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primemover

Skeptics "reasoning" applied to mathematics

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Stephen,

Thank you for that post. Ellen beat me to one of the things that jumped out at me. How can there be expansion without a point of departure?

From what I understand, all these calculations arrive at time without time, expansion without a point of departure, a initial singularity existing within a void that is just there (without there being a "there"), etc.

I don't see how this differs from saying that God exists, when you look at the nature of God as posited. What is being described is another realm that seems to have the characteristics of Heaven (no time, no space, etc., but from which time, space, etc. sprang). The only thing missing is spirits.

I also have a real problem trying to understand the emergence of entities. Once the universe started expanding (but apparently didn't really start, because time did not exist when it did whatever it did), there is no real explanation of why subparticles stopped churning and made a star here, a planet there, a particle of radiation there, etc.

I am reminded of a phrase: "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth."

Michael

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I also have a real problem trying to understand the emergence of entities. Once the universe started expanding (but apparently didn't really start, because time did not exist when it did whatever it did), there is no real explanation of why subparticles stopped churning and made a star here, a planet there, a particle of radiation there, etc.

That is simply not true, the evolution of the universe, the forming of stars, planets, radiation etc. can very well be explained by modern physics and astronomy in the same way that these sciences can explain the phenomena we observe on earth, even if we don't know all the details yet. Or are you looking for some "higher purpose or meaning"? After all, you're constantly dragging God into this discussion, he seems to be an obsession for you. Science has nothing to do with God however, how often you may suggest it, I get the impression you use this as some kind of put-down of science. You seem to have a very distorted view of science, you should be careful with such categorical statements about a field about which you know very little - which in itself is perfectly ok, no one can be a specialist in all possible fields, but in such a case a bit more reticence is advisable, otherwise you're going to look like Peikoff or like a creationist in reverse.

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Stephen,

Thank you for that post. Ellen beat me to one of the things that jumped out at me. How can there be expansion without a point of departure?

Huh? That's not what I asked at all. I asked (post #99) a technical question about the meaning of "total angular momentum" of the universe as a whole.

Ellen

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Stephen,

Thank you for that post. Ellen beat me to one of the things that jumped out at me. How can there be expansion without a point of departure?

Huh? That's not what I asked at all. I asked (post #99) a technical question about the meaning of "total angular momentum" of the universe as a whole.

Ellen

___

I want give serious answers to both of these questions, and that will take me a little while to prepare. I will reply, and it will be worth your wait.

-S

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That is simply not true, the evolution of the universe, the forming of stars, planets, radiation etc. can very well be explained by modern physics and astronomy in the same way that these sciences can explain the phenomena we observe on earth, even if we don't know all the details yet. Or are you looking for some "higher purpose or meaning"? After all, you're constantly dragging God into this discussion, he seems to be an obsession for you. Science has nothing to do with God however, how often you may suggest it, I get the impression you use this as some kind of put-down of science. You seem to have a very distorted view of science, you should be careful with such categorical statements about a field about which you know very little - which in itself is perfectly ok, no one can be a specialist in all possible fields, but in such a case a bit more reticence is advisable, otherwise you're going to look like Peikoff or like a creationist in reverse.

Dragonfly,

You haven't read my words carefully, possibly because of the aversion to the reference to God. Let me see if I can simplify it.

Religion says God and Heaven are X.

(X being without time, without space, source of creation, etc.)

Science says by observation and calculations from theories, we can understand much about the universe, and goes about it quite well producing all kinds of marvels. Many scientists also makes a point of emphasizing that religion is bunk (or at least it is not valid as science).

Then, by further calculations (even by some of those claiming that religion is bunk), the idea sneaks in (rationalized by simply extending calculations) that the universe had a start point and that start point was X.

I am merely looking and saying that the X start point is the same in both cases. So why the claim that religion is bunk if you are going to postulate the same conclusion based on speculation?

What is wrong with saying the following, like the quote from the Nasa site above (here)?

Although the Big Bang Theory is widely accepted, it probably will never be proved; consequentially, leaving a number of tough, unanswered questions.

That is perfectly honest.

I don't think I would have a problem with this if science were not proposing so many contradictions at once by proposing X start point. In terms of human knowledge, there is no knowledge without time and space. There can be no knowledge of a state of existence without time and space, only a play on words, fantasy, speculation, extension of math, whatever. There can be no truth without a fact to base it on. We need time and space to even operate our brains viscerally, much less observe existence. So how on earth are we going to observe, even virtually, a state without time and space when we need both to conceive it? A state without time and space is not a state of existence. It is lack of a state.

Ellen beat me to one of the things that jumped out at me. How can there be expansion without a point of departure?

Huh? That's not what I asked at all. I asked (post #99) a technical question about the meaning of "total angular momentum" of the universe as a whole.

Ellen,

"One of the things that jumped out at me" was not your question. It was Stephen's statement. You beat me to quoting it and I merely wanted to credit you with getting to it first since I also quoted it. I realize your question was different than mine. I did not say so because I thought it was obvious. When one reads the two posts (yours and mine), the only thing in common is Stephen's statement.

Maybe it wasn't so obvious after all and I should have mentioned it. It's funny, but when I read my post as addressing him, like my post was, my meaning is clear as day to me. If I read my post as aimed more at you, I can see how the wrong meaning can be presumed.

Did that answer your "Huh?"?

Michael

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Did that answer your "Huh?"? [MSK question to me]

No, Michael, but I'm not desirous of attempting to explain to you why not via trying to sort out what you said/what I asked. I'm just curious about the "total angular mometum" issue, which I don't understand.

Ellen

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Then, by further calculations (even by some of those claiming that religion is bunk), the idea sneaks in (rationalized by simply extending calculations) that the universe had a start point and that start point was X.

I am merely looking and saying that the X start point is the same in both cases. So why the claim that religion is bunk if you are going to postulate the same conclusion based on speculation?

That is a bad argument. If religion for example says that one day the earth will be destroyed and science comes to the same conclusion, does that mean that religion is not bunk or that science has become religious? Even a blind hog finds an acorn once in a while. When creationists find some result in science that happens to agree with some notion in religion (even if the correspondence is rather farfetched) then they loudly proclaim that science supports their view, forgetting that when science disagrees with their notions they are quick to ridicule science. There is a world of difference between a theory that is the result of empirical research and scientific reasoning on the one hand and some mystical "insight" on the other hand.

What is wrong with saying the following, like the quote from the Nasa site above (here)?
Although the Big Bang Theory is widely accepted, it probably will never be proved; consequentially, leaving a number of tough, unanswered questions.

That is perfectly honest.

It is perfectly dumb, as you never can prove a scientific theory. Ask Daniel for some lessons in the philosophy of science.

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That is a bad argument. If religion for example says that one day the earth will be destroyed and science comes to the same conclusion, does that mean that religion is not bunk or that science has become religious? Even a blind hog finds an acorn once in a while. When creationists find some result in science that happens to agree with some notion in religion (even if the correspondence is rather farfetched) then they loudly proclaim that science supports their view, forgetting that when science disagrees with their notions they are quick to ridicule science. There is a world of difference between a theory that is the result of empirical research and scientific reasoning on the one hand and some mystical "insight" on the other hand.

Actually, your argument is a good one if discussing knowable things. But it is a terrible one (not just a bad one) if applied to the "scientific" conclusion that we can know the unknowable, that there was a beginning to time (when the entire concept of "beginning" means it falls within time), that there was a point without space, (when the entire concept of "point" means it falls within space), etc. Science is not philosophy and falls pretty flat when it tries to be (and vice-versa).

Your examples did not step outside of human knowledge. The ones I am discussing do.

We certainly agree that scientific reasoning and mystical insight are different. But I wasn't discussing that.

What is wrong with saying the following, like the quote from the Nasa site above (here)?
Although the Big Bang Theory is widely accepted, it probably will never be proved; consequentially, leaving a number of tough, unanswered questions.

That is perfectly honest.

It is perfectly dumb, as you never can prove a scientific theory. Ask Daniel for some lessons in the philosophy of science.

Perfectly dumb? So you believe that there are no "tough, unanswered questions"?

btw - Daniel has stated numerous times that a scientific theory can be proven, although rarely, but we would have difficulty in knowing it.

Michael

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Michael:

>btw - Daniel has stated numerous times that a scientific theory can be proven, although rarely, but we would have difficulty in knowing it.

Just to be clear, my position is that we might, through effort and a vast amount of luck, arrive at a theory that is the unvarnished truth. But even if we did have it, we can never finally prove, and thus finally know, that it is the absolute truth.

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Daniel,

Sorry. You are right. I was imprecise about what you stated.

Once we get around to using the same words with the same meanings (like "knowledge" and "proof" for two easy examples), all of these misunderstandings should fall of their own weight.

When I look all the way down to the fundamentals, I see both Rand and Popper starting from the same view: that existence is absolute and it is knowable. Rand called it an axiom. I don't know what Popper called it, but it is clear to me that he held this view at the base.

This makes me suspect that there are more stylistic (or semantical) problems with them than real meat.

After this is properly identified (and where), I suppose we can then argue about whether Rand agreed with Popper without knowing it, or Popper agreed with Rand without knowing it.

Michael

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Just to be clear, my position is that we might, through effort and a vast amount of luck, arrive at a theory that is the unvarnished truth. But even if we did have it, we can never finally prove, and thus finally know, that it is the absolute truth.

Is this one of them there, um, hypothetical claims? :turned:

Edited by Victor Pross

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Victor:

>Is this one of them there, um, hypothetical claims? :turned:

Yes. Duh!

Are you positively sure? (Oh, that CLASSIC argument comes around full-circle again!): Are you sure? Get it! Get it! :laugh:

Danny boy: ...."But even if we did have it, we can never finally prove, and thus finally know, that it is the absolute truth.

We could NEVER, NEVER...bla, bla, bla. Sounds like a positive statement to me.

Edited by Victor Pross

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Victor:

>Are you positively sure?

No.

(I wonder how long it will take for Victor to get this one? A month? A year? Never?)

>We could NEVER, NEVER...bla, bla, bla. Sounds like a positive statement to me.

Actually, now I'm plumping for "never" :)

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Victor:

>Are you positively sure?

No.

(I wonder how long it will take for Victor to get this one? A month? A year? Never?)

>We could NEVER, NEVER...bla, bla, bla. Sounds like a positive statement to me.

Actually, now I'm plumping for "never" :)

You are plumping for 'never', huh. Humor as a distraction. Very good. ;]

But I do get it. Sounds like universal skepticism to me: We can never know. Is that it? BUT then on other posts you claim that you are not a “100% skeptic.” If you make up your mind for this latter one, flip-flop, then it means certain knowledge is possible, eh? :whistle:

Edited by Victor Pross

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Victor:

>BUT then on other posts you claim that you are not a “100% skeptic.”

I don't recall writing that. Where is that quote from?

I recall you made this remark to Prime, but I would have to search for it. But, meanwhile, what have ye to say here and now? You are a not "100% skeptic"?

edit:

You said: "....just so we can retire this naiive line of argument once and for all - skepticism is itself not 100% certain! It may, in fact, turn out to be false. Thus we can hold it without falling into logical error."

Well, granted, it is worded differently than I recalled it. But I would like to know how you know that skepticism is not 100% certain--and you do say it IS not 100% certain. Ah, the contradictions of it all!

Edited by Victor Pross

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Ellen’s question in #99 is about the need for some sort of center of the universe in order for there to be a total angular momentum of the universe. There are various kinds of centers. Absence of a center of the cosmic expansion is absence of one kind of center. Yet even without such a center as that, doesn’t there have to be some kind of center of the universe in order for there to be a total angular momentum of the universe? Doesn’t such a total angular momentum have to be defined with respect to a center?

It would not require a single center point, but it would require a single axis of the rotation with which the total angular momentum is to be associated. Directions of rotations are detected by gyroscopes, mechanical or optical.

The concept of a total angular momentum of the universe is meaningful. So the question of whether the total angular momentum of the universe is zero is meaningful.

Homogeneity and isotropy in the distribution and motion of the mass-energy of the universe is tied to the homogeneity and isotropy of space by Einstein’s field equation (with or without cosmological constant). If the universe has a nonzero total angular momentum, then the net motion of mass-energy of the universe is not isotropic, and by the field equation, space is not isotropic.

Removing the assumption that space is isotropic, retaining the assumption of homogeneity, and still relying on Einstein’s field equation, there result cosmologies in which the universe is rotating (and expanding). So far, no such rotation has been observed.

I have to leave off here on questions of physics and scientific cosmology and their relations to metaphysics and epistemology. I’m sorry, but I have to leave off at least until I have finished compiling the SUBJECT INDEX for Objectivity Archive.

For my discussion of Ellen’s question, the reference is:

Ciufolini, I., and J. A. Wheeler 1995. Gravitation and Inertia. Princeton.

(Pages 193-202, 234-49, 361-74)

On contemporary scientific cosmology more generally (and subsequent the discovery of the acceleration of the cosmic expansion), consult:

Penrose, R. 2004. The Road to Reality. Random House.

Check out angular momentum in the Index of RR for further aspects not touched in the present note. (Add pages 490 and 492n5 to those listed for this entry in the Index.)

See also these articles in Scientific American:

Lineweaver, C. H., and T. M. Davis 2005 (Mar). “Misconceptions about the Big Bang”

Krauss, L. M. 1999 (Jan). “Cosmological Anti-Gravity”

Riess, A. G., and M. S. Turner 2004 (Feb). “From Slowdown to Speedup”

Krauss, L. M., and M. S. Turner 2004 (Sep). “A Cosmic Conundrum”

Veneziano, G. 2004 (May). “The Myth of the Beginning of Time”

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"Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP) Three Year Observations: Implications for Cosmology" by David Spergel et al. (Jan 2007).

This report of recent observations concerning isotropy in the cosmic background radiation is available at the NASA site, under the WMAP Overview, Three-Year Papers.

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~ Question re this 'knowledge'/'certainty' stuff:

~ I believe that there is a, ahem, probability that the checked-for-loadedness (ie: 'fair'), purely-plastic die with dots on each of 6 faces and each face being non-identical, a-n-d, with 'X' dots on each side integerly-countable as 0<'X'<7 (I believe I covered all bases there), that the probability of side 'A' coming up after a roll is 1 out of 6. --- I may have computed this in a calculating manner (as I would with a 200-sided die), or, spent days establishing a historical data-list of mucho empirical trials. Whichever, I 'know' that the probability of any picked face showing up is 16.6(ad infinatum)%.

~ My question is: Can I justifiably say that I 'know' this with...100% 'certainty'? If not, how does one, um, determine the probability of 'certainty' applicable here?

LLAP

J:D

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~ I believe that there is a, ahem, probability that the checked-for-loadedness (ie: 'fair'), purely-plastic die with dots on each of 6 faces and each face being non-identical, a-n-d, with 'X' dots on each side integerly-countable as 0<'X'<7 (I believe I covered all bases there), that the probability of side 'A' coming up after a roll is 1 out of 6. --- I may have computed this in a calculating manner (as I would with a 200-sided die), or, spent days establishing a historical data-list of mucho empirical trials. Whichever, I 'know' that the probability of any picked face showing up is 16.6(ad infinatum)%.

~ My question is: Can I justifiably say that I 'know' this with...100% 'certainty'? If not, how does one, um, determine the probability of 'certainty' applicable here?

There is a difference between the ideal, theoretical die and a real, physical die. In the theoretical case the probability of a particular side coming up is from symmetry considerations exactly 1/6. But a real die is never completely fair, there will always be differences, even if they may be quite small (even the different distributions of the dots will have some influence). The only way to test it is by throwing the die thousands or millions of times. The longer the trials the more accurate the results (it is also important to ensure a good shake and roll of the dice, preferably by a machine). I don't know when it will happen, but if you continue long enough even the best dice will show deviations from the ideal probability distribution. You can calculate from the data the probability p that the probability of one particular face coming up is exactly 1/6. If you continue long enough, p will become smaller and smaller (the deviation becomes apparent), until it is so small that you have 99.99..% certainty that your die is not exactly fair.

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Dragon:

~ Given that, and, that we're talking 'historical' trials re a 'fair' (ahem) die...ADD in 5 more 'dice'.

~ Would it really be expectable that the summed (across all 6) 'deviations' (of each one of the 6) would NOT cancel the individual deviations to the 'ideal' expectation? (Assuming 'long enough' doesn't mean that the machines broke down a few centuries from now.)

~ Or, would you disagree that I'd have justification for 'certainty' that it would?

LLAP

J:D

PS: This expectation of divergence-findings is itself a 'theoretical' idea of reality diverging from math expectations, isn't it?

PPS: You didn't really answer my last question in my previous post.

Edited by John Dailey

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