Comments

  • Deathmatch – Objective Reality vs. the Tao
    You could try to show how that specific scenario has problems that you think are of concern.Andrew M

    The whole motivation for the so-called 'relative state formulation' is to avoid the observer effect or the collapse of the wave-function issue. The basic issue is that no objectively existent thing - no particle, as such - can be said to exist in any place, up until the time the measurement is made. A consequence of the measurement being made is that the wave function, which is a distribution of probabilities, collapses. This is why when a sensor is placed before the slit, then the particles act like particles and not waves - they produce a distribution pattern, not an interference pattern. So the implication of this is that the act of observation has physical consequences, which is the whole 'quantum weirdness' thing in a nutshell. That's why Einstein asked (rhetorically) 'does the moon continue to exist when you're not looing at it'. It's why qm is weird.

    So to avoid that, Everett dreamed up something even weirder, about which it was later said:

    Everett’s scientific journey began one night in 1954, he recounted two decades later, “after a slosh or two of sherry.” He and his Princeton classmate Charles Misner and a visitor named Aage Petersen (then an assistant to Niels Bohr) were thinking up “ridiculous things about the implications of quantum mechanics.” During this session Everett had the basic idea behind the many-worlds theory, and in the weeks that followed he began developing it into a dissertation.
  • Deathmatch – Objective Reality vs. the Tao
    your quote explicitly does not exclude a finite number of branchesAndrew M

    It is not 'my quote'. It is a quote from the scientist who devised the term 'many worlds' for this theory (namely, Bryce DeWitt). The quote does not refer to 'branches', it says outright, plainly and simply, that the theory says the universe (or multiverse) comprises many universes.

    the universe proper need not be limited to what can be directly seenAndrew M

    Recall the thread title. If the Universe proper is not so limited, then it's game over for objectivity. 'What cannot be directly seen' might include the Tao, the Creator, and who knows what.
  • Deathmatch – Objective Reality vs. the Tao
    branching does not entail more than one universe.Andrew M

    It most assuredly does. It was implicit in Everett's paper, and then made explicit later, that:

    MWI's main conclusion is that the universe (or multiverse in this context) is composed of a quantum superposition of very many, possibly even non-denumerably infinitely many, increasingly divergent, non-communicating parallel universes or quantum worlds

    Bryce Seligman DeWitt, R. Neill Graham, eds, The Many-Worlds Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics, Princeton Series in Physics, Princeton University Press (1973), p 140.

    The implication is that there are infinitely many universes existing in parallel, in which everything that happens is replicated infinitely many times.
  • Deathmatch – Objective Reality vs. the Tao
    that 'branching' means what it says - every outcome happens in as many universes as there are outcomes - which is infinitely many. It doesn't matter whether you endorse it or not - that is what the theory entails.
  • Deathmatch – Objective Reality vs. the Tao
    Get a copy of the Tao te Ching.T Clark

    Agree. The fascinating thing is that no two translations are the same, in fact some verses read very differently in different translations. It's partially because of the obvious differences between Chinese and English, but it's also because many of the core terms are associated with profound ideas. In any case, it is very well worth being acquainted with, as is also the Chuang-Tzu, another Chinese classic (Burton Watson's translation is a standard, I think available from Penguin Classics.)
  • Deathmatch – Objective Reality vs. the Tao
    Just consider what that actually says
    — Wayfarer

    OK, I'll rephrase.
    Andrew M

    No - don't rephrase it. Consider the meaning of the three words: 'the universe branches'. Leave the double-slit out of it - just think about what is being claimed.
  • Is Agnosticism self-defeating?
    even if the alleged miracles are not on quite as firm a footing as the Church may suppose (it doesn't help that the Church picks its own supposedly skeptical peer-reviewers in the form of a "Devil's Advocate;" I don't know if that practice has fallen by the wayside), you will note that the Church here at least aspires to employ scientific rigor in its investigations of purportedly supernatural or sacred phenomena, contra those (including perhaps yourself) who might insist that such matters are not for science.Arkady

    The Catholic Church devised the office of 'the Devil's Advocate', and the intention of the role was to try and disprove claims of miracles. And as Jacalyn Duffin noted in her review, she was very surprised by the degree of scepticism she found amongst the clerics:

    If a sick person recovers through prayer and without medicine, that’s nice, but not a miracle. She had to be sick or dying despite receiving the best of care. The church finds no incompatibility between scientific medicine and religious faith; for believers, medicine is just one more manifestation of God’s work on earth.

    Perversely then, this ancient religious process, intended to celebrate exemplary lives, is hostage to the relativistic wisdom and temporal opinions of modern science. Physicians, as nonpartisan witnesses and unaligned third parties, are necessary to corroborate the claims of hopeful postulants. For that reason alone, illness stories top miracle claims. I never expected such reverse skepticism and emphasis on science within the church.

    So the reason the Church 'aspires to employ scientific rigour' is because the question being examined is, 'is this cure something explicable by science or medicine?' To declare that it is not requires a pretty high standard of evidence. But if it does succeed in establishing such a claim, then the conclusion is that it is a cure for which there isn't a scientific explanation. The question can then be asked - is this using science to investigate something that is beyond science, or for which there is no standard scientific explanation?

    I would think, in methodological naturalism, the answer might be: something not known to science has produced an effect (while still bracketing out or leaving open the question of what that might be.) Which is, pretty well, 'agnosticism'. ;-)
  • Is Agnosticism self-defeating?
    Not all investigation involves detecting the putative cause of a phenomenon directly: sometimes just its historical traces are examined. For instance, sometimes impactors strike the Earth, and are vaporized completely, meaning their characteristics have to be inferred from the marks they've left behind.Arkady

    But by definition, whatever cause science is concerned with, is not of a different order to the natural order, i.e. is not transcendent to the natural order. In the case of meteors or other types of causal agents which have all but vanished, the cause is still understood to be the kind of cause that, were circumstances different, would have been physically detectable.

    The view that theological arguments are empirical is based on a misrepresentation of what is being claimed. Granted, theology and metaphysics might (as all positivism insists) be empty of meaning, but not on the grounds you have stated.

    'Arguments from design', for example, might state that science can't account for the order which is necessary for life to have arisen in the first place. And that question, again, is not a scientific one, as science presumes that there is an order - otherwise it can't really even get started - but doesn't, and may not be expected to, explain how this order.

    For instance, some believers appeal to God to intercede on their behalf and on behalf of others, including with regard to health. It is perfectly valid to investigate whether those who receive prayers for God's intercession in their disease have better health outcomes than those who receive no such prayers. This experiment has been performed, and found no statistically relevant difference. — Arkady

    That is true, and if I or a loved one were admitted to hospital for a serious illness, I would certainly not wish to rely on prayer for the cure.

    However, there is quite a lot of documentation describing various cases of alleged miraculous intervention in the case of serious or life-threatening illnesses, when these cases are considered grounds for canonisation proceedings by the Catholic Church. As the Church has been gathering such cases for centuries, there is quite a lot of documentary evidence, apparently.
  • Deathmatch – Objective Reality vs. the Tao
    the universe branching...Andrew M

    Just consder what that actually says.
  • Why do people believe in 'God'?
    certainly am not a religious historian, but it is my understanding that the Protestant Revolution was about the belief that you didn't need to go through priests to have a relationship with God.T Clark

    Sure - it was just the phrasing which I was remarking on. they talk in terms of a [relationship with the sacred but that has a different connotation to what I took to be the sense of the phrase in the context of the OP.
  • Why do people believe in 'God'?
    I thought it might be worthwhile to start a thread asking how some people can believe in 'God'.dclements

    The word 'Bible', as I'm sure you know, basically means 'book' (same as 'bibliography'). The point being, 'the book' was the collected wisdom of the whole tribe - the annals of what had happened, collected and recited over millenia, beginning in pre-literate times, and finally written down.

    Before a couple of hundred years ago, there wasn't any distinction between religion, law, science, and so on - all you had was 'the law' which was handed down by the tribal elders as it had been since time immemorial.

    That's how.

    Anyways, my point is that many Christians who believe they have some direct access to 'God' are about as crazy as C.C Lewis said about someone who tried to claimed they where a fried eggdclements

    I know a lot of Christians, but I have never heard them use the term 'direct access to God'. Also, notably, none of them were crazed.
  • Is Agnosticism self-defeating?
    here have been many empirical arguments which purported to demonstrate the existence of God. The entire body of literature on the arguments from design, arguments from fine-tuning, natural theology, intelligent design creationism, and biblical archeology all, in some form or another, seek to provide evidence for the existence of God and (in cases) the veracity of the Bible.Arkady

    I take issue with that. They are more like abductive arguments, i.e. arguments to the most likely cause. But an empirical argument would require that you were able to detect 'the first cause' (or whatever) by scientific apparatus or observation; that it would be a phenomenon whose existence could be demonstrated by some actual observation or experimental outcome. 'Empiricism' means 'experienceable' in that sense - that it shows up some way that can be see either by the naked eye, or detected by instruments.

    But take, for example, an argument like this: 'that evolution naturally tends towards creating higher levels of intelligence'. I think that would generally not be accepted by evolutionary biologists; although it has happened on Earth, the general belief is that 'were the tape of evolution replayed', that the outcome might be blue-green algae, or cockroaches, or sharks (as indeed it was for long periods of time). So I don't think that evolutionary theory would agree with the apparent teleological nature of such an argument.

    So how would such an argument be settled empirically? I would think it could only be if a large number of other life-bearing planets were discovered - which I'm sure you will agree, seems highly unlikely. But then, if all of them showed the emergence of language- and tool-using beings, no matter what form, then you might have an empirical case that evolution tended towards that outcome.

    But absent that, many of the 'arguments from design' or teleological arguments of various kinds, could never be settled empirically, even in principle. They're simply based on what seems a likely kind of explanation.
  • Deathmatch – Objective Reality vs. the Tao
    For the simple reason that 'to speak of' is to locate within the realm of phenomena,
    — Wayfarer

    Or to go from non-being into being. To be created.
    T Clark

    Actually I don't think that is the point - it's overly theist. The standard Taoist description for the phenomenonal domain is 'the ten thousand things'; which is contrasted to 'the nameless' which is the source of the ten thousand things. But there's nothing corresponding to 'creation' in that; it's more that the sage 'merges with the nameless' through contemplation or concentrated action. 'Flow', they call it nowadays. But I don't think it's a linear 'creation story' in the Biblical sense.
  • Deathmatch – Objective Reality vs. the Tao
    The familiar example would be Schrodinger's Cat.Andrew M

    I asked the question, what would a 'branch' be, in relation to 'a universe which branches'. That's a much bigger deal than a 'thought experiment'.
  • Deathmatch – Objective Reality vs. the Tao
    "The Tao that can be spoken is not the eternal Tao."T Clark

    For the simple reason that 'to speak of' is to locate within the realm of phenomena, 'this' as distinct from 'that'. It is, in the terminology of religious studies, an apophatic statement.

    They imply one universe with a (possibly finite) number of branches in superposition.Andrew M

    And just what would 'a branch' be, in plain language?
  • Deathmatch – Objective Reality vs. the Tao
    These postulates don't imply God playing dice, spooky action at a distance or consciousness-created reality.Andrew M

    But they do imply an infinite number of parallel universes - which is the only rebuttal I believe necessary. Bohr had the good grace to meet with Everett but he never gave the slightest indication of support for his notion.
  • Islam: More Violent?
    Would like to, but a bit flat out at the moment in the real world, can't really give it the attention it might require. Thanks, though! X-)
  • Islam: More Violent?
    Have a look at these two OP's in the NY Times

    Is Free Speech Good for Muslims?

    The Islamic Dilemma

    The basic issue in both these essays, written from different perspectives, is that many values which secular liberals take for granted as self-evident truths, are actually embedded in a value system. This value-system often pretends to be 'value free', as it is supposedly 'scientifically enlightened'. But it does rest on normative judgements, many of which we take to be self-evident, but which might be questioned from the perspective of other cultural norms.
  • Deathmatch – Objective Reality vs. the Tao
    Actually a really interesting case study in the whole question of the supremacy of scientific realism is that of the Einstein-Bohr debates. There's a good book called Quantum: Einstein, Bohr, and the Great Debate about the Nature of Reality, Manjit Kumar,, which goes into that in depth. Einstein simply couldn't accept certain things that came out of quantum theory - indeterminacy ('God playing dice') and non-locality ('spooky action at a distance'). Einstein famously exclaimed, 'does the moon not exist when nobody is looking at it?' whilst out on one of his afternoon strolls with Michael Besso. Of course, it was a rhetorical question, as he was convinced it did (wouldn't anyone be?) So throughout the 20's and 30's he challenged Bohr with a series of 'thought experiments' designed to show that quantum theory must be incomplete in some basic way. Bohr met all of those challenges. The last and most famous was the EPR paradox, which was what inspired John Bell's famous 'inequality' experiments, which were finally tested by Alain Aspect. Of the inequality findings, Bell said:

    The discomfort that I feel is associated with the fact that the observed perfect quantum correlations seem to demand something like the "genetic" hypothesis. For me, it is so reasonable to assume that the photons in those experiments carry with them programs, which have been correlated in advance, telling them how to behave. This is so rational that I think that when Einstein saw that, and the others refused to see it, he was the rational man. The other people, although history has justified them, were burying their heads in the sand. I feel that Einstein's intellectual superiority over Bohr, in this instance, was enormous; a vast gulf between the man who saw clearly what was needed, and the obscurantist. So for me, it is a pity that Einstein's idea doesn't work. The reasonable thing just doesn't work.

    John Stewart Bell (1928-1990), quoted in Quantum Profiles, by Jeremy Bernstein [Princeton University Press, 1991, p. 84]

    It's a matter of irony that nowadays, the so-called 'realist' interpretations of physics are often said to be the 'parallel universes' of Hugh Everett or the various permutations of the multiverse suggested by string theorists. If you look back at Bohr and Heisenberg's philosophical musings on QM (retrospectively named the 'Copenhagen Interpretation'), they seem lucid - and parsimonious - by comparison.

    See Quantum Mysticism: Gone but Not Forgotten, Juan Miguel Marin.
  • Deathmatch – Objective Reality vs. the Tao
    Twenty or twenty-five years ago, I started reading books about a different way of seeing the world. I read Alan Watts descriptions of eastern religions and philosophies. When I read the Tao te Ching, I felt a sense of recognition, both from a philosophical and an emotional perspective. I’ve thought about it a lot over the years and read the book probably twenty times.T Clark

    I too read and gained a lot from reading Alan Watts - and also D T Suzuki and other authors on those themes. I especially liked Watt's books The Supreme Identity, Way of Zen, and Beyond Theology I try and live by them.

    But Western science has pragmatic benefits that can't be found in Eastern philosophy. They're not competing perspectives if engineering and science are used for their intended purposes, which is finding things out and getting things done. It's when science and engineering start to masquerade as a philosophy that it becomes problematical. Engineers solve problems by reducing complexities to their basic units and seeing how they work together. That approach has yielded great technological power, but it's a lousy philosophy of life.

    Alan Watts said many times, the fundamental illusion that humans fall into, is that they're separated from nature, egos enclosed in a 'bag of skin'. Whereas Taoism emphasises unity, non-division and non-duality. That really is a mode of being, rather than objective knowledge as such. Watts mainly wrote about Tao, Vedanta and Buddhism - all of them make that same basic point, in myriad ways. They are profound philosophies and have started to take root in Western and indeed global culture, thanks in part to Watts' books.

    When I was younger, the idea that the world can be perfectly predicted if we know where everything is and where it is going at one moment in time was really attractive.T Clark

    I suppose you're familiar with 'LaPlace's Daemon' which states exactly this point. Simon LaPlace was 'France's Newton' and an immensely influential intellectual in the Enlightenment; he pioneered the science of statistics, among other things. But, and although this is a contentious point, I think LaPlace's daemon was slain by the uncertainty principle. I think quantum physics generally has torpedoed Enlightenment materialism. This was the theme of the well-known Tao of Physics, and although that book has its detractors, it has spawned an entire cultural subgenre.