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  #21  
Old Feb 18th 2012, 11:58 AM
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Default Re: Scientific determinism

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Semantics.
That's an enormously important semantic point.

The so-called 'laws of phyics' exist only in human textbooks and inside human minds.
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  #22  
Old Feb 18th 2012, 12:26 PM
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Default Re: Scientific determinism

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That's an enormously important semantic point.

The so-called 'laws of phyics' exist only in human textbooks and inside human minds.
That's just not true. If you are seeking absolute proof, beyond all falsifiable experimentation, you need to talk to God, not a scientist.
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  #23  
Old Feb 18th 2012, 02:08 PM
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Default Re: Scientific determinism

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That's just not true. If you are seeking absolute proof, beyond all falsifiable experimentation, you need to talk to God, not a scientist.
Perhaps the sticking point is the word "exists"?

The universe itself exists, that is to say it has being. The laws of physics describe the behavior of the universe, but descriptions do not, in and of themselves exist; they means by which we deal with things that do exist.

That doesn't mean that they aren't accurate, useful or true, only that they must be deduced/inferred/learned from observations of the universe and cannot be found in it the way a rock, a squirrel or a supernova can be. Without any people or textbooks around, the universe would (presumably) continue to behave the way it behaves now; but there would be no descriptions of that behavior, no "laws of physics."

Anyway, I can only assume that when you said "grand design" earlier you just meant a complex and vast arrangement (or something like that) and didn't mean to imply that the arrangement was arranged the way it was for a particular purpose, as purpose would indeed necessitate the existence of a "designer."
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  #24  
Old Feb 18th 2012, 02:49 PM
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Default Re: Scientific determinism

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Perhaps the sticking point is the word "exists"?

The universe itself exists, that is to say it has being. The laws of physics describe the behavior of the universe, but descriptions do not, in and of themselves exist; they means by which we deal with things that do exist.

That doesn't mean that they aren't accurate, useful or true, only that they must be deduced/inferred/learned from observations of the universe and cannot be found in it the way a rock, a squirrel or a supernova can be. Without any people or textbooks around, the universe would (presumably) continue to behave the way it behaves now; but there would be no descriptions of that behavior, no "laws of physics."
As I said, semantics. One doesn't need to describe something for it to exist. I imagine there are plenty of non-terrestrial things that we have yet to describe. Demanding that we accurately describe something before it truly exists is high human arrogance.

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Anyway, I can only assume that when you said "grand design" earlier you just meant a complex and vast arrangement (or something like that) and didn't mean to imply that the arrangement was arranged the way it was for a particular purpose, as purpose would indeed necessitate the existence of a "designer."
That would be a correct assumption.
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Old Feb 18th 2012, 03:14 PM
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Default Re: Scientific determinism

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As I said, semantics. One doesn't need to describe something for it to exist. I imagine there are plenty of non-terrestrial things that we have yet to describe. Demanding that we accurately describe something before it truly exists is high human arrogance.
And I don't think anyone (well, not anyone here) would argue that existence depends on description, only that description and existence are distinct concepts.

And, depending on the discussion in question, I think the distinction can be an important one. For example, I've more than once heard the phrase "nothing can violate the laws of physics," which generally signals a confusion between the existing material universe (which simply is what it is) and our descriptions of it (which may or may not be entirely accurate).

However, I doubt you personally have any confusion as to that point and I don't think it's terribly relevant to the question of whether or not the universe is deterministic.

Although, I suppose one might rephrase the initial question: given a perfectly detailed and accurate understanding of the behavior of matter/energy and of an initial set of conditions, would it be possible to predict, with perfect accuracy, all future conditions? If the answer is "yes," then the universe is deterministic. If the answer is "no," then the universe is not.

What I find intriguing about quantum phenomena (well, one of the things, and I should admit my understanding is pretty marginal) is the notion of "limited" determinism implicit in probability. That is to say, the universe is not deterministic in the sense that Cause-1 could lead to either Effect-A OR Effect-B (e.g. the atom may decay or it may not). But neither is it wholly random, since Cause-1 cannot lead to Effect-C (e.g. the atom spontaneously turns into an aardvark).
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Old Feb 18th 2012, 05:09 PM
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Default Re: Scientific determinism

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Um... no we don't.
All 'laws of physics' are human made laws with human authors. All such laws are nothing more than theories that have not yet been disproven.
'Laws of physics' are simple human explanations for the forces in the universe.

If humans went extinct, these forces would not magically disappear. In the same token, if our understanding a of a law changes does that invalidate that force?

So yes, there can be a grand design without a designer.
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Old Feb 19th 2012, 10:25 PM
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Default Re: Scientific determinism

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Although, I suppose one might rephrase the initial question: given a perfectly detailed and accurate understanding of the behavior of matter/energy and of an initial set of conditions, would it be possible to predict, with perfect accuracy, all future conditions? If the answer is "yes," then the universe is deterministic. If the answer is "no," then the universe is not.
I'm not sure if we can attempt a serious answer to this question without the prerequisite understanding. That is, to know whether or not the universe is ultimately deterministic given a perfect understanding of it, I think our understanding would have to be perfect.
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Old Feb 20th 2012, 09:31 AM
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Default Re: Scientific determinism

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'Laws of physics' are simple human explanations for the forces in the universe.

If humans went extinct, these forces would not magically disappear. In the same token, if our understanding a of a law changes does that invalidate that force?

So yes, there can be a grand design without a designer.
I don't see how your conclusion is supported by anything at all here.
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  #29  
Old Feb 20th 2012, 04:00 PM
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Default Re: Scientific determinism

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I don't see how your conclusion is supported by anything at all here.
Maybe I misinterpreted what you said here:



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Um... no we don't.
All 'laws of physics' are human made laws with human authors. All such laws are nothing more than theories that have not yet been disproven.


I took it that you think that because the laws of physics are 'man made laws' that these could not be applied to a design w/o a designer.



Is this correct?
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  #30  
Old Feb 21st 2012, 06:49 PM
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Default Re: Scientific determinism

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Maybe I misinterpreted what you said here:







I took it that you think that because the laws of physics are 'man made laws' that these could not be applied to a design w/o a designer.






Is this correct?
Not necessarily.

I'm specifically objecting the idea of speaking of the universe as 'a design' without a 'designer' involved. I mean, I think it is reasonable to speak metaphorically about 'nature's design' without implying a specific designer, but generally speaking, I'm always suspicious of attempts to assert that some rules (or facts) are absolutes (which is what a design is - an absolute). And that is always 'the camel's nose under the tent' for God/creator to re-enter the picture as 'necessary'.

Indeed, I might add that the existence of a design is a plan and a plan by definition has a goal. I find that hard to rationally grasp if a designer isn't present. I can't imagine the random chancing and evolutionary results (from the chemical level to human level over billions of years) could/would produce a coherent design-like plan, though I can rationally understand why any given result would in fact look that way to us humans doing the observing.
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