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WalterP last won the day on October 20 2019

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About WalterP

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    Armchair astronomer under marmalade skies.

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  • Still have any Gods? If so, who or what?

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  1. I think I understand your position on indeterminacy. I don't think it's actually that different from my own. The essence of the third premise of my argument, though, doesn't actually depend on indeterminacy being fundamental. If indeterminacy exists at any level (which we agree it does), then absolute determinism is not correct. Full stop. It appears we agree about this. And if absolute determinism is not correct, then it is no good to object to free will on the basis of absolute determinism. That's the main point, because that's the usual objection to free will. A secondary point is that some people object to free will citing that it is difficult to see how free will could arise out of randomness. Here, I think what you've developed above is actually helpful to my point: we don't really know for certain that the randomness is fundamental. It seems to be, but we can't say for sure. So this might not be a problem at all. If it is fundamental however, then it must be the case that it can give rise to emergent properties like consciousness and determinism, because macroscopic systems actually do exhibit these. And if that is the case, then why not free will as well? In this part of the argument I am admittedly speculating. I'm not trying to offer an actual explanation of how this happens, because I haven't the faintest idea; I'm just arguing for the possibility that it could if randomness were actually fundamental. In other words, my point is simply that it is no good to object to free will on the basis of determinism, because absolute determinism is not correct, and that it is no good to object to free will on the basis of randomness because if randomness is actually fundamental then emergent properties must be possible, and free will may be one of these. This leaves us with no good reason to think that free will does not exist, which is the premise. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- I can't think of any way that you and I actually disagree on the points covered above, Disillusioned. It seems that if indeterminacy exists and isn't an artifact of using QM, then absolute determinism cannot function in the universe. However, because I'm cautious by nature, I'm going to relate a true story to you and then make some closing comments. In the middle of the 19th century the universe seemed like a very well ordered place. With one exception, Newton's theory of gravitation neatly accounted for the movements of the eight planets, their many moons, the asteroids and the comets. That exception was the planet Mercury. It's orbit couldn't be accounted for using Newtonian mechanics. In 1847 the discovery of the planet Neptune appeared to cement to preeminent status of Newton. Using Newton's theory the French astronomer and mathematician Urbain Le Verrier used the deviations of Uranus' orbit to predict where this new planet should be. Since Newtonian mechanics cleared worked they were applied to the problem of Mercury's errant orbital motions. If Uranus was being perturbed by another planet it therefore logically followed that Mercury was also be perturbed by another planet, one even closer to the Sun. Thus began a fruitless, thirty year search for the planet Vulcan. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vulcan_(hypothetical_planet) The mystery of Mercury's orbital meanderings wouldn't be solved until the early years of the 20th century. When a patent clerk with too much time on his hands, working in Bern, Switzerland formulated a new and radical theory of gravitation. This was, of course, Albert Einstein and his theory was general relativity. The point of this digression Disillusioned is that the very things that Le Verrier and others considered to be eternal and fundamental were shown to be ephemeral. In the Newtonian paradigm space is fixed and absolute and is unaffected by time, by mass or by gravity. In a similar way, the count of time was fixed and absolute, being unaffected by space, by mass or by gravity. But in GR time and space are fused into space-time and this 'manifold' can warp, stretch and curve, even to the extent of infinite curvature in a black hole singularity. Worse still, time and space ceased to be absolute and became relative, being defined not by some absolute measure by but the circumstances of the observer. I submit that there is a close parallel here to the situation we find ourselves in today. In the mid 19th century one theory was exactingly tested and shown to be satisfactory in every respect except the question of Mercury's orbit. Today we have two apparently irreconcilable theories that have been exactingly tested and shown to be satisfactory in modelling the universe. Back then, nobody could have guessed that the solution to the Mercury problem would result in the overthrow of absolute time and absolute space. That things which were considered fundamental to the universe would have to be abandoned. Today we have no way of knowing what the marriage of QM and GR in QG will do to the things we currently consider fundamental to the universe. Under QG is quantum indeterminacy a fundamental property of the universe? Nobody knows. I therefore think we should therefore be cautious about declaring this or that to be... fundamental. Thank you. Walter.
  2. Hello Disillusioned. There's a lot of ground to cover, so I think I'll break down my response over several separate posts. I agree with this for the most part, barring the parenthetical which I will address below. I don't think it quite goes far enough though. As I've stated before many times, I don't think that science actually get us laws of the universe per se. What it gets us is models of the universe which we build. It is very common to confuse the laws of our models with actual laws of the universe. This would be to confuse knowledge with ontological truth, on my vocabulary. QM and GR are both models that work pretty well for different parts of the universe. Neither is complete, and they don't play well together. Moreover the laws of each are just that: laws of QM and GR, not necessarily actual laws of the universe. What this means, though, is that if a working theory of quantum gravity is developed (and I'm not actually convinced that one will be), its laws too will be merely laws of the theory. So if this is a problem for my argument (which I don't think it is), then it will still be a problem at that point. This I can agree with and, if memory serves, we've tackled the models vs laws issue not so long ago. Which would mean that QM and GR are models and not actual laws and therefore quantum gravity (QG) would also be a model and not a fundamental law of reality. But this throws up a question in my mind. If we can only make better and better models of reality and never know the universe's fundamental laws, can we then really say that indeterminacy is fundamental? It seems to me that the quantum indeterminacy we appear to see could then just be an artifact of the model we are currently using. There's even a precedent for this in cosmology. One that you and I have some familiarity with. When GR is used backwards in time, to run the expansion of the universe back to t zero, the inevitable result is the initial singularity. But as you and I both know, the universe cannot be properly modeled using only GR. Such a model will be incomplete and therefore, not correct. QM must be factored in. What is happening when GR alone is used is that the initial singularity is a nonexistent artifact, generated by using an incomplete model. So, my question to you is this, Disillusioned. Given that our understanding of the universe is necessarily model-dependent, how do we know if the quantum indeterminacy that seems fundamental in QM is actually a fundamental feature of the universe and not just an artifact thrown up by our using QM? (Pause for thought.) Ok, I can now see that this is actually side-issue to the main indeterminacy vs absolute determinism question. But I think I'll let it stand because I'm curious to hear your thoughts. Thank you. Walter.
  3. Hello again Disillusioned. No, there's no need thank you. I'm entirely satisfied that quantum indeterminacy exists and there is ample evidence for it. Ok, we agree that quantum indeterminacy is real, but where we diverge is where you are taking this and how you are using logical inference in the third premise of your argument. As you will be well aware, quantum theory and general relativity are hugely successful in their separate spheres of influence and each has been exactingly tested to very high degrees of precision. Yet, neither of these theories has been successfully reconciled with each other to give an overarching theory that encompasses both the microscopic and the macroscopic. Such a theory usually goes by the name quantum gravity, but nobody currently knows quite what it is or quite how it will work. Therefore, I submit that your argument is premature and overreaches what is known about how quantum theory and general relativity might be reconciled. Until a working theory of quantum gravity arrives we simply cannot say with that quantum indeterminacy is a basic and fundamental law of the universe. It seems to be right now, but we see through a mirror darkly and as far as I'm concerned that's a poor basis for a persuasive argument, especially an inferential one. Disillusioned, please note the nuanced nature of my position re quantum indeterminacy. I acknowledge that it exists (see above) but I remain unpersuaded that it is fundamental to reality. I reserve judgement on that until a feasible theory of quantum gravity arrives on the scene. Therefore, when it comes to your argument I believe that your third premise is flawed. You argue that determinism is not correct. I do not dispute that. What I dispute is your assertion that quantum indeterminacy is fundamental. You do that from a position of almost complete ignorance of how quantum indeterminacy will function in quantum gravity. Will it be fundamental under that overarching theory? Nobody really knows. I will agree that quantum indeterminacy 'appears to be' fundamental. But that is all we know at the moment. To go further than that is to engage in unwarranted speculation. There is a difference between something that appears to be fundamental and something that is fundamental. Too much of a difference to build a persuasive argument upon. So, returning to your argument. I submit that the third premise is flawed because of your unwarranted assertion that quantum indeterminacy is fundamental. I hope this message doesn't come across as too combative, Disillusioned. That is not my intent. I'm simply pushing you (politely and respectfully) to justify your argument. Thank you. Walter.
  4. Quite right, Walter, and thanks for pointing this out. The portion of my post that you bolded was clumsily phrased. I did not mean to imply that indeterminate effects don't tend to cancel out at the macroscopic level. They do. The rest of what I wrote bears this out. What I was trying to say is that quantum objects exhibit indeterminacy, and since everything is composed of quantum objects, everything (including macroscopic systems) are composed of objects which are not determined. As such, determinism cannot be correct as a universal law. It is an emergent property which macroscopic physical systems tend to have. But if determinism is not correct as a universal law, then the objection to free will from determinism fails. That's all. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Thank you for the clarification Disillusioned. However, you still seem to be asserting that determinism is an emergent property on the basis that it cannot be correct. Could you possibly cite some evidence to support this please? Newtonian gravitation is correct within certain parameters, but is not correct within others. That was demonstrated by experiment and observation, i.e., evidence. Currently Einsteinian gravitation is being tested to destruction by experiment and observation and again, evidence will be what decides the issue. So, could you please support your assertion (that determinism emerges from quantum indeterminacy) with evidence? Thank you. Walter.
  5. Hello Disillusioned. Thanks to the Free Will : Yes or No thread in the Colosseum I've taken a renewed interest in this thread. Now we come to the alleged problem of determinism, which I spelled out at the outset of this post. My response to this is simple: determinism is not correct. Indeterminacy exists at the quantum level, and since the entire universe is composed of quantum objects, indeterminacy perforce exists all the way up. Now, generally speaking, random quantum effects tend to cancel each other out at the macroscopic level. This leaves us with certain macroscopic phenomena being deterministic. Notice, however, that it does not follow from this that the entire universe is deterministic. Given knowledge of the initial conditions of a particular macroscopic physical system, and the knowledge of the relevant scientific laws, it is possible to predict future states of that system. The entire universe, however, does not need to (and, in fact, doesn't) behave in this way. Determinism is a kind of emergent property that macroscopic physical systems tend to have. Somehow it arises out of the underlying quantum randomness. Could you please help me understand the line of argument you are making in the highlighted sentence above? It's currently my understanding that quantum-scale indeterminacy gives way to macroscopic determinism through the phenomenon of quantum decoherence, also known as the collapse of the wave function. Which is why we do not see macroscopic objects like raindrops, planets or human beings in superposition with one another, tunneling through solid matter or being 'entangled' over large distances. If indeterminacy exists at all scales then surely it would be impossible to employ deterministic theories of gravitation, like general relativity, to yield meaningful measurements and predictions? So, can you please clarify your 'scaling' of quantum indeterminacy into the macroscopic realm? Perhaps with examples and evidence? Thank you. Walter.
  6. Well Edgarcito, I'm very glad that I can't and won't make your kind of leap of faith. I could never look myself in the mirror again if I did that. Writing off millions of drowning babies and pregnant women as evil and deserving of agonizing death... ...while loving, praising and excusing the 'pure, holy and eternally good' agent of their pain and suffering? No. Not for me.
  7. I can't help you can't keep up at your age....the mental leaps. We are subject to whatever...God, the Universe, something larger. Likewise, there are things subject to us. I'm just saying that within your own righteousness, you have probably killed an ant, as God has, some evil human. You understood the ant could sting, God understands the capabilities of man. The problem is you are projecting your moral subjectivity on to a larger... --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- According to the book of Genesis god DID step on every ant human in the world, except for Noah's family. I certainly can't keep up with the mental leap required to accept that this was within his righteousness.
  8. Leia, I wish you well. Thank you. Walter.
  9. Hello Leia. I hope you won’t mind my relating a true story to you. The story is true because its my story. Many years ago, I was betrayed by someone who was a very good friend and close confidant. His act of betrayal hurt me terribly and had very bad consequences for me on personal, familial and financial levels. I’ve never spoken to him again and I avoid all contact with him, even though we still live in the same area. Fast forward five years and I was working in a department of local government and I had access to confidential records and information about tens of thousands of people living in the area. One day the thought came to me to use my access privileges and interrogate the computer system about my ex-friend. Acting on a malevolent impulse I called up his details and covertly wrote them down in my pocket diary. “Perhaps I can (mis)use this data in some way to pay him back and hurt him as much (or more) as he hurt me?” I thought to myself. I made no changes to his data on the system and since I was allowed to access this kind of data, none of my colleagues or superiors were suspicious. Leia, by doing this I had become the very thing he was – a betrayer of trust. I had broken the Official Secrets Act, several Data protection laws and betrayed the trust placed in me by my employers. I’m not proud of this, btw. I’m ashamed of myself. Now let’s fast forward another five years. My marriage was going through a difficult time and my wife and I used the services of counselors, both separately and together. In one of my solo consultations my counselor Karen asked me if there were any baggage (secrets or burdens) from my past that might be weighing upon me and affecting my marriage. We dealt with several and then, on my last solo session with Karen, I put a piece of paper on her desk. This was the page from my diary with the stolen data about my old enemy written on it. I explained everything to her and said that I wanted to unburden myself of it. She understood and promised me that she would destroy it without looking at its information. I’m relating this story to you Leia, not to lecture or judge you, but to offer you a gentle warning about the effects that revenge can have upon a person. There’s an old Chinese proverb that goes something like this. “Before you embark on a journey of revenge, dig TWO graves. One for your enemy and one for yourself.” I sincerely and genuinely ask you to not walk down the road of revenge. Please do as I did and turn away before its too late. Turning away doesn’t necessarily mean forgiving or forgetting. I haven’t forgotten what was done to me, nor have I really forgiven him. But at least I’ve chosen not to repay the harm he did to me by hurting him back. There are other ways. Please reconsider your plans before you come to harm. Thank you. Walter.
  10. Edgarcito, Once again you've got the wrong end of the stick. Three times now I've explained to you, with quotes, that I, WalterP, an ordinary member of this forum, have no right or authority to limit inquiry in this forum. For your benefit, I'll try and explain again what is actually happening. You can believe anything you like, but when you submit evidence to support your beliefs, your evidence will be considered persuasive by us only if it falls within certain parameters. So we are limiting our belief, not yours. Do you see that now? Thank you. Walter.
  11. If the idea of controlling subjectivity is insanity to you, Edgarcito... Then there can't really be much point in you trying to remove it in your work, can there? Which is what you said you do for 60 hours a week. Posted Tuesday at 08:21 PM I understand that you are saying science is used to remove the subjectivity. I do this about 10 hours a day, six days a week......got that part. Outside of Ex-C, perhaps you should quit your job now, telling your employers that, because your human subjectivity can never be compensated for, everything you do for them is useless? Inside of Ex-C, perhaps if you once again accused me of being condescending to you, that might help to cover up the fact that you've contradicted yourself? How's your conscience, btw? Walter.
  12. Not so. The Moderators want the goalposts of this forum to be as wide as the ones successfully used in law and in science to manage and control subjectivity. That's why this thread now exists. To let visiting Christians and other believers that they can expect to find these entirely reasonable goalposts in this forum. But, putting that aside now Edgarcito, lets return to these questions. 1. In your life and in your work, do you use the same units as other people do? 2. Do you do this by conscious and deliberate agreement? Thank you. Walter.
  13. Hmmm.... Edgarcito wants them as w---i---d---e as the entire universe. I only want them as wide as his part of west Texas. This wide... west Texas TF.... a small city, 100K folks....on the edge of the desert essentially that is far west Texas. Our natural trees reach ten to 30 feet where 100 miles west of here, they are 3 to 6 feet. We have a historic cavalry fort, Ft. Concho, that is part of our claim to fame. Big beer country.
  14. No, Edgarcito. I haven't imposed anything upon you. My argument is that in your work and in your life you use the same units as other people do and that you do this by conscious and deliberate agreement. But it looks like you want to deny and dispute that. So, I'll just go ahead and ask you for direct answers to these direct questions. 1. In your life and in your work, do you use the same units as other people do? 2. Do you do this by conscious and deliberate agreement? Thank you. Walter.
  15. You are missing the point, Edgarcito. Regardless of whether the units we have are entirely arbitrary, derived from something or set in stone, you abide by them in your work and in everything you do in your life. And if you abide by them outside of this forum, why won't you abide by them inside this forum? That's the elephant in the room. Why won't you?
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