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    • My sincerest apologies for the following wall of text. TL;DR: I like math, infinity is cool, and I don't think infinite replication is a necessary conclusion.     I said in my last post that I think that "infinite" and "indefinite" mean different things. In this post I want to elaborate on this, and also to talk a bit more about some of the issues surrounding infinity.   Let's start with a definition of "infinite". Literally, the word means something like "limitless". This is the sense in which mathematicians and physicists usually use the word. "Indefinite", on the other hand, is usually used by mathematicians and physicists to mean something more like "variable", "unknown" or "arbitrary". It's a subtle difference, but a significant one. A couple examples might help to illustrate what I mean.   Let's think about the set of natural numbers. That is, the usual counting numbers, N={0, 1, 2, 3, 4, ...}. The set's lower bound is 0. (Actually, it has an infinite number of lower bounds, but its greatest lower bound is 0, so let's just use that, and call it the lower bound). But the number of elements of the set is infinite. This is because there is no largest number in the set. Whatever number we are at, there is always a "next one" which is larger. This is directly analogous to Guth's claim that inflationary time is bounded in the past, but not in the future. In precisely the same way, the set of natural numbers is bounded below, but not above.   In mathematics, the number of elements in a set is called that set's "cardinality". So one way of "defining" infinity might be as "the cardinality of the natural numbers". Things which are this sort of infinite are called "countably infinite". By contrast, let's look at "indefinite". Suppose x is a natural number. x is indefinite. It can be anything. But it is not infinite. It can be as large as we want, but it is still finite.   This is why I feel justified in saying that I accept Mark's #3, but reject the notion of inflation which began an infinitely long time ago. The statements "inflation began an indefinitely long time ago" and "inflation began an infinitely long time ago" are not equivalent.   Alright, back to infinity for a moment. What follows is something a digression, but it's a topic that I've always found to be absolutely fascinating, and the conclusion is relevant, I think. Humour me for a moment, if you will.   Let's go back to the natural numbers for a second, and also look at two other sets A={0, 2, 4, 6, 8, ...} and B={1, 3, 5, 7, ...} (ie, the odd and even natural numbers). Both A and B are proper subsets of N, but clearly both A and B have infinite cardinalities. We might be tempted to ask whether their cardinalities are the same, and whether the cardinality of each is less than the cardinality of N. The answer to the first question is "yes", and to the second question is "no". It turns out that the both A and B have exactly the same cardinality as the natural numbers. (This can be proven fairly easily by establishing bijections, pairwise, between the sets). But this means that there are exactly the same number of even numbers as there are of even and odd numbers combined. Somewhat counter-intuitive, but unarguably true.   Now let's go one step one step further and look at the set of real numbers, R. Colloquially defined, the set of real numbers is all the numbers, excluding those which involve taking the square root of a negative (the "complex" numbers). So the set of natural numbers is a subset of the real numbers. The real numbers also contains fractions, pi, the square root of 2, and so on. Clearly the cardinality of the real numbers is infinite. We might be tempted to ask if the cardinality of N is the same as the cardinality of R.   The answer is no. This was proven in a number of ways by Georg Cantor. My favourite proof is the diagonal argument.   This means that there are more real numbers than there are natural numbers, even though the cardinalities of both sets are infinite. It turns out that some infinities are bigger than others.   Mathematicians refer to all infinities which are "equal to" (more precisely, "in bijection with") the cardinality of the natural numbers as "countable" and all infinities which are "larger" than this as "uncountable". Then things really start to get interesting, but maybe only to me.   Ok, digression over. Back on topic.   One of the reasons why I'm not comfortable with accepting the infinite replication hypothesis is because I think it relies on a naive notion of infinity. Suppose we do have an infinite amount of time, and a finite number of patterns. Will these patterns necessarily be repeated infinitely? I don't know that the answer is necessarily "yes". "Yes" would be a very precise conclusion, built upon imprecise notions. What kind of infinity are we talking about here? Is it countable or uncountable? How is the calculation of the probabilities done? In Guth's paper he explicitly states that "we still do not know how to define probabilities in an eternally inflating spacetime" (p 17). If we don't know how to define probabilities, then how can we conclude that infinite replication has occurred, or even probably occurred? This is related to the counter-argument that I made in Mark's final thread from the Den. What it reduces to is that I'm not comfortable assigning a probability of "1" to an event for which no one apparently has any idea of how to properly calculate the probability. At base, I think this is an example of people getting carried away with their physics, and crossing beyond the purview of science.
    • I like the bumper sticker that says ‘Jesus loves you but I’m his favourite ‘.
    • I would recommend a book called ‘the willpower instinct ‘. It explains some of the psychology of why we do what we don’t want to do and vice versa. It also provides some strategies for change. Listen to it on Audible.
    •   Yes, I accept his point #3. The thing that I have issue with is that "indefinitely" does not mean the same thing as "infinitely". More on this in the post which will follow this one.     Ah. I see where you're coming from here. I have a few thoughts about this, which are also relevant to the Aron Ra video and the notion of eternal source material, but I'm not sure that I can coherently represent them. Please bear with me while I stumble my way through this.   Let's take Guth's view of a past-bounded inflationary model as given for a moment. He is clear in his paper that we don't know what happens as we approach this boundary. One possible way of thinking about this is to say that perhaps as we wind the clock back we can get arbitrarily close to the boundary, but never quite reach it. Under this view, time going backwards would asymptotically approach the boundary, but would not ever actually reach or cross it. Much like a graph of exponential decay. I actually quite like this view, and I've used it before to argue against the Kalam Cosmological argument. If time is just a facet of the universe (or inflationary multiverse, if you prefer), then unless there is a universe, there is no time. So even though it may be correct to say that the universe has a past-boundary in time, it can't really be said to have "begun" to exist. We can wind the clock back as far as we want, but we can't ever get to zero, because if we did then the clock would cease to exist. I think this gets us out of the need for ex-nihilo creation, because it means that, in a very real sense, the universe has always been here. I also think it lines up very well with what Aron Ra was saying in the video. But the problem is, I don't think that this actually gets us infinite time at any specific point. Take again the example of an exponential graph:     It's true that the graph continues infinitely in both directions, getting infinitely small in one and infinitely large in the other, but at no point on the graph is the y-value actually infinite. This is similar to what I said in my previous post about there never being a point where we actually have infinite time. So that's one possible way of approaching this.   Another way of getting around the ex nihilo issue is to embrace a quantum creation model. I've heard both Stephen Hawking and Lawrence Krauss discuss this. The idea is that if we go back far enough in time, the universe collapses to the size of a quantum particle. Quantum particles pop into and out of existence, un-caused, all the time. All that is necessary is for the quantum vacuum to exist, and we can escape the ex nihilo nihil fit issue. Now, I have heard some people argue that the quantum vacuum is not nothing, but I would counter that it may well be. We no evidence at all that it is possible to not have a quantum vacuum. So it may be possible for the universe/inflationary multiverse to have a definite beginning and yet not be caused, and for there to be no "prior beginning".   The third thing I want to say is that I'm not sure that the question you mention, of what existed "before" a given fixed beginning is actually coherent. As I argued above, time is just a facet of the universe. If the universe had a beginning, then time had a beginning with it. The notion of "before" relies on the notion of "time". So I don't think that the question "what came before the universe?" actually makes much sense. Unless there is a universe, there is no "before".   Here's hoping at least some of that made sense.
    • I think they should have brought a religious historian on the show to challenged her beliefs and interpretations of scripture. And also to challenge the idea that the Bible is literally true in the first place.    I actually feel sorry for this girl. The fundies have messed her brain up really bad. 
    • I've retyped a response so many times now and nothing does BAA justice. I just found out and I'm shocked, grieved, and tearing up. It hurts. Yet, even in his death, his parting words have filled me with wonderment and appreciation. We all may be made up only of atoms, but special were his indeed.
    •     Welcome Mothernature,   As a fellow member of the Unequally Yoked Club, I also feel your pain.   When DFH (DearFundyHubby) and I first met, we were both ex-catholics and agnostic-atheists.  After being married for a dozen years and 2 kids later, a co-worker of DFH managed to convert brainwash hubby into funnymentalism.   For me, dealing with it was almost identical to the 7 stages of grief.   I was in the anger stage for quite a while, but overall now, I just shake my head and laugh at the insantiy of his religious beliefs.  Other than his insane religion, he is a good man.   (I fixed the title for you.  You'll be able to edit once your status changes from New Member to Regular Member, which will happen after you make approximately 25 posts.)
    •   Actually Gods are created in our image.   Which is why they have all too human characteristics
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