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Author Topic:   Time and Beginning to Exist
Omnivorous
Member (Idle past 922 days)
Posts: 3808
From: Adirondackia
Joined: 07-21-2005


Message 16 of 268 (641964)
11-24-2011 11:09 AM
Reply to: Message 15 by PaulK
11-24-2011 11:01 AM


Re: Local effect
Understood.

"If you can keep your head while those around you are losing theirs, you can collect a lot of heads."

This message is a reply to:
 Message 15 by PaulK, posted 11-24-2011 11:01 AM PaulK has not yet responded

    
kbertsche
Member (Idle past 86 days)
Posts: 1427
From: San Jose, CA, USA
Joined: 05-10-2007


Message 17 of 268 (641975)
11-24-2011 12:37 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by PaulK
11-22-2011 10:21 AM


quote:
The purpose of this topic is to discuss the notion "Everything that begins to exist has a cause" and it's relationship to our Universe and the implications of a finite past.
"Everything that begins to exist has a cause" is an intuitive idea, notably lacking a rigorous definition of "beginning to exist". We must take it then, to refer to the beginnings of everyday experience. In everyday experience the thing does not exist, the cause operates and then the thing exists. And, intuitively the cause is responsible for the change from the state where the object in question does not exist to a state where it does.

Now consider the case of the first moment of time. For everything that exists at that moment of time there is no prior state when it did not exist, and if a cause is needed it is not needed to bring the object into existence, for that simple reason that it already exists. Thus if we take these objects to have a beginning it is one different from the every day beginnings - and in a way that would seem to remove the need for a cause.

To save the argument then, we need a rigorous definition of "beginning to exist", we need to show that it is in fact true that everything that meets this definition has a cause - taking care to deal with the extreme cases - and we need to accept this definition when building on the argument.



But even more fundamentally, we need a rigorous definition and discussion of "causation". You are locking "causation" to a strict temporal sequence, which of course collapses at the Big Bang. But the concept of "causation" is fundamentally a logical concept, not a temporal concept. Time sequence does not determine causation; most things which occur at different times are not causally related. There is discussion and disagreement among philosophers as to whether causation is immanent and locked to time, or is transcendent.

This topic is a good one, but the questions are more philosophical than scientific. It's unfortunate that this thread was placed in a science forum, because I fear that science itself will provide no useful answers to the questions. The statement that "everything which begins to exist has a cause" is a philosophical statement made by philosophers. It cannot be properly discussed without delving deeply into philosophy.

Edited by kbertsche, : Added link


"Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind." Albert Einstein

I am very astonished that the scientific picture of the real world around me is very deficient. It gives us a lot of factual information, puts all of our experience in a magnificently consistent order, but it is ghastly silent about all and sundry that is really near to our heart, that really matters to us. It cannot tell us a word about red and blue, bitter and sweet, physical pain and physical delight; it knows nothing of beautiful and ugly, good or bad, God and eternity. Science sometimes pretends to answer questions in these domains, but the answers are very often so silly that we are not inclined to take them seriously. Erwin Schroedinger


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 Message 1 by PaulK, posted 11-22-2011 10:21 AM PaulK has responded

Replies to this message:
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PaulK
Member
Posts: 14513
Joined: 01-10-2003
Member Rating: 1.5


Message 18 of 268 (641976)
11-24-2011 1:11 PM
Reply to: Message 17 by kbertsche
11-24-2011 12:37 PM


quote:

But even more fundamentally, we need a rigorous definition and discussion of "causation". You are locking "causation" to a strict temporal sequence,

I'm afraid that you seem to be under the impression that I am making the argument that the cause must precede the effect. I am not. I deliberately avoided making that argument so that we did not have to go into that.

The argument in summary is:

1) "Everything that begins to exist has a cause" is an intuitive argument and therefore if there is a situation outside our normal experience with a relevant difference we cannot rely on it.

2) The case of something which exists at the beginning of time is outside of our normal experience.

3) The obvious reason why a cause would be needed for a "beginning" is to bring the thing into existence. There seems to be no other reason.

4) We cannot say that something that exists at the start of time was brought into existence because there is no time prior to it's existence.

5) Therefore we cannot conclude that a thing which exists at the beginning of time requires a cause by that fact alone.

Do you understand it now ?


This message is a reply to:
 Message 17 by kbertsche, posted 11-24-2011 12:37 PM kbertsche has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 25 by kbertsche, posted 11-24-2011 4:39 PM PaulK has responded

    
GDR
Member
Posts: 4557
From: Sidney, BC, Canada
Joined: 05-22-2005
Member Rating: 1.9


Message 19 of 268 (641980)
11-24-2011 2:25 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by PaulK
11-22-2011 10:21 AM


An emergent universe
PaulK writes:

Now consider the case of the first moment of time. For everything that exists at that moment of time there is no prior state when it did not exist, and if a cause is needed it is not needed to bring the object into existence, for that simple reason that it already exists. Thus if we take these objects to have a beginning it is one different from the every day beginnings - and in a way that would seem to remove the need for a cause.

To save the argument then, we need a rigorous definition of "beginning to exist", we need to show that it is in fact true that everything that meets this definition has a cause - taking care to deal with the extreme cases - and we need to accept this definition when building on the argument.

I hope Im following this but it seems to me that in the first paragraph that I quoted you successfully point out that your scenario does not require cause. It also does not rule it out. The concept of beginning to exist only has meaning in an entropic universe where time or change only happens in one direction.

I think that it is fairly mainstream in science, (correct me if Im wrong), to consider our universe as an emergent property of a greater reality. If this theory is anywhere near correct then it would make sense that this greater reality would experience change differently and likely that it would have more than one time dimension. If we speculate that the greater reality has 3 time dimensions then we could see that just as we can travel around our planet infinitely that we could travel around in time infinitely. This would allow for a finite universe to be spun off from an infinite universe where the finite universe would appear to have a beginning and an end.

I agree that this is highly speculative but it does show how we can have a time=0 in a finite universe when it is an emergent property of an infinite universe. (I think. )

If all this is true then we can argue either that it would require cause or that it wouldn`t. We could reasonably say that it required cause to have our world emerge in the way that it does or that it wouldn`t. It does seem to me however that it would be unlikely to see an emergent universe with intelligence and sentient beings being spun off from a greater reality without intelligence or sentience. It would all come down to a question of belief because it isn`t a beginning in the way that we are our 4 dimensional world experience anything beginning.

I know Im way over my head here but I hope it addresses the point you are making.

Cheers


Everybody is entitled to my opinion. :)

This message is a reply to:
 Message 1 by PaulK, posted 11-22-2011 10:21 AM PaulK has responded

Replies to this message:
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PaulK
Member
Posts: 14513
Joined: 01-10-2003
Member Rating: 1.5


Message 20 of 268 (641981)
11-24-2011 2:34 PM
Reply to: Message 19 by GDR
11-24-2011 2:25 PM


Re: An emergent universe
quote:

I hope Im following this but it seems to me that in the first paragraph that I quoted you successfully point out that your scenario does not require cause. It also does not rule it out. The concept of beginning to exist only has meaning in an entropic universe where time or change only happens in one direction.

That's close. I'm not trying to rule out cause absolutely. What I am trying to do is to show that the inference of a beginning is not justified unless the "beginning" includes a prior state where the object in question does not exist.

As I've stated elsewhere scenarios which propose an external time dimension do include a prior state where the object does not exist, so they don't fall under the argument. (They are also no good in arguing for a timeless cause since the cause may well be operating in that time dimension).


This message is a reply to:
 Message 19 by GDR, posted 11-24-2011 2:25 PM GDR has responded

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 Message 21 by GDR, posted 11-24-2011 3:12 PM PaulK has responded

    
GDR
Member
Posts: 4557
From: Sidney, BC, Canada
Joined: 05-22-2005
Member Rating: 1.9


Message 21 of 268 (641987)
11-24-2011 3:12 PM
Reply to: Message 20 by PaulK
11-24-2011 2:34 PM


Re: An emergent universe
PaulK writes:

As I've stated elsewhere scenarios which propose an external time dimension do include a prior state where the object does not exist, so they don't fall under the argument.

Ok, but it seems to me that once you use the term "prior" state the whole concept becomes ambiguous. If we agree that there was a point in our universe when time equalled "0", then "prior' has no meaning even if we are an emergent property of a greater reality with multi-dimensions of time. In that sense our universe as we experience it didn't exist prior to time=0. It just always existed infinitely in a state where our concept of "prior" would be meaningless, at least in the way that I envision it.


Everybody is entitled to my opinion. :)

This message is a reply to:
 Message 20 by PaulK, posted 11-24-2011 2:34 PM PaulK has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 22 by PaulK, posted 11-24-2011 3:21 PM GDR has responded

    
PaulK
Member
Posts: 14513
Joined: 01-10-2003
Member Rating: 1.5


Message 22 of 268 (641988)
11-24-2011 3:21 PM
Reply to: Message 21 by GDR
11-24-2011 3:12 PM


Re: An emergent universe
quote:

Ok, but it seems to me that once you use the term "prior" state the whole concept becomes ambiguous.

I would say that it is general, not ambiguous.

quote:

If we agree that there was a point in our universe when time equalled "0", then "prior' has no meaning even if we are an emergent property of a greater reality with multi-dimensions of time.

That's wrong. In that case "prior" has no meaning IF WE ONLY CONSIDER OUR TIME DIMENSION. It may well be meaningful in another. And that is all that is required for the argument.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 21 by GDR, posted 11-24-2011 3:12 PM GDR has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 23 by GDR, posted 11-24-2011 3:56 PM PaulK has responded

    
GDR
Member
Posts: 4557
From: Sidney, BC, Canada
Joined: 05-22-2005
Member Rating: 1.9


Message 23 of 268 (641990)
11-24-2011 3:56 PM
Reply to: Message 22 by PaulK
11-24-2011 3:21 PM


Re: An emergent universe
PaulK writes:

That's wrong. In that case "prior" has no meaning IF WE ONLY CONSIDER OUR TIME DIMENSION. It may well be meaningful in another. And that is all that is required for the argument.

You're right. I didn't phrase that well. The greater reality that I envision would be 3 dimensions of time as we experience 3 spatial dimensions. In that greater reality what we call time would be how things are at a specific point in a sea of change in the same way that we might travel to a particular point of longitude and latitude.

From our uni-dimensional experience of change that would give at least the appearance of something "prior" to T=0 but I'm inclined to think that the reality would be different.

However in that scenario and from our perspective I can see where there is no absolute requirement for cause, but again it doesn't meaning that cause doesn't exist either.

I might add though that with the restrictions you have put on the discussion Im not sure youve left much to discuss.


Everybody is entitled to my opinion. :)

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 Message 22 by PaulK, posted 11-24-2011 3:21 PM PaulK has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 24 by PaulK, posted 11-24-2011 4:10 PM GDR has not yet responded

    
PaulK
Member
Posts: 14513
Joined: 01-10-2003
Member Rating: 1.5


Message 24 of 268 (641992)
11-24-2011 4:10 PM
Reply to: Message 23 by GDR
11-24-2011 3:56 PM


Re: An emergent universe
quote:

From our uni-dimensional experience of change that would give at least the appearance of something "prior" to T=0 but I'm inclined to think that the reality would be different.

If there was something prior in a different dimension of time it wouldn't be only an appearance, it would be a reality.

quote:

However in that scenario and from our perspective I can see where there is no absolute requirement for cause, but again it doesn't meaning that cause doesn't exist either.

Since I've already told you that I'm not arguing for that, it isn't a point that would seem to need repeating.

quote:

I might add though that with the restrictions you have put on the discussion Im not sure youve left much to discuss.

I've got more to say. Anyone who wants to defend designtheorist's argument from his "Big Bang..." thread ought to have something to say, too - even if you agree that I've successfully rebutted it.


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kbertsche
Member (Idle past 86 days)
Posts: 1427
From: San Jose, CA, USA
Joined: 05-10-2007


Message 25 of 268 (641993)
11-24-2011 4:39 PM
Reply to: Message 18 by PaulK
11-24-2011 1:11 PM


quote:
I'm afraid that you seem to be under the impression that I am making the argument that the cause must precede the effect. I am not. I deliberately avoided making that argument so that we did not have to go into that.
...
Do you understand it now ?


I understood your argument just fine. I'll try to clarify my objection.

Here's where you tie "causality" to temporal sequence:

quote:
3) The obvious reason why a cause would be needed for a "beginning" is to bring the thing into existence. There seems to be no other reason.

4) We cannot say that something that exists at the start of time was brought into existence because there is no time prior to it's existence.


Your explanation of "bringing a thing into existence" is tied to time; it implicitly assumes that there was a time "before" which the thing existed. Because there was no time "before" the Big Bang, you claim that the universe was not "brought into existence".

The Kalaam argument avoids these problems by using the more neutral phrase "begin to exist" ("bring into existence" implies agency as well as prior time; "begin to exist" is more neutral on both counts). There is widespread agreement that the universe "began to exist" about 13.7 billion years ago.

quote:
1) "Everything that begins to exist has a cause" is an intuitive argument and therefore if there is a situation outside our normal experience with a relevant difference we cannot rely on it.

2) The case of something which exists at the beginning of time is outside of our normal experience.


But this claim is based on more than our experience; it is based on logic as well. Logically, an effect must have a cause. It would be logically incoherent to claim that something caused its own "beginning". The cause must transcend the effect. Since time began at the Big Bang, the cause of the Big Bang must exist outside of time itself.

Claims that the Big Bang could have caused itself, or that it needed no cause, are nothing more than "special pleading". There are no other examples of things which are either uncaused or self-caused (in the philosophical sense of causation).

One might claim that a cause "outside of time itself" is also an instance of special pleading. But I don't believe this holds up. Traditional conceptions of God place Him outside of time (and space) and attribute numerous instances of Him acting in time and space from outside of it. It is not only the Big Bang as a special case, but also the incarnation, the eschaton, etc. where God breaks into time and space from outside of it.


"Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind." Albert Einstein

I am very astonished that the scientific picture of the real world around me is very deficient. It gives us a lot of factual information, puts all of our experience in a magnificently consistent order, but it is ghastly silent about all and sundry that is really near to our heart, that really matters to us. It cannot tell us a word about red and blue, bitter and sweet, physical pain and physical delight; it knows nothing of beautiful and ugly, good or bad, God and eternity. Science sometimes pretends to answer questions in these domains, but the answers are very often so silly that we are not inclined to take them seriously. Erwin Schroedinger


This message is a reply to:
 Message 18 by PaulK, posted 11-24-2011 1:11 PM PaulK has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 26 by PaulK, posted 11-24-2011 5:12 PM kbertsche has responded
 Message 27 by Omnivorous, posted 11-24-2011 10:49 PM kbertsche has acknowledged this reply
 Message 28 by Dr Adequate, posted 11-24-2011 11:20 PM kbertsche has acknowledged this reply

    
PaulK
Member
Posts: 14513
Joined: 01-10-2003
Member Rating: 1.5


Message 26 of 268 (641994)
11-24-2011 5:12 PM
Reply to: Message 25 by kbertsche
11-24-2011 4:39 PM


quote:

Your explanation of "bringing a thing into existence" is tied to time; it implicitly assumes that there was a time "before" which the thing existed. Because there was no time "before" the Big Bang, you claim that the universe was not "brought into existence".

So you understand that much. But obviously you don't understand how that point fits into my argument because you don't deal with it at all.

quote:

The Kalaam argument avoids these problems by using the more neutral phrase "begin to exist" ("bring into existence" implies agency as well as prior time; "begin to exist" is more neutral on both counts). There is widespread agreement that the universe "began to exist" about 13.7 billion years ago.

i.e. the Kalam argument attempts to sweep the problem under the carpet by not considering the issue I have raised. Too bad for the Kalam argument, if that's the best you can do. You can't honestly deal with a problem by refusing to admit that it exists.

quote:

But this claim is based on more than our experience; it is based on logic as well.

No, now you are being silly.

quote:

Logically, an effect must have a cause.

That can only be true if BY DEFINITION an effect has a cause. In which case you need to show that the universe has a cause before it can be considered an effect. Otherwise you beg the question.

quote:

It would be logically incoherent to claim that something caused its own "beginning". The cause must transcend the effect. Since time began at the Big Bang, the cause of the Big Bang must exist outside of time itself.

You still haven't produced a decent argument that there IS a cause of the Big Bang yet.

quote:

Claims that the Big Bang could have caused itself, or that it needed no cause, are nothing more than "special pleading". There are no other examples of things which are either uncaused or self-caused (in the philosophical sense of causation).

I really wish you would stop pretending that my argument contain fallacies that obviously aren't there. If you don't understand fallacies well enough to tell a valid argument from an invalid one then just don't say anything. There's no special pleading in my argument. Given your assumption that time starts with the Big Bang it really is a very special case.

quote:

One might claim that a cause "outside of time itself" is also an instance of special pleading.

Actually I would suggest that you need a sound argument that there is a cause first.

quote:

But I don't believe this holds up. Traditional conceptions of God place Him outside of time (and space) and attribute numerous instances of Him acting in time and space from outside of it. It is not only the Big Bang as a special case, but also the incarnation, the eschaton, etc. where God breaks into time and space from outside of it.

The Bible also has instances of God apparently changing his mind. A timeless being can't change it's mind - so either God was lying (about his original intent) - which is supposed to be impossible according to the Bible, or God is a temporal entity. (e.g. Exodus 32:9-14).

But aside from the fact that the theological issues are not so clear cut as you think, your beliefs about God are not evidence, or even a philosophical argument.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 25 by kbertsche, posted 11-24-2011 4:39 PM kbertsche has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 29 by kbertsche, posted 11-24-2011 11:59 PM PaulK has responded

    
Omnivorous
Member (Idle past 922 days)
Posts: 3808
From: Adirondackia
Joined: 07-21-2005


(1)
Message 27 of 268 (642021)
11-24-2011 10:49 PM
Reply to: Message 25 by kbertsche
11-24-2011 4:39 PM


Let There Be (Self-Caused) Light
kbertsche writes:

Claims that the Big Bang could have caused itself, or that it needed no cause, are nothing more than "special pleading". There are no other examples of things which are either uncaused or self-caused (in the philosophical sense of causation).

Oh?

Let There Be Light

quote:
Turns out creating light isnt such a divine act after all. Not in the sense of powering on a lightbulb or firing up a star or discharging some static electricity. No, creating light in the Genesis let there be light sense. Light from nothing at all. This is, essentially, the accomplishment of Chris Wilson and pals at Gothenburgs Chalmers University of Technology, as detailed in a new piece in Nature. Take the most exquisite nothing-nothingness in the whole wide universe and create light from it.

As an idea, called the dynamic Casimir effect, this is actually about 40 years old. It stems from one of my own personal favorite weirdnesses about the universe: that there is no such thing as empty. Like, if you remove absolutely everything from a region of space every atom, every particle, all of it it will still bubble with virtual particles that result from quantum fluctuations. The uncertainty principle applies even in a vacuum. That is, way oversimplified, a true vacuum (zero energy) is too certain for quantum physics (for the universe). Thus, pairs of virtual particles are created constantly. They exist for an extremely short time and pop back out of existence.

This is manifested in the Casimir effect. If you take two mirrors and place them side by side in a vacuum, they will pull toward each other. This happens because theres a limited amount of space between them for virtual particles to come into existence, so more are popping out of space outside of the mirrors. This results in an increase in pressure outside the mirrors, and they pull toward each other.

With the dynamic Casimir effect, were actually harnessing those virtual particles (photons, actually) and turning them into light. Its not easy. Four decades ago, the idea of speeding a mirror up to near light speed and sending it through a vacuum came about as a way of turning virtual photons in real photons and, thus, light.

Of course. we cant very well fire a mirror at light speed through a vacuum. So Wilson and co. devised an alternate way involving changing the length of the pathway an electron follows in a circuit very, very quickly, such that it nears the speed of light. Well, it worked. The researchers made out with real light from nothing.

See also: dark energy, the mysterious stuff thats supposed to make up most of the energy in the universe. Its thought to be a result of this sort of virtual background energy, the energy of the vacuum. So think on that for a while its easier, more natural, for the universe to have stuff in it than it is for it to be empty.


What caused the virtual photons to begin to exist?

Nothing would be difficult to explain: something, not so much.


"If you can keep your head while those around you are losing theirs, you can collect a lot of heads."

This message is a reply to:
 Message 25 by kbertsche, posted 11-24-2011 4:39 PM kbertsche has acknowledged this reply

Replies to this message:
 Message 40 by thingamabob, posted 11-26-2011 11:53 AM Omnivorous has responded

    
Dr Adequate
Member
Posts: 16056
Joined: 07-20-2006
Member Rating: 3.2


(1)
Message 28 of 268 (642025)
11-24-2011 11:20 PM
Reply to: Message 25 by kbertsche
11-24-2011 4:39 PM


Claims that the Big Bang could have caused itself, or that it needed no cause, are nothing more than "special pleading". There are no other examples of things which are either uncaused or self-caused (in the philosophical sense of causation).

God?

One might claim that a cause "outside of time itself" is also an instance of special pleading. But I don't believe this holds up. Traditional conceptions of God place Him outside of time (and space) and attribute numerous instances of Him acting in time and space from outside of it. It is not only the Big Bang as a special case, but also the incarnation, the eschaton, etc. where God breaks into time and space from outside of it.

But God himself remains a special case --- the Uncaused Cause, the Unmoved Mover.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 25 by kbertsche, posted 11-24-2011 4:39 PM kbertsche has acknowledged this reply

  
kbertsche
Member (Idle past 86 days)
Posts: 1427
From: San Jose, CA, USA
Joined: 05-10-2007


Message 29 of 268 (642033)
11-24-2011 11:59 PM
Reply to: Message 26 by PaulK
11-24-2011 5:12 PM


quote:
quote:

Your explanation of "bringing a thing into existence" is tied to time; it implicitly assumes that there was a time "before" which the thing existed. Because there was no time "before" the Big Bang, you claim that the universe was not "brought into existence".

So you understand that much. But obviously you don't understand how that point fits into my argument because you don't deal with it at all.

quote:

The Kalaam argument avoids these problems by using the more neutral phrase "begin to exist" ("bring into existence" implies agency as well as prior time; "begin to exist" is more neutral on both counts). There is widespread agreement that the universe "began to exist" about 13.7 billion years ago.

i.e. the Kalam argument attempts to sweep the problem under the carpet by not considering the issue I have raised. Too bad for the Kalam argument, if that's the best you can do. You can't honestly deal with a problem by refusing to admit that it exists.

I think I've been pretty clear. The relationship of logical causation to temporality is a primary consideration in this discussion. Your argument is formulated in an attempt to sweep this issue under the rug without careful consideration of it. Your argument assumes that a logical cause must occur prior in time, so concludes that there could be no logical cause for the Big Bang. Instead of facing the question of the relationship between logical causation and temporality and presenting reasoned arguments for it, your argument simply assumes the relationship that you want. Whether you call this "begging the question", "stacking the deck", or "affirming the consequent", it is disingenuous.

Like it or not, the Kalaam argument does not sweep this issue under the rug. It is formulated in such a way to be neutral on the relationship of logical causation to temporality.

Can you please present a reasoned argument for why you believe logical causation necessarily requires temporal priority?


"Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind." Albert Einstein

I am very astonished that the scientific picture of the real world around me is very deficient. It gives us a lot of factual information, puts all of our experience in a magnificently consistent order, but it is ghastly silent about all and sundry that is really near to our heart, that really matters to us. It cannot tell us a word about red and blue, bitter and sweet, physical pain and physical delight; it knows nothing of beautiful and ugly, good or bad, God and eternity. Science sometimes pretends to answer questions in these domains, but the answers are very often so silly that we are not inclined to take them seriously. Erwin Schroedinger


This message is a reply to:
 Message 26 by PaulK, posted 11-24-2011 5:12 PM PaulK has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 31 by PaulK, posted 11-25-2011 1:39 AM kbertsche has responded
 Message 32 by NoNukes, posted 11-25-2011 7:42 AM kbertsche has responded

    
Omnivorous
Member (Idle past 922 days)
Posts: 3808
From: Adirondackia
Joined: 07-21-2005


Message 30 of 268 (642040)
11-25-2011 12:24 AM


Scientists wrestle with phenomena; it takes a philosopher to ignore them.

"If you can keep your head while those around you are losing theirs, you can collect a lot of heads."

    
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