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WalterP last won the day on October 20

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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. How about this, Josh? Just as humans display a range of inherited and acquired traits, so there may well be a range of empathetic feeling within humans. We can see this displayed by looking at the opposite ends of the spectrum. There are some, like Mother Theresa of Calcutta, who show deep empathy to everyone, no matter what. Conversely, there are psychopaths, who have no empathy within them at all and who perform inhuman acts of cruelty and indifference. Perhaps those who prefer to believe that morality drops down from a supernatural agent have trouble finding empathy for others within themselves? But, once they settle on this belief, a kind of key turns within their psyche, unlocking their deep store of empathy. Then, they can behave with great empathy to others. But belief in the supernatural is the only key that will fit their lock and change them. The supernatural agent doesn't have to be real, it just has to be real to them. Does that sound feasible? Thank you. Walter.
  2. I can't speak for anyone else, but I've found that non-believers in general tend to give the following answers to your questions. The morality comes from our evolution. We have evolved to have empathy towards others. It's not a different morality because it's there all the time. We just have to look inside ourselves to find it and use it. There's no need to invoke any outside agency to account for it. Thank you. Walter.
  3. Yes. Once one cuts emotional ties with Christianity and also deals with the after effects, then emotions become irrelevant. Thank you. Walter.
  4. Ok Prof, in the light of your comments leads me to a revised position. How about this? A Christian can be asked to disbelieve, but it's almost certain that they will be emotionally unwilling to do so. Conversely, an Ex-Christian can be asked to believe again, but due to negative emotional experiences of Christianity, they will be emotionally unwilling to do so.... ...until they have successfully processed attendant emotions like anger, guilt, shame or fear. Then, once they are at peace with their past, whether or not they are intellectually unable to believe is up to them. Thank you. Walter.
  5. In this thread... https://www.ex-christian.net/topic/82674-truth-knowledge-and-belief-an-exploration/page/2/#comments ...Disillusioned and I have been discussing something that seems to resonate with the topic of this thread. The willing suspension of disbelief (or the willingness to believe) are acts of the human will, but the underlying basis and driving power of them is emotion. If there exists no desire to believe or to disbelieve, then no act to do either will be taken. This works in both directions. A Christian can be asked to disbelieve, but it's almost certain that they will be emotionally unwilling to do so. Conversely, an Ex-Christian can be asked to believe and due to negative emotional experiences of Christianity, they will be emotionally unwilling to do so. The ability to believe or disbelieve is not the question here. The emotional desire to do so, is. When I play Devil's Advocate I do so, secure in the knowledge that my beliefs are not being challenged. This is emotional security. I would imagine that when a Christian does the same, but from the opposite viewpoint, they also feel emotionally safe. I would submit that the true key to understanding what's at work when it comes to belief or disbelief isn't ability, but desire. Thank you. Walter.
  6. Hello again, Disillusioned. I'm currently hundreds of miles from home, helping out my brother in law, who's home has been severely damaged in the floods that have affected this part of the UK. Therefore, I haven't really had the time to do justice to this thread or the Failed Cosmology thread either. Short messages, posted in the Den are all I've been able to send recently. But now I have enough time to respond to your latest offering. I checked your three axioms and concur. This is an important insight, Disillusioned. It is vital to look at what motivates scientists, theists and theistic scientists to do what they do. Theists are motivated to get closer to, understand more of or validate their belief in God. Scientists certainly want to understand more of the natural universe and (if they acting professionally) should be neutral about having their secular beliefs about it being validated by evidence. Confirmation or refutation should, ideally, carry no emotional weight in a scientist's thinking. They should be able to calmly and dispassionately accept whatever the evidence tells them. But, because humans are emotional beings, it's impossible for any scientist to behave in the way I've outlined. Therefore, scientists are forced by their very natures to work under the burden of their emotions. Usually, they are professional and objective enough to filter out their emotional biases. They are also supported in this by the system of peer review. Though it is imperfect, it works well enough to eliminate the bulk of personal bias and subjective interpretation from what is published. But, theistic scientists have a double burden. They have the normal range of human emotions to filter out from their work AND they also possess are strong emotional connection to God, which must necessarily also be removed, for the sake of professionalism and objectivity. Sadly, there are those who succumb to the emotional pressure of their faith and compromise their scientific objectivity accordingly. Their motivation has ceased to be one of neutral, scientific curiosity. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Motivation Motivation is the experience of desire or aversion…You want something, or want to avoid or escape something. As such, motivation has both an objective side – a goal or thing you aspire to – and an internal or subjective aspect: it is you that wants the thing (or wants it to go away). At minimum, motivation requires the biological substrate for physical sensations of pleasure and pain. Animals can thus want or disdain specific objects based on sense perception and experience. But motivation does not stop there. The capacity to form concepts and to reason allows humans can go beyond this minimum state, with a much greater possible range of desires and aversions. This much greater range is supported by the ability to choose one's own goals and values, combined with time horizons for value achievement that can encompass years, decades or longer, and the ability to re-experience past events. When the desire to understand the natural becomes compromised by the desire to validate the supernatural, the objectivity of the scientist in question is in doubt. So, when a scientist shifts from seeking to understand the natural world to seeking to validate their faith are they at risk of begging the question too? There could be two Christian arguments against this. The second more ridiculous than the first. Christian : "Because each of us is a totally unique individual, no two people can agree on what they observe. That is why faith trumps observation." Second Christian : "Rocks fall through intelligent falling, not through the action of gravity. God wills it and it happens. Falling rocks are evidence of intelligent design by God." Agreed. This resonates with my earlier point about emotional bias. Because theists are emotionally invested in their beliefs they have a range of emotionally-driven strategies for dealing with whatever challenges their beliefs. Ignore it completely. Deny that it took place. Lie about it. Claim that everyone interprets events uniquely, so there is no objective way of knowing what actually happened. Claim that it is part of God's plan. Claim that God is testing their faith. Claim that Satan did it. Etc., etc. Ad Nauseam. Their objectivity has been compromised by their desires. Some Christians understand the danger any applying any kind of limits, rules or structure to their understanding. Doing that would limit their freedom to believe what they want as they want and to deny what they want, when they want. They claim absolute individuality and uniqueness for all, even though what they claim requires that other members have a shared and collective understanding of their claim. Many thanks for this, Disillusioned. Walter.
  7. I'm only guessing Disillusioned, but perhaps because the Bible begins and ends with the creation and destruction of the cosmos, maybe Craig feels theologically constrained to have an absolute flow of time in his cosmology - where there is a definite beginning and a definite end? On another front, this... http://backreaction.blogspot.com/ (What is Dark Energy?) ...could be relevant to this thread. This paragraph caught my eye. The cosmological constant in this model is not extracted from one observation in particular, but from a combination of observations. Notably that is the distribution of matter in the universe, the properties of the cosmic microwave background, and supernovae redshifts. Dark energy is necessary to make the concordance model fit to the data. At the I.A.S. lecture I attended, the speaker said that there was only one line of evidence for the cosmological constant - supernovae redshifts. But I'd put more trust in what Sabine H says, seeing as she's a top-ranked scientist and he wasn't. It seems there are three lines of evidence for the CC. This makes Craig's cosmology very precarious indeed. It's much harder to argue against something indicated by converging lines of evidence. But now I have to wait and see what Sabine says. She's not sold on the CC and thinks that a type of MOND can be used to explain the apparent acceleration of the universe's expansion. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Modified_Newtonian_dynamics Maybe I'll check and see if the Hawking - Penrose singularity theory is compatible with it. But not just yet. Thank you. Walter.
  8. Hello again Disillusioned and Josh. If you follow this link ... https://www.reasonablefaith.org/writings/question-answer/how-do-i-interpret-general-relativity-theory ...you'll see that Craig rejects the interpretation of General relativity that is used by the mainstream scientific community. This interpretation is the basis for the Lambda Cold Dark Matter model, the currently-accepted model of modern cosmology. It's also the interpretation that was used by Hawking and Penrose, when they wrote all of their singularity theories. So, their 1970 paper, The Singularities of gravitational Collapse and Cosmology, uses an interpretation of general relativity that Craig... rejects. Yes, you read that right. He rejects it. But that leads me to reject, not general relativity, but a four-dimensionalist interpretation of general relativity. I see gravitation, not as spacetime curvature but as a force, just like the other forces of nature such as electromagnetism. I can't overstate strongly enough how crazy this sounds to me. Without a four-dimensional curvature of space-time, how can there be any kind of singularity? So, black hole singularities aren't where the curvature of space-time becomes infinite? And just how do the forces of nature, that act ONLY within space and time, cause the initial singularity - where space and time themselves come into existence? In one sweep Craig has rejected what general relativity offered him, thanks to the work of Hawking and Penrose. I just don't get it. Your friend has evidently bought uncritically into presentations of general relativity in terms of spacetime as a literalistic piece of metaphysics, rather than taking spacetime as a heuristic device for expounding the theory. If space-time is just a heuristic device for expounding the theory, then the scientific community seems to be using it improperly, to promote space-time as being physically real. Just as Craig is using an epistemic truth improperly, to promote singularity theory as being physically real. Pot. Kettle. Black? Lastly, please consider this. It is true that because I am persuaded that a tensed theory (or so-called A-theory) of time is true (according to which temporal becoming is real and there is an objective difference between past, present, and future), I hold to a neo-Lorentzian interpretation of special relativity (according to which absolute simultaneity and length exist, even if we are unable to measure them due to the effects of uniform motion upon our measuring instruments). For the same reason, I reject four-dimensionalism or spacetime realism (a so-called B-theory of time, according to which all events in time are on an ontological par). Mainstream science uses the B-theory of time. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/B-theory_of_time For example, the equations of Newtonian physics describe events going forward in time or going backwards in time equally well. The formula used to describe the motion of planet going around a star has no time function incorporated into it. Newtonian gravity deals only with the forces acting between objects. Time has no effect on the quantity or values of the forces in equations. In the same way Einsteinian gravity deals only with the curvature of space-time. The basis of Special and General relativity is that there is NO absolute measure of time or location. Everything is relative, not absolute. So, if Craig imposes an absolute measure of time on a theory that was designed to be relative, then he shoots himself in the foot, when it comes to what the Hawking - Penrose singularity theory gives him - a definite beginning of time and space. We know this is the case, because they say so. (Emphasis is mine.) A Brief History of Time, Stephen Hawking. https://www.fisica.net/relatividade/stephen_hawking_a_brief_history_of_time.pdf Chapter 3, The Expanding Universe. Page 8. In 1965 I read about Penrose’s theorem that any body undergoing gravitational collapse must eventually form a singularity. I soon realized that if one reversed the direction of time in Penrose’s theorem, so that the collapse became an expansion, the conditions of his theorem would still hold, provided the universe were roughly like a Friedmann model on large scales at the present time. Penrose’s theorem had shown that any collapsing star must end in a singularity; the time-reversed argument showed that any Friedmann-like expanding universe must have begun with a singularity. For technical reasons, Penrose’s theorem required that the universe be infinite in space. So, I could in fact, use it to prove that there should be a singularity only if the universe was expanding fast enough to avoid collapsing again (since only those Friedmann models were infinite in space). During the next few years I developed new mathematical techniques to remove this and other technical conditions from the theorems that proved that singularities must occur. The final result was a joint paper by Penrose and myself in 1970, which at last proved that there must have been a big bang singularity provided only that general relativity is correct and the universe contains as much matter as we observe. https://press.princeton.edu/books/paperback/9780691168449/the-nature-of-space-and-time Chapter 2, Structure of Spacetime Singularities. Roger Penrose. P28/29. Stephen Hawking (1965) observed, very early on, that one can also turn my original argument upside down on a cosmological scale, i.e., apply it to a time-reversed situation. A reversed trapped surface then implies that there had been a singularity in the past (making appropriate causality assumptions). Now, the (time-reversed) trapped surface is very large, being on a cosmological scale. You see guys, it's the lack of absolute time that first allowed Hawking to reverse the flow of time in Penrose's equations for a black hole singularity. The B theory of time allows that. Hawking reversed it and change inevitable collapse to inevitable expansion. By rejecting the B theory for the A, Craig has taken that flexibility away. Even though he clearly doesn't realize it, he's emasculated the very theory that he bases his cosmology and his apologetic arguments upon. Thank you. Walter.
  9. Hello again, Disillusioned. I've been thinking about what you've written here. Agreed. Hawking and Penrose's singularity theory is proven by contradiction. Alarm bells have started to sound in my mind, when I read the word 'experience'. Yes, it is the right word to use, but I feel that it should be clearly defined and its usage subject to strict protocols. The reason why I'm so cautious here is that theists and religiously-minded people from all cultures and societies are apt to use their 'experiences' to reinforce their beliefs. If we give them a free hand to treat their subjective and highly-personal experiences as entirely valid knowledge, then they will do so. They will place these subjective experiences on a par with rigorously-tested scientific knowledge. But the two are not the same. Blaise Pascal provides us with a worked example of this. https://churchpop.com/2016/04/19/night-fire-blaise-pascals/ His utterly subjective, life-changing experience cannot be treated as having the same experiential 'weight' as the mathematical proofs and formulas he worked with. It can be granted as being true for him, but not true for all. In my opinion there has to be a sharply drawn line of demarcation between the kinds of experiences that constitute valid objective knowledge and those that don't. If we fail to impose rigor now, we can hardly backtrack and impose it later. Agreed. But, once again, we must not leave the door open to those who would establish the real brute facts about the world from their subjective, personal experiences. If they cannot abide by sensible and rational protocols for judging which experiences lead to valid knowledge claims about ontological truths and which don't, then their 'experiences' must be judged as invalid. I do wish that I didn't find these concepts so slippery! Give me hard data any time, over this. Disillusioned, is it possible to represent these four things (necessary truths, formal truths, epistemic truths and ontological truths) in some sort of visual representation? A Venn diagram or a flow chart, perhaps? Right now I'm struggling to see which relates to which and how. I am way, way out of my depth when I leave the rigor of science behind. Yes, I acknowledge that this is a failing on my part. When I look at a science paper, all of the work that goes into removing as much subjectivity as possible from the topic in question, has already been done for me. A point of order, if I may. Going back to what I said above, scientific observation and experience must never be equated with subjective, personal observation and experience. The two are not on the same footing and they carry different 'weight'. No thank you. I'm already bogged down (see above) and I don't think I could cope with delving into the differences between deductive and inductive reasoning. If it ain't broke, then don't fix it! Agreed. More than enough and enough for me to need some help, please Disillusioned. I would just like to say one more thing about WLC, though. Right now I'm undecided as to what the **** he was thinking when he began promoting the H - P singularity theory as ontologically true. If it's a genuine failure to comprehend the difference, then, for someone so learned and well-trained in philosophy, this is a rookie-level mistake. If it's a case of his emotional-driven religiosity overwhelming his professional objectivity, then this is a terrible blow to his credibility. If he knows the difference and deliberately obscures it (to bring low hanging fruit in the kingdom) then he's no more than a liar for Jesus. If he knows the difference and deliberately obscures it (to look good in the eyes of his fellow Christians) then how much of his ministry is just a vanity project? I'd like to give him the benefit of the doubt, but I just can't see any way he comes out of this well. Thank you. Walter. Oh and btw, I'll be illustrating where WLC has shot himself in the other foot, in the Failed Cosmology, in a little while.
  10. Yes. That's quite true. But there's also the limitation of what can be shown on a flat computer screen. The flat, square multi-coloured plane that Linde uses to show the evolution of the energy field is a compressed view of a 4 dimensional volume of space, so it's already not a true representation at all. More like a flat map of a 3 dimensional landscape, with an extra dimension still hidden, one that we cannot see. Each peak terminates in a new universe, but these are also 4 dimensional hyperspheres too, so not only can they not be properly shown on a flat screen, but our visual cortex's can only interpret them as spheres, 3 dimensional objects. Any way you cut this, our computers and our brains simply aren't up to the job of visualizing what's actually going on here. That's the frustrating part of not being able to do the math. Those that can are able to calculate what 4 dimensional spaces are, even if they can't visualize them. Whenever I see a diagram that uses a sphere to say something about the cosmos Josh, I make sure to check if it's really a sphere or if it's a sphere that's meant to be a hypersphere. If it's the latter, I just accept that I'll never be able to visualize it properly. C'est la vie! Thank you. Walter.
  11. Yes Josh. And here's one of the reasons why I'm not wed to any particular model of cosmology. They all depend on evidence and where there's sufficient wiggle room for several competing theories to interpret poorly-defined evidence, we can't say which one is the best. As I said to Pantheory a few days ago, I'm waiting for the final data release from the Gaia satellite, the launch of the James Webb Space Telescope, the completion of the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope and the European Extremely Large Telescope. When these are up and running they should be able to reduce the wiggle room and zero in on the best cosmological model. https://www.cosmos.esa.int/web/gaia/release https://jwst.nasa.gov/content/status/index.html https://www.lsst.org/ https://www.eso.org/public/unitedkingdom/teles-instr/elt/ If Dark Energy gets ruled out, then we could be back to a Closed or Flat universe, but that would still mean that Inflation invalidates the Hawking - Penrose singularity theory. Catch is, Inflation can only be currently inferred to have happened, so Craig's position will look less precarious. Thank you. Walter.
  12. I went here on Friday. https://www.ukastroshow.com/ Also went to this lecture. https://www.ukastroshow.com/profile-6/ This was about the cosmological constant (aka, Dark Energy) and the accelerating universe. Even though Fellowes isn't a scientist as such, he's a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society and seems to know his stuff. When the Q & A session came round I asked about reconciling two apparently contradicting results. The 1998 supernova data shows that we inhabit an accelerating Open universe, with a positive (Lambda) cosmological constant. But the CMBR tests run by satellites show that our universe is Flat, implying a Lambda value of zero. Fellowes replied that, unlike dark matter, where there are several converging lines of evidence, dark energy has only one line of evidence for it - the supernova data. He reckoned that the tension between the two data sets would be resolved by future measurements and that the disagreement would vanish in favour of there being no dark energy and a Flat universe. Thank you. Walter.
  13. Now for a question. Josh, you'll see that Linde doesn't actually show any new Big Bangs happening, doesn't show any new universes emerging from the tips of the peaks and doesn't show these universes becoming exponentially large. Why do you think that is? Thank you. Walter. (Just in case you missed this, Josh.)
  14. Josh, If you recall this graphic, I explained that it shows how we cannot tell the geometry of the entire universe, from looking at the curvature of space within the observable universe. We could be in a Closed, Flat or Open universe, but the full extent of our entire universe is so vast that all three kinds will look flat to us. Therefore, if the curvature is unknowable, so is the true extent. That's all that I can reasonably say without venturing into speculation. Ok Josh, you seem to want to know more about how each separate universe in the multiversal ensemble of universes relates to the others? Is that about right? If so, then I can acquaint you with what I know about Andrei Linde's Chaotic Eternal Inflation model, but only if it's understood that I consider it to be speculation. Please do not conclude that what I'm about to explain is in any way right, correct, factual or true. Nor do I support, agree with or promote it. Are we clear on both points? This graphic dates from the 80's or 90's and was used by Linde to illustrate his model in an easily understood way. It's not an actual representation of what the multiverse looks like. A scalar energy field is represented by a flat, square multi-coloured plane and this evolves in a chaotic way. http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi= If you scroll down to page 18 of this .pdf presentation you will find four images that show a scalar field evolving over time. Here is what Linde has written about the scalar field. Figure 2: Evolution of scalar fields φ and Φ during the process of self-reproduction of the universe. The height of the distribution shows the value of the field φ which drives inflation. The surface is painted red, green or blue corresponding to three different minima of the potential of the field Φ. Laws of low-energy physics are different in the regions of different color. The peaks of the “mountains” correspond to places where quantum fluctuations bring the scalar fields back to the Planck density. Each of such places in a certain sense can be considered as a beginning of a new Big Bang. At the end of inflation, each such part becomes exponentially large. The universe becomes a multiverse, a huge eternally growing fractal consisting of different exponentially large locally homogeneous parts with different laws of low-energy physics operating in each of them. So, the tip of each mountain peak represents the site where a new Big Bang takes and a new universe is 'born'. The given colour and height of the peak denotes what kind of physical laws hold good in that particular universe. Each of these universes becomes exponentially large. Which means that anyone inhabiting them will be in the same situation as we are, unable to tell if their particular universe is Closed, Flat or Open. It also means that just as we see our universe as being 'locally' homogeneous, so will everyone else. Nobody will be able to know anything about what is happening in the scalar field that 'birthed' their universe, nor about anything that is happening on other peaks or in other universes that have been 'birthed' by other peaks. Each universe is entirely separate from each other. Now for a question. Josh, you'll see that Linde doesn't actually show any new Big Bangs happening, doesn't show any new universes emerging from the tips of the peaks and doesn't show these universes becoming exponentially large. Why do you think that is? Thank you. Walter.
  15. Josh, As far as I know there are no agreed or properly defined answers to you questions. That's because the one thing that could help us define and agree is denied to us. Evidence. We have no evidence, no observations, no data and no measurements to verify or falsify anything to do with what lies beyond our observable universe. Therefore, whatever is theorized about what lies 'out there' cannot be defined or agreed upon. This is why the multiverse models proposed by Max Tegmark are just as valid or invalid as those proposed by Alan Guth, Andrei Linde, Sean Carroll or Neil Turok. Nobody knows! Even the nomenclature used by different scientists can be different and nobody can gainsay anyone else. For example, Lee Smolin's Fecund Universe hypothesis posits the creation of new universes from black hole singularities, leading to what is a multiverse in all but name. Yet Smolin is adamant that there is only one universe, albeit one consisting of myriads of sub-universes, each one 'budding' off earlier ones. It's Smolin's personal choice to assert that there is only one universe and even though other scientists can disagree with the way he uses that word, nobody can appeal to any observations or evidence to call him to account. Do you see where this leaves you in your quest for definitions and answers about the multiverse? I'm sorry, but while there's plenty of theories and speculation, there's nothing concrete to guide you. Thank you. Walter.
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