BEEP! BEEP! IT'S ME.

"Begin at the beginning,and go on till you come to the end: then stop." (Lewis Carroll, 1832-1896)

Alice came to a fork in the road. "Which road do I take?" she asked."Where do you want to go?" responded the Cheshire cat."I don't know," Alice answered."Then," said the cat, "it doesn't matter."

"So long as I get somewhere," Alice added as an explanation. "Oh, you're sure to do that," said the Cat, "if you only walk long enough."

"All right," said the Cat; and this time it vanished quite slowly, beginning with the end of the tail, and ending with the grin, which remained some time after the rest of it had gone. "Well! I've often seen a cat without a grin," thought Alice; "but a grin without a cat! It's the most curious thing I ever saw in my life!"

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I am diagonally parked in a parallel universe. Like Arthur Dent from "Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy", if you do not have a Babel Fish in your ear this blog will be completely unintelligible to you and will read something like this: "boggle, google, snoggle, slurp, slurp, dingleberry to the power of 10". Fortunately, those who have had the Babel Fish inserted in their ear, will understood this blog perfectly. If you are familiar with this technology, you will know that the Babel Fish lives on brainwave radiation. It excretes energy in the form of exactly the correct brainwaves needed by its host to understand what was just said; or in this case, what was read. The Babel Fish, thanks to scientific research, reverses the problem defined by its namesake in the Tower of Babel, where a deity was supposedly inspired to confuse the human race by making them unable to understand each other.

"DIFFICILE EST SATURAM NON SCRIBERE"

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Sunday, April 29, 2007

'The Kalam Kalamity' - Or God Exists Because I Say So Part 2.

The concept of Infinity is no longer represented by this hypothetical manufacturer

From: - Kalam Cosmological Argument

The basic argument of the Kalam is as follows:1. Everything that begins to exists has a cause for its existence2. The universe began to exist (i.e. it is not infinite)Therefore: The universe has a cause of its existence.


Craig's Mistaken Concept of Infinity

We will look at the second premise of the argument first. It is strange that Craig is trying to prove infinity is impossible by pointing out oddities which are already well known to mathematicians and logicians. Just because a feature is odd does not mean it involves a contradiction.First in his example of the infinite library of books. His argument is flawed because we can simply remove the books from the library, add the new books together with the ones in it and then reassign natural numbers to each book. No problem, no absurdity.


With respect to the problem of successive addition. You can get infinity if you construct a successive addition that has no beginning, i.e. it already reaches out into infinity.


The Universe Being Finite in Time:

Craig's use of science is really a double edged sword. He claims that science supports the finiteness of the universe. Actually it does not do that at all. All it shows is that our current state of the universe had a beginning about fifteen billion years ago. It does not show that it was the absolute beginning. For instance Stephen Hawking has proposed a four dimensional universe. In this model the universe goes through a period of increasing entropy during an expansionary phase and a period of reducing entropy during the contractionary phase. Furthermore the jury is still out as to whether the universe will end in a contraction (a "big crunch") or whether it will continue to expand forever. If the former is the case, there is every possibility that ours is merely a cycle (of big bangs and big crunches) within an infinite series of cycles.


The Concept of Causation

With this we go to the first premise. Is causation an a priori necessity? In other words, can it be shown that it is logically contradictory to speak of ubncaused things, the way it is logically contradictory when we speak of husbands as unmarried spouses? The answer is no. We can conceive of something as being uncaused, it involved no contradiction. As proof, theist conceive of God as being uncaused. Is causation an inductive principle? In other words, is it something which science can show to be true? If it is something which can be resolved inductively, the answers seems to be causation is not a universal principle of science. We note first and foremost cosmologists seem very comfortable with the idea that the universe could have come into existence uncaused. In fact some scientists have suggested that the Big Bang began with a quantum fluctuation. The principle of quantum mechanics allow virtual pairs of quantum particles to appear and exist for a short time before annihilating. In December 1973, in an article for Nature, Edward Tryon of the City University of New York proposed the idea that the universe is "a fluctuation of the vacuum". He showed that such a fluctuation does not violate the conservation of energy. When Tryon's hypothesis is combined with the inflationary theory of the big bang a viable model of creation literally ex nihilo can be constructed. [4] Secondly causation is not a universally observed fact. In the realm of subatomic particles, quantum mechanics dominate. Yet quantum mechanics lead to many non-causational observations that are probabilistic in nature.

As Timothy Ferris explains:
The radioactive isotope radium-224 has a half life of 3.64 days. So if we study an atom of radium-224 for 3.64 days we will have an even chance of witnessing its decay. But we cannot know just when it will decay-this particular atom might wait for years-nor can we, in principle or in practice, assign a causeto its decay. All we can know are probabilities.

Note that he mentioned it is not even possible in principle. In other words quantum mechanics, one of the most widely confirmed scientific theories known, says that it is simply not possible to do, not that our equipment or knowledge is incomplete. Thus causation seems to break down in the subatomic realm. Yet this is exactly the condition the universe was in at the beginning. The universe, was in the domain of quantum mechanics at the beginning, the domain where causality breaks down.


Conclusions:

Thus in conclusion, the basic premises of the Kalam cosmological argument are either invalid or not proven:

Craig's concept of infinity is mistaken.

The universe may or may not have a beginning in time.

The verdict is still out, thus it cannot be used as a premise to prove his argument.

Causation is not an a priori principle.

Causation is not a universally valid empirical principle, as quantum mechanics have shown.

See Also:


"So Long and Thanks for all the Fish"




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35 Comments:

Blogger breakerslion said...

Oh Jeepers! You have entered a veritable playground of confused ideas, in my curmudgeonly opinion. I really could do a chapter-long rant on this, but most of it is unsupported theory. If the quantum folks want to play dice, let's just say, “I've got a hunch.”

Let me see if I can give you the Cliff Notes on the rant without failing to explain myself.

Infinity and Causality:

Infinity is not a quantity, it is a logical limit.

“Another example Craig gives is that of successive addition. For every number n, one can always add "1", n + 1. Thus one can never reach infinity by successive addition.”

If one could “reach” infinity, then it would not be infinite. Where's the problem? The library example presupposes a finite moment in time, and a finite number system. The argument about re-numbering the books is on the right track, but unnecessary to the refutation of a postulated infinite supply of something with finite constraints. By placing those constraints, you have turned your infinite library into the equivalent of a “square circle”.

We humans experience time in linear fashion. Logically however, we can state that one cannot identify something as a “cause” until the effect that follows has also been observed. Because we experience life in this fashion, we assume that the natural order of the Universe is static, and that any change in stasis requires some precondition. This might be so. If it is so, why do we assume that we are able to observe every possible causal action, and at the same time understand the implications of the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle?

Quantum Theory:

“The radioactive isotope radium-224 has a half life of 3.64 days. So if we study an atom of radium-224 for 3.64 days we will have an even chance of witnessing its decay. But we cannot know just when it will decay-this particular atom might wait for years-nor can we, in principle or in practice, assign a cause to its decay. All we can know are probabilities”

Here we have another semantic trap. Because we cannot assign a cause, it does not follow logically that there is no cause. The limitations of quantum mechanics do not stop theorists from speculating wildly about the implications. Take the atom of radium-224 above. One cannot isolate it from all possible influences and observe its behavior under those conditions. One would have to postulate an atom-sized equivalent to a Dyson Sphere that would shield our atom from everything including Cosmic radiation to completely isolate it from any possible non-canceling forces exerted on its state of existence. Would an atom so isolated ever decay? Would it decay immediately? Would its behavior be unchanged and would a large enough sample size bear out the same behavior as expected above? No one can say one way or the other because the experiment cannot be constructed.

I liken the current state of quantum theory to the following imperfect analogy. I am looking at a hillside. There is green grass, and a breeze blowing from the direction of the summit. From my vantage point, it appears that the hill slopes downward from the crest, in other words there is no indication of a plateau. I cannot see the other side, and I cannot change position. I proceed to gather data with the best instrumentation available to me. I discover that there are no elephants on the other side of the hill because the breeze contains absolutely no scent of elephants. I eliminate a few other possibilities the same way. I conclude that the greatest probability is that the other side of the hill looks just like this one. I have obtained no data that would rule this out. There is also a possibility that the other side is a sheer drop, or an abandoned strip mine. I cannot rule out these possibilities. I then conclude that the other side of the hill is all of these things in alternate universes until I can go observe for myself what it is in this universe.

I'll disappear now. The grin might linger a few moments.

30/4/07 2:43 am  
Blogger Mikayla Starstuff said...

Hehe You keep putting me in the mood to see the HHGG movie again. I wonder why this is?

At least I own it on DVD :)

30/4/07 8:42 am  
Blogger beepbeepitsme said...

breaker:

What can I say? Girl's just wanna have fun.

mikayla:

It's a fun movie and Douglas Adams, well, he was an atheist. ;)

30/4/07 10:20 am  
Blogger Plonka said...

Confused ideas ain't the half of it but I can tell you one thing, all this quantum theory has caused my head to spin...

30/4/07 7:05 pm  
Anonymous Gadfly said...

Beep
Are you denying "causality" as direct relation? Are you asserting that "causality" is only the observed correlation between prior conditions and subsequent reality (i.e. magnet & pins when brought together have a subsequent reality of being joined together)?

1/5/07 5:59 am  
Blogger beepbeepitsme said...

gad:

The concept of "causation" is, for want of a better word, "interesting" at the quantum level.

1/5/07 7:18 am  
Blogger Krystalline Apostate said...

gadfly - are you invoking the observer effect in some existential manner?

1/5/07 7:45 am  
Anonymous Gadfly said...

Beep
Just wondering what you meant in the wider sense - is there, in fact, such a thing as "cause/effect"?

1/5/07 9:54 am  
Blogger beepbeepitsme said...

Causality simply means (by definition) that the effect is the consequence (result) of the cause.

In other words, we view effects and attempt to attribute causes.

However, according to Sowa (2000), "relativity and quantum mechanics have forced physicists to abandon these assumptions as exact statements of what happens at the most fundamental levels, but they remain valid at the level of human experience."

1/5/07 11:06 am  
Blogger beepbeepitsme said...

Processes and Causality John F. Sowa

1/5/07 11:11 am  
Anonymous Gadfly said...

Beep:
Re - but they remain valid at the level of human experience.

What does this mean? Ala, Kant, are you affirming that cause/effect is in reality just a human framework for arranging and interpreting the data of experience, but they do not actually apply in the world of externals? Are you saying that the terms are to be taken on the Nominal side of the Nominalist/Realist philosophical debate?

2/5/07 4:12 am  
Blogger beepbeepitsme said...

I am suggesting that we do not know if the effect/cause relationship is universally true, especially at the quantum level.

From: A New Form of Matter

"Quantum mechanics describes the bizarre rules of light and matter on atomic scales. In that realm, matter can be in two places at once; objects behave as both particles and waves (a strange duality described by Schrodinger's wave equation); and nothing is certain: the quantum world runs on probability.

Although quantum rules are counter-intuitive, they underlie the macroscopic reality we experience day-to-day. Bose-Einstein condensates are curious objects that bridge the gap between those two realms. They obey the laws of the small even as they intrude on the big."

http://science.nasa.gov/headlines/y2002/20mar_newmatter.htm

2/5/07 8:25 am  
Anonymous Gadfly said...

At precisely what point do we exit the quantum world and find ourselves in the above-quantum world?

2/5/07 10:02 am  
Blogger beepbeepitsme said...

I am not a scientist, but I can refer you to what other sources have to say.

"Quantum levels are fixed levels with a logarithmic, descending quantum pattern in the visible spectrum of light that can be observed through a spectrometer while looking at intense flows of electricity through the various halides on the periodic table in a vacuum tube. They also have some use in chemistry when dealing with the movement of electrons to different orbital levels around the atom and the energy levels involved in such actions." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quantum_level

"Quantum mechanics is a more fundamental theory than Newtonian mechanics and classical electromagnetism, in the sense that it provides accurate and precise descriptions for many phenomena that these "classical" theories simply cannot explain on the atomic and subatomic level." (The subatomic level is the observation of particles smaller than an atom.) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quantum_mechanics

The word quantum means a definite but small amount. The basic quantum constant h, known as Planck's constant, is 6.626069 x 10-34 Joule seconds. http://www2.slac.stanford.edu/vvc/theory/quantum.html

2/5/07 11:49 am  
Anonymous Gadfly said...

Thanks
Now the question (going all the way back to Einstein and Bohr) is what is it that distinguishes quantum mechanics from non-quantum mechanics.

In other words, if the physics are fundamentally different (i.e. an object in two places at once, that electrons can be characterized as both solids and as pure energy, that non-deterministic actions occur that can only be probabilistically predicted), what separates the two domains such that the physics do not overlap.

OR - is it such that the non-quantum world is just an extension of the quantum with infinitely high probabilities. If such, there is at least some finite probability of a shift in energy states at the non-quantum level also.

With regard to cause/effect this would be taken to mean that there is a finite probability, though very small, that a measurable mass may not respond to force in a manner predicted by F=Ma. (even outside relativistic effects)

This of course would be something "miraculous" wouldn't it.

3/5/07 3:00 am  
Blogger Krystalline Apostate said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

3/5/07 6:46 am  
Blogger Krystalline Apostate said...

gadfly:
In other words, if the physics are fundamentally different (i.e. an object in two places at once, that electrons can be characterized as both solids and as pure energy, that non-deterministic actions occur that can only be probabilistically predicted), what separates the two domains such that the physics do not overlap.
You can't characterize an electron as both solid & pure energy simultaneously.
An electron has mass, ergo, it's a component of solids.
I think you're confusing your terms here, w/an inferred nod to the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle.

3/5/07 6:54 am  
Anonymous Gadfly said...

Re: You can't characterize an electron as both solid & pure energy simultaneously.

I was referring to Beep's comment - "In that realm, matter can be in two places at once; objects behave as both particles and waves (a strange duality described by Schrodinger's wave equation); and nothing is certain: the quantum world runs on probability."

I was exploring the ramifications of her position.

4/5/07 1:28 am  
Blogger Krystalline Apostate said...

gadfly:
I was referring to Beep's comment - "In that realm, matter can be in two places at once; objects behave as both particles and waves (a strange duality described by Schrodinger's wave equation); and nothing is certain: the quantum world runs on probability."
Then the question is: at what juncture is it, when the observation goes from 1 of matter to 1 of energy. At what level is it about energy?
Answers.com entry:
"Schrödinger's approach can be traced to the notion of wave-particle duality that flowed from A. Einstein's association of particle-like energy bundles (photons, as they were later called) with electromagnetic radiation, which, classically, is a wavelike phenomenon. For radiation of definite frequency f, each bundle carries energy hf. The proportionality factor, h = 6.626 × 10−34 joule-second, is a fundamental constant of nature, introduced by M. Planck in his empirical fit to the spectrum of blackbody radiation. This notion of wave-particle duality was extended in 1923 by L. de Broglie, who postulated the existence of wavelike phenomena associated with material particles such as electrons."

4/5/07 2:21 am  
Blogger beepbeepitsme said...

I always find it strange when people are ready to call something a "miracle" at the drop of a hat. Really - I find that weird.

For example, I hear people often say things like, "It was a miracle that a person survived that plane crash." I don't consider that miraculous at all. A miracle would be if EVERYONE survived a hugely destructive plane crash. It's hardly a miracle if one does.

4/5/07 9:12 am  
Anonymous Gadfly said...

Beep
A miracle is when the laws of physics are altered or suspended or something along those lines.

Essentially they are an "effect" without a "cause" (in the physical realm).

So... back to the point - do you hold that there is a continuum between the quantum world and the non-quantum - and if so - do you hold that there is a finite probability that a given F does not necessarily produce a given Ma?

5/5/07 9:26 am  
Blogger beepbeepitsme said...

lol @ A miracle is when the laws of physics are altered or suspended or something along those lines.

You would call anything a miracle if it meant it was an opportunity to insert allah into the equation.

RE: "So... back to the point - do you hold that there is a continuum between the quantum world and the non-quantum - and if so - do you hold that there is a finite probability that a given F does not necessarily produce a given Ma?"

No strawman arguments thanks.

6/5/07 8:44 am  
Blogger Krystalline Apostate said...

gadfly:
So... back to the point - do you hold that there is a continuum between the quantum world and the non-quantum - and if so - do you hold that there is a finite probability that a given F does not necessarily produce a given Ma?
You have, perhaps, a recent example of this?

7/5/07 6:34 am  
Anonymous Gadfly said...

Re: definition of a miracle
Laugh if you wish

From Britannica
A miracle is generally defined, according to the etymology of the word—it comes from the Greek thaumasion and the Latin miraculum—as that which causes wonder and astonishment, being extraordinary in itself and amazing or inexplicable by normal standards.

Which is not far removed from my definition.

Not a strawman at all - you are the one who posited that it is possible that cause-effect relationships may not exist at some level. You should at least be open to exploring the ramifications of your own position.

7/5/07 7:56 am  
Blogger Krystalline Apostate said...

gadfly - still waiting for your real world example.

7/5/07 12:48 pm  
Anonymous Gadfly said...

KA
Have you followed the discussion at all? I have been asking Beep about the implications of her position. I have not asserted that there does exist such things.

I tend to come down on the Einsteinian side of the Bohr/Einstein discussion.

8/5/07 5:19 am  
Blogger beepbeepitsme said...

There is no "my position." I am not a scientist. So regarding quantum physics and Einsteinian physics, it isn't a case of choosing one over the other, but a case of if they have scientific predictive power.

8/5/07 9:31 am  
Blogger Krystalline Apostate said...

gadfly:
Have you followed the discussion at all? I have been asking Beep about the implications of her position. I have not asserted that there does exist such things.
I have indeed been following the discussion.
If this is some effort to pry a confession of an appeal to wonder, or some Western version of a Zen koan to open the 'closed' mind, I can't say it's very impressive.
So you don't believe in miracles, then?
I'll laugh if I wish, thanks for the permission.
Hehehehe.

8/5/07 3:23 pm  
Anonymous Gadfly said...

Beep:
Re- it isn't a case of choosing one over the other, but a case of if they have scientific predictive power

Yet your conclusions were:
"Causation is not an a priori principle. Causation is not a universally valid empirical principle, as quantum mechanics have shown. "

These are fairly large statements to make and the implications need to be explored.

If, as you do, you continue to insist that the scientific, positivist epistemology is the basis for "truth" and for establishing things that you "believe" - then what you are stating is that scientific determinism is necessary for certainty.

Einstein understood this and argued that there must be deterministic (though presently unknown) factors at work in the quantum arena.

Breakerslion above does a pretty good job of outlining the position above.

There is, as far as I know, no clear cut demarcation of Quantum phenomina. Why there should be causation in one sphere and non-causation in another requires explanation for your conclusions to hold.

8/5/07 11:01 pm  
Blogger beepbeepitsme said...

RE: Yet your conclusions were:
"Causation is not an a priori principle. Causation is not a universally valid empirical principle, as quantum mechanics have shown. "

If you look carefully, you will notice that they are not my conclusions.

These are my conclusions:

I am suggesting that we do not know if the effect/cause relationship is universally true, especially at the quantum level.

And according to Sowa -

However, according to Sowa (2000), "relativity and quantum mechanics have forced physicists to abandon these assumptions as exact statements of what happens at the most fundamental levels, but they remain valid at the level of human experience."

http://www.answers.com/topic/causality

8/5/07 11:30 pm  
Anonymous Gadfly said...

Beep:
Is the entire post a quote then???

I suppose I got confused when the quote from Timothy Ferris was introduced.

However - if you are doubting whether the effect/cause relationship is universally true, then you are still facing the espistemological doubt that comes from that statement.

How can you distinguish between the realms in which it is operative and which it is not? On what basis can such a distinction be maintained? In other words - why there and not here?

9/5/07 4:37 am  
Blogger beepbeepitsme said...

Doubt doesn't bother me. Nor does not knowing.

9/5/07 5:32 pm  
Anonymous Gadfly said...

It would seem illogical then for you to require Theists to "prove" their premises since you allow for the possibility that not everything can be explained by cause/effect (hence natural) relationships.

9/5/07 10:25 pm  
Blogger Krystalline Apostate said...

gadfly:
It would seem illogical then for you to require Theists to "prove" their premises since you allow for the possibility that not everything can be explained by cause/effect (hence natural) relationships.
Sure it would. Obviously, there's some sort of uniformity. There's many, many things going on under the radar.
Onus is on you to prove it has a human face.

10/5/07 3:27 pm  
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