine a spontaneous event does not mean there are none. — Pattern-chaser

    True but likewise, being able to imagine a spontaneous event does not mean that there are.
    earthlycohort

    Don't you think it's a little bit, er, tawdry to imply that I offered only half of the picture, when I already said what you said? I took the trouble to make a balanced statement, and you implied that I'm arguing for the existence of spontaneous events? Look:

    Not being able to imagine a spontaneous event does not mean there are none. [Or that there are.]Pattern-chaser

    -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Both spontaneous and determined, premeditated events have a cause...earthlycohort

    So spontaneous (i.e. causeless) events have a cause?

    -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Would an effect be causeless because I was too cognitively inept to see it?earthlycohort

    No, of course not. No-one is arguing this. A causeless event is not an event whose cause we are unable to see or detect, it's an event that has no cause. And it may be that there is no such thing. That's what we're considering, isn't it?
  • Pattern-chaser
    1.8k
    The problem with assumptions (guesses) is that they become invisible, which is mostly our fault. Perhaps we don't like the idea of our thinking being based on unfounded principles, I don't know. In the case of causation, we call it an "axiom" (assumption; guess) instead of an assumption. A euphemism. And soon we forget that (in this example) causation is a guess, and we start to think of it as solid, founded, justified knowledge. It isn't. It could be true, of course, but we have no evidence or proof to show that it is so. And yet we continue to pretend that it is much more sure than a guess. Hmm. :chin:

    I started this topic to consider one scientific axiom - causation - not because it isn't true, or that I think it isn't true, but just to remind ourselves that it is nothing more than a guess, and to wonder what the consequences might be if it turned out not to be the universal truth we hold it to be?

    Edited to add: perhaps most interesting of all: if causation is so obviously and self-evidently true, why can't we prove it?
  • luckswallowsall
    61
    What does it mean to say an event occurs spontaneously? If it means for no reason at all or out of nothing, then no.

    If it means through methods other than straightforward causality, sure. Something can happen in acausal way. But it's still not the same as for no reason at all because there probabilistic laws behind acausality.
  • Pattern-chaser
    1.8k
    What does it mean to say an event occurs spontaneously? If it means for no reason at all or out of nothing, then no.luckswallowsall

    It was intended to describe an event which has no preceding event that caused it to happen. Must every event have a cause then, do you think?

    If it means through methods other than straightforward causality, sure. Something can happen in acausal way. But it's still not the same as for no reason at all because there probabilistic laws behind acausality.luckswallowsall

    Are you saying that events that have no cause are nonetheless caused by something? That's how I read your words, perhaps wrongly? :chin:
  • Willyfaust
    21
    The future dictates the past, every effect creates a cause.
  • luckswallowsall
    61
    Every event must have an explanation but there isn't necessarily only one possible future. An event could lead to many other different events.

    Everything has an explanation ... so every event needs a cause in the widest possible sense. But people usually use the term "cause" to mean something specific. People think of causality as determinism.

    Even if the universe is acausal then that just means that events are determined by probabilistic laws that can't be predicted. So even then the supposedly acausal probabilistic laws are causal in a wide sense. They're just not causal in the narrow sense that people usually mean when they talk of causality. Which is why it's described as acausal.
bold
italic
underline
strike
code
quote
ulist
image
url
mention
reveal
youtube
tweet
Add a Comment