Sunday, August 06, 2006

A Creationist's Argument

Now, THIS is a question.

Neil said:
Well... Maybe you have been able to explicate your option #3 in a truly satisfactory way, but I haven't been able to get a good summary of that.

Why anything at all?

This is by far Neil's best point, which has been kicked around since the greek sophists tried to explain what they recognized as purpose in nature, as a reconcilliation of the forces of the cosmos.

Even if I can give Neil the physics for exactly how, what and why, a human-like survival mechanism motivates the universe to move toward absolute symmetry, I can't tell him why that would be. I can justify all physics with a valid mechanism that defines an inherently insatiable imbalance in the energy of the universe that keeps it moving in one determined direction "forever and ever, amen"... but why does any of this exist to start with?

Why would there be any energy of the universe to begin with?..."that has an inherent insatiable imbalance that must, therefore, move forever toward the resolution of this inequity".

But it is this inherent effort toward reconcilliation that Neil sees as the "intent" behind the physics that justifies his conclusions about evidence for the "will" of a higher power.

Neil, I don't argue that atoms just bouncing around could properly form DNA, RNA, the correct proteins, etc. but this kind of physical "intent" manifests from some good physical reason for it in every knowable case, so why should I conclude that this is not the case now? Contrary to popular science, I don't deny the existence of this kind of teleology, so why should I make your leap of faith when it is not what is most naturally called for by every natural example of this?

Your mistake is to assume that human intent can possibly be different from any other form of expressed bias in nature, so you project that human-like intent exists behind an unknown natural bias, rather than the other way round.


Neil' said...

Well, I'm flattered to be a subject of a post somewhere, given the obscurity of my blog! Don't they say that thousands of new blogs appear each day? Reiterating from my post downstream: I see your summary of your guiding principle, but what critics of physical explanations always ask for is that use some kind of physical reasoning, and actually *derive the values of the constants themselves.* Not just say there's some connection betwee life and matter, talk some roundabout themes like thermo and etc., but go through "Given...assuming...figuring... and that's why G = ... and alpha = ... and the electron mass is .... (in some relative sense) and ... why we don't have classical physics." Then I would have to be impressed. Until then, I can readily believe that those factors are what they are because some "purpose" beyond it all wants it that way. BTW: even if you don't agree with me, remember that being a "centrist" of your own sort, we are both pariahs to the conventional scientism dittoheads.

island said...

I didn't want to give the impression that I have to avoid any and all questions from either side of this. Creationists are commonly accused of doing this, but they don't ever try that crap on me, because I'm the only one that's really being honest about this... in my not so humble opinion.

But no, Niel, I think that you missed the real point that I don't have to include a summary of "my guiding principle" to point out that you are making an unfounded leap of faith to assume that human "intent" is in any way differently motivated than any other form of expressed bias in nature.

You can't just assume that "whatever it is that breaths fire into our equations" is a supernatural being without breaking the continuity that is known to drive these kinds of occurrences in every other observable case in nature.

I may be a centrist, in that I believe that there is plenty of evidence to suggest that "intelligent life" is not here by accident, but that doesn't put me any closer to you, than I am to them over an issue where compromise, (the common recognition of a higher NATURAL purpose), is as out of reach as diametrically opposing ideolgical belief systems can put it.

Your own crossed-up world-view makes you a "half-exception" to the rule, I admit, so I'm closer to you than to either "side", but we're still very far apart when it comes to interpreting what the evidence is telling us.

The only reason that I can't give you the hard answer that you demand is because I can't do the advanced level of math that is required to quantify my "guiding principle" in Einstein's finite closed background, but maybe you can, and then we can settle this once and for all, even on your most unrealistic terms.

Write down the basis of wave functions in this background, including an expansion of the field in corresponding creation and annihilation operators - compute the stress-energy tensor in that background - quantitatively describe the vacua - and then work out the matrix elements of the stress-energy tensor between the vacuum and the one-particle states and let's see what happens.

Regardless, I defy you to prove that I don't have a valid, empirically supported theory even without doing all of that.

Thanks for your input though, Neil, you are always welcome here.

Neil' said...
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Neil' said...

For now: No, I can't do that calculation. Keep in mind that the framework for such calculations was developed given physics as we already have it, but with most constants just given ("put in by hand.") They have no discernible logical relationship to other things are we *can* get by ultimate proto-reasoning (of the sort that would at least justify for example default forces being exerted along the line connecting the bodies, per the argument from principle of sufficient reason. That POSR is of course the whole problem with our universe "existing" and other "possible universes" not (?) existing in the first place.) Then there's those who think that there is an ensemble of other universes with all kinds of constants, just so ours can be a self-selection effect and not noteworthy. Clearly, those who think that, and those who think constants ought to be just what they are can't both be right, even though both claim the mantle of scientific correctness.

As for explaining the universe being the way it is by internal factors, instead of "externally:" I don't think that methods developed to hash out the internals would likely be appropriate for getting "outside" the whole thing and explaining it a priori. The origin and properties issue is indeed a philosophical issue. You have to use "philosophy" even to talk about what science is and what it ought to tell us, what to expect from the universe (we didn't have an a priori right to expect it to be discernible to given methods), and there are aguments about science and positivism (not everyone agrees with Kuhn, or Popper, the way they agree that Maxwell's equations seem to be correct.) I wouldn't pretend that quasi-theological speculation is "science." It is of course philosophy. However, thinking that science should be able to do such and such or about expectations etc. (versus the direct physical study) is also philosophy, however superior in some sense you may think it to be.

Thanks for the tolerant attitude. I can image how Motl et al would treat me (I may get to find out... .)

island said...

Clearly, those who think that, and those who think constants ought to be just what they are can't both be right, even though both claim the mantle of scientific correctness.

Ergo my previous point that implications of the observed universe rule the most conservative approach to origins science until somebody produces a difinitively correct ToE... or MAYBE just a real theory of quantum gravity.

In which case the antifanatics are in a hell of a bind when the anthropic principle is applied to the necessarily preferred model, if as Leonard Susskind says:

'The "appearance" of design is undeniable...'

Without an infinite number of potential universes, he's an idist, by rights, (since he doesn't seem to know about scientific concepts like Einstein's idea of purpose in nature), even though he was also careful to point out that "scientists won't see it that way" if the "landscape" doesn't exist.

His was a conditionally qualified statement of pre-existing intent to deny the implication of evidence if I've ever seen one.


island said...

The origin and properties issue is indeed a philosophical issue

I insist that it's not when you have prediction which falls from the continuity that derives that the "origin of properties... comes from some good physical need for it.

You can use spookey notions to make it as philosophical as you want to, but the fact remains that there is no reason to stray from this particular continuity just because you are going beyond what can be known by humans, unless you have good reason for doing so, where neither a lack of knowledge, nor "implied intent", is enough of a reason, given what is known.

island said...

Thanks for the tolerant attitude. I can image how Motl et al would treat me (I may get to find out... .)

Lumo will make you look stupid by censoring anything that doesn't make him look good.

He ain't worth it...