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Author Topic:   Time and Beginning to Exist
Rahvin
Member (Idle past 656 days)
Posts: 3964
Joined: 07-01-2005


(3)
Message 211 of 268 (642943)
12-02-2011 8:02 PM
Reply to: Message 209 by Straggler
12-02-2011 6:16 PM


Re: Ideas
The number four is arguably an objective aspect of reality and thus an idea which any intelligent being in our universe will eventually conceive of. Because of the objective nature of this concept it can arguably be said to "exist" in a Platonic sense.

The number four is a conceptual representation that exists only within the human mind.

Everything we experience, including all of our senses, happens exclusively within the confines of the human skull. If there is a pen on your desk, the color and shape of that pen, the feel of it in your hand, the sound it makes when you roll it on your desk, are all nothing but the end result of your brain processing signals sent by your eyes, ears, and skin.

The entire world we experience is an attempt at a map of the territory. We never actually see the territory itself.

"Four" is an abstract symbol. If there are four apples in a basket, those apples exist regardless of whether you count them, or what number you think is really there. "Four" is a concept, part of our internal map of the territory. "Four" exists within the human mind, but not outside of it; it's only a representation.

What we experience is so far different from the true underlying facts of the Universe that human-relatable concepts are only useful when explaining things a human being can actually experience. Our brains have trouble multiplying in terms of truly comprehending how a billion marbles relates to a dozen marbles - aspects of reality that don't correspond directly to experiences in the ancestral human environment just don't computer intuitively. We lack the modeling program to map that territory by default, and that's why we use math as a way to fully describe reality in pure representative symbolism. Our brains might not be able to intuitively grasp the real relationship between 412 GeV and 115 GeV, but we can write it down and use mathematical symbols to make predictions that don't occur to us otherwise.

Stories and memories and language "exist" as patterns of neural activity in the human brain. The story of Goldilocks is a map that just doesn't correspond to any real territory - something human minds are quite capable of doing, for better or for worse. But all stories, whether based on real territories or not, are just maps, representations in our minds, which means their "real" existence is simply that of a pattern of neural activity. Those maps exist only for as long as there are minds that contain those neural patterns.

When we first hear about an aspect of reality, we create a map of that new part of reality's territory in our minds to the best of our ability. Unfortunately, this means that we instinctually try to interpret such things from a human perspective, rather than trying to comprehend the Universe on its own terms. Most people don;t really realize on a deep level that the world we see is an illusion of scale, a derivative of natural processes that human beings just never experience directly, things like the repulsion of electron shells providing the illusion of contact.

We take for granted that there are words in our languages that have meanings, and try to apply those meanings as if the dictionary or a philosopher could use definitions for natural-language words like "finite time" and apply them to cosmological theories like the Big Bang.

This is the allure and the danger of the layman's explanation, particularly "science" reporting and magazines like Popular Science. It's possible to gain a very basic understanding of what physicists discover through normal language; analogies like balloons or globes, but invariably human nature tends toward believing that the map is the territory, that the balloon and the globe are not just rough analogies but rather that they convey full understanding of the real subject.

The Universe is not like an apple, or a seed, or a bomb. I can talk about how a seed is planted and begins to grow, or how an apple falls from a tree, or how a bomb is made and then explodes. But the Universe is not analogous to any human experience, and it is only our own hubris and our tendency to confuse our maps with the actual territory that causes us to ask such human questions as "what caused the Universe," or "what happened before the Big Bang." Time is part of the Universe, the Universe does not happen "in" time. The Universe has a particular shape, a cosmic geometry, that includes fields that produce what we call particles, and space, and time, and build up the human-experiencable objects like the Sun and the Moon and the Earth or the pen on your desk. If we are to understand the geometry of the Universe, we need to ask the Universe, not an English dictionary, what is meant by a minimum value for time, what the expansion of space means for the past and future, and how the Universe really works at its most basic level.

The implications and connotations of natural-language descriptions simply serve to confuse map with territory; and like trying to translate slang directly from one language to another, you simply wind up with the wrong answer.


The human understanding when it has once adopted an opinion (either as being the received opinion or as being agreeable to itself) draws all things else to support and agree with it.
- Francis Bacon

"There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old's life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs." - John Rogers


This message is a reply to:
 Message 209 by Straggler, posted 12-02-2011 6:16 PM Straggler has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 218 by Straggler, posted 12-05-2011 7:57 AM Rahvin has responded

  
PaulK
Member
Posts: 12867
Joined: 01-10-2003
Member Rating: 3.4


Message 212 of 268 (642959)
12-03-2011 3:38 AM
Reply to: Message 210 by kbertsche
12-02-2011 7:35 PM


quote:

But my first point was to question this initial assumption that time and the universe start together. What evidence do we have for this claim? Is it really true? How do we know?

Of course we don't. This is just another flaw in the argument that I am opposing.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 210 by kbertsche, posted 12-02-2011 7:35 PM kbertsche has not yet responded

    
cavediver
Member (Idle past 1112 days)
Posts: 4129
From: UK
Joined: 06-16-2005


Message 213 of 268 (642961)
12-03-2011 4:43 AM
Reply to: Message 160 by kbertsche
11-30-2011 9:32 AM


Paulk writes:


William Lane Craig has provided his own gerrymandered definition, but he has not supplied the extra argumentation required. For one thing he has failed to even show that our universe has a beginning by his special definition !

kbertsche writes:

Can you please provide Craig's definition, and a reference to where he presents this definition?
Are you sure that he has not supplied the extra argumentation? (How can you be sure unless you've read everything he's written?)

Missed this earlier. Let me just state that having read much of WLC's material, and (briefly) conversed with him on the net, he has absolutely zero clue about cosmology at the required level to be able to coherently discuss this subject. His Kalaam arguments, his arguments against past infinite time, all complete nonsense. He's been told repeatedly (by me and others), he has nothing to say in response, and yet continues to use these arguments. That makes him academically bankrupt in my book.

Edited by cavediver, : No reason given.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 160 by kbertsche, posted 11-30-2011 9:32 AM kbertsche has not yet responded

  
NoNukes
Member
Posts: 9726
From: Central NC USA
Joined: 08-13-2010
Member Rating: 3.0


Message 214 of 268 (642965)
12-03-2011 7:11 AM
Reply to: Message 210 by kbertsche
12-02-2011 7:35 PM


But my first point was to question this initial assumption that time and the universe start together. What evidence do we have for this claim? Is it really true? How do we know?

I saw that part of your post.

As I indicated, I don't have any problem with those kinds of questions when you challenge the initial assumption. If that's what you meant, you were not to clear about it.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 210 by kbertsche, posted 12-02-2011 7:35 PM kbertsche has not yet responded

    
frako
Member
Posts: 2701
From: slovenija
Joined: 09-04-2010


Message 215 of 268 (642970)
12-03-2011 11:37 AM
Reply to: Message 210 by kbertsche
12-02-2011 7:35 PM


But my first point was to question this initial assumption that time and the universe start together. What evidence do we have for this claim? Is it really true? How do we know?

Time is intertwined with space so firstly no space = no time

Secondly singularities like black holes actually stop time inside them a singularity like the big bang that contained all the mass of our universe would logically do the same


Christianity, One woman's lie about an affair that got seriously out of hand

This message is a reply to:
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NoNukes
Member
Posts: 9726
From: Central NC USA
Joined: 08-13-2010
Member Rating: 3.0


Message 216 of 268 (643053)
12-04-2011 10:00 AM
Reply to: Message 209 by Straggler
12-02-2011 6:16 PM


Re: Ideas
Do you really think the story of Goldilocks exists independetly of human minds and thus physical human brians?

Of course it does. The story is recorded in countless forms. Do you think and idea for an invention exists only in the human mind regardless of the fact that it has a physical implementation?


This message is a reply to:
 Message 209 by Straggler, posted 12-02-2011 6:16 PM Straggler has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 217 by Straggler, posted 12-05-2011 7:35 AM NoNukes has responded

    
Straggler
Member
Posts: 10196
From: London England
Joined: 09-30-2006


Message 217 of 268 (643130)
12-05-2011 7:35 AM
Reply to: Message 216 by NoNukes
12-04-2011 10:00 AM


Re: Ideas
You seem to have changed your position rather significantly. You started out saying this:

NN Previously writes:

What I believe ideas to be are abstract concepts that are separate from the thoughts, writings, and objects that express them. For example, the story of Goldilocks and the three bears is independent from any medium or thought that contains that story.

Yet now you seem to be citing the act of physically recording an idea as relevant to your position.

NN on Goldilocks writes:

The story is recorded in countless forms. Do you think and idea for an invention exists only in the human mind regardless of the fact that it has a physical implementation?

I think "physical implementation" whether it be in physical brains or some other material form is absolutely fundamental. That has been my position throughout. I thought it was you who was claiming that ideas (e.g. your example of the story of Goldilocks) exist independently to any physical medium.

NN writes:

You are suggesting that ideas do not exist separate from a material basis.

Are you suggesting that (for example) the story of Goldilocks and the three bears does somehow exist indepdendently of any material basis? Or not? Have you changed your mind? It would really help clarity if you would just answer direct questions

  • Did the story of Goldilocks and the three bears exist before there were any people to think of it?
  • If all humans and all record of human civilisation is wiped out will the idea of Goldilocks still exist?
  • Has Goldilocks and the three bears existed since the beginning of the universe?
  • Did we discover or invent the idea of Goldilocks?
    This message is a reply to:
     Message 216 by NoNukes, posted 12-04-2011 10:00 AM NoNukes has responded

    Replies to this message:
     Message 219 by NoNukes, posted 12-05-2011 11:11 AM Straggler has responded

      
  • Straggler
    Member
    Posts: 10196
    From: London England
    Joined: 09-30-2006


    Message 218 of 268 (643133)
    12-05-2011 7:57 AM
    Reply to: Message 211 by Rahvin
    12-02-2011 8:02 PM


    Re: Ideas
    Rahvin writes:

    The number four is a conceptual representation that exists only within the human mind.

    Everything we experience is a conceptual representation within the human mind. But any intelligent beings in our universe (human or otherwise) are going to have conceived of the the number four aren't they? It is this objective "existence" of the number four that makes it arguably very different to human stories such as Goldilocks.

    Rahvin writes:

    If there are four apples in a basket, those apples exist regardless of whether you count them, or what number you think is really there.

    Sure. That number of apples will exist no matter how arithmetically challenged the being doing the counting is. Or even whether there is anyone to do the counting at all.

    Rahvin writes:

    "Four" is a concept, part of our internal map of the territory. "Four" exists within the human mind, but not outside of it; it's only a representation.

    Do you think any alien intelligence out there would also have the concept of 4? Does this level of objectivity qualify things like numbers as "existing" in a sense that is closer to empirical facts (e.g. evolution occurred) than wholly subjective ideas (e.g. my original novel) which exists nowhere but in my head?

    I don't really know the answers. But I sympathetic to the idea of mathematics specifically as having objective existence in some sense. But there are various schools of thought:

    Wiki on the philosophy of mathematics

    I spose it comes down to this - Is reality inherently logical? Or is logic itself a wholly human construction? If reality is logical then logic can be said to exist independently of minds and maths, as the language of logic, can also arguably claim existence in some sense that is independent of minds.

    Maybe......


    This message is a reply to:
     Message 211 by Rahvin, posted 12-02-2011 8:02 PM Rahvin has responded

    Replies to this message:
     Message 221 by Rahvin, posted 12-05-2011 2:33 PM Straggler has responded

      
    NoNukes
    Member
    Posts: 9726
    From: Central NC USA
    Joined: 08-13-2010
    Member Rating: 3.0


    Message 219 of 268 (643157)
    12-05-2011 11:11 AM
    Reply to: Message 217 by Straggler
    12-05-2011 7:35 AM


    Re: Ideas
    I think "physical implementation" whether it be in physical brains or some other material form is absolutely fundamental.

    Actually you said that ideas don't exist outside of the brain. To respond to that assertion, I don't need to address the more difficult task of showing that ideas can be immaterial. It's enough to show a physical, non-mental embodiment.

    I'm waffling a bit on whether or not mathematical concepts have a meaning outside of the human mind because I'm not completely convinced. I don't believe the concept four is tied to a human mind.


    This message is a reply to:
     Message 217 by Straggler, posted 12-05-2011 7:35 AM Straggler has responded

    Replies to this message:
     Message 220 by Straggler, posted 12-05-2011 11:36 AM NoNukes has acknowledged this reply

        
    Straggler
    Member
    Posts: 10196
    From: London England
    Joined: 09-30-2006


    Message 220 of 268 (643160)
    12-05-2011 11:36 AM
    Reply to: Message 219 by NoNukes
    12-05-2011 11:11 AM


    Re: Ideas
    NN writes:

    Actually you said that ideas don't exist outside of the brain.

    Then you misunderstood. I have never stipulated that human brains are the only possible material basis. However you have asserted that ideas exist in the absence of any physical medium at all.

    NN Previously writes:

    What I believe ideas to be are abstract concepts that are separate from the thoughts, writings, and objects that express them. For example, the story of Goldilocks and the three bears is independent from any medium or thought that contains that story.

    Does the above remain your position?

    NN writes:

    To respond to that assertion, I don't need to address the more difficult task of showing that ideas can be immaterial.

    Given that I never made the assertion that you are attributing to me maybe a focus on your own assertions would be of more merit. Why won't you answer direct questions about your own example?

  • Did the story of Goldilocks and the three bears exist before there were any people to think of it?
  • If all humans and all record of human civilisation is wiped out will the idea of Goldilocks still exist?
  • Has Goldilocks and the three bears existed since the beginning of the universe?
  • Did we discover or invent the idea of Goldilocks?

    NN writes:

    I don't believe the concept four is tied to a human mind.

    I'm not sure I do either. I think it can be argued that the concept four is an aspect of logic and thus objective realiy. But I don't think the same can be said of Goldilocks and the three bears. Or my idea for a novel. Or indeed the vast majority of ideas which are subjective rather than objective.

    Objective mathematical concepts and stories like Goldilocks are inherently different in this respect. No?


    This message is a reply to:
     Message 219 by NoNukes, posted 12-05-2011 11:11 AM NoNukes has acknowledged this reply

      
  • Rahvin
    Member (Idle past 656 days)
    Posts: 3964
    Joined: 07-01-2005


    Message 221 of 268 (643180)
    12-05-2011 2:33 PM
    Reply to: Message 218 by Straggler
    12-05-2011 7:57 AM


    Re: Ideas
    Everything we experience is a conceptual representation within the human mind. But any intelligent beings in our universe (human or otherwise) are going to have conceived of the the number four aren't they? It is this objective "existence" of the number four that makes it arguably very different to human stories such as Goldilocks.

    The only difference is that in the case of "4" the map is intended to represent a section of reality, while Goldilocks is a map that does not correspond to any territory (though it's components include representations of real things - bears and little girls and porridge do exist, after all).

    Do you think any alien intelligence out there would also have the concept of 4?

    I don't think alien intelligences matter when determining objective reality. Objective reality is that which exists regardless of whether anyone, human or alien, believes it does.

    Does this level of objectivity qualify things like numbers as "existing" in a sense that is closer to empirical facts (e.g. evolution occurred) than wholly subjective ideas (e.g. my original novel) which exists nowhere but in my head?

    I don't really know the answers. But I sympathetic to the idea of mathematics specifically as having objective existence in some sense.

    Mathematics is particularly related to objective reality because it's a map that we specifically model after the territory we observe. "Four" is still a subjective concept, it only exists in your head, it's a symbol that represents something in reality. The something that it represents is real and objective, and this means that any alien intelligence that tries to investigate reality is likely to also have a concept of "four." We'd both be trying to map the same territory, and particularly with a simple concept like an individual integer, it's extremely likely that our maps for that particular bit of reality would be nigh identical.

    Math isn't perfect, though, because it's still just a map of the territory based on our current level of knowledge. Newtonian mechanics are expressed mathematically, but when it comes to planetary orbits and other out-of-scale segments of reality, the numbers come out wrong. We in effect can apply the concept of "five" to a part of reality where the real answer is what we would label "four," because we aren't omniscient and the limitations of our current understanding at any given moment in history prevent us from having perfect maps of the territory.

    Hell, we can even apply math to pure fiction - Goldilocks, after all, tried out three beds and three bowls of porridge owned by three bears. That "three" doesn't correspond to anything in reality, it's a map of a false territory.

    Mathematics only exist in your head, but they represent objectively real things that you observe, limited by your ability to accurately interpret your observations. Truly independent observers given the same level of understanding of the Universe are likely to arrive at similar (hypothetically identical) representations of reality once you correct for differences in the specific symbology because all are attempting to map the same territory. That doesn't make the ideas in their heads any more objective in existence than Goldilocks, though. They're still just ideas; reality exists regardless of whether there's anyone there to map its territory, and regardless of the accuracy of anyone's maps.

    I suppose you could say that math is the language we use in our cartography of the Universe.


    The human understanding when it has once adopted an opinion (either as being the received opinion or as being agreeable to itself) draws all things else to support and agree with it.
    - Francis Bacon

    "There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old's life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs." - John Rogers


    This message is a reply to:
     Message 218 by Straggler, posted 12-05-2011 7:57 AM Straggler has responded

    Replies to this message:
     Message 222 by cavediver, posted 12-05-2011 4:18 PM Rahvin has responded
     Message 223 by Straggler, posted 12-05-2011 5:50 PM Rahvin has responded

      
    cavediver
    Member (Idle past 1112 days)
    Posts: 4129
    From: UK
    Joined: 06-16-2005


    Message 222 of 268 (643199)
    12-05-2011 4:18 PM
    Reply to: Message 221 by Rahvin
    12-05-2011 2:33 PM


    Re: Ideas
    "Four" is still a subjective concept, it only exists in your head, it's a symbol that represents something in reality.

    Easy to say. Can you explain in what sense "four" is subjective in a way that your apples are not? For the record, as far I am concerned, "four" is far more "real" than mere apples


    This message is a reply to:
     Message 221 by Rahvin, posted 12-05-2011 2:33 PM Rahvin has responded

    Replies to this message:
     Message 224 by Rahvin, posted 12-05-2011 8:21 PM cavediver has not yet responded

      
    Straggler
    Member
    Posts: 10196
    From: London England
    Joined: 09-30-2006


    Message 223 of 268 (643238)
    12-05-2011 5:50 PM
    Reply to: Message 221 by Rahvin
    12-05-2011 2:33 PM


    Re: Ideas
    Rahvin writes:

    "Four" is still a subjective concept, it only exists in your head, it's a symbol that represents something in reality.

    OK. Can you give an example of a concept that is objective rather than subjective? And explain in what sense it is objective in a way that "four" is not?

    Rahvin writes:

    Objective reality is that which exists regardless of whether anyone, human or alien, believes it does.

    I would suggest that mathematical concepts such as 4 and Pi arguably meet that criteria at least as well as any other concepts you can name.


    This message is a reply to:
     Message 221 by Rahvin, posted 12-05-2011 2:33 PM Rahvin has responded

    Replies to this message:
     Message 225 by Rahvin, posted 12-05-2011 8:29 PM Straggler has responded

      
    Rahvin
    Member (Idle past 656 days)
    Posts: 3964
    Joined: 07-01-2005


    Message 224 of 268 (643267)
    12-05-2011 8:21 PM
    Reply to: Message 222 by cavediver
    12-05-2011 4:18 PM


    Re: Ideas
    Easy to say. Can you explain in what sense "four" is subjective in a way that your apples are not? For the record, as far I am concerned, "four" is far more "real" than mere apples

    I think they're both subjective.

    "Apple" is another label we apply, just like "four." They both exist in our heads, and our attempt to model reality as we experience it.

    In reality (and correct me if I'm imprecise here), the Universe is comprised of various fields of probability that happen to factorize. There are no apples or cells or molecules or atoms or protons or quarks, there are differenciations in quantum fields which behave and interact in specific ways that at a specific scale look, feel, and taste like quarks, protons, atoms, molecules, cells, and apples. The photons we see, the neurochemical impulses we taste and feel, are nothing more than the most probable interactions of "lumps" in quantum fields.

    And even that is merely my basic conception of what's really there. It only exists in my head as my best representation of what's real based on information available to me right now.

    There is, in fact, no spoon.

    "Four" is a bit different, in that it's more abstract than "apple." "Four" can be used to describe energy levels and quantities and relationships between other numbers based on context, while an "apple" is always just a fruit from one of a set of species of tree. I think that my description of mathematics as the language with which we describe our maps of reality was fairly appropriate.


    The human understanding when it has once adopted an opinion (either as being the received opinion or as being agreeable to itself) draws all things else to support and agree with it.
    - Francis Bacon

    "There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old's life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs." - John Rogers


    This message is a reply to:
     Message 222 by cavediver, posted 12-05-2011 4:18 PM cavediver has not yet responded

      
    Rahvin
    Member (Idle past 656 days)
    Posts: 3964
    Joined: 07-01-2005


    Message 225 of 268 (643268)
    12-05-2011 8:29 PM
    Reply to: Message 223 by Straggler
    12-05-2011 5:50 PM


    Re: Ideas
    OK. Can you give an example of a concept that is objective rather than subjective? And explain in what sense it is objective in a way that "four" is not?

    I don't think there's any such thing as an "objective concept." A "concept" by definition can exist only within the confines of an intelligent mind. It's an abstract representation of something else, which may or may not actually exist in objective reality.

    Some of our concepts are likely pretty close to what's objectively real...but no matter what, our concepts all boil down to our maps of the territory, not the territory itself. When I count four apples, I am making a description of reality as I observe it, which may or may not be wrong, and either the "four" or the "apples" or both could be accurate or inaccurate depending on my observational basis.

    I would suggest that mathematical concepts such as 4 and Pi arguably meet that criteria at least as well as any other concepts you can name.

    I would argue that the parts of reality represented by "4" and "Pi" are objective, but that the words and concepts themselves are our own invention.

    If we're talking about it, then it's a representation in language conveying ideas that themselves are representations of reality as we either perceive or just plain imagine it.


    The human understanding when it has once adopted an opinion (either as being the received opinion or as being agreeable to itself) draws all things else to support and agree with it.
    - Francis Bacon

    "There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old's life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs." - John Rogers


    This message is a reply to:
     Message 223 by Straggler, posted 12-05-2011 5:50 PM Straggler has responded

    Replies to this message:
     Message 226 by Straggler, posted 12-06-2011 9:28 AM Rahvin has responded

      
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