Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Strangers on a Train

Recently I was riding the Metro from downtown back across the river. Three ladies tried to get off at the East Riverfront station. but one of them had been sitting down, and couldn't get her walker organized and herself out of the seat in time to get through the door. They were at the back end of the train, so the driver was unaware of their situation. The door closed before they could leave the train, and naturally the ladies were very worried about getting back to their station. That's when the other passengers helped out -- sort of.

The ladies were not from the local area, and not used to riding the train. So, while the other passengers reassured them they could change directions at the 5th & Missouri station (the boarding area is conveniently in between the two directions there), they weren't sure how easily this could be done. I volunteered to escort the the ladies, and saw them safely back to East Riverfront. It was not a big deal, I had free time that day.

The reason I bring this up is to point out that I, and my fellow atheists, perform actions like this every day. We do it out of empathy, a desire to make the community a better place to live, a vision that the best world is run by people who help each other. People have always felt this way, since long before humans separated from the other apes.

One of the regular complaints I read is that atheists don't have some source for absolute morality to fall back on. While I usually engage that discussion by pointing out that there is no true, non-arbitrary source for morality (and there will be more on that in my next post), it's also worthwhile pointing out the opposite: humans don't need to taught morality by learning a set of rules or some arbitrarily imposed principles like natural law, they are taught morality by learning to see other humans as worthwhile and deserving of compassion, respect, and fair treatment. People who have an abundance of those qualities will behave morally, with or without an arbitrary set or rules/principles. People who lack those qualities will abuse and re-interpret any given rules/principles to behave immorally. Religious beliefs offer no advantage for moral behavior.

109 comments:

Anonymous said...

Zup, eh, Eric? I aint been here for a good long spell, eh? Looks like ya done took a mo philosophical bent, here lately.

Anonymous said...

Youz gonna troll here now? Eh, Hopper?

Anonymous said...

Who dat is?

One Brow said...

Welcome back, AintNoThang. Do you remember your login. It would be easier on me if you did. My intention has always been to take a philosophical appraoach to skepticism, but hopefully I'm improving to the point where that is clear.

Also, welcome Anonymous at December 13, 2010 12:04 PM. Did you have an ID, or will you be getting one?

Anonymous said...

I forgets how that whole thang worked, eh, Eric? I guess I can look into agin if I ever quit bein so damn lazy (fat chance there, ya know?).

aintnuthin said...

Testin, eh?

aintnuthin said...

"Religious beliefs offer no advantage for moral behavior."

Advantage for who? It's more advantageous for "society" than havin a cop on every street corner, doncha think?

“CHRISTIAN, n: One who believes that the New Testament is a divinely inspired book admirably suited to the spiritual needs of his neighbors.” (Ambrose Bierce)

Anonymous said...

It's only advantageous if you believe that those with religion have no moral compass. Furthermore, an argument can be made that the Muslim religion has not been advantageous for women in certain cultures/ societies.

Anonymous said...

That should have read: "...those without religion..."

aintnuthin said...

What is "moral," or what any one individual's (or society's) moral code is, is irrelvant to the issue of theistic deity who enforces it.

The notion that an omipotent, omnnscient bein is keepin accounts, with rewards/punishments to be meted out at a later date, is the difference is helping ensure that any given indidivual is more likely to follow the prescribed moral code than he is to ditch it when doin so is to his advantage, even if they aint nobuddy watchin.

One Brow said...

aintnuthin,

That's a nice theory (shared by John Adams, among others), but it doesn't bear out in practice. For one, in most forms of Christianity, it's not your deeds that get you rewarded/punished, its your "heart condition". Second, few people consider punishment years down the line when weighing the consequences of an act.

Also, I'm not sure morality is something you put on and take off, like a coat. Are people who can ditch it so easily really swayed by the possible punishment they might get? It seems unlikely to me.

aintnuthin said...

One Brow said: "That's a nice theory (shared by John Adams, among others), but it doesn't bear out in practice."

Well, Eric, a couple of things. Mainly, I was just tryin to make a distinction between "religion" and simple theism (a belief in God, with or without a highly dogmatic "religion"). Your first point addressed "most forms of christianity," and is therefore limited.

But of course, I kinda invited that, by talkin about "punishment." I did that for simplicity, but it goes beyond that. But let's start there. How much "deterent effect" future punishment has may depend, in part, on the severity of the punishment. I have known quite a few people who have an obsession with avoiding "going to hell." So I disagree that it has no deterent effect, even if the deterent is insufficient to deter ALL people.

But let's get past "punishment." Someone with a deep and abiding faith in God, who believes that their sense of right and wrong comes from God, are much more likely to see "morality" as necessary, important, and inescapble than people who just think morality consists of whatever "they" (or their culture) says it is.

One Brow said...

How much "deterent effect" future punishment has may depend, in part, on the severity of the punishment. I have known quite a few people who have an obsession with avoiding "going to hell." So I disagree that it has no deterent effect, even if the deterent is insufficient to deter ALL people.

Which of the major religions says that your eternal punishment does or does not depend on your actions? None of the major Christian denominations.

Also, fearful people tend to fearful regardless, it seems to me, whether the are believers or not. YOu can always be afraid of getting caught. Tom Dubois is going to make sure he doesn't break the law, but religion has nothing to do with that.

On the other hand, you have people committing what would otherwise be crimes, but feeling it is justified by their religious beliefs.

But let's get past "punishment." Someone with a deep and abiding faith in God, who believes that their sense of right and wrong comes from God, are much more likely to see "morality" as necessary, important, and inescapble than people who just think morality consists of whatever "they" (or their culture) says it is.

Why? Your statement doesn't reflect my opinion, nor my experience. What's your justification for so saying? Are you an atheist who sheds your morality whenever it is convenient?

aintnuthin said...

One Brow said: "Why? Your statement doesn't reflect my opinion, nor my experience. What's your justification for so saying?"

Your experience? Hmmm. It's self-evident, aint it? Something that is deemed to be "absolutely true" is always more fundamental to the person seeing it that way than sumthin that is merely "customary."

aintnuthin said...

One Brow said: "Tom Dubois is going to make sure he doesn't break the law, but religion has nothing to do with that."

I have no idea who Tom Dubois is, but I think what you really mean is that "Tom Dubois is going to make sure he doesn't GET CAUGHT breaking the law, but religion has nothing to do with that."

aintnuthin said...

One Brow said: "Which of the major religions says that your eternal punishment does or does not depend on your actions? None of the major Christian denominations."

1. I have no idea what you're talkin about,really. For one thing I don't pretend to know the dogmas of all of the "major Christian demoninations."

2. Secondly, I think it's hard to argue that behavior has no bearing on the rewards/punishment one gets, even if it's not the sole determinant. One cannot spend his life as a serial killer, and then think his "heart" is right, even if you assume (which I don't) that's the ultimate criterion, know what I'm sayin?

3. Best I can tell, religions like Hinduism, with notion of a "law of karma" and reincarnation based on behavior durin the present life, strictly tie present behavior to future rewards/punishments.

aintuthin said...

ultimately, Eric, you seem to be basing your conclusions on a logical fallacy along these lines:

1. I am an atheist

2. I am a moral person.

3. Therefore all atheists are moral persons.

Stalin, Hitler, Pol Pot, and most of the notorious "criminals" throughout history have been atheists. They believe there is nuthin to govern or restrain their crimes except power (or a lack thereof).

The (true) theist, with a bona fide faith in God, believes otherwise, whether he allows that to constrain his behavior or not.

aintnuthin said...

Or, to use an example I have used before, arguing that because sumthin the is not an absolutely NECESSARY condition for event X to occur, it is therefore irrelvant.

It is not NECESSARY to be 7' 3" to dunk a basketball on a 10 foot hoop, but it sure helps. I am not aware of anyone who is 5' tall dunkin, although it may have happened (on an extremely rare basis). That said, the average 5-footer never has, and never will, dunk.

One Brow said...

Your experience? Hmmm. It's self-evident, aint it? Something that is deemed to be "absolutely true" is always more fundamental to the person seeing it that way than sumthin that is merely "customary."

First, being "absolutely true" is not tied to religious beliefs. There are atheists who preach absolutes, and religious people who do not.

Second, being "absolutely true" does not imply that a person sees their morlaity as being necessary, important, and inescapble at the time they are tempted to go agtainst it.

I have no idea who Tom Dubois is, ...

Character on The Boondocks.

2. Secondly, I think it's hard to argue that behavior has no bearing on the rewards/punishment one gets, even if it's not the sole determinant.

The beliefs of the Catholics, Lutherans, Baptists, Calvinistic demnominations, etc., all say that all that matters is your heart conditon when you die (though they have differences for how your heart gets to be in that condition), and any seemingly good actions are as worthless as dirty rags compared to what it truly good.

One cannot spend his life as a serial killer, and then think his "heart" is right, even if you assume (which I don't) that's the ultimate criterion, know what I'm sayin?

You won't find that much common sense in the major Christian religions.

3. Best I can tell, religions like Hinduism, with notion of a "law of karma" and reincarnation based on behavior durin the present life, strictly tie present behavior to future rewards/punishments.

Yes. Their final reward is not to be reborn, to be dead forever, if they are good enough. That's som emotivation, eh?

ultimately, Eric, you seem to be basing your conclusions on a logical fallacy along these lines:

1. I am an atheist

2. I am a moral person.


Yes.

3. Therefore all atheists are moral persons.

Therefore atheists can be moral persons, and any person adopting atheism is not immoral because of it.

Stalin, Hitler, Pol Pot, and most of the notorious "criminals" throughout history have been atheists.

Hitler was not an atheist. The difference bewteen 20th century dictators and their predecessors is one of population density and technology, not intent nor morality. They killed more because there were more people to kill and they had better means of killing.

The (true) theist, with a bona fide faith in God, believes otherwise, whether he allows that to constrain his behavior or not.

True theism can motivate killings just as easily as dissuade them. Almost any place different religions border on each other, religiously motivated killings occur on both sides.

It is not NECESSARY to be 7' 3" to dunk a basketball on a 10 foot hoop, but it sure helps. I am not aware of anyone who is 5' tall dunkin, although it may have happened (on an extremely rare basis). That said, the average 5-footer never has, and never will, dunk.

We can draw an accurate physiological model of dunking a basketball to show why height is helpful. You have no model with that sort of accuracy for connecting religion to morality.

aintnuthin said...

One Brow said: "Therefore atheists can be moral persons, and any person adopting atheism is not immoral because of it."

If that's your onliest point, then, sure, I agree.

Which, of course, begs the real question of what, exactly, is "moral." The Christian moral code? Are ya sayin that athiests can act "just like" christians in the moral realm? Would that even be a good thing?

aintnuthin said...

One Brow said: "The beliefs of the Catholics, Lutherans, Baptists, Calvinistic demnominations, etc., all say that all that matters is your heart conditon when you die (though they have differences for how your heart gets to be in that condition), and any seemingly good actions are as worthless as dirty rags compared to what it truly good."

Not that I really care, but I think you're over-simplifyin here. With respect to just Lutherans, Wiki says this here:

"Christ will publicly judge all people by the testimony of their deeds, the good works of the righteous in evidence of their faith, and the evil works of the wicked in evidence of their unbelief. He will judge in righteousness in the presence of all people and angels, and his final judgment will be just damnation to everlasting punishment for the wicked and a gracious gift of life everlasting to the righteous."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lutheranism#Judgment_and_eternal_life

Notice how DEEDS are the "evidence" of belief or disbelief, with the prospect of "everlasting punishment"for the "wicked."

Lip service don't seem to cut it with Lutherans, eh? Or any other religion that I'm aware of. Ya caint just say--"even though I never acted accordingly, I always believed in God and I'm like, really, really, I mean, REALLY sorry, see?"

aintnuthin said...

One Brow said: "being "absolutely true" is not tied to religious beliefs. There are atheists who preach absolutes, and religious people who do not."

I find this to be one of the more interesting observations you have made, Eric?

1. I will agree with your statement here, but how does that in any way undermine the point I made? You seem to think it does, somehow.

2. What "absolutes" do atheists believe in, when it comes to the moral sphere of things? God is "absolute," pretty much by definition. Are you talkin about the attempt to deify humanism, that the idea? That has certainly been done, but in the past you have denied that that sometimes occurs, if I understood you correctly.

aintnuthin said...

One Brow said: "...there is no true, non-arbitrary source for morality (and there will be more on that in my next post)..."

You make this unqualified claim based on what? Your faith that it's true, that it?

Codgitator (Cadgertator) said...

You wrote that "humans don't need to [be] taught morality by learning a set of rules or some arbitrarily imposed principles like natural law[;] they are taught morality by learning to see other humans as worthwhile and deserving of compassion, respect, and fair treatment."

Let me paraphrase a few times.

1. Humans don't need to be taught morality by learning to see various other humans as supposedly more worthwhile than anything else and arbitrarily deserving of compassion, respect, and fair treatment; they are taught morality by learning a set of rules or universally imposed principles like natural law.

2. Humans don't need to be taught morality by learning to see any other humans as worthwhile and deserving of compassion, respect, and fair treatment; they are taught morality by learning to see themselves as worthwhile of respect, be shrewd in their application of compassion, and act ruthlessly in their navigation of personal favor/power.

3. Humans don't need to be taught morality by learning to see all other humans as intrinsically worthwhile and absolutely deserving of compassion, respect, and fair treatment; they are taught morality by learning to play a contingent game of semiotic mores evolved to foster genetic propagation.

aintnuthin said...

Codg, ya tryin to say that morality aint just altruism, that it?

One Brow said...

Which, of course, begs the real question of what, exactly, is "moral."

Indeed. Unfortunately, all answers to that are founded on arbitrary premises, like empathy or determination of perposes.

Not that I really care, but I think you're over-simplifyin here.

We go probably go around for a few pages on whether the judgement on deeds occurs before or after a person is determined righteous in that passage, but I agree it's not central.

Lip service don't seem to cut it with Lutherans, eh?

I said heart condition, not lip service.

1. I will agree with your statement here, but how does that in any way undermine the point I made? You seem to think it does, somehow.

I thought you were connecting the absoluteness of morals with behaviors conforming to those morals, and also connecting the absoluteness of morals to having a religion. I dispute both points.

2. What "absolutes" do atheists believe in, when it comes to the moral sphere of things?

For example, some atheists take it as an absolute that any attempt to harm other people is evil, and second to that any attempt restrict human freedom is evil. They often become anarcho-capitalists.

You make this unqualified claim based on what?

That moral systems are formal systems, and thus require arbitrarily chosen starting points.

One Brow said...

Codgitator (Cadgertator),

I apologize if I'm a little dense, but I don't see the point of your paraphrases.



aintnuthin,

Of course morality is not just altruism. Sometimes compassion, respect, and fair treatment prohibit altruism.

aintnuthin said...

One Brow said: "I thought you were connecting the absoluteness of morals with behaviors conforming to those morals, and also connecting the absoluteness of morals to having a religion. I dispute both points."

I've already agreed with you on 2, but I was makin a "connection." I didn't claim the "connection" is one of causastion or one to one correspondence by any means. But there is a differece in "likelihood" that behavoir will follow belief, if one's beliefs are absolute in nature, that's all. No one is moral (whatever their particular moral code) without courage, strength and integrity, and, unfortunately their are a lot of cowardly weaklings around who lack integration and just go whichever way the wind blows.

Do you dispute that?

aintnuthin said...

One Brow said: "That moral systems are formal systems, and thus require arbitrarily chosen starting points."

I don't agree that morality must be a "system," formal or otherwise, but that's a side point. The bigger question is this:

If you're willing to acknowledge that your startin point (let's call it "athesim" for short) is arbitrary, why do you begrudge others the privilege of makin the opposite arbitrary assumption? Why rail against theism? What's the point?

aintnuthin said...

One Brow said: "For example, some atheists take it as an absolute that any attempt to harm other people is evil, and second to that any attempt restrict human freedom is evil. They often become anarcho-capitalists."

That could be, and some theists might well do the same. The point is that this sense of absoluteness does not DERIVE from atheism. It does not follow merely from a startin presumption that there aint no God.


On the other hand, as I said before, God, by definition, is absolute, so a belief in God tends to carry that sense with it.

aintnuthin said...

As far a religions go (which AINT theism), I give this much to muslims: They are more pragmatic.

While christian may become snacks for lions because they reufse to renounce their faith, muslims say it is fine to deny their faith if to do otherwise would endanger them.

What's the "reward" for bein a good christian, anywaze? Gittin to sit on some damn cloud, playin a harp, and bored to tears? Gimme my way with 72 virgins any ole day, know what I'm sayin?

One Brow said...

If you're willing to acknowledge that your startin point (let's call it "athesim" for short) is arbitrary, why do you begrudge others the privilege of makin the opposite arbitrary assumption? Why rail against theism? What's the point?

I don't. I merely begrudge their claim that their starting point is not arbitrary. That's the point.

aintnuthin said...

One Brow said: "I am a reluctant atheist. Every time I read about some new proof of the existence of God/gods, I get a little bit of hope that I will be able to return to belief."

I kinda been tryin to steer you a certain way, eh, Eric? It seems to me that your complaint is more against particular religions and their particular beliefs. Quite possibly you generalize this to "organized religions" as a whole (as I probably do).

But, lemme ax ya: Is this a "religion:"

"Unitarian Universalism is a religious community characterized by support for a "free and responsible search for truth and meaning".[1] Unitarian Universalists do not share a creed; rather, they are unified by their shared search for spiritual growth and by the belief that an individual's theology is a result of that search and not obedience to an authoritative requirement...

There is no single unifying belief that all Unitarian Universalists (UUs) hold, aside from complete and responsible freedom of speech, thought, belief, faith, and disposition. They believe that each person is free to search for his or her own personal truth on issues, such as the existence, nature, and meaning of life, deities, creation, and afterlife. UUs can come from any religious background, and hold beliefs from a variety of cultures or religions."

They call themselves a religion and have "church" services on Sundays, like some other religions do. According to Wiki, 18% of its members are atheist, and 33% agnostic.

They claim that: "Unitarian Universalists respect the important religious texts of other religions. UUs believe that all religions can coexist if viewed with the concept of love for your neighbor and for yourself. Other church members who do not believe in a particular text or doctrine, are encouraged to respect it as a historically significant literary work that should be viewed with an open mind. It is intended that in this way, individuals from all religions or spiritual backgrounds could live peaceably."

One of their "sources" is said to be: "Direct experience of that transcending mystery and wonder, affirmed in all cultures, which moves us to a renewal of the spirit and an openness to the forces which create and uphold life."

Is that a conception of "God," ya think? I don't mean a big-ass guy with a long white beard, but rather some mysterious, intangible "force" which guides existence?

When you say you are an "atheist" and believe there is no "God," what do you have in mind about what (or who) "God" is?

One Brow said...

Iam often filled with mystery and wonder, but I'm not sure what "transcending" is supposed to mean. If it means in things that transcend me, sure. It moves me occasionally to renew my spirit (general sense of myself) and be open to the forces which create and uphold life (the natural working of the universe). So, if you can allow for a conception of God that has no supernatural component, but really just mean the space-time continuum, I can accept that. Generally, whether you are talking about a monotheistic God (the dominant one in our culture), polytheistic gods, the pantheistic god in every being, etc., I don't find evidence for that.

aintnuthin said...

What is "supernatural?" Seems to me that anything that can happen is, in some sense, "natural." If, for example, there is indeed some "intelligence" underlying events, then that "intelligence" would be a part of nature, i.e., natural. The term "supernatural" just begs the question (or prejudges it, depending on our assumptions).

One Brow said...

I agree, that's not a straight-forward thing to define, and opinions of what is "natural" expand over time.

For the time being, though, I would grant that any effect that violates the conservation of mass-energy-gravity or the laws of thermodynamics to be supernatural.

aintnuthin said...

Not to worry, I figure. God would NEVER violate such man-made "laws," I'm sure.

aintnuthin said...

Ya know, I could set a big-ass bowlin ball in motion by rollin it down a lane towards some bowlin pins. Then, after a short spell, havoc would ensue. There would be a big "BANG" when that ball hit them pins, followed by all kinda activity, with bowlin pins flying around, and stuff.

But, from my experience, once all the dust settled, them pins and balls wouldn't never move again unless and until some external force come along and moved them again. I aint never yet seen them pins and balls just get smart and start walkin around on they own. Sumthin about a big-ass collision just don't seem to give them intelligence and self-animation, for some damn reason.

Maybe if ya rolled 1,000 balls at 10,000 pins, all at one time, and they all got to knockin each other round, that would knock some sense into they stupid asses, who knows?

One Brow said...

:)

aintnuthin said...

By the way, Eric, I see ya done took to callin yourself an "atheist" now, which ya never used to do. Does this signify a change of position, or merely an attempt to further the atheist.org call to redefine the word "atheist" so as to enhance their fund-raising activities?

aintnuthin said...

Ex nilhilo, nihil fit.

That's some fancy-ass latin for the simple notion that "Don't nuthin come from nuthin," ya know?

aintnuthin said...

Once upon a millenium, a big-ass chunk of granite, who had been just layin round on his lazy ass for millions of years decided he needed some entertanment, because he done got completely bored, just never doin nuthin.

So, he took to thinkin, for enterainment. After thinkin for a spell, he seen a HOT granite Babe about 100 yards away, and from then on, that's all he could think about.

After a few million years of that, he finally got a different thought, to wit: "Spoze I just mosey on over that way and tell her she looks familiar, eh?" So, then, of course, he had to take to walkin, too, which he done. Good thing, too. All the granite in the world came from them two. Without his ingenuity we wouldn't have no granite countertops, or nuthin.

aintnuthin said...

An electron here, a proton who done hooked up with a proton there, and, purty soon, ya got your self a whole damn atom, eh? Atoms, bein social critters, and all, likes to hang out in gangs, so before long ya got billions of them same atoms gittin together to form a gram of an "element." Now and again these gangs, who generally fight each other to maintain racial purity, make peace with a rival gang and make a molecule. Sometimes different molecules also make arrangement with different breeds of molecules to form compounds.

Next thing ya know, ya got gangs of billions of molecules gittin together to form a hemoglobin cell, and a regular army who, when needed, go off on seiges and search and destory missions to wipe out invadin gangs. All without even being told, ya know? Purty damn smart, if ya ax me. I bet they done got schooled by that big-ass chunk of granite.

aintnuthin said...

One thing that always puzzled me about the big bang. I mean, like here ya got all the matter in the whole universe crammed into a space about the size of a pinhead on sumthin. Accordin to the "law" of gravity, it seems like that should oughta make one hellacious black hole from which nuthin would NEVER escape, don't it?

What come along and suspended the law of gravity so that material could head out for the rodeo, I wonder?

By your definition, it musta been sumthin "supernatural," doncha think?

One Brow said...

By the way, Eric, I see ya done took to callin yourself an "atheist" now, which ya never used to do. Does this signify a change of position, or merely an attempt to further the atheist.org call to redefine the word "atheist" so as to enhance their fund-raising activities?

I'm not affiliated with any groups of atheists, to the degree that I hear about fund-raising at any rate.

I'm not sure how far back you mean. I had that ateist avatar on JazzFanz a couple of years before the collapse. I don't think I ever called myself an agnostic.

That's some fancy-ass latin for the simple notion that "Don't nuthin come from nuthin," ya know?

Perhaps not all nothings are created equal.

What come along and suspended the law of gravity so that material could head out for the rodeo, I wonder?

From my understanding of current thought of the event, nothing. Matter was created oout of positive energy, which was balanced by the creation of an equal amount of negative energy.

By your definition, it musta been sumthin "supernatural," doncha think?

What you described might have been.

aintnuthin said...

One Brow said: "From my understanding of current thought of the event, nothing. Matter was created oout of positive energy, which was balanced by the creation of an equal amount of negative energy."

What, pray tell, is "energy" exactly? I mean apart from a concept used for "book-balancing." I have heard many different people try to describe "mass" in a variety of ways, but, best I can tell, it's really only one thing, to wit: resistance to acceleration. Which is a necessary fiction needed to create the newtonian fiction of "force."

"Positive energy" and "negative energy" SOUND real insightful and high-falutin, but what the hell are they, actually? "Negative energy" sounds like some kinda oxymoron.

aintnuthin said...

If ya listen to guys like this, "current thought" on the matter of the big bang is all over the lot, eh? I wonder which current thought ya had in mind.

"With painstaking care, scientists have developed a time line for the big bang theory. By extrapolating the expansion of the universe backwards in time, general relativity yields an infinite density and temperature at a definite time in the past. This singularity signals the breakdown of general relativity....

There are too many theories about what happened during the early seconds of the big bang to list them all. Many scientists agree that the universe was filled homogeneously and isotropically with an incredibly high energy density, huge temperatures and pressures, and was very rapidly expanding and cooling. The overwhelming consensus begins to fall apart there."

http://www.universetoday.com/50782/big-bang/

GR "breaks down?" Sumthin supernatual cause that, ya figure?

I wonder what "infinite density would be? Another word (infinite), commonly thrown around as meaningful, when it don't really mean nuthin comprehensible, aint it?

aintnuthin said...

"The Big Bang theory depends on two major assumptions [one of which is] the universality of physical laws...

"Symmetry breaking phase transitions put the fundamental forces of physics and the parameters of elementary particles into their present form...

"A resolution to this apparent inconsistency is offered by inflationary theory in which a homogeneous and isotropic scalar energy field dominates the Universe at some very early period (before baryogenesis). During inflation, the Universe undergoes exponential expansion, and the particle horizon expands much more rapidly than previously assumed...

"It is generally assumed that when the Universe was young and very hot, it was in statistical equilibrium and contained equal numbers of baryons and antibaryons. However, observations suggest that the Universe, including its most distant parts, is made almost entirely of matter. An unknown process called "baryogenesis" created the asymmetry. For baryogenesis to occur, the Sakharov conditions must be satisfied. These require that baryon number is not conserved, that C-symmetry and CP-symmetry are violated and that the Universe depart from thermodynamic equilibrium...

"This singularity signals the breakdown of general relativity...


"Precise modern models of the Big Bang appeal to various exotic physical phenomena that have not been observed in terrestrial laboratory experiments or incorporated into the Standard Model of particle physics. Of these features, dark matter is currently the subject to the most active laboratory investigations...there is not sufficient visible matter in the Universe to account for the apparent strength of gravitational forces within and between galaxies. This led to the idea that up to 90% of the matter in the Universe is dark matter that does not emit light or interact with normal baryonic matter. In addition, the assumption that the Universe is mostly normal matter led to predictions that were strongly inconsistent with observations. Remaining issues, such as the cuspy halo problem and the dwarf galaxy problem of cold dark matter, are not fatal to the dark matter explanation as solutions to such problems exist which involve only further refinements of the theory. Dark energy is also an area of intense interest for scientists, but it is not clear whether direct detection of dark energy will be possible....

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Big_Bang

Hmmm, kinda seems like all "universal" assumptions must be periodically abandoned to keep the patchwork of cosmological theory together, eh?

I think catholics call such things "mysteries." Aint no reason not to have complete faith in the theory. On the contrary, all the more reason to believe, per the catholics.

aintnuthin said...

“The Big Bang theory depends on two major assumptions [one of which is] the universality of physical laws…

“Symmetry breaking phase transitions put the fundamental forces of physics and the parameters of elementary particles into their present form…

“This singularity signals the breakdown of general relativity…

“At some point an unknown reaction called baryogenesis violated the conservation of baryon number…An unknown process called "baryogenesis" created the asymmetry. For baryogenesis to occur, the Sakharov conditions must be satisfied. These require that baryon number is not conserved, that C-symmetry and CP-symmetry are violated and that the Universe depart from thermodynamic equilibrium

“Precise modern models of the Big Bang appeal to various exotic physical phenomena that have not been observed in terrestrial laboratory experiments or incorporated into the Standard Model of particle physics. Of these features, dark matter is currently the subject to the most active laboratory investigations….Dark energy is also an area of intense interest for scientists, but it is not clear whether direct detection of dark energy will be possible…

“A resolution to this apparent inconsistency is offered by inflationary theory…During inflation, the Universe undergoes exponential expansion, and the particle horizon expands much more rapidly than previously assumed…

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Big_Bang

So, the big bang theory seems to require a disturbance of the “thermodynamic equilibrium, C and CP symmetry, resort to unknown (and theoretically unknowable) “exotic” hypotheses to save gravity, irregular rates of expansion, a “breakdown” of GR, and such, eh? Sounds like the supernatural at work, I figure.

I think the catholics call doctrines or concepts which require the suspension of other “universal” principles “mysteries,” eh? Aint no reason not to have complete faith in the theory, of course. On the contrary, it’s all the more reason to embrace it.

Creation tales, they ROCK, eh!?

Mebbe not as much as string theory, with many multiple dimensions and parallel universes, and such, but, still….

aintnuthin said...

One Brow said: I don't think I ever called myself an agnostic."

Whether you called yourself that or not, that's how you always described your beliefs, as I recall.

aintnuthin said...

"Paul J. Steinhardt is the Albert Einstein Professor of Science at Princeton University and a professor of theoretical physics. He received his B.S. at the California Institute of Technology and his Ph.D. in Physics at Harvard University. He is currently the Director of the Princeton Center for Theoretical Science."

"Paul Steinhardt criticizes string theory's explanation of dark energy stating "...Anthropics and randomness don't explain anything... I am disappointed with what most theorists are willing to accept".

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dark_energy

What a faithless infidel, know what I'm sayin?

aintnuthin said...

Feynman on conservation of energy:

"The law is called the conservation of energy. It states that there is a certain quantity, which we call energy, that does not change in manifold changes which nature undergoes. That is a most abstract idea, because it is a mathematical principle; it says that there is a numerical quantity which does not change when something happens. It is not a description of a mechanism, or anything concrete; it is just a strange fact that we can calculate some number and when we finish watching nature go through her tricks and calculate the number again, it is the same."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Energy

Not a mechanism?

Not a description of anything concrete?

Just an "abstract idea" and a "mathematical principle?"

Like, who knew, I ax ya?

One Brow said...

GR "breaks down?" Sumthin supernatual cause that, ya figure?

There's been a fundamental incompatibility between GR and quantum mechanics for a few decades, according to my understanding. At least one is wrong, but for now they are the best moels we have in their respective domains.

Whether you called yourself that or not, that's how you always described your beliefs, as I recall.

I went pretty much straight from deism to atheism. Of course, perhaps what I call an atheist you call an agnostic. That sort of thing happens when you put try to categorize reality.

Codgitator (Cadgertator) said...

One Brow, ol' fellow:

I have not read more than a third of this thread, so I will confine myself to clarifying my paraphrases.

First, I used paraphrase in the loose sense of reformulating elements of one statement to throw light on other parts of it, or even on different matters altogether.

Second, my point is this: I believe you reject "natural law" at least because 1) you think it is really just a culturally relative set of moral biases given a mandate to be "universal", and 2) even if it were universal, it would be inscrutable to us, and thus as subject to debate and uncertainty as any other moral system.

I paraphrased your thesis in order to show that you are just as absolutist about your canons of compassion, fairness, respect, etc. as any natural law advocate. For, 1) the canon-values you endorse in this post are certainly culturally relative, though you put them on a tacitly inviolable pedestal and, 2) if they really are universally absolute, why aren't they just as inscrutable or contestable as natural law? You might therefore say my comment was a tu quoque, with a hefty dash of Nietzschean contempt.

Specifically:

In my first paraphrase, I point out how your values are either rules, like natural laws, or they are no moral good at all. Is it a rule that we should treat other people with compassion? If so, why are natural law rules so passe? If not, well, then it's not a moral guide at all.

In my second paraphrase, I delegitimate the arguably provincial, Romantic chauvinism of your values by suggesting other, equally viable principles that should be given a place in a pluralistic society.

In my third paraphrase, I indicate how your thesis still assumes a universal human nature with intrinsic moral rights––which is to say, still assumes natural law!––, and show how a truly reductivist morality should just look at mechanisms, not at contingently evolved memes which delude us into thinking we have "moral obligations".

Best,

One Brow said...

Codgitator (Cadgertator) said...

Second, my point is this: I believe you reject "natural law" at least because 1) you think it is really just a culturally relative set of moral biases given a mandate to be "universal", and 2) even if it were universal, it would be inscrutable to us, and thus as subject to debate and uncertainty as any other moral system.

On a more fundamental level, natural law morality is the erection of a formal system of morals (as is any other philosophical postion). So, it suffers from the same defects as any other formal system, in particular, an inabiltiy to know whether it reflects facets or reality or just of the model we have constructed.

I paraphrased your thesis in order to show that you are just as absolutist about your canons of compassion, fairness, respect, etc. as any natural law advocate.

Of course I am. You can't create a model without some sort of arbitrarily chosen beginnings, and I don't pretend mine are any less arbitrary. Rather, I find the pretense on the side of those who claim that there is an objectively determined purpose to things, and that this purpose can be used to determine what is "good", by adhering to said purpose. I see purposes being chosen specifically and arbitrarily to support certain conclusions.

You might therefore say my comment was a tu quoque, with a hefty dash of Nietzschean contempt.

Well, we're just getting to know each other, so I can't fault you for thinking I was unaware that my position had no claim to superior correspondance.

In my first paraphrase, I point out how your values are either rules, like natural laws, or they are no moral good at all. Is it a rule that we should treat other people with compassion? If so, why are natural law rules so passe? If not, well, then it's not a moral guide at all.

Perhaps it's just that I see a fuzzier valuation than you, but I think you a moral principle can be a guide wthout being an absolute. I tend to take such all-or-nothing positions lightly.

In my second paraphrase, I delegitimate the arguably provincial, Romantic chauvinism of your values by suggesting other, equally viable principles that should be given a place in a pluralistic society.

As a survival strategy, I believe that everyone acting ruthlessly in the pursuit of personal power is an overall negative to the population. Assuming "viable" means "something that improves survivability", it would be less viable. Perhaps you meant something else by viability. Other than that, I don't pretend my Romantic tendencies are more fundamental than differing tendencies among anyone else.

In my third paraphrase, I indicate how your thesis still assumes a universal human nature with intrinsic moral rights––which is to say, still assumes natural law!––, and show how a truly reductivist morality should just look at mechanisms, not at contingently evolved memes which delude us into thinking we have "moral obligations".

I do think there is such a thing as a human nature, in the sense that humans have a specific history, their brains develop in certain ways, etc. If you want to argue that we could create another version of what we now call natural law to accomodate that, I would at least use a different name for it, to avoid confusion with the Thomistic position.

Yo won't find me arguing that reductionism is the only, or even best, way to explore phenomena.

One Brow said...

I have offered the following as an example of why I find natural law to be arbitrary in the past. Tell me what you think of it.

Position A: The purpose of sex (or genitals, if you prefer) is reproduction, and our laws should reflect the position than the only truly moral use of it (them) is in a way that, under ideal circumstances, leads to reproduction. Homosexual marriage does not support that usage, so should not be recognized.

Position B: The purpose of sex (or genitals, if you prefer) is the forming of bonds of intimacy, and our laws should reflect the position than the only truly moral use of it (them) is in a way that, under ideal circumstances, leads to forming close relationships and families. Homosexual marriages support that usage, and so should be recognized.

No, perhaps you can offer an objective way of saying whether position A or B is correct without ingroducing some other arbitrary preferences?

aintnuthin said...

Without sayin either position A or B is correct in it's entirety, Eric, position A is the "correct" one in terms of "purpose." On a fundamental biological level, the (or one) clear "purpose" of genitalia is reproduction.

"Forming bonds of intimacy" may or may not be a by-product of genitaila, but it is totally arbitrary to say that is their "purpose."

One Brow said...

Since it is so clear, it should be easy to prove.

aintnuthin said...

One Brow said: "Since it is so clear, it should be easy to prove."

Since it is so clear, there is no need to "prove" it. Do you deny it? If so, on what grounds?

One Brow said...

I firmly deny that it is any more clear or obvious than position B. I say positions A and B are equally arbitrary.

aintnuthin said...

Well, I didn't address position A vs B. You chose the word "purpose," and I limited by comments to that.

I FIRMLY DENY that there is EVER ANYTHING which is not purely arbitrary, including every single word you and I write here. Prove I'm wrong.

aintnuthin said...

Codgiator said "I paraphrased your thesis in order to show that you are just as absolutist about your canons of compassion, fairness, respect, etc. as any natural law advocate."

Whereas Codg accuses you of "absolutism" in the realm of morality, I don't. I accuse you of that (or somehting close to it) in the realm of scientific theory (theoris you like, and chose to adhere to and advocate, anyway). At least superficially and in terms of your rhetoric and assertions.

You tend to overstate your case, and glibly assert that "all the evidence" points the way you want it to. I say this based on many, many, statements and claims you have made. Just a couple of quick examples:

1. Your claim about the "reality" of space bein negatively curved (or whatever your claim was).
2. Callin some guy a "crackpot" because he adhered to Lorentzian notions of space and times rather than relativistic notions of same.
3. Your many claims and assertions of what THE theory of evolution proves to be "fact."

It seems to me that you have transferred your former faith in, and dedication to, religious beliefs to scientific beliefs. The glibness and assuredness with which you make unqualified assertions is somewhat unsettling, coming from someone who claims to be a "skeptic."

Codgitator (Cadgertator) said...

One Brow:

A few replies-as-questions concerning your A and B theses:

1) Can you define/explicate genitals without reference to sex, and vice versa?

2) What is the good/purpose of forming intimate bonds and, of special note, families?

3) a) How do you set the proper limits of intimacy? b) And how do you restrict the canons of family? (I ask a) on the scenario that an older man defended his "intimacies" with young boys on the grounds that he was just inculcating emotional maturity in what were techincally compliant youngsters. I ask b) on the scenario that a woman insists she be given the same legal/fiscal privileges as any other head of a family… even though her family "members" are hundreds of porcelain unicorns she's collected since childhood.)

Also, since, as you say, we are just getting to know one another, I want to mention up front that if I ever come across as brash or snide, it's unintentional. If I'm peeved with people, I'll tell them. Otherwise I sometimes worry the density and vivacity of my prose jars some people, when I am just trying to be economical and explicit.

Best,

One Brow said...

aintnuthin,

Arbitrariness, as one of the limitations of the specific type of knowledge I refer to as formal knowledge, is one of my common themes. Why would I disprove it?

Objects in space behave as if space is negatively curved. There have been a variety of predictions and experiments to confirm this, ranging from predictions regarding Mecury's orbit to GPS technology. Any future theory of relativity will have to expain why objects behave as if space is curved.

As for Van Flandern (I think that was his name), I relied on the opinion of mainstream physicist in referring to him as a crackpot, but that is indeed what he was.

I have at times overstated things regarding evolutionary theory, and I try to learn and correct. Is there anything you feel I should not currently accept as fact, which you believe I do hold as fact?

There are many skeptics who hold the objective proof that the scientific method derives as being somehow greater or more worthy, so such a belief would hardly put me outside the skeptical community. However, I see each type of knowledge as having its proper place. When someone who has studied the works of Aristotle in detail tells me that Aristotle teaches A, B, and C, and that I have misunderstood B, I accept them at their word. When the proof of the Banach-Tarski Paradox was laid out, I accepted this as a consequence of the Axiom of Choice. When the only viable model that explains all the experimental data says that nothing travels faster than light, I accept that is a likely limitation on the universe. What I don't know is everyone who has apoint of view has a valid point of view.

One Brow said...

Codgitator (Cadgertator),

I have never seen any of your responses so far as less than polite and considerate in every way. However, one of my qualities, for better or worse, is that on most subjects I have a very thick skin. So, no worries.

1) That depends on whether you are referring to the abstract notion of a genital or the genital of a specific species. However, either way I can define them without need to refer to reproduction specifically, or bonds of intimacy specifically. So, I think your question is moot to the point I am addressing.

2) There are many different goods that accrue. Family units share resources, provide shelter from outside hostilities, provide protection, divide labor, raise and care for children (both their own and others).

3a&b) Intimacy is a connection between consenting adults. Consent requires that neither party is able to exercise an undue influence due to relationships that existed when they were in unequal positions (such as parent-child). The harm that parents cause children by engaging them in sexual activities is extremely well-documented. The notion that porcelain dolls are consenting adults is, as best, humerous.

Codgitator (Cadgertator) said...

One Brow:

My worry (in the philosopher's sense) is that you still end up citing *the production of children*––the propagation of the species––as the end-state of your social morality. You defend homosexual marriage on the grounds that it achieves the "end" of successful childbearing. Abusive parents are divested of their rights over a child because they violate the purpose of parenthood, namely, the flourishing of another human being in the manifold form of our species. You deny there are any intrinsic "purposes" in nature, but this is either mistaken due to a fallacy of equivocation or is simply false (for two reasons I shall address here, one scientific, the other 'retorsive'). All this moralizing, however, just is admitting a chief good of natural law without saying so.

I think you and I agree that this is as clear a natural law as you'll find: Commit your genitalia to copulating or you shall perish. The existence of a species is grounded on the success of its successfully aligning paired genitalia and making littluns come out the other side. All the rest, the intimacy and social bonds, etc., are derivative goods to that end and therefore deserving of only derivative support by society. Natural law theory does not say that the sole function of the genitalia qua flesh is reproduction, otherwise it would be a natural law that everyone must copulate and must do so even while excreting. Natural law theory merely holds that there is a natural, objective link between various bodily functions and embodied flourishing. The esophagus can be used for vomiting or for torturing people (รก la Vlad the Impaler), but these hardly qualify as natural *ends* of the digestive system. The former is a teleological recalibration of a defect in digestion while the latter is an objective abuse of the good of the alimentary canal. That's a crucial point, actually: natural law is objectivist because, if you can say that driving a spike through someone from ass to mouth is objectively evil, then you eo ipso forfeit the right to make moral claims worth taking seriously. To defend impaling as plausible "end" of the digestive system is not to refute natural law, but simply to undermine yourself as a moral animal.

The insertion of a penis into a vagina and the deposit of semen into the uterus is an objective success, intrinsic to the existence and persistence of the species. Nothing similar can be said for sodomy, fellatio, or masturbation. Indeed, the point of rejecting those acts *as reproductive acts* is that the body manifestly rejects the interaction: semen is disposed of by the mouth and is excreted by the anus.

Best,

Codgitator (Cadgertator) said...

ERRRRROR:

"for two reasons I shall NOT address here"

Codgitator (Cadgertator) said...

ERRORRR:

"if you CAN'T say that impaling is"

aintnuthin said...

One Brow said: " When the only viable model that explains all the experimental data says that nothing travels faster than light, I accept that is a likely limitation on the universe. What I don't know is everyone who has apoint of view has a valid point of view."

There ya go again, eh, Eric, as usual. When such a "model" hits the scene, lemme know, willya?

And Van Flandren is far from a "crackpot," but I know it suits your purposes perfectly to assert that he ism notwithstanding the fact that he probably knows 20 times as much about physics as you do. Just more of the same.

aintnuthin said...

God only knows how many authoritative excerpts I have already given you that assert that all competent physicists acknowledge that LR "explains" everything just as well as SR, that the predictions of each are identical, and that no experiment has ever been devised to show that one is "right" and the other "wrong."

But, for you, one is right, and the other wrong. I think your statements on the topic give a good indication as to why you make such assertions.

aintnuthin said...

Just for the hell of it, to restate the case, here is an excerpt from Van Flandren. I don't think you would be able to find a competent physicist or philosopher of science who would dispute his claims about what has been proven, or the general validity of the distinctions between the two theories (based upon unprovable assumptions)

"Abstract. As the relativity of motion is taught today, Einstein’s special relativity has been observationally confirmed so often that there is no longer reason to doubt it. However, the chief competitor theory known as Lorentzian relativity has passed those same observational tests. Whether surpassing the speed of light in classical physics will be routinely possible or not depends critically on which of these models is correct. Recent experimental evidence for faster-than-light force propagation is fully consistent with Lorentzian relativity, but is a test that special relativity cannot pass.

The proof that faster-than-light (FTL) propagation is not allowed by nature is simple. Special relativity (SR) forbids it because, in that theory, time slows and approaches a cessation of flow for any material entity approaching the speed of light. So no matter how much energy is brought to bear, the entity cannot be propelled all the way to, much less beyond, the point where time ceases. The entity’s inertia simply increases towards infinity as the speed barrier is approached.[*] But most importantly, relativists are confident that SR is a valid theory because it has passed eleven independent experiments confirming most of its features and predictions. Moreover, the very successful theory of general relativity (GR) is based on SR, and has likewise passed several major experimental tests. So SR is confirmed by observations and forbids FTL propagation and travel.

As solid as this reasoning appears to be, it has a logical flaw because another theory exists about which the same supporting claims can be made, but which has no universal speed limit. This replacement theory is the so-called “Lorentzian relativity” (LR). Let’s briefly review the origin of this theory, what it says, how it differs from SR, and what the experiments have to say about it.

Lorentzian relativity is a modern updating of the Lorentz Ether Theory (LET), first published in 1904 a year before Einstein published SR. [[i]] It is based on the relativity principle, first formulated at least a generation earlier; and on the famous transformations named after Lorentz, thereby having the same mathematical form as SR. In essence, LR is relativity for the aether. Einstein’s innovation in SR was to abolish the need for aether, or more specifically, the need for a preferred frame, by making all inertial frames equivalent, with each having the same speed of light. LR went in the opposite direction, specifying that the generalized, amorphous, universal aether of LET should in fact be identified with the local gravitational potential field, which is of course a different frame from place to place….

[continued in next post]

aintnuthin said...

Post Continued:

In SR, the Lorentz transformations apply to time, space, and mass. By contrast, in LR, they apply only to clocks, meter sticks, and momentum. This is a subtle but important distinction. For example, increasing the temperature slows a pendulum clock and increases its length, yet this does not mean that something happens to time or space. Only the attempted measures of time and space using the pendulum clock, but not time and space themselves, are affected by temperature. In a similar way, in Lorentzian relativity, only the attempted measures of the dimensions time, space, and mass are affected by speed, but not the dimensions themselves. (In general relativity we find that measures of time by clocks are also affected by gravitational potential.) So in LR, equation set relates clocks and meter sticks in the preferred frame (X,Y,Z;T) to those in any relatively moving inertial frame (x,y,z;t). Time and space themselves are simply dimensions (concepts), and cannot be changed by motion, by potential, or by any material entity.

And that, in brief, is why there is no universal speed limit in LR – nothing ever happens to time itself, just to certain types of clocks attempting to keep time. Such clocks might malfunction or stop operating altogether at speeds at or above the speed of light. But there is no slowing of time to prevent reaching such speeds. And other types of clocks exist for measuring time unaffected by speed or potential, just as many types of clocks are unaffected by temperature.

One might immediately object that, in particle accelerators, the behavior predicted by SR is observed to happen as speeds approach c. No matter how much energy is added, the particles cannot be made to reach or exceed speed c. However, the same is true for a propeller-driven aircraft in level flight trying to exceed the speed of sound. The air molecules cannot be driven faster than the speed of sound; so no matter how fast the propellers are made to spin, the speed of sound can never be reached or exceeded. However, a force propagating faster than the speed of sound, or a continuous acceleration such as jet propulsion, could succeed where the propellers failed. In an analogous way, a force propagating faster than the speed of light, such as gravity [[ii]], should be able to drive a body to and past the light-speed “barrier”, even though forces such as those in particle accelerators are limited to propagating and pushing at light speed.

{contintued next post]

aintnuthin said...

[last post of 3]

"SR differs from LR by having two very general postulates. This first postulate of SR makes the Lorentz transformations reciprocal in that theory; i.e., they work equally well from any inertial frame to any other, and back again. So it has no meaning to ask which of two identical clocks in different frames is ticking slower in any absolute sense. The speed of light is independent of the speed of its source, as is generally true for waves in any medium. But the second postulate of SR makes the speed of light also independent of the speed of the observer, a feature unique to SR. In LR, neither inertial frame reciprocity nor the speed of light postulate holds.

Today, many physicists and students of physics have acquired the impression that these two SR postulates have been confirmed by observations. However, that is not the case. In fact, none of the eleven independent experiments verifying some aspect of SR [[iii]] is able to verify either postulate. Indeed, no experiment is capable of verifying these postulates even in principle [[iv]] because they become automatically true by convention if one adopts the Einstein clock-synchronization method, and they become just as automatically false if one adopts a different synchronization convention such as the “universal time” postulate of Lorentz."

http://www.metaresearch.org/cosmology/gravity/lr.asp

I certainly don't want to start up this debate with you all over again, Eric. I just wonder if you're even capable of reading and understanding what he is sayin. Not because you can't read, or understand, but because you will quit reading and/or tryin to understand, and find it far simpler, for your purposes, to simply dismiss Van Flandren as a "crackpot."

aintnuthin said...

I should clarify: When I referred to "claims about what has been proven," I did not mean to include this claim by Van Flandren

"Recent experimental evidence for faster-than-light force propagation is fully consistent with Lorentzian relativity, but is a test that special relativity cannot pass." That is debatable, I'm sure, but that doesn't make Van Flandren a "crackpot."

I was referring to his more general claim:

"Today, many physicists and students of physics have acquired the impression that these two SR postulates have been confirmed by observations. However, that is not the case. In fact, none of the eleven independent experiments verifying some aspect of SR [[iii]] is able to verify either postulate."

aintnuthin said...

A fundamental presupposition of logic is the law of identity, i.e., A = A.

A young child, without a fully developed brain, is generally incapable of recognizing, applying, and understanding this concept. To them, appearance is all that counts, not logic.

For example, the average 3 year old child will invariably say (indirectly) that the same amount of liguid is not identical to itself. If you pour 5 ounces of water back and forth between two containers, one of which has a large diameter and one of which has a small diameter (like a test tube), the child will tell you that the test tube has more water in it than does a short, big glass, when you pour the same water back and forth between the two (because it looks "higher" in the test tube).

If two telephone pole are 100 (standard) yards apart, I will measure them as such if I lay a standard yardstick down 100 times between them. One the other hand, if I take a 12" ruler and calibrate it like a yardstick (36 "inches") I will measure that SAME distance to be 300 yards, because I can lay my "yardstick" down, end to end, 300 times between the two.

So, which is it? 100 yards, or 300 yards? Neither? Both? However you measure it, the distance doesn't change just because you use a differently-calibrated measuring stick to measure it. A = A.

aintnuthin said...

But, to hear a relativist tell it, the distance "really" shrinks when you use a standard yardstick, and "really" increases when you use a ruler, calibrated as a yardstick. The distance is changing, not the measuring sticks. Go figure, eh?

One Brow said...

aintnuthin said...
There ya go again, eh, Eric, as usual. When such a "model" hits the scene, lemme know, willya?

Right now, the only such model is GR, not SR nor LR. Both SR and LR only work in truly flat spaces, and the experimental evidence does not support any flat-space model. SR does describe the simplificaton of GR to a hypothetical flat space, but that does not mean it models all the evidence. Both SR and LR fail in that regard.

Van Flandern had no model to explain all the observed effects that fit into GR.

One Brow said...

Codgitator (Cadgertator) said...

My worry (in the philosopher's sense) is that you still end up citing *the production of children*––the propagation of the species––as the end-state of your social morality.

I listed it as one of a number of possible end-states, which I had intended to be independent. Shared resources, division of labor, protection, etc. are all valuable even when raising children is not involved.

All this moralizing, however, just is admitting a chief good of natural law without saying so.

It is certainly possible that I can arbitrarily choose goods that are in line with natural law, or that choosing another frame of reference such as maximizing the future population of humanity could also in some places agree with natural law. My point is not that natural law is wrong (I consider it to be of a type of knowledge that is never truly right or wrong), but that it is arbitrary and a poor base for deciding the desirability of the legality of homosexual marriages.

The existence of a species is grounded on the success of its successfully aligning paired genitalia and making littluns come out the other side.

Some 95%+ of ants in a colony never attempt to copulate, and less than 1% do so successfully, but I see no shortage of ants in the world. Sure, we are not ants, but to say we need the 2%-10% of the population that are homosexuals to copulate in order to preseve the species doesn't seem accurate. Further, it is possible for a species to reproduce so excessively that all the available resources are used up before they can be replenished, and the species will die out.

So, to make the argument that we need homosexuals to reproduce, you'll first have to make the argument humans need more population and then also make the argument we won't get enough population without them. I don't think there is a basis for either of those arguments.

Natural law theory merely holds that there is a natural, objective link between various bodily functions and embodied flourishing.

Natural law goes beyond mere functioning to purpose. Cancer cells function very effectively, but they are not considered to be functioning within the purpose for which they are designed.

However, even if what you described is true, you would still need to make a case for homosexual marriages interfering with flourishing, and such a case has not been made.

, if you can't say that driving a spike through someone from ass to mouth is objectively evil, then you eo ipso forfeit the right to make moral claims worth taking seriously.

So the only moral claims that can be taken seriously have to come from a foundation that allows for objective morality?

Indeed, the point of rejecting those acts *as reproductive acts* is that the body manifestly rejects the interaction: semen is disposed of by the mouth and is excreted by the anus.

Semen is digested by the stomach quite nicely. Does that mean the act follows natural law as long as you swallow?

aintnuthin said...

A few comments, Eric.

1. To even talk about "flat" vs. "curved" space presupposes the answer to the queston.

2. Model for what? Despite it's misnomer, GR is generally viewed today as inadequate as a theory of relative motion, but relatively successful as a theory of gravity. You were callin him a crackpot for preferring LR over SR, as I recall. We were talkin about theories of relative motion, not gravity.

3. My understanding is that the vast majority of space, and the universe itself, is viewed to be "flat," by relativists--which is one problem for big bang theorists--given other assumptions they make, this should NOT be the case.

4. GR hardly fits "all the observations." It seems most physicists view GR as an imperfect theory which will have to do until a better one is dreamed up by the next "einstein."

5. Once again you give every appearance of over-reaching with your claims for "scientific theory."

One Brow said...

aintnuthin said...
1. To even talk about "flat" vs. "curved" space presupposes the answer to the queston.

Only the curved model of explains the results of all the available experiements.

2. Model for what? Despite it's misnomer, GR is generally viewed today as inadequate as a theory of relative motion, but relatively successful as a theory of gravity.

SR is a simplification of GR, for a space that has no curvature due to gravity. It would not be possible for SR to be a successful theory of relative motion, and GR not to be, because GR is an expansion of SR.

You were callin him a crackpot for preferring LR over SR, as I recall.

My recollection is that he made claims like the geometric interpretation of GR was just plain wrong.

3. My understanding is that the vast majority of space, and the universe itself, is viewed to be "flat," by relativists--which is one problem for big bang theorists--given other assumptions they make, this should NOT be the case.

It's good you used scare quote, because the "flatness" is only to a certain level of measurement error. Gravity from the center of the galaxy keeps the sun in orbit. Gravity from nearby galaxies affect everything in our galaxy, helping to form a cluster.

One Brow said...

aintnuthin said...
4. GR hardly fits "all the observations." It seems most physicists view GR as an imperfect theory which will have to do until a better one is dreamed up by the next "einstein."

It's true that GR breaks down under extreme conditions, as do SR and LR. However, in any experiment that can get different predictions from LR/SR and from GR, it is the predictions of GR that hold.

5. Once again you give every appearance of over-reaching with your claims for "scientific theory."

My only claim is that GR is the best tool we have, and that any future model will have to explain why space behaves as if it is curved.

aintnuthin said...

One Brow said:

My only claim is that GR is the best tool we have, and that any future model will have to explain why space behaves as if it is curved....My recollection is that he made claims like the geometric interpretation of GR was just plain wrong."

===

While conceding that both the field and geometric interpretations of GR are consistent with observed facts, Van Flander(together with Einstien, Divac, Feynman, "renowned physicist J.P. Vigier,' and MANY others) prefers the field view is correct. Are all these guys "cranks?" You're the one who acts like there is only one possible, and one correct, interpretation of GR. Space "acts as if it's curved ONLY IF that it the interpretation you prefer to advance. Like I done said, it presupposes the answer to a debatable question.

According to "factmaster:"

"[Van Flandern] argues that the no-longer-popular interpretation of general relativity (GR) in which gravity is a force of nature (the interpretation preferred by Feynman [3], Dirac [4], and Einstein himself [5]) rather than a pure geometric effect of curved space-time, is in fact the correct one. He and his co-author, the late, renowned physicist J.P. Vigier, base this conclusion on the logical impossibility of gravity changing a target body’s motion by space-time curvature alone in the absence of a force acting, and on the logical impossibility of creating new momentum for the target body out of a gravitational field that cannot itself be a source of radially-directed new momentum because of its symmetry and static character....

Several relativists have attempted to refute Van Flandern’s conclusions, especially about the minimum speed for gravitational force [11, 12]. These and all other objections raised to date were addressed comprehensively in [13, 6]. There has been no further objection since then. In particular, this last reference countered a suggestion that a velocity-dependent force might cancel the propagation delay effect on planets – the last remaining hope for an interpretation consistent with previous thinking.

http://www.askfactmaster.com/Tom_Van_Flandern

aintnuthin said...

Also from that summary:

"...it is inevitable that Van Flandern’s competence would be criticized because in 1990 he founded an organization, Meta Research, specifically to examine anomalies and puzzles that challenge mainstream theories. The Meta Research web site [14] is filled with reports on puzzles solved conventionally, but also with anomalies that stand up to scrutiny and demand theory revision or outright rejection. Van Flandern’s strength is that he addresses all challenges head on and has answers that satisfy neutral observers...Many in the scientific community consider Tom Van Flandern's theories to be crankish...Yet in each case, they have been published in respectable mainstream journals and all objections have been answered to the satisfaction of referees, editors, and many readers

aintnuthin said...

One Brow said: " Gravity from nearby galaxies affect everything in our galaxy, helping to form a cluster."

Once again you glibly make a matter of fact claim based on "theory." What you fail to mention is that "gravity" acts as it is presumed to ONLY if you introduce a mysterious cosmological constant in the form of so-called "dark energy" (as anti-gravitational force) and introduce the "existence" of "dark matter," which cannot be detected because it does not interact with normal matter or respond to known forces (other than gravity. They now say 80% of all mater is "dark matter." Heh.

One Brow said...

You askfactmaster site has much of the information from the Onpedia article, but it did leave this part out:

In fact GR does predict small measurable effects that an infinite-speed gravity would not, effects which appear in several of the examples Van Flandern himself uses for evidence against GR. This has been pointed out on many occasions, but both Van Flandern and his supporters continue to reject this conclusion. To date Van Flandern's refutation of these issues has always come down to either re-stating his original objections, or claiming that people do not understand his theory. The latter may indeed be true because he has never stated it in complete form. Repeated calls for such a statement, preferrably mathematically, have not been answered to date. In fact the only statements to date have been simple thought experiments, with little that one could call theory. Many conclude that there is no such theory, just his "feelings" that something is wrong with the standard model.

So, GR still fits the experimental data, Van Flandern's ideas leave discrepancies with the experimental data. GR is a theory, Van Falndern did not seem to produce one. While the leading physicists of 100 years ago liked teh field interpretation of GR, most modern physicists prefer the geometric interpretation.

By the way, under any formulation of gravity, from Newton through GR and even in Von Flandern, gravity from nearby galaxies affects our galaxy, regardless of dark matter or not. I have no trouble acknowledging dark matter, etc., as a real puzzle to be solve or that GR needs to be improved. That does mean replaced with an inferior model, much less an inferior non-model such as Van Flandern's.

aintnuthin said...

One Brow said: "In fact GR does predict small measurable effects that an infinite-speed gravity would not..."

This appears to be a straw man based on a fabricated false dichotomy.

1. Van Flandern does NOT (best I can tell) argue that the speed of gravity is "infinite" (although Newton did). He merely claims it is "faster than light"

2. It seems funny that this author would claim that GR predicts some "less than infinite" speed of gravity (which could still be much faster than c) and let it go as that, as though Van Flandern had thereby been refuted.

3. Best I can tell, Van Flandern and his associates claim that Carlip, and others who have attempted to claims, confuse "gravity waves" with gravity itself in their arguments. I don't pretend to understand it all enough to satisfy myself about who is right, but there seem to be highly respected physicists on each side of the issue.

To treat it as cut and dried, or to treat Einstein, et al, as "cranks," for rejecting a geometrical interpretation of GR, is simply to legislate one's preferences as indisputable, I figure.

aintnuthin said...

Excerpts from one of many such articles:

"New experiments show that some things can travel faster than the speed of light.

It is a fundamental law of physics, a fact that is built into the architecture of the Universe and taught to every student, that nothing can travel faster than light which is roughly 300,000 km a second (186,000 miles). Well not exactly.

The recent experiments are not especially new. Physicists have been making light pulses that travel faster than c (the speed of light in a vacuum) for years...

In the other experiment, a pulse of light that enters a transparent chamber filled with caesium gas reaches speeds 300 times the normal speed of light..."

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/sci/tech/781199.stm

aintnuthin said...

Just to reinforce the point, here's another excerpt. My "point," by the way is NOT that faster than light speed is or is not, possible. That I don't know. The "point" is merely that all is not indisputably clear, beyond debate, by any means, and that pretenses to the contrary are misguided.

"In 1935 a famous paper by Albert Einstein, Boris Podolsky and Nathan Rosen challenged the quantum theory prediction that entangled particles could remain instantly in touch with each other. One of their objections was based on the speed limit imposed by Einstein's Special Theory of Relativity: nothing can travel faster than the speed of light.

Einstein and his colleagues preferred a more intuitive explanation of the simultaneous correlation between entangled particles, based on the idea that the match between them is ordained by their identical antecedents. The behavior of each particle, they argued, is the product of hidden "local" factors, not by spooky long-distance effects.

But again and again in recent years, increasingly sensitive experiments have decisively proved that Einstein's explanation was wrong and quantum theory is correct...

This is not the same thing as transmitting information, the experts say, and therefore it does not violate relativity theory.

====
But why is a numerical correlation between two particles different from information?

"That's a difficult question," Franson said, "and I don't think anyone could give you a coherent answer. Quantum theory is confirmed by experiments, and so is relativity theory, which prevents us from sending messages faster than light. I don't know that there's any intuitive explanation of what that means."

====

"We find," Chiao said, "that a barrier placed in the path of a tunneling particle does not slow it down. In fact, we detect particles on the other side of the barrier that have made the trip in less time than it would take the particle to traverse an equal distance without a barrier -- in other words, the tunneling speed apparently greatly exceeds the speed of light. Moreover, if you increase the thickness of the barrier the tunneling speed increases, as high as you please.
This is another great mystery of quantum mechanics."

http://www.cebaf.gov/news/internet/1997/spooky.html

aintnuthin said...

The Franson guy quoted in the last article said:

"Quantum theory is confirmed by experiments, and so is relativity theory, which prevents us from sending messages faster than light."

The implication here is mistaken, I think. The prohibition against faster-than-light travel/communication, has NOT been "confirmed by experiments." It is simply an axiomatic assumption of SR, not a product of, or subject to, proof within the confines of relativity theory.

One Brow said...

aintnuthin said...
He merely claims it is "faster than light"

By a couple of orders of magnitude. The differences are still experimentally detectable.

To treat it as cut and dried, or to treat Einstein, et al, as "cranks," for rejecting a geometrical interpretation of GR, is simply to legislate one's preferences as indisputable, I figure.

Eistwin is no more crank than Newton was a crank, but that doesn't make his interpretation of gravity any more sacrosanct.

The recent experiments are not especially new.

Neither are the cold fusion experiements. When the results get duplicated by a couple of independent groups, then it will be time to rework the theory.

The implication here is mistaken, I think. The prohibition against faster-than-light travel/communication, has NOT been "confirmed by experiments." It is simply an axiomatic assumption of SR, not a product of, or subject to, proof within the confines of relativity theory.

Confirmation by experimentation is different from proof within a theory. You are making a category error there.

aintnuthin said...

One Brow said: "Confirmation by experimentation is different from proof within a theory. You are making a category error there."

Other than use of the word "proof," which I simply meant in a deductive, not an empirical, sense in this context, do you have any disagreement with my comment? My point was that you cannot deduce or derive a light speed limitation from SR/GR because it is in fact a fundamantal, axiomatic presupposition for all that follows in SR. Some scientists seem to lose sight of this.

In science, the word "confirmation" is, of course, use very loosely and differently than in normal usage. Scientifically, "confirmation," merely means evidence "which does not refute," or which "is consistent with," the theory is question.

If I claim I was not in LA on new year's eve and you say that you were in Illinois, you have "confirmed" my claim, because it doesn't disprove it and is not inconsistent with my claim that I was in LA (even if I was in fact in Illinois). Big Whoop with "confimation," eh?

aintnuthin said...

aintnuthin quoted: "The recent experiments are not especially new."

One Brow responded: "Neither are the cold fusion experiements. When the results get duplicated by a couple of independent groups, then it will be time to rework the theory."

====

Is this statement supposed to deny, undermine, or refute the merit of the experiments? Are you IN ANY WAY suggesting that the experiments HAVE NOT been duplicated or CAN NOT be duplicated?

Or are ya just sayin anything which comes to mind which will (to your idiosyncratic satisfaction) uphold your pet view?

aintnuthin said...

One Brow said: "Eistwin is no more crank than Newton was a crank, but that doesn't make his interpretation of gravity any more sacrosanct."

I'm suggesting that any particular interpretation is sacrosanct. You're the one who takes on the appearance of doing that by calling those who disagree with you "cranks" because they don't adhere to your interpretation.

aintnuthin said...

Edit: I'm [NOT]suggesting

aintntuhin said...

I said: "He merely claims it is "faster than light"

You responded: "By a couple of orders of magnitude. The differences are still experimentally detectable."

What "differences" are "detectable?" I have no clue what you're tryin to say here.

The author is trying suggest that if the speed of light has been measured to be anyithing less than infinite, then Van Flandern is wrong and GR is right that the speed of light cannot be exceeded. That is an absurd, all or nothing, suggestion, on it's face. You appear to be trying to defend it, but I can't see how.

Codgitator (Cadgertator) said...

OB: I listed it as one of a number of possible end-states, which I had intended to be independent … even when raising children is not involved.

Red herring. You already let the cat out of the bag that gay marriage is good because it could support the future generation as well as straight marriage, so now you’re just covering your tracks. No children, no species. No species, no “end-states”, just The End.

OB … to say we need the 2%-10% of the population that are homosexuals to copulate in order to preseve [sic] the species doesn't seem accurate. … also [need to] make the argument we won't get enough population without them.

No, the point is that, as far as humanity works to propagate itself by procreation, homosexual marriages add no more to that natural propagation than do teachers, firefighters, nurses, and the like. In that case, the gay marriage lobby is just a form of unionist lobbying. Is marriage just a tax break, after all? The point is not that we need homosexuals to procreate—good luck--, but that there is no coherent reason to call what they do, without any possibility of furthering the species, “marriage.” As far as the natural sustenance of our species goes, there is no more special status to be granted gay marriage than ought to be granted college fraternities and bobsled teams, all very close and socially enriching “units” in their own ways.

OB: So the only moral claims that can be taken seriously have to come from a foundation that allows for objective morality?

No, but if you premise your position by denying anything at all is objectively evil, you also have no grounds for defending anything at all as objectively good, including fairness, respect, etc. Do you recognize that torturing infants is always and everywhere wrong? If so, this is because you implicitly recognize that doing the opposite of torture to infants—loving, nourishing, protecting, teaching, etc.—is always and everywhere good for infants. And there’s your objective morality, entrenched at the core of your allegedly relativist morality. If you refuse to defend even those essential goods as objective goods, then your position is self-refuting in terms of its own goals and morally vicious for condoning behavior like Vlad’s as morally acceptable.

As for you views on the nutritional benefits of oral sex, I wonder if the recent horror movie “The Centipede” is not also morally uncontroversial in your worldview.

...

Codgitator (Cadgertator) said...

...

I will now make a few “bottom line” statements and provide links to articles, then I need to leave this thread to focus on other things.

Ever work in a restaurant? Ever “marry” bottles of ketchup? The thing about “marrying” ketchup bottles is that, when the resources of one bottle go into another, they “cooperate” successfully to propagate the existence of ketchup. The marriage bears fruit. That’s the natural function of marriage: it is a natural human institution which yields the successful propagation of the species and which must be protected, just like a restaurant’s ketchup is not simply wasted by the staff. Gay marriage is as incoherent as marrying ketchup and mustard, or as futile as trying to marry ketchup bottles by the opening of one and the bottom of another. It may add flair to the menu to have orange sauce (ketchup and mustard mixed), but that’s not marriage in any meaningful sense. As it stands, gays can mix their sauces as much as they like, but nothing they do replicates the essential “marriage” of the sexes in marriage. Call it whatever you want, but calling it marriage is just incoherent.

Further, the very effort gays make to “win” marriage presupposes marriage *really is something*, that it has a definition. Well, what is the definition of marriage? If it has an essential definition, then your social-relativist critique goes out the window. If, however, it has no coherent definition—if it is not any more one-thing than any-thing else--, then gays are literally campaigning to win a chimera.

Despite the myriad variations that have existed in human marriage, no society has ever recognized gays as being fitting subjects of “marriage”. That’s as natural as you can get: the unanimity of natural human existence. Natural law is not pulled from the sky; it is manifested in the actual functioning of our species. A final question I have is, if marriage between two gay partners is allowable because it makes them happy and is ostensibly good for social stability, is marriage between a father and his daughter also acceptable to you? If not, why not?

Here are the links:

1. http://firstthings.com/blogs/evangel/2010/12/the-essence-of-marriage-again/

2. http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1722155

3. http://www.theird.org/Page.aspx?pid=1730


Best,

aintnuthin said...

Gay marriage is....well....GAY, ya know?

aintnuthin said...

One Brow said: "Van Flandern had no model to explain all the observed effects that fit into GR."

It seems I neglected to comment on this claim. Of course he did--it was GR itself, with a field, rather than geometrical, interpretation, that's all.

Codgitator (Cadgertator) said...

[Weird, this posted earlier but is not here now:]

I will now make a few “bottom line” statements and provide links to articles, then I need to leave this thread to focus on other things.



Ever work in a restaurant? Ever “marry” bottles of ketchup? The thing about “marrying” ketchup bottles is that, when the resources of one bottle go into another, they “cooperate” successfully to propagate the existence of ketchup. The marriage bears fruit. That’s the natural function of marriage: it is a natural human institution which yields the successful propagation of the species and which must be protected, just like a restaurant’s ketchup is not simply wasted by the staff. Gay marriage is as incoherent as marrying ketchup and mustard, or as futile as trying to marry ketchup bottles by the opening of one and the bottom of another. It may add flair to the menu to have orange sauce (ketchup and mustard mixed), but that’s not marriage in any meaningful sense. As it stands, gays can mix their sauces as much as they like, but nothing they do replicates the essential “marriage” of the sexes in marriage. Call it whatever you want, but calling it marriage is just incoherent.



Further, the very effort gays make to “win” marriage presupposes marriage *really is something*, that it has a definition. Well, what is the definition of marriage? If it has an essential definition, then your social-relativist critique goes out the window. If, however, it has no coherent definition—if it is not any more one-thing than any-thing else--, then gays are literally campaigning to win a chimera.



Despite the myriad variations that have existed in human marriage, no society has ever recognized gays as being fitting subjects of “marriage”. That’s as natural as you can get: the unanimity of natural human existence. Natural law is not pulled from the sky; it is manifested in the actual functioning of our species. A final question I have is, if marriage between two gay partners is allowable because it makes them happy and is ostensibly good for social stability, is marriage between a father and his daughter also acceptable to you? If not, why not?



Here are the links:



1. http://firstthings.com/blogs/evangel/2010/12/the-essence-of-marriage-again/



2. http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1722155



3. http://www.theird.org/Page.aspx?pid=1730

aintnuthin said...

To elaborate on my last post, Van Flandern, among others, claims the speed limit Einstien arbitrarily imposed with SR is NOT the least bit essential to GR.

To quote from the Van Flander/Viglier paper:

"Because of the belief that GR is based on SR, which disallows the possibility of faster-than-light propagation in forward time, the most common interpretation of GR is that the speed of gravity is the speed of light...So this "lightspeed propagation" assumption is unphysical and unnecessary...

The statement that "the speed of gravity equals the speed of light" is manifestly false, and is heard often only because of the confusion with the propagation speed of gravitational waves...Now that we know that Lorentzian relativity is experimentally viable [18] and allows faster-than-light (ftl) propagation in forward time [19], ftl propagation is no longer forbidden in physics, and ftl force carriers are the most reasonable interpretation of the equations. I expect that no one would ever have thought otherwise if they had not mistakenly believed that ftl propagation was forbidden in physics...

These two theories, LR and SR, both employ the relativity principle and the same math (Lorentz transformations)...the falsification of SR in favor of LR has no mathematical consequences for GR. The main physical consequence is negation of the proof that faster-than-light propagation is impossible.

http://metaresearch.org/cosmology/gravity/speed_limit.asp

I don't know enough about the math of GR to say for sure, but it makes sense that GR formulae could dispense with any "speed of light limitation" and still be both (1) internally consistent and (2) consistent with the observable phenonmena.

You too have suggested that because GR supposedly "comes from" SR, it MUST incorporate a lightspeed limitation, but you have no said or demonstrated why that must be true.

Codgitator (Cadgertator) said...

One Brow:

Thanks for your reply. I have no idea what's going on with Feser's blog comments, but it's just easier to correspond at my own blog or yours until I can reliably comment there.

First of all, I want to clarify that I only provisionally "called you on" being a sophist. I was combining two things I had seen: one, your admission of showing up to be antagonistic and, two, the recurring impression from a few others commenters that you were just being difficult for sophistry's sake. I take your profession of good faith on good faith, but I do still think you are parsimonious with your logic.

Also, I wasn't being tongue in cheek about spending more time with you kids. I genuinely have concerns about how the Internet compromises/infests otherwise normal human existence. You'll recall I voiced my concern about sometimes coming across as brusque or snooty. With someone like JT, I really have decided not to engage him (which I thought I had told him, until the comment disappeared at Feser's!). You and I are still on good terms and I agree we have much to offer each other, as time permits.

Second, the point of my many sub-arguments was to establish the reality of contingency in our world. You grant contingency, so, QED: we are brought back to my points about the "infectious" nature of fragility in a supposedly unbreakable piece of glass. Especially if you believe in total causal closure, contingency spreads to the whole spacetime continuum (for point related to those I made about conditions of coming-to-be). Ours is a world subject not just to instances, but to entire kinds of contingency, and this plays into the hands of the cosmological argument.

Third, I see no intelligible way for you to distinguish between "ontological and epistemological contingency", since you believe our epistemological states are but functions of an underlying deterministic causal base.

Fourth, it's a pretty uncontroversial notion in evolutionary biology that "rewinding the tape" would not result in exactly the same states of affairs after time t. Your reference to supposedly unvarying results from identical "initial conditions" strikes me as outdated Laplacianism. Word search this piece for "rewind": http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/chance/chance.html

If you take the quantum void as your absolute initial conditions (a common maneuver for naturalists these days), there is no non-contingent basis for things turning out the same way, since the point of the first quantum collapse is that it's entirely random, not subject to antecedent laws. You can't prescribe random events as norms (leaving aside the ramifying indeterminacy that would occur in each cosmological expansion), and therefore you can't coherently imagine the exact same initial conditions as normative parameters for subsequent runs of the "cosmos" program.

Best,

One Brow said...

Other than use of the word "proof," which I simply meant in a deductive, not an empirical, sense in this context, do you have any disagreement with my comment?

My point was that you were using a deductive, and not empirical sense. No other objection.

If I claim I was not in LA on new year's eve and you say that you were in Illinois, you have "confirmed" my claim, because it doesn't disprove it and is not inconsistent with my claim that I was in LA (even if I was in fact in Illinois). Big Whoop with "confimation," eh?

If I find a hotel room receipt with your name on it from Illinois, that would be confirmation. Confirmation applies only to experiments/observations that have an impact on the observation. Unless we provide a connection, my whereabouts are not confirmation of yours, they are merely consistent with yours. Consistency is weaker than confirmation.

Is this statement supposed to deny, undermine, or refute the merit of the experiments? Are you IN ANY WAY suggesting that the experiments HAVE NOT been duplicated or CAN NOT be duplicated?

The BBC article explicity said the experiements it mentioned have not been duplicated.

... those who disagree with you "cranks" because they don't adhere to your interpretation.

I don't know enough to have a personal interpretation.

What "differences" are "detectable?" I have no clue what you're tryin to say here.

From the Onpedia article, again:
In fact GR does predict small measurable effects that an infinite-speed gravity would not, effects which appear in several of the examples Van Flandern himself uses for evidence against GR.

Even a difference of two orders of magnitude would still produce measurable effects.

Of course he did--it was GR itself, with a field, rather than geometrical, interpretation, that's all.

From the same article in Onpedia:
This effect fully explains (to everyone else at least) the problems that Van Flandern claims exist. His "experiments" all require one to ignore this, that is, the force of gravity will be directed at the source regardless of motion. Each of the sections makes a statement similar to this: This is because the retarded position of any source of gravity must lie in the same direction relative to its true position as the tangential motion of the target body—a statement which is simply false under basic general relativity. Just because a statement is false does not mean that it is not a problem. However in this case the statement directly addresses the issue. For instance, an orbital simulator programmed to simulate GR fully will indeed work perfectly, and the orbital expansion Van Flandern claims is a problem simply doesn't exist.

Van Flandern is not using standard GR.

You too have suggested that because GR supposedly "comes from" SR, it MUST incorporate a lightspeed limitation, but you have no said or demonstrated why that must be true.

I haven't looked at the detailed GR equations in over twenty years, and I am far to rusty on tensors to want to re-learn all that. Even if I had/did, I don't think I could show you how they can are derived over the internet.

One Brow said...

Codgitator (Cadgertator) said...
Red herring. You already let the cat out of the bag that gay marriage is good because it could support the future generation as well as straight marriage, so now you’re just covering your tracks.

So, when I list four or five different things, I really only mean one of them?

No, the point is that, as far as humanity works to propagate itself by procreation, homosexual marriages add no more to that natural propagation than do teachers, firefighters, nurses, and the like.

Homosexuals are already teachers, firefighters, nurses, and the like. Even if the only goal is for the future of children, allowing homosexual marriages does not interfere with their duties as teachers, etc., and allows them more capabilities outside such duties.

Is marriage just a tax break, after all?

Even from a strictly secular viewpoint, a marriage is a way to share resources, divide labor, and provide support for each other.

The point is not that we need homosexuals to procreate—good luck--, but that there is no coherent reason to call what they do, without any possibility of furthering the species, “marriage.”

I really think you should refrain from using arguments that can equally be applied to heterosexual septugenarians.

As far as the natural sustenance of our species goes, there is no more special status to be granted gay marriage than ought to be granted college fraternities and bobsled teams, all very close and socially enriching “units” in their own ways.

You really think members of fraternities share a bond like married people do?

No, but if you premise your position by denying anything at all is objectively evil, you also have no grounds for defending anything at all as objectively good, including fairness, respect, etc.

A bitter pill to swallow, but good medicine nonetheless.

Do you recognize that torturing infants is always and everywhere wrong? If so, this is because you implicitly recognize that doing the opposite of torture to infants—loving, nourishing, protecting, teaching, etc.—is always and everywhere good for infants.

My implicit recognition of this is still subjective, not objective. That certain responses are hard-wired into our brains does not make those responses objective, it makes them reliable and near-universal.

If you refuse to defend even those essential goods as objective goods, then your position is self-refuting in terms of its own goals and morally vicious for condoning behavior like Vlad’s as morally acceptable.

I see many claims that, sans objective morality, no one has the right to say something else is immoral. What I don't see is a solid basis upon which such claims rest. Rather, they come off as rhetoric from people trying to use the fallacious reasoning from undesired consequences.

...I wonder if the recent horror movie “The Centipede” is not also morally uncontroversial in your worldview.

YOu don't think the issue of consent is a factor in my moral worldview?

One Brow said...

Codgitator (Cadgertator) said...
Gay marriage is as incoherent as marrying ketchup and mustard,

Again, you shoud use an argument that can not be applied to septugenarians.

...—if it is not any more one-thing than any-thing else--, then gays are literally campaigning to win a chimera.

I think they are OK with a proclaimed-by-you-chimera that has full legal equality.

Despite the myriad variations that have existed in human marriage, no society has ever recognized gays as being fitting subjects of “marriage”. That’s as natural as you can get: the unanimity of natural human existence.

You mean like, until a couple of hundred years ago, every human culture recognized the ownership of humans by other humans?

... is marriage between a father and his daughter also acceptable to you? If not, why not?

Fathers and daughters, even brothers and sisters, do not have an equitable standing before any putative romantic relationship.

[Weird, this posted earlier but is not here now:]

It showed up in my spam box, for some reason.

Good wishes to you and yours,

aintnuthin said...

One Brow said: "Van Flandern is not using standard GR."

I have no clue who this author you're quoting is, but he seems fond (like others I know) of making absolute statements. He apparently has not read Van Flandern's paper or Carlip's response (Carlip says it IS a problem under the field interpretation, and that the "math" works out in GR because they are offsetting formulaes with cancel out abberation (geometric interpretation). For this guy, GR IS the geometric interpretation (an NO OTHER). Sound familiar?

aintnuthin said...

A few comments from Carlip on the issue:

"To begin with, the speed of gravity has not been measured directly in the laboratory... The "speed of gravity" must therefore be deduced from astronomical observations, and the answer depends on what model of gravity one uses to describe those observations.

In general relativity, on the other hand, gravity propagates at the speed of light; that is, the motion of a massive object creates a distortion in the curvature of spacetime that moves outward at light speed. This might seem to contradict the Solar System observations described above....

Strictly speaking, gravity is not a "force" in general relativity, and a description in terms of speed and direction can be tricky. For weak fields, though, one can describe the theory in a sort of newtonian language. In that case, one finds that the "force" in GR is not quite central--it does not point directly towards the source of the gravitational field--and that it depends on velocity as well as position. The net result is that the effect of propagation delay is almost exactly cancelled, and general relativity very nearly reproduces the newtonian result."

It may seem quite simple to some that one object "knows" the source is moving and THEREFORE does not point directly at it, but it sounds quite implausible to others. "Propagation delay is almost "exactly cancelled," eh? Sure the math works, because they make it work, as you were claiming moral objectivists do. They know they are seeking stable orbits, so they have gravitional objects "lead" their target. How convenient. Kinda like the epicycles with a focal point out in space(rather than on earth) the ptolemists had to resort to to "save the appearances" (and obey Aristotle).

aintnuthin said...

More from Carlip (I forgot to give the cite in my last post):

"For the theory to be consistent, there must therefore be compensating terms that partially cancel the instability of the orbit caused by retardation. This is exactly what happens; a calculation shows that the force on A points not towards B's retarded position, but towards B's "linearly extrapolated" retarded position."

http://www.phys.ncku.edu.tw/mirrors/physicsfaq/Relativity/GR/grav_speed.html

"MUST be compensating terms to be consistent," eh? Hmmmm.

One Brow said...

aintnuthin said...
(Carlip says it IS a problem under the field interpretation, ...

I looked at this explanation, originally authored by Carlip.

This cancellation may seem less strange if one notes that a similar effect occurs in electromagnetism. If a charged particle is moving at a constant velocity, it exerts a force that points toward its present position, not its retarded position, even though electromagnetic interactions certainly move at the speed of light. Here, as in general relativity, subtleties in the nature of the interaction "conspire" to disguise the effect of propagation delay. It should be emphasized that in both electromagnetism and general relativity, this effect is not put in ad hoc but comes out of the equations. Also, the cancellation is nearly exact only for constant velocities. If a charged particle or a gravitating mass suddenly accelerates, the change in the electric or gravitational field propagates outward at the speed of light.

So, we see the same effect in electromagnetism, and further, changes in the gravity field propogate at the speed of light.

If the calculational framework of general relativity is accepted, the damping can be used to calculate the speed, and the actual measurement confirms that the speed of gravity is equal to the speed of light to within 1%.

If you accept the GR equations, as even the field interpretaton will, the spped of gravity has been measured within 1% of c. Since Van Flandern is proposing ten orders of magnitude higher, he's not using GR, or ignoring the experiments.

"Propagation delay is almost "exactly cancelled," eh? Sure the math works, because they make it work, as you were claiming moral objectivists do. They know they are seeking stable orbits, so they have gravitional objects "lead" their target. How convenient. Kinda like the epicycles with a focal point out in space(rather than on earth) the ptolemists had to resort to to "save the appearances" (and obey Aristotle).

You seem to be under the impression there are added terms in the GR equations, or some similar artifact, to counter propagation delay. There are no such added terms in GR any more than there are in Maxwell's equations, even though propagation delay would seem to occur in both types of systems. There are no metaphiorical epicycles.