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BraveHat
Last of the Daedalians

Posted: Wed Aug 17, 2011 2:08 am    Post subject: 441

 extro wrote: Waiting an infinite amount of time is impossible to finish doing when the waiting has a beginning. If there was no beginning, the infinite wait is done.

Nope. The infinite wait is never done. It is, after all, infinite.

I'll take Zag's advice and repost this in another thread tomorrow to attract more opinions.
_________________
"I am declaring it a terrible tragedy for me to die. You may disagree..." --Antrax
extropalopakettle
No offense, but....

Posted: Wed Aug 17, 2011 2:51 am    Post subject: 442

 BraveHat wrote: The very term "waiting an infinite amount of time first" is a contradiction, as "waiting an infinite amount of time" cannot be a past action, but only in action for all time.

False. And begging the question again. Waiting an infinite amount of time cannot be a past action if the wait had a starting point in time. If it had no starting point, but has always been, then it has already been waiting an infinite amount of time.

 BraveHat wrote: So you say "if it always existed, it has" and "it has" means "it has waited an infinite amount of time first", which as I just pointed out, is a contradiction.

It contradicts nothing except your assertion that that can't be. That doesn't count. "waiting an infinite amount of time" can be a past action, done, finished, complete, for an object that has always existed. You take as an axiom that it can't, but your axiom is again logically equivalent to the conclusion.
extropalopakettle
No offense, but....

Posted: Wed Aug 17, 2011 2:56 am    Post subject: 443

 BraveHat wrote: The infinite wait is never done. It is, after all, infinite.

With an infinite past, all time up until now, or up until any point in time, is infinite. To say the time up until now vcan't be infinite is simply to say there can't be an infinite past. It begs the question.
BraveHat
Last of the Daedalians

 Posted: Wed Aug 17, 2011 3:58 am    Post subject: 444 I see what you're saying. You are basically saying my argument is like taking a ray pointed left and trying to make out that it's infinity makes it a line. Better yet, the very definition of a "physical object that did not begin to exist" could be "a physical object that had already done the work of waiting through an infinite amount of minutes". In which case, if we substitute that definition for it's term in the first premise of BH3, it becomes "If there is a physical object that has already done the work of waiting through an infinite amount of minutes, then it has to wait through an infinite amount of minutes before it can reach any particular minute" As you say, it's already been covered. Now it can reach a particular minute. You are correct. Any reason underlying my intuition that it is impossible to finish waiting through an infinite number of minutes in the reverse direction seems not to be expressed in this argument. Rather it only suggests that's it's impossible to begin waiting through an infinite number of minutes in the reverse direction, which doesn't do my argument any good whatsoever. I will cede this point, and try to see if there anything more to say tomorrow._________________"I am declaring it a terrible tragedy for me to die. You may disagree..." --Antrax
bgg1996*
Guest

Posted: Wed Aug 17, 2011 4:50 am    Post subject: 445

 BraveHat wrote: "Doesn't have to be a limit" and "no limit" mean the exact same thing. If someone says "there has to be a limit", it is the same as saying "there is a limit", so the negations of each one are saying the same thing too.

"Now, clean the dishes." = "Clean the dishes."
"Later, clean the dishes." = "Don't clean the dishes."

In other words, since "Now, you have to be jerk about it." is the same as "Now, you're a jerk about it"...
"Now, you don't have to be a jerk about it.", really means "Thanks for not being a jerk about it."

Seriously, they don't mean the same thing. No limit means that "there has to be no limit". If there is a limit, it violates that statement, but not the statement "there doesn't have to be a limit", which means that it's optional whether or not there is a limit.
extropalopakettle
No offense, but....

Posted: Wed Aug 17, 2011 9:24 am    Post subject: 446

 BraveHat wrote: Better yet, the very definition of a "physical object that did not begin to exist" could be "a physical object that had already done the work of waiting through an infinite amount of minutes".

I would never use the word 'work'.

There's another problem, in that the whole argument assumes the time dimension is dynamic: The past exists (or existed), the future doesn't. We envision ourselves moving, spatially, through a 3-D space that exists all around us, in all directions, in places other than where we currently are. Much of that is because we can see those places. Time seems to be somewhat different, in that while we can move in any of the spatial dimensions at varying velocities (including zero, standing still), it seems as if we move in the time dimension in a particular direction, at a more or less fixed speed (ignoring relativity here, not sure at what cost). As we move along the time dimension, we envision that the past is fixed and in some sense real, but the future does not, it has not yet been created. Time may just as well be envisioned as an infinite dimension, a line extending infinitely in both directions (or in one direction, assuming a past beginning, or finite, assuming a beginning and end) ... an infinite line that exists in completeness - we simply only see (recall) the past, and don't see the future.

Of course, there's also a problem with my phrase "we move in the time dimension in a particular direction, at a more or less fixed speed", as the whole notion of speed is measured against time. In space we can move feet or inches per second ... we can only move in time one second per second.

I also have trouble at the moment reconciling the notion of the Big Bang expansion of 4-dimensional space time with my notion that expansion takes place in time (somehow I don't have this problem with the notion that familiar expansions take place in space). What does it mean for time to be expanding?

But I digress.
extropalopakettle
No offense, but....

 Posted: Thu Aug 18, 2011 2:51 pm    Post subject: 447 Another interesting question: If the universe is infinite in size, when did it become so?
BraveHat
Last of the Daedalians

 Posted: Thu Aug 18, 2011 8:45 pm    Post subject: 448 If actual infinite is possible, is it possible for something to go from finite in size to infinite in size? I'm sorry I haven't responded in a while, I have a lot going in my life right now. I will post an Infinity thread in Off-Topic so this thread can stay on topic...._________________"I am declaring it a terrible tragedy for me to die. You may disagree..." --Antrax
extropalopakettle
No offense, but....

Posted: Fri Aug 19, 2011 1:01 am    Post subject: 449

 BraveHat wrote: If actual infinite is possible, is it possible for something to go from finite in size to infinite in size?

It would have to be an instantaneous change, as there's nothing in between finite and infinite. And for an instantaneous change, it's a big one. (deliberate understatement)

If the universe is infinite, it seems it was never finite.
Karsen
Icarian Member

Posted: Fri Nov 04, 2011 12:19 pm    Post subject: 450

 Anonymous wrote: How do atheists marry? Where do they bury their dead?

Well I have an answer for your first question (its only my point of view):
There is no fellowship between an atheist and somebody who is a believer in God. If you want to marry an atheist you've got to find somebody else. Really. I mean either he changes and gives his heart to the Lord, or you go down the road with somebody else. But there is no fellowship between Christ and Belial. I mean, he's going to be serving the Devil. You're going to be serving God. Just that simple. And there'll be conflicts and fighting all the time. There is no middle ground. There is no peace in that situation.

So, be sure before marrying an atheist is exactly the same as marrying the Devil himself!
BraveHat
Last of the Daedalians

Posted: Sat Dec 17, 2011 10:20 pm    Post subject: 451

 Karsen wrote: Well I have an answer for your first question (its only my point of view): There is no fellowship between an atheist and somebody who is a believer in God. If you want to marry an atheist you've got to find somebody else. Really. I mean either he changes and gives his heart to the Lord, or you go down the road with somebody else. But there is no fellowship between Christ and Belial. I mean, he's going to be serving the Devil. You're going to be serving God. Just that simple. And there'll be conflicts and fighting all the time. There is no middle ground. There is no peace in that situation. So, be sure before marrying an atheist is exactly the same as marrying the Devil himself!

Leaving aside the question of marriage for the time being, is there no fellowship at all between an atheist and a believer? Like, not even friends? Is it not possible for the believer to serve God while being friends with those who don't (or profess not to)?
_________________
"I am declaring it a terrible tragedy for me to die. You may disagree..." --Antrax
Zag
Tired of his old title

Posted: Sat Dec 17, 2011 11:25 pm    Post subject: 452

 Karsen wrote: There is no fellowship between an atheist and somebody who is a believer in God. ...marrying an atheist is exactly the same as marrying the Devil himself!

Wow! I'll let my wife know. To think, she's been married to the Devil himself for over 27 years!

I have a question, though: By the phrase "believer in God," do you mean any God, or only the one that YOU happen to KNOW is the true one. I mean, are those Muslims just as bad as Satan, too? How about the Jews? My daughter has flirted with following Wiccan beliefs off and on for years -- does that qualify? I mean, they have a couple of beings that they would consider gods.

I have a friend who married a devout Christian -- he went to church every week, prayed at every meal, etc. We did finally convince her to leave him the third -- or was it the fourth -- time he sent her to the hospital, beaten so badly she was hardly recognizable. She might have done what my wife did, chosen a man who is stable, honest, fairly intelligent, and kind to others, rather than choosing based upon a professed belief in a deity. Good thing she didn't! She might have found herself married to the devil for 27 years like my poor wife did.
Scurra
Daedalian Member

 Posted: Sun Dec 18, 2011 12:43 am    Post subject: 453 Whilst Zag is evidently being slightly sarcastic in his response, I have to say that I agree almost entirely with him. And - quite seriously - I'd marry Zag before I'd marry you, Karsen. Even though your post implies that you are a Christian, and Zag is quite upfront that he clearly is not. It strikes me that you do not understand what "marriage" is at all. Then again, based on a recent thread, I am not at all sure I understand what it is either. But at least I have thought about it._________________ still Quiz Olympiad champion. Must get a life. New definitions: COFFEE - someone who is coughed upon
Zag
Tired of his old title

 Posted: Sun Dec 18, 2011 1:28 am    Post subject: 454 Oh, Scurra! I didn't know you cared. ~blush~
extro...*
Guest

Posted: Sun Dec 18, 2011 8:43 pm    Post subject: 455

Karsen wrote:
 Anonymous wrote: How do atheists marry? Where do they bury their dead?

Well I have an answer for your first question (its only my point of view):
There is no fellowship between an atheist and somebody who is a believer in God. If you want to marry an atheist you've got to find somebody else. Really. I mean either he changes and gives his heart to the Lord, or you go down the road with somebody else. But there is no fellowship between Christ and Belial. I mean, he's going to be serving the Devil. You're going to be serving God. Just that simple. And there'll be conflicts and fighting all the time. There is no middle ground. There is no peace in that situation.

So, be sure before marrying an atheist is exactly the same as marrying the Devil himself!

The above words are from Pat Robinson: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Zv9AgwKAE0 ... I'm pretty sure "Karsen" is in the spam business ... it's other posts are also copy/pasted.
BraveHat
Last of the Daedalians

Posted: Sun Dec 18, 2011 10:29 pm    Post subject: 456

 extro wrote: The above words are from Pat Robinson: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Zv9AgwKAE0 ... I'm pretty sure "Karsen" is in the spam business ... it's other posts are also copy/pasted.

Thank you for discovering that, extro. I almost anticipated a discussion with "Karsen"
_________________
"I am declaring it a terrible tragedy for me to die. You may disagree..." --Antrax
Zag
Tired of his old title

Posted: Sun Dec 18, 2011 11:19 pm    Post subject: 457

 extro wrote: The above words are from Pat Robinson: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Zv9AgwKAE0 ... I'm pretty sure "Karsen" is in the spam business ... it's other posts are also copy/pasted.

Spammin' fer Jeezus!

Seriously, I think it's even more obnoxious that somebody with the ear of the public is spouting such Inquisitionist garbage than just if it's just some random idiot doing it.
BraveHat
Last of the Daedalians

Posted: Mon Dec 19, 2011 1:17 am    Post subject: 458

 Zag wrote: Seriously, I think it's even more obnoxious that somebody with the ear of the public is spouting such Inquisitionist garbage than just if it's just some random idiot doing it.

I don't know. At least he's using his own words. And he was answering a question that was addressed to him. If that's what he really believes, he couldn't really answer it any other way.

"Karsen", on the other hand, was using someone else's words as his/her own to answer a question that wasn't addressed to him, but to athiests, and that didn't even answer the question, to boot. The question was "how do atheists marry?", not "how do athiests marry believers?" Add to that the fact that this is a public forum, where any number of people can read his/her post, and I vote for Karsen's reply as the more obnoxious.
_________________
"I am declaring it a terrible tragedy for me to die. You may disagree..." --Antrax
Zag
Tired of his old title

 Posted: Mon Dec 19, 2011 1:44 am    Post subject: 459 OK. I'll give you that one. But they're both* the sort of reasoning that led to the Inquisition, the Crusades, and every other evil thing done in the name of religion. * In the one case, sickening intolerance, and in the other, mindless obedience and repetition (of the sickening intolerance).
Chuck
Daedalian Member

 Posted: Thu Dec 22, 2011 6:15 pm    Post subject: 460 Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, and Sam Harris walk into a bar and the bartender says "Hey, Guys. How'd the convention go?" and Richard Dawkins says "Great! We pulled it off without a hitch."
BraveHat
Last of the Daedalians

 Posted: Sat Dec 31, 2011 5:45 pm    Post subject: 461 Ouch! R.I.P..._________________"I am declaring it a terrible tragedy for me to die. You may disagree..." --Antrax
Deception
Daedalian Member

 Posted: Sat Jan 21, 2012 4:04 am    Post subject: 462 So, most atheists go about saying that: If you cannot prove T, then not T, therefore I am right that not T. However, atheism isn't simply "negation T", rather it is something completely different. Christianity suggests Universe with attributes T. Atheists suggest Universe with attributes K. If Christians are forced to prove T, then why aren't atheists forced to prove K? (be warned, it will be extremely difficult for you to prove many things to me which you may find simple truths, such as your existence)
Zag
Tired of his old title

Posted: Sat Jan 21, 2012 4:58 am    Post subject: 463

 Deception wrote: So, most atheists go about saying that: If you cannot prove T, then not T, therefore I am right that not T.

No. No we don't. Not even close. As you say, very little can be proved.

It's a beginner debating trick to declare the opponent has said something that is easily shown to be wrong, ignoring what the opponent actually said. No atheist worth talking to has ever said that.

Generally, the scientific search for truth says to find the simplest description of reality that fits observable phenomena. The description should be able to make successful predictions about other events, either ones that occur in the future or ones that the maker of the description didn't know about when the description was made. (By "description" I mean a detailed one, which includes formulae for calculating these events precisely.)

When you do find (or create) phenomena which don't fit the description, you try to add the simplest explanation that doesn't require a whole bunch more rules to get that description to fit into all the other systems that we have already pretty accurately described. One important aspect in all this is to avoid personal prejudices, to be ready to break with old ideas when better ones come along, and especially to be wary of ideas that feel good because they satisfy some inner need (for example, a need for things ultimately being "fair" or a need to believe that it all "means something"). It is dangerous when you "want" to believe things, because then you will tend to notice the evidence in its favor, and you'll overlook or explain away as flukes the evidence against it. (Even really good scientists fail at this, which is why everything needs to be repeatable by other people, even the skeptics.)

For instance, why did we conclude that the Earth and the other planets move around the sun, and the Earth rotates on its axis? We started with an assumption that the Earth is stationary, everything else moves around it. This explanation satisfies an inner need for Earth to be the center of the universe, not to be just one of a trillion insignificant rocks floating through space. However, as we developed telescopes and more accurate techniques for identifying the locations of other planets, we observed that their paths are weird shapes which require complex rules to explain them. These rules turn out to be notoriously bad at predicting the future positions of the planets beyond a few dozen years ahead. We (that is, Copernicus, Galileo, etc.) then tried a few other mental models, until we tried the one where the sun is the center of the solar system and all the planets move around it. Suddenly, the paths of each planet was a nice, simple ellipse, and the math to describe it all was ridiculously simple. Furthermore, when one uses those rules to predict future positions of the planets, they turn out to be incredibly accurate. This is a strong indicator that you are closer to the truth.

When you show me some repeatable phenomenon, one I can observe myself (given the right equipment) that can't be explained without introducing this wildly complex new ingredient of an omniscient, omnipotent, self-aware being who wants us to worship him, I'll be ready to come around.

In the book Contact, by Carl Sagan, he proposes one such experiment: He says that the proof of God would be some message that is encoded in the fundamental fabric of the universe. In that story, the main character has built a computer that searches for patterns in things that we would expect to be random, and she puts the computer to analyzing the digits of pi, looking for a message. (In the book, she succeeds in finding something significant.) Something like this would convince me that the universe was created by some being with real intent, who thought about the universe and constructed it with real purpose, rather than it just happening randomly. In that case, the simplest explanation would be a sentient being who created the universe with that message intentionally encoded in this number which is part of the fundamental fabric of the universe. Until then, I have much, much simpler explanations for any of the phenomena we can observe. They are not nearly as satisfying, emotionally, I'm afraid, but they are a lot simpler.

Last edited by Zag on Sat Jan 21, 2012 5:05 am; edited 1 time in total
Jedo the Jedi
Paragon in Training

 Posted: Sat Jan 21, 2012 5:04 am    Post subject: 464 The problem is belief in God isn't based on evidence so much as faith. Incidentally, I've heard some atheists describing theirs as requiring a significant amount of faith as well. *shrug* Also, Occam's Razor is not a proof; it just provides the first assumption. (I don't think you treat it as such, Zag, but I thought it was worth stating.)_________________Paragon Tally: 18 mafia, 3 SKs (1 twice), 1 cultist, numerous chat scum...and counting.
Zag
Tired of his old title

 Posted: Sat Jan 21, 2012 5:11 am    Post subject: 465 Correct, it certainly isn't. The much closer thing to proof (though it still isn't) is the ability to predict future events successfully. Occam's Razor is helpful in telling you where to look. Successful prediction is the test. But, given competing theories, both of which successfully predict, Occam's Razor is a good tie-breaker. (Actually, the more likely choice is to show how the theories are really the same. If they aren't, then it should be straightforward to figure out some experiment for which they will predict different results, and then try it.)
Zag
Tired of his old title

 Posted: Sat Jan 21, 2012 5:37 am    Post subject: 466 Let me give an example of the proper use of Occam's Razor. It has been observed that large objects tend to accelerate towards each other, such that the acceleration of each object is proportional to the mass of the other object, and inversely proportional to the square of the distance between them. For example, we've noticed that the planets accelerate constantly towards the sun, and the moon accelerates constantly towards the moon. If we measure these accelerations, multiply by the square of the distance, and divide by the mass of the other object, we get the exact same number in all cases! In mathematical terms, we find that: acc(earth towards sun) = G * mass(sun) / distance(earth to sun) ^2 acc(moon towards earth) = G * mass(earth) / distance(moon to earth) ^2 acc(venus towards sun) = G * mass(sun) / distance(venus to sun) ^2 etc. The exact same value of G every time!! And, if we measure very carefully, we learn that the Earth also accelerates towards the moon, proportionally to the mass of the moon. It turns out that the mass of the moon is so much less, we don't really notice it, but it's still true that acc(earth towards moon) = G * mass(moon) / distance(earth to moon) ^2 The same damned constant G! Now, I could conclude either A or B: A: There is some part of the fundamental fabric of the universe causing a force of attraction between objects which is proportional to their masses and inversely proportional to the distance between them. B: There is an omniscient being which pushes things towards each other. He is everywhere, pushing everything, and he does it according to that same formula, just because he wants to. Tomorrow he might decide to stop and the moon could fly away, or maybe crash into the Earth. Can everyone here agree that conclusion B is ridiculously complex? Why introduce a being which thinks about all this? There's a simple rule, and it works, all the time. You can feel free to debate why that rule came into being, but don't introduce some sentience that is willfully enforcing the rule constantly, and it would stop working if he stopped his constant effort. That's just ridiculous.
Deception
Daedalian Member

 Posted: Sat Jan 21, 2012 6:49 am    Post subject: 467 I don't meet many atheists worth talking about their faith to, just as I don't meet many Christians worth talking about their faith to. Which, is why I like to post in your guys' threads, since you are much more educated on the topics. (nothing frustrates me more, by the way, then people being members of a faith which they cannot explain to me/defend in any integrable way; but hopefully that virus is simply carried in universities) I agree Zag, that to introduce a being such as that would seem to do nothing more than over-complicate an otherwise simple matter. However, and I say this from an objective standpoint as I am not a believer of God, something being complex does not make it inherently wrong. You know that, of course. Even so, I understand your position and logic perfectly, and can find no objective fault within. To me, it is not enough to simply take the simplest option as truth; I would rather consider the simplest option as most likely, and then continue to investigate other options (since there's an infinite number of other options, preferably in sets) until there is more satisfaction. Unfortunately, there seems to be no fruit worth harvesting, although that is through talks of atheism, Christianity, determinism and a few others. I know that I'll never be satisfied, but I can't place my flag in any group; I expect more than feasibly attainable in this era. Anyway, other than the false dichotomy with A or B, I have no complaints. If I were to ask you to investigate further it would seem monotonous, and is probably pointless.
extro...*
Guest

Posted: Sat Jan 21, 2012 3:13 pm    Post subject: 468

 Zag wrote: Generally, the scientific search for truth says to find the simplest description of reality that fits observable phenomena.

Regarding the truth that sentience exists in the universe, and the lack of any evidence tying it to any particular physical processes or conditions, wouldn't the simplest description be that sentience exists everywhere?

 Zag wrote: When you show me some repeatable phenomenon, one I can observe myself (given the right equipment) that can't be explained without introducing this wildly complex new ingredient of an omniscient, omnipotent, self-aware being who wants us to worship him, I'll be ready to come around.

Yet we have no repeatable phenomenon that we can observe that can't be explained with this ineffable ingredient of sentience. But we know it exists. Furthermore, we have every reason to expect there could be no phenomenon that could require sentience to explain, as the nature of sentience (not subject to description itself) is not compatible with the nature of explanations.

 Zag wrote: In the book Contact, by Carl Sagan, he proposes one such experiment: He says that the proof of God would be some message that is encoded in the fundamental fabric of the universe. In that story, the main character has built a computer that searches for patterns in things that we would expect to be random, and she puts the computer to analyzing the digits of pi, looking for a message. (In the book, she succeeds in finding something significant.)

I never read the book, but from just that description, an obvious hole in the plot would be failing to consider that our expectation of randomness, such as in the digits of pi, is wrong. If we have a mathematical proof that it is, and we find it isn't, the proof is wrong.

Also, I'm a little rusty on Kolmogorov complexity, but I think it suggests that random sequences are indistinguishable from infinitely complex sequences. If God were to write something in pi, he'd have to dumb it down a bit for us to distinguish it from randomness.

And I've noted before that we happen to live in a world where the so-called "butterfly effect" reigns supreme. Our physical existence was determined by random mutations (and selection). Randomness at the microscopic level (the only level where true randomness exists) has a great effect on things at the macroscopic level. But physical randomness is an untestable hypothesis. If I record the timings of decay of each of a number of atoms of radioactive isotopes, or any other physically random events, I only see that they conform to randomness in a statistical way. Out of the countless number of sequences that conform to randomness statistically, if I carefully choose one to suit my needs, it isn't random.
Zag
Tired of his old title

Posted: Sat Jan 21, 2012 7:39 pm    Post subject: 469

 extro...* wrote: ... wouldn't the simplest description be that sentience exists everywhere?

Umm, no. I haven't observed anything that indicates sentience or self-awareness in any rocks, plants, buildings, etc. I have an idea that the sentience is tied up in the chemical and electrical activity in the brain. Even though I don't understand how it works, exactly, I do know that if you mess up that activity, the being stops exhibiting signs of sentience. The simplest explanation is that this is a big part of it -- at least, it correlates very strongly, though I'll admit that drawing a causal relationship is always tricky.

 extro...* wrote: Yet we have no repeatable phenomenon that we can observe that can't be explained with this ineffable ingredient of sentience. But we know it exists. Furthermore, we have every reason to expect there could be no phenomenon that could require sentience to explain, as the nature of sentience (not subject to description itself) is not compatible with the nature of explanations.

I'm not sure I'm understanding what you are trying to say, here, but I'm guessing that you're referring to sentience in the whole, and not a specific sentient, omniscient, omnipotent being who wants us to worship him (which is what I was referring to).

I have lots of evidence that sentience exists. There is no self-consistent description of the universe, for me, in which *I* am not sentient. And the simplest explanation for the behavior of all of you is that you are independent from me and also sentient. (... some more than others, of course.) It isn't proof -- I already said that I don't ever expect to find proof of anything. However, any description of the rest of the universe that does not include other human beings who are sentient, self-aware, and independent from me requires some ridiculously complex rules in order to be self-consistent.

Honestly, I'm not interested in the philosophical discussions of solipsism and other ridiculous views of the universe. They strike me as foolish mental masturbation and serve no purpose at all. My response to Gorgias of Leontini, or René Descartes, is: "So what? I mean seriously, who cares? Maybe it's true, but then it doesn't matter, so just ignore the idea and get on with something useful." It strikes me as especially stupid and inconsistent to propose the idea of solipsism to someone else.* (That is, to whom, exactly, are you proposing it?) (One of my favorite bumper stickers I've seen is "SOLIPSISTS UNITE!" It took me a couple seconds to get it.)

On the other hand, adding to my description of the universe some new type of sentient being that can't be seen, touched, or detected as any form of matter or energy that we know about, is able to flout all the physical laws that I have worked out so far, wants us to worship him, etc. etc. That is, again, a ridiculous complexity to add to a description of the universe which is self-consistent without it. See my treatise on gravity, above. Do you agree with that, or are you willing to say that conclusion B is just as good as conclusion A? (Frankly, I'm done talking with you if you are.) The same logic extends as far as you need it to.

----------------------

* By the way, I do understand that this same pragmatic approach to philosophy supports Pascal's Wager rather well. At that, I can only shrug and acknowledge that I can't make myself believe something that I find to be untenable; if there's a God, then He made me this way so He ought to understand. I've tried to be a good person and that ought to be good enough without the silly worship part.
Zag
Tired of his old title

Posted: Sat Jan 21, 2012 7:58 pm    Post subject: 470

 Deception wrote: Which, is why I like to post in your guys' threads, ...

Feel free to use the first person, here. You're one of us, now.

(cue ominous music)
Scurra
Daedalian Member

Posted: Sat Jan 21, 2012 8:32 pm    Post subject: 471

 Zag wrote: On the other hand, adding to my description of the universe some new type of sentient being that can't be seen, touched, or detected as any form of matter or energy that we know about, is able to flout all the physical laws that I have worked out so far, wants us to worship him, etc. etc. That is, again, a ridiculous complexity to add to a description of the universe which is self-consistent without it
Indeed it does. But I also think that your dismissal of philosophical examinations of different views of the universe is akin to saying "well, we don't need to examine scientific theory X because it is self-evidently not true." The lessons that can be learned from refuting a theory such as "gravity is a result of everything in the universe doubling in size all the time" (a theory which explains certain things that others do not whilst also being ridiculous) are surely worthwhile? Of course this puts philosophy on a bit of a hiding to nothing given that in general, scientific theories are generally "provable" (or otherwise) but it still seems worthwhile.
 Quote: if there's a God, then He made me this way so He ought to understand. I've tried to be a good person and that ought to be good enough without the silly worship part.
Absolutely. But now we're getting into areas of theological discussion which it is difficult to engage in without spending a lot of time getting the groundwork out of the way. To draw a rather simplistic comparison, we've only had Einsteinian physics for a century or so, and Newtonian physics for about five hundred years. But each of them radically changed the way we saw the universe. Why not extend that same courtesy to philosophical or religious views? Or were all the answers in religion and philosophy discovered millennia ago so there is no need to reconsider our understanding of anything? And are you willing to spend as much time studying them as, say, physics, before saying that they contribute nothing to your understanding? (Not that I am implying you are saying that, although you may well be!)

As has been observed far too often, there are people who still think that e.g. the sun goes round the earth (and can bring their own proofs for it.) There are two ways to tackle them: you can sigh, and shake your head and get on with living, or you can attempt to persuade them to suspend their prejudices and start from the beginning again. Those of us who have tried the second approach and still find people saying "and let Him strike me down with a thunderbolt for not worshipping Him" (or, worse "well the Bible says so") are, unfortunately, increasingly likely to resort to the first solution instead.

(Incidentally, I'd love to hear actual concrete examples of "flout all the physical laws that I have worked out so far". My bet is that the best you can give me are some anecdotes. As I think we have already agreed, it is perfectly possible to live in a universe of infinite wonder without needing party tricks to impress us.)
_________________
still Quiz Olympiad champion. Must get a life.
New definitions: COFFEE - someone who is coughed upon
Zag
Tired of his old title

Posted: Sat Jan 21, 2012 10:21 pm    Post subject: 472

 Scurra wrote: ... akin to saying "well, we don't need to examine scientific theory X because it is self-evidently not true."

More like self-evidently not useful. And silly.
extro...*
Guest

Posted: Sun Jan 22, 2012 1:59 am    Post subject: 473

Zag wrote:
 extro...* wrote: ... wouldn't the simplest description be that sentience exists everywhere?

Umm, no. I haven't observed anything that indicates sentience or self-awareness in any rocks, plants, buildings, etc. I have an idea that the sentience is tied up in the chemical and electrical activity in the brain. Even though I don't understand how it works, exactly, I do know that if you mess up that activity, the being stops exhibiting signs of sentience.

There are no signs of sentience. This is a very basic confusion many people have.

 extro...* wrote: Yet we have no repeatable phenomenon that we can observe that can't be explained with this ineffable ingredient of sentience. But we know it exists. Furthermore, we have every reason to expect there could be no phenomenon that could require sentience to explain, as the nature of sentience (not subject to description itself) is not compatible with the nature of explanations.

I'm not sure I'm understanding what you are trying to say, here, but I'm guessing that you're referring to sentience in the whole, and not a specific sentient, omniscient, omnipotent being who wants us to worship him (which is what I was referring to).

I have lots of evidence that sentience exists.[/quote]

I know I'm sentient. I don't have evidence for it, in the traditional sense of some objective observation.

 Zag wrote: There is no self-consistent description of the universe, for me, in which *I* am not sentient.

I'm not sure what you mean here, but an intelligent (though not necessarily sentient) observer, with adequate ability to observe and explain, would be able to explain every last bit of your behavior via matter and energy behaving according to physical laws. They would have no reason to posit some indescribable "sentience", nor would doing so have any sensible explanatory power.

 Zag wrote: And the simplest explanation for the behavior of all of you is that you are independent from me and also sentient.

The human brain is very complex, and is made of matter behaving according to the laws of physics, like any other matter. Dismissing all that complexity and invoking some indescribable and unevidenced "sentience" as an explanation for observable behavior is no better than dismissing all science and invoking God.

There is little doubt that computers of the sort we have now, only perhaps scaled up a bit, will one day emulate human behavior. That behavior wouldn't be evidence of sentience, as everything they do can be explained without invoking sentience to explain it.

 Zag wrote: ... any description of the rest of the universe that does not include other human beings who are sentient, self-aware, and independent from me requires some ridiculously complex rules in order to be self-consistent.

This is your argument: X has property P, therefore things similar to X, and only things similar to X, have property P. (X being you, P being sentience)

 Zag wrote: Honestly, I'm not interested in the philosophical discussions of solipsism and other ridiculous views of the universe. They strike me as foolish mental masturbation and serve no purpose at all.

I don't suggest solipsism. Your view is actually closer to solipsism than mine. X has property P, therefore things similar to X, and only things similar to X, have property P ... that is foolish, ridiculous. You have no other reason to associate sentience with humans or biological organisms or whatever it is you associate it with than that.

 Zag wrote: It strikes me as especially stupid and inconsistent to propose the idea of solipsism to someone else.* (That is, to whom, exactly, are you proposing it?) (One of my favorite bumper stickers I've seen is "SOLIPSISTS UNITE!" It took me a couple seconds to get it.)

First, again, "wouldn't the simplest description be that sentience exists everywhere" is hardly suggesting solipsism.

Second, a thing need not be sentient to be intelligent, rational, aware ... but that would only be relevant if I were proposing solipsism to someone else.

 Zag wrote: On the other hand, adding to my description of the universe some new type of sentient being that can't be seen, touched, or detected as any form of matter or energy that we know about, ...

Sentience exists, and can't be seen, touched or detected like any form of matter or energy we know about. "being" is vague enough to me that I'd avoid it.

 Zag wrote: ... is able to flout all the physical laws that I have worked out so far, wants us to worship him, etc. etc.

Not pertaining to anything I've suggested.

 Zag wrote: See my treatise on gravity, above. Do you agree with that, or are you willing to say that conclusion B is just as good as conclusion A? (Frankly, I'm done talking with you if you are.) The same logic extends as far as you need it to.

I accept that logic. You fail to see where you don't. Human behavior (or the behavior of living things in general), in its entirety, can be explained without resort to a notion of sentience, said notion which doesn't help explain anything anyway. Everything you write, and I write, including our claims to be sentient, to experience something by which we know ourselves with certainty to have sentience ... all this is explainable by the matter within our brains behaving according to the laws of physics. To suggest sentience exists, and is unique to humans or living things or some other arbitrary subset of all that exists, is an arbitrary claim without evidence.
extropalopakettle
No offense, but....

Posted: Sun Jan 22, 2012 2:36 am    Post subject: 474

Zag wrote:
 extro...* wrote: Yet we have no repeatable phenomenon that we can observe that can't be explained without [correction: I previously wrote "with"] this ineffable ingredient of sentience. But we know it exists. Furthermore, we have every reason to expect there could be no phenomenon that could require sentience to explain, as the nature of sentience (not subject to description itself) is not compatible with the nature of explanations.

I'm not sure I'm understanding what you are trying to say, ...

What I'm saying is that the complexity of human behavior can be explained via matter and energy interacting according to ordinary laws of physics, without any mention of sentience. Furthermore, sentience is in general indescribable, therefore I can't expect it coud be part of an explanation for anything.
Zag
Tired of his old title

Posted: Sun Jan 22, 2012 2:55 am    Post subject: 475

 extro...* wrote: There are no signs of sentience. This is a very basic confusion many people have. I'm not sure what you mean here, but an intelligent (though not necessarily sentient) observer, with adequate ability to observe and explain, would be able to explain every last bit of your behavior via matter and energy behaving according to physical laws. They would have no reason to posit some indescribable "sentience", nor would doing so have any sensible explanatory power.

I'm pretty sure we're not operating from the same definition of sentience. I'm not implying anything more than could be explained by the chemical and electrical processes, if we understood them better. However, I do mean a self-awareness, an ability to come up with and articulate ideas.

 extro...* wrote: First, again, "wouldn't the simplest description be that sentience exists everywhere" is hardly suggesting solipsism.

I wasn't accusing you of solipsism. I am still trying to understand your phrase "sentience exists everywhere" but the discussion of solipsism was responding to others.

 extro...* wrote: There is little doubt that computers of the sort we have now, only perhaps scaled up a bit, will one day emulate human behavior. That behavior wouldn't be evidence of sentience, as everything they do can be explained without invoking sentience to explain it.

I'm with Turing here. I think it's likely that computers will exhibit sentience in the next few decades. If they pass the duck test, they're ducks.
extro...*
Guest

Posted: Sun Jan 22, 2012 3:43 am    Post subject: 476

Zag wrote:
 extro...* wrote: There are no signs of sentience. This is a very basic confusion many people have. I'm not sure what you mean here, but an intelligent (though not necessarily sentient) observer, with adequate ability to observe and explain, would be able to explain every last bit of your behavior via matter and energy behaving according to physical laws. They would have no reason to posit some indescribable "sentience", nor would doing so have any sensible explanatory power.

I'm pretty sure we're not operating from the same definition of sentience. I'm not implying anything more than could be explained by the chemical and electrical processes, if we understood them better. However, I do mean a self-awareness, an ability to come up with and articulate ideas.

Wikipedia says it well enough for a start: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sentience

 Quote: In the philosophy of consciousness, "sentience" can refer to the ability of any entity to have subjective perceptual experiences, or "qualia". This is distinct from other aspects of the mind and consciousness, such as creativity, intelligence, sapience, self-awareness, and intentionality (the ability to have thoughts that mean something or are "about" something).

 Zag wrote: I'm with Turing here. I think it's likely that computers will exhibit sentience in the next few decades. If they pass the duck test, they're ducks.

"creativity, intelligence, sapience, self-awareness, and intentionality (the ability to have thoughts that mean something or are "about" something)" (quoting from above), I believe computers will be able to demonstrate. I don't believe that will be an indication of sentience, i.e. subjective experiences. Human brains can, and someday computers will, "think" - have and manipulate "thoughts", with some physical representation. Actual awareness of the thought is another issue. Today I can trivially program my computer to use a cheap webcam to look at things and identify their color ... red, green, blue. In one sense I can say it "sees" colors. But I wouldn't wonder if it's subjective experience of red, green, blue is similar to mine, because I have no reason, from what it does and how it does it, to suspect it has subjective experiences.

If you're not yet getting what I (and many others) mean by "sentience", another line of explaining, though perhaps indirectly, it is as follows: I can ask myself "What is it like to be Zag?", as I conceptualize you as having sentience, like myself, though perhaps it might be slightly different in character. I can perhaps sensibly ask myself "What is it like to be a cat?", assuming cats have sentience. But if I assume, say, that my toaster has no sentience, then "What is it like to be the toaster?" makes no sense - it would be like not existing.

Anything a computer can do, a Turing machine can do, and a Turing machine can be built of wooden parts with a motor. Can that have subjective experiences?
Zag
Tired of his old title

 Posted: Sun Jan 22, 2012 6:50 pm    Post subject: 477 Short and sweet, since it keeps getting lost. What do you mean by the phrase "sentience exists everywhere"? (Ok, I'm incapable of short and sweet. ) But, yes, I'm willing to commit that any computer that passes a Turning test is sentient. I predict the complexity would be at least one order of magnitude (maybe two) more complex than IBM's Watson. That Turing machine made from wood and rubber bands would be considerably larger than the solar system, and would have a cycle time of something like one cycle a decade, but for someone with infinite patience, they would eventually see the sentience.
extro...*
Guest

Posted: Sun Jan 22, 2012 8:23 pm    Post subject: 478

 Quote: they would eventually see the sentience

So I think you're still operating from a very different sense of the word "sentience". What I'm talking about, as spelled out above, I don't know how you'd think you can see it. Please explain that. Whether its a person, or a machine that behaves like one, how do you see sentience?
Zag
Tired of his old title

Posted: Sun Jan 22, 2012 10:00 pm    Post subject: 479

 Zag wrote: I'm pretty sure we're not operating from the same definition of sentience. I'm not implying anything more than could be explained by the chemical and electrical processes, if we understood them better. However, I do mean a self-awareness, an ability to come up with and articulate ideas.
extro...*
Guest

Posted: Sun Jan 22, 2012 10:21 pm    Post subject: 480

Zag wrote:
 Zag wrote: I'm pretty sure we're not operating from the same definition of sentience. I'm not implying anything more than could be explained by the chemical and electrical processes, if we understood them better. However, I do mean a self-awareness, an ability to come up with and articulate ideas.

To which I replied at length about what I'm referring to when I say "sentience". I understand the sort of sentience you mean. I think calling it sentience is a bit confusing, given the completely different sense of sentience that I mean, but that's a matter of semantics. In any case, the sort of sentience I mean ... do you have an idea what I'm talking about? As described in the wikipedia quote, for instance, and my further elaboration. It's not like being a grand-master in chess, where upon some demonstrated ability to play well, the title is conferred. The sort of sentience I'm talking about can only be known by being the thing in question. I know I'm sentient. I could conceive of myself being sentient after having possibly lost all capacity to display anything you might see as a sign of sentience. Do you understand the sort of sentience I'm referring to? If so, we can discuss the sort you mean, and/or the sort I mean, rather than just each of us using the same word and insisting on talking past each other about two entirely different things.
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