disillusioned

A Discussion of the Cosmological Argument

67 posts in this topic

We may all be close to exhausting our present knowledge, which doesn't all overlap, since we're each of us up on a different discipline. I forgot 8) at post #37, though, when I was setting forth some problems that I think exist for Thomism. 8) is:

 

analogical predication of attributes of God.

 

Having argued that God's essence is identical to His existence - God's essence just is an act of existence so rich that it has manifold properties all identical to each other - Aquinas lays down the doctrine that some predicate of creatures - say, "good," - is not predicated in the same sense of them and of God. When the Christian says, my mother is good, and God is good, "good" is not predicated univocally - it doesn't have the same meaning. But it's not predicated equivocally, either; "good" isn't either meaningless or something totally different when applied to God. It's not the way "has a foot" means something totally different when applied to the cook's own foot vs. applied to the pig's trotter that he's preparing for dinner. No, "good" is predicated of God in an in-between way. It's like human goodness, but then, it's not like human goodness.

 

You can see where the Christian apologist can go with this doctrine. Even the scholastic Franciscan, Duns Scotus, opposed the Thomistic doctrine of analogous predication. He realized what the Thomists deny, that this analogical predication just collapses into equivocation. 

 

On another board, some people are disputing whether there is any necessity that some thing exist necessarily. A few people are saying that a quantum energy field can be the brute fact that the present universe needs. We don't get anything by positing God, they say, that we don't get by positing the energy field. Cool.

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Having argued that God's essence is identical to His existence - God's essence just is an act of existence so rich that it has manifold properties all identical to each other - Aquinas lays down the doctrine that some predicate of creatures - say, "good," - is not predicated in the same sense of them and of God. When the Christian says, my mother is good, and God is good, "good" is not predicated univocally - it doesn't have the same meaning. But it's not predicated equivocally, either; "good" isn't either meaningless or something totally different when applied to God. It's not the way "has a foot" means something totally different when applied to the cook's own foot vs. applied to the pig's trotter that he's preparing for dinner. No, "good" is predicated of God in an in-between way. It's like human goodness, but then, it's not like human goodness.

 

You can see where the Christian apologist can go with this doctrine. Even the scholastic Franciscan, Duns Scotus, opposed the Thomistic doctrine of analogous predication. He realized what the Thomists deny, that this analogical predication just collapses into equivocation.

 

This kind of argument is interesting to me. It represents a different approach than that which most of the Christians that I know generally take. Those that I've dealt with typically attempt to use God as the source of objective morality. So "good" has no meaning except for "like God". In other words, an action that God undertakes/approves of is good because it has been undertaken/approved of by God; it has no inherent "goodness" in and of itself. This line of reasoning has the benefit of allowing the theist to avoid objections regarding God's inferior moral character. Whatever God has done is good by definition, whether we understand why or not. But this type of argument suffers from the fact that we are entitled to ask how we can know which actions are sanctioned by God. If God is the source of goodness, and those actions which are good are those of which he approves, then anyone who claims to know that some actions are good is claiming to know God's will, and must answer the question of what qualifies them to make this claim. I've never received a satisfactory answer to this question.

 

My personal opinion at the moment is that the posters on the other board are correct. I can't see what positing a God gets us that the quantum vacuum cannot provide.

 

I expect you're right ficino, that we may be reaching the limits of where our different perspectives on this discussion can take us. I'm always grateful for the chance to hold dialogue with you; I'm interested in philosophy, but I haven't made it an area of special study (except as it pertains to mathematics). I appreciate your patience with my ignorance.

 

This is not to say that the conversation must end here. If anyone else has something to contribute, please feel free.

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Yes, I think that people who are influenced by the Catholic tradition tend not to run to divine-command style metaethics. They like to say things like God is Goodness Itself. Like you, though, I think they still have a problem with the multivalence of "good." 

 

Despite my faulty memory, I'll suggest what I think are some outcomes of this thread so far:

 

1. The KCA does not work because we don't know that all of changeable reality had a beginning. I say "all of changeable reality" because "universe" seems to be used in different senses. The KCA's first premise may also be false;  in fact, some things that begin to exist may not have a cause.

 

2. Aristotelian/Thomistic arguments from motion beg the question at more than one point.

 

3. Aristotelian/Thomistic arguments from contingency/necessity beg the question at more than one point.

 

4. Christian appeals to "analogical predication" either fail to save their arguments from excluded middle term fallacies or beg the question: either analogical predication is actually equivocal, as Aristotle thought it was, or analogy is merely assumed not to entail equivocation.

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Disillusioned,

 

You and I have come to a similar crossroads as the blogger (Peter Woit) and his guests on this site... http://www.math.columbia.edu/~woit/wordpress/

Woit is archly critical of any kind of multiverse.  He says that if these other universes are totally undetectable, then the theory that predicts them is totally un-falsifiable and as such it doesn't qualify as science.  The supporters of Inflation point to the confirmed predictions that have been made in this universe, arguing that it's possible to infer from this data that other universes do qualify as a properly-scientific prediction.  The nay-sayers counter this by arguing that without falsifiability you don't have physics - you have metaphysics.  And so the heated debate rages.

 

I'm sitting on the fence on this one and waiting to see if various projects will bring in results that will tip the balance one way or another.

There are a number of interesting ones in the pipeline.

 

Thanks,

 

BAA.

 

 

 

 

Guys,

 

When it comes to discovering more about the Big Bang, the new are burgeoning field of gravitational wave astronomy seems to be where cosmologists are going.

If there was an initial singularity, then traces of it's existence may be found in the form of primordial gravitational waves imprinted on the stochastic background noise of the universe.  There are three projects in the pipeline that are of interest.

 

Please let me know if you'd like to learn about them and how they work.

 

Thanks,

 

BAA.

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I'm always interested in the information you share with the rest of us, BAA - though I don't always understand all of it! It's more my speed to read Aristotle talking about how light is composed of particles! But I'll give it a shot.

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Sure BAA, I'd be interested in looking into that when you have some time.

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Ok then, these are three projects that are in with a chance of discovering more data about the Big Bang.
 
 
Litebird is a Japanese satellite that will observe the polarization of the Cosmic Microwave Background radiation, looking for the telltale signature of primordial gravitational waves, echoing down the eons to us.  Back in 2014, the BICEP2 team jumped the gun, thinking that they'd spotted this signature in their data.  But it was just interstellar dust fogging things up.  Hopefully the Litebird team will have better data and won't make the same mistake!  
 
Besides gravitational waves from the Big Bang, another target for Litebird will be the CMB cold spot, to see if we can pin down just what it is.  
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Both the Square Kilometer Array and the International Pulsar Timing Array are global networks of detectors that can detect gravitational waves of a much deeper 'pitch' than LIGO can.  When LIGO detects gravitational waves from colliding and merging black holes it's 'listening in' on very brief and highly localized events.  This is why the scientists describe what they detect as being a 'chirp'.  But in comparison the wavelength of primordial gravitational waves would be equivalent to the deepest octaves of whale song.  They aren't specifically designed to go so low and so deep, but there is a chance that they might hear something from the beginning of time.
 
This interactive graphic is helpful in illustrating what I'm describing.
 
 
Out of the many sources of gravitational waves, please select only the Stochastic background.
This colored area represents the background gravitational noise of the entire universe.  Hidden in this ocean of sound an echo from the Big Bang might be lurking.  But detecting this ultra-low frequency signal will be a daunting task. Only the SKA and the IPTA might be up to it.  Therefore, from the many detectors listed, please only select the SKA and the IPTA.  There are three different modes of detection (see Plot) and whichever one you select, you'll see that only the SKA and the IPTA have chance of doing so.  Every other detector cannot do the job. (Please play around and see which detectors are best suited to which sources.)
 
Thanks,
 
BAA.

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Thanks BAA I'll look into those and get back to you.

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Thanks, BAA, thus is very interesting.

 

I attended a lecture related to gravitational waves not long ago. I find the fact that gravitational waves are of audible frequencies to be really cool. It will be interesting to see where this goes for sure!

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Thanks, BAA, thus is very interesting.

 

I attended a lecture related to gravitational waves not long ago. I find the fact that gravitational waves are of audible frequencies to be really cool. It will be interesting to see where this goes for sure!

 

Well, if you want to "hear" more about gravitational waves D, then plug in a pair of cans and listen to the sound files on this site.

 

http://www.soundsofspacetime.org/

 

The videos are interesting too.

 

Enjoy!

 

BAA.

 

 

 

 

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So one possible explanation for the cold spot is that it might be a place where our universe is bumping up against another universe? Wow!

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So one possible explanation for the cold spot is that it might be a place where our universe is bumping up against another universe? Wow!

 

Not exactly, Ficino.

The CMB is light from 380,000 years after the Big Bang and this cold spot might be a relic from an earlier period, encoded in the polarization of that light.  When I say earlier, I mean from the very earliest instants after the Big Bang.  The 'bumping up against' would have been between nascent bubble universes (ours and another) at the Planck scale.  The microscopic imprint of this event on our universe has since been magnified a million, billion, trillion-fold by Inflation, to become the cold spot that satellites have detected stretching across our southern skies.  A very, very small thing becoming one of the very, very biggest things.  So bumping (present tense) isn't really the case. Bumped (past tense) is more accurate.

 

ColdSpot_Planck_600px.jpg

 

The cold spot covers most of the Centaurus - Hydra region.  Folks in the southern hemisphere can see this area of sky - but not the cold spot.  For that you'd need eyes that can register microwaves!

 

Centaurus-constellation-map.gif

 

 

Thanks,

 

BAA.

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Amazing. Isn't 380,000 years after the BB almost a blip? To think that a universe "bumped up against" another one, whenever it happened, is staggering. 

 

It's also moving. Yesterday I just read this (in the original Greek, lol). Aristotle is talking about the most advanced theories of astronomers of his own time:

 

"But as to how many these [sc. spatial movements of the planets] are, we now -- to give some notion of it -- state what some of the mathematicians say, so that there be some definite number for our thought to grasp. For the rest, though, we must partly inquire for ourselves, partly learn from other inquirers, and if something contrary to what is now being said appears correct to those who are involving themselves with these issues, we should be amicable to both sides, but follow the more exact ones." ~ Metaphysics XII.8 (tr. Reeve)

 

The world class genius of his own day was eager to set aside beliefs if they turned out to be contradicted by the more exact studies of the evidence. And later ages took things that Aristotle - Aristotle the researcher and questioner - said as though gospel, not to be questioned. 

 

It is inspiring to see scientists pushing to expand our grasp of reality, and it is wondrous to encounter the new questions that advances churn up.

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Amazing. Isn't 380,000 years after the BB almost a blip? To think that a universe "bumped up against" another one, whenever it happened, is staggering. 

 

Yes.  Divide 13.72 billion by 380,000 to find out how small a blip. ;)

 

https://arxiv.org/pdf/1107.2593.pdf

 

Figure # 3 from the above paper shows a cross-section through a bubble collision, with the 'bruise' (a cold spot) appearing on the domain wall.  From our p.o.v. on Earth we would see a circular feature in the CMB.

 

Please cut me some slack on this one, F.

I've yet to read Kleban's paper properly and work out what it means in the context of my understanding of Inflation.  For instance, one issue that needs resolving in my mind is how to square the notion of 'apparently' spherical bubble universes that have no center and no edge... bumping into each other.  It's likely that each bubble universe should be considered, not as a 3-d sphere, but as a 4-d hypersphere.  Which would make the collision an impact between the hypersurfaces of each universe.

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hypersphere

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hypersurface

 

:huh:

 

 

 

 

It's also moving. Yesterday I just read this (in the original Greek, lol). Aristotle is talking about the most advanced theories of astronomers of his own time:

 

"But as to how many these [sc. spatial movements of the planets] are, we now -- to give some notion of it -- state what some of the mathematicians say, so that there be some definite number for our thought to grasp. For the rest, though, we must partly inquire for ourselves, partly learn from other inquirers, and if something contrary to what is now being said appears correct to those who are involving themselves with these issues, we should be amicable to both sides, but follow the more exact ones." ~ Metaphysics XII.8 (tr. Reeve)

 

The world class genius of his own day was eager to set aside beliefs if they turned out to be contradicted by the more exact studies of the evidence. And later ages took things that Aristotle - Aristotle the researcher and questioner - said as though gospel, not to be questioned. 

 

It is inspiring to see scientists pushing to expand our grasp of reality, and it is wondrous to encounter the new questions that advances churn up.

 

Would that Aristotle were alive today!

 

 

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No worries about slack, BAA!

 

I read a review of a new book published by Cambridge Univ. Press. It's by two physicists, Geraint A. Lewis and Luke A. Barnes. It argues for a universe - or multiverse, even - fine-tuned for life. It brings in theism as more probable than not. It seems to have a lot of "what if" questions.

 

I was going to link the review here, and then I thought, it actually doesn't sound all that compelling. But if anyone is interested, I'll post the review over on the Sci and Religion board.

 

 

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I personally don't find design arguments to be very convincing in general, for quite a few reasons. A couple of years ago, I read Antony Flew's book "There is a God" hoping to find something novel there, but I was disappointed. It was just more of the same tired drivel.

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No worries about slack, BAA!

 

I read a review of a new book published by Cambridge Univ. Press. It's by two physicists, Geraint A. Lewis and Luke A. Barnes. It argues for a universe - or multiverse, even - fine-tuned for life. It brings in theism as more probable than not. It seems to have a lot of "what if" questions.

 

I was going to link the review here, and then I thought, it actually doesn't sound all that compelling. But if anyone is interested, I'll post the review over on the Sci and Religion board.

 

 

 

Hello again, Ficino. :)

 

As promised I've delved into Kleban's paper on bubble collisions.

My initial concerns about each bubble being a hypersphere have vanished - because I now see that I'd tripped myself.  His paper deals with the growth of bubble universes within an infinite volume of space-time.  It doesn't have anything to do with any kind of boundary of the volume, hyperspherical or otherwise.

 

 bubblesj.png

 

In the above graphic the Inflating volume is white and each bubble universe is blue.

The above is, of course, just a 'frozen' snapshot of an extremely dynamic and rapidly-changing environment.  A frenetically-boiling, endless ocean of energy is an apt analogy.

7560082-Blue-white-water-bubbles-in-a-pool-which-lock-like-boiling-water-in-a-cooking-pot-Stock-Photo.jpg

 

Going back to the graphic, the blue bubbles are considered to be separate and causally-disconnected universes providing that they don't 'bump' into ours.

Any that do bump are causally connected, by way of the impact 'bruise' they leave as a circular mark on the CMB.  This possibility is now back on the table as an explanation for the circular feature that appears in our maps of the CMB.

 

 ColdSpot_Planck_600px.jpg

 

 

I can't cut-and-paste from Kleban's paper, so please go there and look at Figure # 4.

This is an idealized description of how the circular feature appears to us, in the CMB.  For the sake of simplicity, the Earth is positioned at the center of our inflating bubble universe.  (This could be so.  We could be at the center - but there's no way of knowing this and the Copernican principle forbids us from making that anthropocentric assumption anyway.)

 

From our central p.o.v. the CMB is equidistant from us at all points in the sky. 

This is represented by the circle, which in three dimensions, would be a sphere.  Another bubble universe has come in from the right-hand side of the page and 'bumped' into the inflating surface of our bubble.  The interface between the affected and unaffected areas of our universe is delineated by two dashed, vertical red lines.  

 

Question : What would these look like if seen on the surface of a sphere?  

 

Answer :    Yes... they would appear as two circles.

 

And there you have your circular feature in the CMB, as seen from Earth.  

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Imho, Kleban's closing comments bear consideration too.

A discovery of a bubble collision in the CMB would confirm a prediction of string theory, and more broadly demonstrate the reality of eternal inflation, revolutionize our understanding of the big bang, and indicate the existence of other "universes". 

 

Thanks,

 

BAA.

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