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skrap1r0n
2004-Mar-30, 06:42 PM
So My mind has kind of been racing lately, so forgive me if this sounds like a woo-woo ramble, but here goes...

I read a lot on these boards about creationism vs. evolution, Life on mars, sentient life elsewhere, physics (which admittedly, I have no understanding of), etc.

As a Christian, I am not burdened by these debates, nor do I feel threatened by them. In fact, I believe that locating life elsewhere, will strengthen my faith. As it is now, I only have faith that we are not alone in the universe, be it God or other life. Locating Extraterran life will CONFIRM that we are not alone, and I see this as increasing the odds that I am correct in my faith.

Here's where I may go woo-woo on you...

I notice that a lot of highly educated individuals in science, sociology, etc tend to have more faith in their field of study than in something greater. I know he saying that Ignorance is bliss is true, but only to a point.

In my observations of highly educated individuals, I have come to the opinion that in a good majority of these individuals, their expanded or advanced knowledge tends to cause them to box themselves into a frame of thought related to their particular specialty. To be fair, I see this in people who have made Theology their main field tend to become more and more fundamentalist in their beliefs.

In Short, the knowledge is not the issue, but relying on this knowledge at the expense of being open to infinite possibilities of what may be seems to be crippling.

Now getting even deeper, there is a lot about physics we know. There are also a lot of things we don't know. Did all we know about and what we theorize may be, just "happen"? Did Physics go through evolution as is generally accepted life did, eliminating, things that work and things that don't work? Was a unified theory just there, already in place just awaiting release when the big-bang boomed?

One could compare a unified theory to a computer program. Everything works smoothly, actually too smoothly to be considered a program, but that's the only analogy I can think of. That brings me back to Evolution of physics, what happened to the bugs? If there were no bugs then one could say just say that a unified theory is perfection.

If a unified theory IS perfection then one has to ask, is it a tool used to run the universe similar to an engine, or is it the universe itself ? If it is a tool or engine then it is quite possible that the tool was created or that it evolved and there is a possibility that it can be manipulated to alter certain aspects, if it is not, and it always was, then it is in effect the "program" that limits the universe to certain parameters. What or who set the limits?

Whether or not you believe purely in a Creator or purely in physics/evolution/science, does that not mean that you are reconciled to living in a universe that is fixed within your own perception?

I would be interested in hearing other thoughts on this. I would like to say that I am by no means trying to make an argument either way, My opinion is mine, and yours is yours. I am just curious as to how other's think about how it seems that regardless of your beliefs, many people box themselves in by refusing to accept the possibility that there is more to Life, the Universe and Everything (apologies to the late Doug Adams).

SciFi Chick
2004-Mar-30, 06:56 PM
I notice that a lot of highly educated individuals in science, sociology, etc tend to have more faith in their field of study than in something greater.

Faith is a blind belief in something. If you have facts, you don't need faith. Therefore, it's unlikely that people have faith in knowledge.

In any case, I've recently come to the conclusion that while there are many subjects I would like to know about, to get a Ph.D., I have to be focused on one specific subject. At the end, I will be an expert in that one subject. I will be a lay person in other subjects, unless I continue to study.

Therefore, to some, it will seem as though I'm only interested in that field.

As for faith, I think most good scholars keep that separate.

Also, most atheists are such because they don't see evidence supporting a god. Should that evidence present, they will re-evaluate their beliefs. I'm an agnostic because I don't see evidence supporting either side, and I'm not certain there ever will be evidence since the Creator would have to be outside of our system, and therefore not subject to scientific testing.

skrap1r0n
2004-Mar-30, 07:16 PM
Very true, however we do not have all the facts. We have theories that generally lead to another hypothosis. Wouldn't an unproven belief that "something has to work a this way, we are investigating it, but don't yet have an answer", be aking to having faith that the answer lies down that particular path?

/edit SciFiChick, I am by no means stating what you quoted as anything but a personal observation.

tofu
2004-Mar-30, 07:40 PM
I don't think there's much point in talking about an evolution of physical laws. I just don't see what you're getting at. The universe does not appear to reproduce or to compete with other universes. There is no parallel to "survival or the fittest" that would apply to a whole universe. So I guess it just seems like a nonsense question (no offense intended).


That brings me back to Evolution of physics, what happened to the bugs? If there were no bugs then one could say just say that a unified theory is perfection.

How would you define a bug? How would you know if you observed one? I think you should answer that question before asking what happened to the bugs. We could easily say that because the laws of physics allow black holes, there must be bugs in the laws. A black hole must be a mistake. Obviously, we might say, a perfect universe would not have these things. But on the other hand, it seems clear that galaxies cannot exist without super-massive black holes. So in that sense it seems clear to me that our hypothetical creator specifically designed black holes to facilitate galaxy formation. So getting back to my point, you'll have to come up with a set of clear criteria to unambiguously define what a bug in the laws of physics will look like.

I don't think it's possible.

2004-Mar-30, 07:48 PM
its almost NOON here

Quartermain
2004-Mar-30, 08:41 PM
Now getting even deeper, there is a lot about physics we know. There are also a lot of things we don't know. Did all we know about and what we theorize may be, just "happen"? Did Physics go through evolution as is generally accepted life did, eliminating, things that work and things that don't work? Was a unified theory just there, already in place just awaiting release when the big-bang boomed?


Let's learn everything there is to know first and then come back to this question. ;)


If a unified theory IS perfection then one has to ask, is it a tool used to run the universe similar to an engine, or is it the universe itself ? If it is a tool or engine then it is quite possible that the tool was created or that it evolved and there is a possibility that it can be manipulated to alter certain aspects, if it is not, and it always was, then it is in effect the "program" that limits the universe to certain parameters. What or who set the limits?

No, a unified theory does not imply perfection. Perfection is a perception based on methods of comparison. For example we know what a perfect cube must look like becuase we know what imperfect cubes look like. Maybe we haven't seen a perfect cube but we have a perception of it based on comparisons with imperfect ones.

Until we have a greater understanding of the universe and some method of comparison then the nature of the universe is the way it is becuase that's just the way it is. Frustrating isn't it? #-o

Of course you're welcome to fill in the gaps without whatever information you feel is necessary. Which is basically what this boils down to anyway.

skrap1r0n
2004-Mar-30, 09:04 PM
I don't think there's much point in talking about an evolution of physical laws. I just don't see what you're getting at. The universe does not appear to reproduce or to compete with other universes. There is no parallel to "survival or the fittest" that would apply to a whole universe. So I guess it just seems like a nonsense question (no offense intended)

No Offense taken. I am just sort of throwing down ponderings.

I have read that there is a possibility that black holes can become so dense, then may "drip through" the fabric of space and create another parallel universe. In fact I am under the impression that there may be an infinite number of parallel universes. So, based on that, there could be some type of competition going on.




How would you define a bug? How would you know if you observed one? I think you should answer that question before asking what happened to the bugs.

I do not have an answer to this, One could define it as a difference between one universe and another one. Maybe a "bug" could be defined as a mutation. I read a book called Einstein's Dreams (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0446670111/002-0336447-7887230?v=glance) that discusses things like this.

Another possibility is that bugs are eliminated as soon as they appear. Do laws of physics PREVENT mutations or do the laws eliminate mutations before they can exist for any period of time?


No, a unified theory does not imply perfection. Perfection is a perception based on methods of comparison. For example we know what a perfect cube must look like becuase we know what imperfect cubes look like. Maybe we haven't seen a perfect cube but we have a perception of it based on comparisons with imperfect ones.

Until we have a greater understanding of the universe and some method of comparison then the nature of the universe is the way it is becuase that's just the way it is. Frustrating isn't it?

this is exactly what I am referring to. Does our knowledge limit us from considering all possibilities, in a sense, giving us a case of tunnel vision based on what we know, rather than what could be? A fact is only a fact until it is proven to be false.

JohnOwens
2004-Mar-31, 04:41 AM
If a unified theory IS perfection then one has to ask, is it a tool used to run the universe similar to an engine, or is it the universe itself ? If it is a tool or engine then it is quite possible that the tool was created or that it evolved and there is a possibility that it can be manipulated to alter certain aspects, if it is not, and it always was, then it is in effect the "program" that limits the universe to certain parameters. What or who set the limits?

Whether or not you believe purely in a Creator or purely in physics/evolution/science, does that not mean that you are reconciled to living in a universe that is fixed within your own perception?
Hardly. I find it easy (relatively speaking) to imagine that there may be universes out there with little or no resemblance to our own, more or fewer "physical" dimensions, only attractive or only repulsive forces. I can even imagine that there might be a literal infinite variety of these, though obviously I can't imagine the whole such variety.



I don't think there's much point in talking about an evolution of physical laws. I just don't see what you're getting at. The universe does not appear to reproduce or to compete with other universes. There is no parallel to "survival or the fittest" that would apply to a whole universe. So I guess it just seems like a nonsense question (no offense intended)
No Offense taken. I am just sort of throwing down ponderings.

I have read that there is a possibility that black holes can become so dense, then may "drip through" the fabric of space and create another parallel universe. In fact I am under the impression that there may be an infinite number of parallel universes. So, based on that, there could be some type of competition going on.
I would say possibly infinite variation, rather than competition. I don't see how one new universe's success would impact another's failure. And variation alone doesn't imply evolution. I suppose there could be universes with physical laws so FUBAR that they can't go anywhere meaningful, but I'd think these places either would not have come into existence, or would continue anyway in their weird state.
Something else to point out about the idea of "competition": The only thing they could compete for would be space within the multiverse, manifold, whatever you want to call it. And I would imagine if there's any room for more than one universe, there's room for an infinite number of them. Since space (not meaning 3-D space, or even 4-D, of course) would be the only resource they'd be competing for, and there'd be an infinite supply of that resource, that's not anything I'd call competition.



How would you define a bug? How would you know if you observed one? I think you should answer that question before asking what happened to the bugs.
I do not have an answer to this, One could define it as a difference between one universe and another one. Maybe a "bug" could be defined as a mutation. I read a book called Einstein's Dreams (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0446670111/002-0336447-7887230?v=glance) that discusses things like this.
Maybe something like a purely Newtonian universe? Or a two-dimensional one would limit the possibilities for life too much, perhaps wouldn't even allow one body to orbit another (I've been meaning to work that out, haven't done it yet)? But the weak anthropic principle, while it can't tell us much, will tell us that we'll never find ourselves to be in a universe with a significant bug in it, or we wouldn't be here.
(Edited anthropomorphic -> anthropic, I was afraid I might have picked the wrong one.)

Anthrage
2004-Mar-31, 06:37 AM
That's 'The Anthropic Principle', not the anthropomorphic principle. :)

It's the source of my name in fact, 'Anthrage' being short for 'Anthropic Mirage'. There is a basic outline of the weak and strong forms of same here (http://www.anthropic-principle.com/).

As for the topic, I haven't seen a clear question asked in the context of specific parameters...

I have seen a suggestion that 'highly educated' people are biased somehow. It goes without saying that all people are influenced by their specific nature - something which includes their field, where such a thing applies - but it sounds like something more is being implied. This for example:

"I notice that a lot of highly educated individuals in science, sociology, etc tend to have more faith in their field of study than in something greater."

Is a curious statement, considering that some of these people would consider their field of study to include 'something greater', if not the study of something greater itself. The sentiment expressed here smacks of prejudice, that god is the only valid 'something greater'...an opinion that is not universally held, if you'll pardon the irony. Many people feel that science and spirituality are incompatible - while curiously, the vanguard of each are very similar, and indeed intersect. Some would suggest they are one and the same.

As an aside, a book I would recommend which makes this point quite well is Einstein and Buddha: The Parallel Sayings. (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/1569752745/ref=sib_rdr_dp/103-8749859-1987831?%5Fencoding=UTF8&no=283155&me=ATVPDKIKX0DE R&st=books) If one is open minded enough to look beyond the confines of christianity when recognizing legitimate forms of spirituality, the comparisons are sure to be food for thought.

The question for a unified theory is not perhaps so much what does it mean, but could the universe as we know it exist and it itself not exist. It is suggested, perhaps even required, by what we know of the universe - and is no more artificial a construct than anything else. If and when it is revealed or discovered, questioning whether it is perfection or not is really somewhat erroneous. Perfection is not just a qualitative judgment, but a comparative one as well. Can one say that DNA is perfect? Is a recipe for a particular pie perfect? Certainly there are multiple recipes for a particular type of pie, and many different kinds of pie...not all of which would be considered good tasting, or even edible by everyone...but either way a recipe just is, it is not perfect unless you are asking if it is just what was needed to get the exact result you are tying to it. In the case of our universe, well, the physical laws that are part of it are, it goes without saying, perfect for this particular universe. It would be another universe if they were different...

Any of a vast number of variables, being different, would have produce a different universe...certainly one less perfect than that which we humans would require. Is this what you are referring to?

It sounds to me like you are drawing a connection from various things to the issue of whether there was a creator or not. And from that, to an inability to consider any other possibility:

"Whether or not you believe purely in a Creator or purely in physics/evolution/science, does that not mean that you are reconciled to living in a universe that is fixed within your own perception?"

I would point out that belief in a creator or in phsyics/evolution/science are not mutually exclusive...unless you are referring to THE Creator in the form of the Christian god, and even then, there are quite a few scientists who do indeed believe in 'God'. Many scientists see in the universe things which suggest it is the product of thought...in fact, some would - and have - describe it as like nothing more than a thought itself. The idea of living in a universe that is fixed within your own perception is not far from the reality that we are living in a universe that is only fixed because of our perception...

Again, at the outer edge of both areas of thought you are referring to, the scientific and the spiritual, there are more commonalities than differences - to the point where they are in some cases indistinguishable. If either group - believers in The Creator, or unbelievers (tip of the hat to Stephen R. Donaldson) who favor scientific investigation over blind faith (faith alone can be defined as believe, blind faith can be defined as belief without the requirement of evidence or proof), can be said to be reconciled to something...to have stopped looking, to no longer be open to possibilities, I should think it would be the former, not the latter.

Of course, that is only my opinion. :)

And that opinion, represented by the term I coined many years ago and took as my moniker, 'anthropic mirage', is that perception is both the master and the slave, the problem and the solution, when it comes to reality and attempts to explain or quantify same. Things will always be tainted by who we are, and our perceptions tainted by our beliefs. We see faces in images containing light and shadow, pareidolia at work, and we anthropomorphize just about everything we get our hands on. Then again, as we ourselves are a product, part or partner of what we are observing, then perhaps there it is understandable and sensible that our nature is an influence in our investigations.

To me, the biggest anthropomorphization of all is the christian god. I and many others who believe in science, in ideas such as the big bang, evolution and other concepts, have not necessarily even ruled out A creator, if we have THE creator. My beliefs leave room for 'something greater' that has created or had a hand in creating we humans, perhaps even the earth or aspects of our universe...something made possible by the very thing that is often used to require the existence of god; the fact that so many of the variables in the universe are 'just so', is in part known because the universe has a number of laws and rules - and with a few exceptions, ones which are not entirely beyond our ability to comprehend, or, to take advantage of.

While the popular press often applies the term 'playing god' to various activities, some of which have sprung out of certain sciences, it is not necessarily a meaningless comparison. It is surprising what one can do with a little knowledge.

Knowledge is an important element when talking about god. The Tree of knowledge of course featured quite prominently, and being all-knowing is one of God's qualities. All-seeing, all-knowing, all-powerful...pretty impressive sounding, qualifications for the divine. I've always found it an oft-overlooked fact that if you were any single one of those three things, you would automatically be the other two as well - and that one who was omniscient and omnipotent, would have any easy time of being both if they were omnipresent. Omnipresence is, a quality of god - perhaps the defining one - curiously enough, not discounted by science and it's theories, but possible and even required by some of them. In essence, you might say science has proven the existence of god...

It's easy to have power over everything if you are everything. That has been my recognition of what god would be - not an anthropomorphic being so much as a quality or state of being. God is the universe when it is not disconnected from itself as it is today. Seen that way, you could propose that god died when the big bang occurred, and that god literally was the creator.

Again, only my opinon. But for one who holds it, all kinds of other things start to take on suggestive meaning. Like the words holy and holistic, like what happens when you have extremely massive conglomerations of stuff (I'd say 'matter but 'that would negatively suggest it is exclusive in the inferred properties, matter/energy is better but not strictly accurate in the example)...get enough and you have a star, which in many ways is literally a creator and supportor of life and it's components...get even more and you have a singularity, a black hole, which has a whole range of properties which have parallels in spiritual terms. Certainly they are not unlike the garden and the tree, where knowledge is not to be obtained from.

The literal examples can sound absurd, confining things with concepts such as words, putting them in anthropomorphic terms...but many religious texts do that very thing. The failure as I see it, the submission and confinement within one's perception and adopted belief, is due to the reliance upon the example, the anthropomorphism, and overlooking the greater believe, the deeper meaning, beyond it.

My advice to anyone wondering about being trapped by perception, would be to explore the boundaries of science, where perception itself is a part of the equation, and they might find the boundaries of their spiritual beliefs will need to be reconciled in the face of the new knowledge. Making it an either/or proposition - science/evolution or religion/creator - seems to be real danger and tragedy. :)

In that light, a Grand Unified Theory might not be so far from perfection after all...

skrap1r0n
2004-Mar-31, 04:48 PM
"I notice that a lot of highly educated individuals in science, sociology, etc tend to have more faith in their field of study than in something greater."

Is a curious statement, considering that some of these people would consider their field of study to include 'something greater', if not the study of something greater itself. The sentiment expressed here smacks of prejudice, that god is the only valid 'something greater'...an opinion that is not universally held, if you'll pardon the irony. Many people feel that science and spirituality are incompatible - while curiously, the vanguard of each are very similar, and indeed intersect. Some would suggest they are one and the same.

Very good point and exactly the type of thing I was hoping to come out of this discussion. I was not intending to sound prejudice. I tried to qualify that by stating that in people where theology is their primary field of study, these people tend to become more fundamentalist. I also want to say that these are observations I have made, and I by no means want them to be represented as anything but my opinion.




The question for a unified theory is not perhaps so much what does it mean, but could the universe as we know it exist and it itself not exist. It is suggested, perhaps even required, by what we know of the universe - and is no more artificial a construct than anything else. If and when it is revealed or discovered, questioning whether it is perfection or not is really somewhat erroneous. Perfection is not just a qualitative judgment, but a comparative one as well. Can one say that DNA is perfect? Is a recipe for a particular pie perfect? Certainly there are multiple recipes for a particular type of pie, and many different kinds of pie...not all of which would be considered good tasting, or even edible by everyone...but either way a recipe just is, it is not perfect unless you are asking if it is just what was needed to get the exact result you are tying to it. In the case of our universe, well, the physical laws that are part of it are, it goes without saying, perfect for this particular universe. It would be another universe if they were different...

This too is a good analogy. It also strengthens my whether or not physics in our universe went trough some type of trial and error period before it became what it is.


"Whether or not you believe purely in a Creator or purely in physics/evolution/science, does that not mean that you are reconciled to living in a universe that is fixed within your own perception?"

I would point out that belief in a creator or in physics/evolution/science are not mutually exclusive...unless you are referring to THE Creator in the form of the Christian god, and even then, there are quite a few scientists who do indeed believe in 'God'. Many scientists see in the universe things which suggest it is the product of thought...in fact, some would - and have - describe it as like nothing more than a thought itself. The idea of living in a universe that is fixed within your own perception is not far from the reality that we are living in a universe that is only fixed because of our perception...

This is exactly the point I am trying to make. That one can have strong beliefs, whatever they may be, however not being open to other possibilities would only be limiting oneself.



Again, at the outer edge of both areas of thought you are referring to, the scientific and the spiritual, there are more commonalities than differences - to the point where they are in some cases indistinguishable. If either group - believers in The Creator, or unbelievers (tip of the hat to Stephen R. Donaldson) who favor scientific investigation over blind faith (faith alone can be defined as believe, blind faith can be defined as belief without the requirement of evidence or proof), can be said to be reconciled to something...to have stopped looking, to no longer be open to possibilities, I should think it would be the former, not the latter.

Again, no argument here. I like the way you described the difference between faith and blind faith. It is of my opinion that many individuals consider them the same.



Knowledge is an important element when talking about god. The Tree of knowledge of course featured quite prominently, and being all-knowing is one of God's qualities. All-seeing, all-knowing, all-powerful...pretty impressive sounding, qualifications for the divine. I've always found it an oft-overlooked fact that if you were any single one of those three things, you would automatically be the other two as well - and that one who was omniscient and omnipotent, would have any easy time of being both if they were omnipresent. Omnipresence is, a quality of god - perhaps the defining one - curiously enough, not discounted by science and it's theories, but possible and even required by some of them. In essence, you might say science has proven the existence of god...

This statement will take some noodling out for me quite get. I guess I cannots get passed the way the late great Douglas Adams put it in desribing tha bable fish

Now it is such a bizarrely improbable coincidence that anything so mind-bogglingly useful could have evolved purely by chance that some thinkers have chosen to see it as a final and clinching proof of the non-existence of God. The argument goes something like this:

"I refuse to prove that I exist," says God, "for proof denies faith, and without faith I am nothing."

"But," says Man, "the Babel fish is a dead giveaway, isn't it? It could not have evolved by chance. It proves you exist, and so therefore, by your own arguments, you don't. QED."

"Oh dear," says God, "I hadn't thought of that," and promptly vanishes in a puff of logic.

It may be a bit of comedy, but it seems there is something to the line proof denies faith. Personally, I need faith and will admit that I am scared that proof of something will destroy my faith. Again this is a situation concerning only myself.


My advice to anyone wondering about being trapped by perception, would be to explore the boundaries of science, where perception itself is a part of the equation, and they might find the boundaries of their spiritual beliefs will need to be reconciled in the face of the new knowledge. Making it an either/or proposition - science/evolution or religion/creator - seems to be real danger and tragedy.

This is the primary reason I posted this originally. I do not want to pigeonhole myself, and I am learning to use critical thinking and accept possibilities no matter how absurd they may seem at first.

I really appreciate the response, Anthrage. We seem to feel the same way, I just haven't been able to word it as well.

mike alexander
2004-Mar-31, 07:44 PM
Reading all this I was reminded of something Roger Zelazny wrote in Lord of Light: the difference between the unknown and the unknowable.

One of the ways knowledge is advanced is by extrapolation from existing knowledge. Without extrapolation it is hard to learn anything new, but the act itself requires assumptions (the previous pattern can be extended beyond current observations) and adds uncertainites (the farther the extrapolation from existing data the more uncertain the conclusion). There is also the problem that one may see what he wants to see in ambiguous or complex results (anything from N rays to polywater).

Scientific inquiry requires frequent 'reality checks' to see if the extrapolation is on track (e.g., the ultraviolet catastrophe does not occur, therefore the emission of energy may be quantized) and the reinvestigation of phenomena by other parties in an attempt to eliminate bias (anything from peer review to replication of the investigation). Many advances are made when it is discovered that the previous exrapolation is no longer valid, revealing genuinely new phenomena.

This, to me, is where the possible confluence between science and spirituality may be suspect. Huge extrapolations in science probe deeply into the unknown, but if such probes reach the unknowable science has been left behind. Some way, some how, there must be a way to check it.

And just as an aside: aren't omniscience and omnipotence incompatible? If (for shorthand purposes) God has complete knowledge of all that was, is and will be, does this not imply that the total plenum of existence is fixed and unchangeable, thus negating omnipotence? (Please don't take this too seriously, but it seems to be in the realm of 'If God is all powerful, could he make a rock so big even he couldn't lift it?')

Anthrage
2004-Mar-31, 08:24 PM
I would never question Douglas Adams as a reference on such matters, indeed, even prior to his regrettably current status, although quite possibly made more likely due to same, he was someone whom I always thought would have an exceptionally good chance of grasping the true nature of the universe, and/or god. Such things require some absurdity.

In fact, Douglas Adams once cited as the book which most changed him, one titled 'The Blind Watchmaker' (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0393315703/qid=1080762424/sr=8-1/ref=pd_ka_1/103-8749859-1987831?v=glance&s=books&n=507846), by Richard Dawkins. This is how he describes it and it's effect on him:

"It's like throwing open the doors and windows in a dark and stuffy room. You realize what a jumble of half-digested ideas we normally live with, particularly those of us with an arts education. We 'sort of' understand evolution, though we secretly think that there's probably a bit more to it than that. Some of us even think that there's some "sort of" god, which takes care of the bits that sound a little bit improbable. Dawkins brings a flood of light and fresh air, and shows us that there is a dazzling clarity to the structure of evolution that is breathtaking when we suddenly see it. And if we don't see it, then, quite literally, we don't know the first thing about who we are and where we come from." Quoted from The Salmon of Doubt

Clearly he has a high opinion of the work. Whether one believes in a particular theory of something or other or not, I think the important thing to never forget is the difference between belief and faith - and how both are important, and unavoidable. The trick is to try to constantly be aware of where one ends and the other begins, and try to build a health and complete foundation for each.

Personally, I have the sinking feeling that neither faith or belief, religion or science, creation or evolution alone are the 'answer'. Each by itself is lacking in some respects, but together - in the area where they intersect - a very Adams-like absurd sort of sense emerges. I think sometimes we are too easily limited in what we can see or accept by our nature, our vision limited by our perception and it's nature, and that we are better served by 'artificially' making sure we explore all the possible options and sources of information, even if we might ordinarily be moved to reject them out of hand.

skrap1r0n
2004-Mar-31, 08:32 PM
And just as an aside: aren't omniscience and omnipotence incompatible? If (for shorthand purposes) God has complete knowledge of all that was, is and will be, does this not imply that the total plenum of existence is fixed and unchangeable, thus negating omnipotence? (Please don't take this too seriously, but it seems to be in the realm of 'If God is all powerful, could he make a rock so big even he couldn't lift it?')

Well from my particular perspective The answer is yes then no. I realize I am reaching to the realm of Dogma here, which I was trying to avoid out of respect of different beliefs. So let me state the this is my view and mine alone...

Gods Word becomes truth. If God says I Create this mountain so large even I cannot lift it, then the mountain is created and if God tried to lift it, then he would not be able to.

Now God says I declare that I can lift this mountain, so again Gods Word becomes Truth and now he can lift it.

Now your saying whoa, wait a minute, thats not fair, he can't change just change the rules like that. Well he can because in effect he IS the rules.

As far as God being omniscience and omnipotence Then I say He can be because He exists everywhere, everywhen at once. One of the tenants of my belief is that the angels were created to serve God and man was created to love God. Since one cannot force love upon another, Man has been given a choice, God will not interfere with this choice even though he always has known what your choices will be. To interefere without your request, and force this on you would be in effect stripping the ability to choose away from you.

No matter what your beliefs are can you argue that your place in the world is a direct result of the sum total of your choices?

Anthrage
2004-Mar-31, 09:14 PM
mike alexander - I have to agree as regards the process of the development of knowledge, that even science involves some faith...but that there must be reality checks in order for the process to be legitimately and accurately revealing.


And just as an aside: aren't omniscience and omnipotence incompatible? If (for shorthand purposes) God has complete knowledge of all that was, is and will be, does this not imply that the total plenum of existence is fixed and unchangeable, thus negating omnipotence? (Please don't take this too seriously, but it seems to be in the realm of 'If God is all powerful, could he make a rock so big even he couldn't lift it?')

Well, whether they are incompatible depends on the details of your thinking and the premise itself. I think that the problem here is one of definition...we may think that we are conceiving of true complete knowledge of everything, and finding some paradox or conflict when drawing conclusions when we extend the concept to something such as free will...but that may only make our particular conception of those conditions, of that being or state of being impossible; it does not necessarily make the reality itself impossible.

In the classic example of god and the rock, yes, it is a problem. But it is only a problem because of how we create the scenario and it's specifics. We anthropomorphize everything - it is possible to conceive of a scenario where such a paradox does not exist, it just may not be a 'natural' conclusion. For myself, I've chosen a somewhat unsubtle and literal interpretation of those possibilities. God, with the ultimate qualities that are commonly ascribed to such an entity - all-seeing, all-knowing, all-powerful - could not exist in this universe. The closest I can come to such a thing, is the theory that god was what the universe was before it differentiated, came into being - in crude terms, what the universe was before the big bang. When everything was the same thing - to me, that makes a kind of sense.

Matter and energy, matter/energy, is what is left behind. High concentrations, higher levels, larger scales of each exhibit properties that, for lack of a better word, are more godlike, more divine, than others. There are patterns in nature, like memories that guide every form it takes...to me, that's the echo of god, a manifestation in this universe - the universe itself.

I know that just as there are things which are counter-intuitive in the scientific realm - particle-wave duality, non-local communication, just about all of quantum physics and mechanics - so there are many such things in the world of human experience, such as what we call mysticism. Some of these things are observable, and in my experience, real - and I see no difference between the two. In my universe, while I may reject the christian god of the bible (which I've read cover to cover half a dozen times, and read from in front of hundreds of people - king james version) - that white-bearded old man who cares what food you eat, what side of the house you park your animals on and who craves devotion and demands obedience - admittedly more out of 'conscientious objection' than an inability to conceive of the reality of same, I am open to somewhat 'dressed down', scaled-down versions of what we would call a god. Evolved forms of matter/energy, of consciousness, greater collections of connections...I have no trouble believing these have qualities and abilities that exceed those of human beings. I wouldn't worship them however even if I knew one personally. :)

Ultimately, in my opinion, faith will always be a part of the formation of our beliefs, even if they are 100% based on 'provable scientific fact'. If not part of the evidence itself, then certainly part of the process that brought that evidence to light. It is an aspect of our nature that this is so, and must be accepted. We humans tend to get caught and lost in our semantic artifices...names, labels, concepts, religions...too often forgetting what everything is based on, or not understanding it. An apple is not really an apple, it is not really red or sweet or even round. We see it, taste it, experience it that way because of what WE are, not what it is. Like the 5 blind men and the elephant, what we discover is directly related to our method of discovery.

The key I think is to keep reminding oneself of that when asking these questions, of being aware of it at all times. See the anthropic mirage for what it is - it does exist, it's appearance to you has a foundation in fact, a reason for appearing as it does...it is real in that regard, and yet, it is unreal or unlike what one sees, in it's true absolute, non-relative nature. Ultimately, you cannot truly know a thing unless you ARE that thing - everything else is just experiencing it. Science is a catalog of experiences, nothing more. Just a fairly reliable one under repeated testing. :)

But that doesn't mean we should stop testing...

squeak
2004-Apr-01, 03:38 PM
Also, most atheists are such because they don't see evidence supporting a god. Should that evidence present, they will re-evaluate their beliefs. I'm an agnostic because I don't see evidence supporting either side, and I'm not certain there ever will be evidence since the Creator would have to be outside of our system, and therefore not subject to scientific testing.

I'm agnostic for the same reasons, although additionally I'm a "passive agnostic" (don't know and have no desire to find out) because I'm of the opinion that we're not *supposed* to know these things, which I suppose is kind of a belief system in and of itself.

-squeak

SciFi Chick
2004-Apr-01, 03:47 PM
I'm agnostic for the same reasons, although additionally I'm a "passive agnostic" (don't know and have no desire to find out) because I'm of the opinion that we're not *supposed* to know these things, which I suppose is kind of a belief system in and of itself.

-squeak


Supposed to? I never let that stop me. :lol:

It's not something I obsess about, but I confess, I am curious about it, and enjoy the subject much the same way I enjoy good fantasy. I have a tendency to agree with you on us not being able to find out no matter how much we might want to. I guess I'm just keeping my eyes open in case. 8)

skrap1r0n
2004-Apr-01, 04:10 PM
This is an odd distinction. I see it that Athiest have disregarded the possibility that there may be a Creator, While Agnostis means they aren't sure and won't take a stance.

Thus, it seems that is an Athiest were presented with some type of proof, would they recognize it as such, or try to explain it away to conform to their beliefs?

Likewise with people of faith if presented with an opposing argument, however people of faith can always say, well, you can say what you want but I have faith, so pthptptptpt! (I would)

I'm sure an Agnostic probably would accept it and mull it over before attempting to come to a conclusion.

SciFi Chick
2004-Apr-01, 04:21 PM
This is an odd distinction. I see it that Athiest have disregarded the possibility that there may be a Creator,


You're mistaken. Atheists don't see any evidence to support a Creator. Now, most of them don't expect there to ever be any evidence, but if some did present, they would consider it.

The thing is, how could you EVER possibly prove a Creator? That's why most of them seem like they wouldn't consider the evidence. They don't believe there will ever be any evidence.

skrap1r0n
2004-Apr-01, 04:32 PM
This is an odd distinction. I see it that Athiest have disregarded the possibility that there may be a Creator,


You're mistaken. Atheists don't see any evidence to support a Creator. Now, most of them don't expect there to ever be any evidence, but if some did present, they would consider it.

The thing is, how could you EVER possibly prove a Creator? That's why most of them seem like they wouldn't consider the evidence. They don't believe there will ever be any evidence.

Hmm, I'm not sure I agree. Atheism traslates into without belief in a god.

A quick wikipedia search on Atheism (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atheism) shows several degrees of atheism, weak and strong. I suppose I am guilty if wrapping them under the same umbrella, like some people do regarding faith and blind faith. Funny, The door swings both ways, My bad.

SciFi Chick
2004-Apr-01, 04:49 PM
Hmm, I'm not sure I agree. Atheism traslates into without belief in a god.

A quick wikipedia search on Atheism (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atheism) shows several degrees of atheism, weak and strong. I suppose I am guilty if wrapping them under the same umbrella, like some people do regarding faith and blind faith. Funny, The door swings both ways, My bad.

Of course, there are extremists in every area of life. It's one of the things that makes our society so complex. This is not always a good thing. :)

mike alexander
2004-Apr-01, 06:16 PM
Moving myself back a bit to Skrap's questions:

I would say that everyone is influenced in their view of reality by their background, often shorthanded by that highfallutin' phrase 'belief system'.

(I just noticed it in myself when I wrote "highfallutin'". I have many odd little words and phrases in my speech that derive from my own parents habits of talking.)

For me, I would have to say that my beliefs are always subject to revision based on new information; that's the 'reality check' I mentioned a while back. Though often guilty of it myself I try to avoid oversimplification if I can, and try to not get caught up in overly legalistic definitions. For example, does atheism indicate a positive belief in no god? This seems to be a word quibble, along the lines of: Is dark the opposite of light? To me, the more proper response is: dark is the abscence of light.

Come to think of it, many problems are caused by false opposites. I can think of darn few 'real' opposites. What is the opposite of red? Green? Opposite of republican? Democrat? Good and Bad? Love and Hate? Capitalist or socialist? None of the above seem to me to 'opposites' in any simplistic sense, unless we decide that 'opposite' equals 'different'.

My own problem with revealed truth is that it can only be interpeted, not extended or revised. This does not have to be religious; think of arguments over the American Constitution where people ask what the framers of the document would have thought about a particular problem in say, allocation of the broadcast electromagnetic spectrum (!). But at least they built into the document a process for extension and revision (The Enlightenment was working in that respect).

A related problem is deciding when revelation stops (let's face it, a discussion written in blood over the millenia). For Judaism, revelation was sealed with the codification of the Torah. For Christianity, it was sealed with the codification of the Gospels and related documents. For Islam with the codification of the written record of Muhammed's words. I could obviously go on from there, not only with many more religious groups, but internal divisions within each group (One thinks of the nascent nationalistic pressures, internal corruption and religious/secular tensions that divided up European Christianity in the 14th-16th centuries, just as an example).

For me, a good system allows for the possibility of change.

George
2004-Apr-02, 01:15 AM
It's a shame no one likes to talk about this stuff. :wink:


...Likewise with people of faith if presented with an opposing argument, however people of faith can always say, well, you can say what you want but I have faith, so pthptptptpt! (I would)

You don't seem to be the type. You seem very open to the truth which is probably a part of your true faith. Science allows us to build on physical truth and become more frutiful than before because it is measurable. The better the science, the better engineering, the better the fruit. However, science alone would create imbalance as it imposes (rightfully so) limits to it's own existence to minimize, in part, the pollution from Woowooville.

Science can separate itself nicely thanks to the other supporting pillars of truth - Philosophy and a Belief System (Religion). All three attributes are important to each individual. Religion is the toughest as we like things we can touch and chew and see and hear and.... However, if we could know it, it wouldn't be faith, it would be fact. I suspect the best faith will serve to support the best love which is supreme.

Just thouht I'd throw a few cents in, too. :)

skrap1r0n
2004-Apr-02, 04:55 AM
Thanks George, I had a lot of trouble reconciling my beliefs with the Chinese mystiscism when I was learning Shaolin Kung-Fu. I was really troubled by it for the longest time. However, I realized that some of the things I experienced and saw in kung fu just were. Our Master was a neuroscientist, he has a PhD. I often wondered how he could accept some of the things when he was educated in a field where these things are for all intents and purposes, Taboo.

I never asked him about it, but I saw that he was at peace in both areas. One of the things I saw was him throwing a punch about 5 feet away from a candle and it blew the candle out. No explination other than he was able to focus Chi into a small enough area to create some kind of air pocket off the end of his fist. I just have to accept it that it is.

Likewise, when I was in the mission field in Mexico in the mid 90's, I saw an exorcism that defied explination. It was probably the most powerful thing I ever saw. It will stick with me forever. Again, I just have to accept it.

I am only just now searching myself and learning to become a rational, critical thinker open to possibilities without being too tied to a single thing. Its a pretty scary journey, though. You begin to realize how closed minded you are when you have to check yourself at every new discovery so that you don't poo-poo it without considering the possibility.

Thats why I originally posted this thread. I knew it was a sensitive subjec, but I am truly interested in how other people percieve the world.

George
2004-Apr-02, 05:58 PM
One of the things I saw was him throwing a punch about 5 feet away from a candle and it blew the candle out. No explination other than he was able to focus Chi into a small enough area to create some kind of air pocket off the end of his fist. I just have to accept it that it is.

If you made a leather hand of equal size and duplicated every kinematic action, would the candle go out without "focus"?

On a UT campus building in your city is an inscription..."know the truth, and the truth will set you free". [At least it was there when my Dad graduated.]

Although Jesus said it in refrence to himself, it still applies to all aspects of life, all truth.


I am only just now searching myself and learning to become a rational, critical thinker open to possibilities without being too tied to a single thing. Its a pretty scary journey, though. You begin to realize how closed minded you are when you have to check yourself at every new discovery so that you don't poo-poo it without considering the possibility.

Thats why I originally posted this thread. I knew it was a sensitive subjec, but I am truly interested in how other people percieve the world.

Ok..more 2 cents...Someone told me that we do what we desire. I was bothered by this but I think it is true. I suspect there are only two groups - desires that only benefit ourselves and desires that only benefit others. Ideally, you adjust your desire toward the middle where everyone is a winner. There is nothing wrong with selfish desires if it does not hurt God and others in any way.

Also, we tend to believe what we want to believe. Trying to see what is motivating another person's actions can be very tough but can be very important if you are investing time and/or money in them. Hopefully, what they say and how they say it is revealing enough. Most the time people want to be seen as important or valuable in some way. [I try to compensate for my mediocore mental output with a little valuable(?) humor 8-[ . ]

This drive for importance can manifest itself in many forms including the field of science. Philosophy/politics and religion may get the bulk of self-centeredness. If the drive is for the mutual good, great. If pride gets an upper hand, little good seems to come. How many posts have you seen where someone's opinion is not much open to real investigation? If they really believe something is true, however, there is some room for admiration if it is not contrary to sound reason. Schwartz(?), I think, did not give up on string theory ideas and he, and another, were able to cancel the early anomolies to really get the ball moving. Now that they are involving p-brane ideas, I feel I have a chance at learning about it. :wink: :)

SciFi Chick
2004-Apr-02, 06:13 PM
I am only just now searching myself and learning to become a rational, critical thinker open to possibilities without being too tied to a single thing. Its a pretty scary journey, though. You begin to realize how closed minded you are when you have to check yourself at every new discovery so that you don't poo-poo it without considering the possibility.



I've recently been through that journey. It doesn't stay scary, and eventually it will come naturally to you if you keep at it. It set me free and left me very happy, happier than I ever was with dogma.

HoffaXVIII
2004-Apr-02, 07:25 PM
Just adding a footnote of a question to this interesting discussion (and by no means trying to divert the natural "flow", so to speak) but I've always wondered if there was a creator of the universe (not referring to a Judeo-Christian creator), who created the creator? Probably a "cart before the horse" question since no absolute proof of a creator has of yet been found...

I believe we will (as a species) eventually find the answers to the universe as long as we continue to take an analytical approach to our questions. Just a shame that we probably won't find all of them in our lifetime. :cry:

I want my stasis pod...