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Author Topic:   A Simplified Proof That The Universe Cannot Be Explained
NoNukes
Inactive Member


Message 24 of 342 (784280)
05-15-2016 11:56 PM
Reply to: Message 15 by nano
05-15-2016 6:37 PM


Logically, the first thing can have no explanation. Since its the first thing there is nothing else to explain it. 2nd things and beyond can certainly be explained by the things that came before.

If in fact, a second and third thing can be explained, then it is possible that the universe is a third, or even a 100th thing following a first unexplained cause. By your current admission, we would have to regard a tracing of the universe to at least one (or possibly more) describable precursor(s) as an explanation.

If such explanations are instead disallowed, then we can extend your original argument to say that nothing we observe can be explained, because all things we know rely on the universe first to have existed.

I believe that the only way to escape the conundrum expressed above is that the original concept, namely that we can only have an explanation if that explanation is ultimate must be rejected because that is not the sense in which we use the term explanation.

Edited by NoNukes, : No reason given.


Under a government which imprisons any unjustly, the true place for a just man is also in prison. Thoreau: Civil Disobedience (1846)

History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people. Martin Luther King

If there are no stupid questions, then what kind of questions do stupid people ask? Do they get smart just in time to ask questions? Scott Adams


This message is a reply to:
 Message 15 by nano, posted 05-15-2016 6:37 PM nano has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 54 by nano, posted 05-17-2016 2:30 PM NoNukes has replied

  
NoNukes
Inactive Member


Message 53 of 342 (784357)
05-17-2016 2:01 PM
Reply to: Message 52 by AZPaul3
05-17-2016 9:04 AM


rather than some wishy-washy philosophical treatment where the terms differ in meaning depending on the particular philosophy of the philosopher attempting the definition.

In this case don't your and kbertsche's positions differ only in semantics? You are willing to accept explanations that are not cause/effect descriptions (a position I personally agree with), while kbertsche elects to redefine cause in some way to cover events that you would consider uncaused. In either case, I believe you and kbertsche would agree on what constitutes an explanation for the universe.

It appears to me that the OP is inherently defining explanation to mean 'describe how something results from its ultimate cause.' I submit that his definition is non-conventional and that if we decide that we cannot explain the universe in the way described in the OP, that such a question in nothing more than a statement that uncaused things have no causes; an obvious tautology.

Generally I would reject the OP's definition of explanation. I can explain how to calculate the value of pi of a blackboard without explaining how your synapses must fire when moving the chalk or even how the blackboard and chalk came into existence. I can explain how the earth orbits the sun without explaining how the hydrogen in the sun came to be.

If, for example, I explained how the universe came to exist from a collision of parallel branes, I submit that such a description is an explanation of the origin of the universe in a meaningful sense even if I cannot then tell you how those branes came to exist.

philosophically twisted definitions of the words "explain" and "universe"

Isn't this thread about a fairly twisted definition of the term explain?

Edited by NoNukes, : No reason given.


Under a government which imprisons any unjustly, the true place for a just man is also in prison. Thoreau: Civil Disobedience (1846)

History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people. Martin Luther King

If there are no stupid questions, then what kind of questions do stupid people ask? Do they get smart just in time to ask questions? Scott Adams


This message is a reply to:
 Message 52 by AZPaul3, posted 05-17-2016 9:04 AM AZPaul3 has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 65 by AZPaul3, posted 05-17-2016 4:45 PM NoNukes has seen this message but not replied
 Message 89 by nano, posted 05-18-2016 8:26 AM NoNukes has replied

  
NoNukes
Inactive Member


Message 73 of 342 (784394)
05-17-2016 10:20 PM
Reply to: Message 54 by nano
05-17-2016 2:30 PM


Duplicate

Edited by NoNukes, : No reason given.


Under a government which imprisons any unjustly, the true place for a just man is also in prison. Thoreau: Civil Disobedience (1846)

History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people. Martin Luther King

If there are no stupid questions, then what kind of questions do stupid people ask? Do they get smart just in time to ask questions? Scott Adams


This message is a reply to:
 Message 54 by nano, posted 05-17-2016 2:30 PM nano has not replied

  
NoNukes
Inactive Member


(1)
Message 74 of 342 (784395)
05-17-2016 10:23 PM
Reply to: Message 54 by nano
05-17-2016 2:30 PM


As the proof shows only the first thing in the universe cannot be explained.

Well no. That is the thing you are trying to prove. You don't get to assert what is essentially your conclusion as part of your defense that your conclusion is right. The problem I am asking you to deal with is that your conclusion leads to absurdities.

Your stement suggests an interesting second corollary to my proof. Namely, that ultimately nothing can be explained because at the root of it the universe cannot be explained. I will have to think about this.

One of the things you might well conclude is that if the result is that nothing can be explained, then perhaps your idea is of no worth whatsoever. If you are perfectly satisfied with any explanation of anything, perhaps that is an indication that your current line of thinking is flawed.


Under a government which imprisons any unjustly, the true place for a just man is also in prison. Thoreau: Civil Disobedience (1846)

History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people. Martin Luther King

If there are no stupid questions, then what kind of questions do stupid people ask? Do they get smart just in time to ask questions? Scott Adams


This message is a reply to:
 Message 54 by nano, posted 05-17-2016 2:30 PM nano has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 114 by nano, posted 05-18-2016 5:46 PM NoNukes has replied

  
NoNukes
Inactive Member


Message 75 of 342 (784397)
05-17-2016 10:32 PM
Reply to: Message 55 by Modulous
05-17-2016 2:44 PM


It struggles, however, in a situation which lacks a quantum field. It is true that in QFT there is no such thing as 'empty space', but that does not comment on 'emptiness' The state of their not being any space. Not-space is not covered in QFT.

It is sufficient that empty space is not the universe, but can exist in the absence of the universe. Whether or not that was the actual state of affairs or not is irrelevant. If it is at least conceivable that a field fluctuation could occur in the absence of a universe, then it is conceivable that we can state exactly how the universe arose from that state. Whether or not QFT or string theory, or any other known science covers that possibility is also irrelevant.

Go back to the argument between Dr Adequate and mentally replace 'necessary entities' with 'the quantum field' and 'nothing' as 'no quantum field', if you want to translate from specific claims, to more general ones.

I find the reasoning in those posts similarly flawed. Let's consider instead the possibility that the universe was created by an infinitely powerful being that exists outside of our universe. A description of that being using extra dimensional energy to create our own universe would be a complete explanation. You might then want to ask where that being came from, but that question is separate from the question of where those other dimensions and that other being came from.


Under a government which imprisons any unjustly, the true place for a just man is also in prison. Thoreau: Civil Disobedience (1846)

History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people. Martin Luther King

If there are no stupid questions, then what kind of questions do stupid people ask? Do they get smart just in time to ask questions? Scott Adams


This message is a reply to:
 Message 55 by Modulous, posted 05-17-2016 2:44 PM Modulous has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 109 by Modulous, posted 05-18-2016 3:44 PM NoNukes has replied

  
NoNukes
Inactive Member


Message 115 of 342 (784480)
05-18-2016 5:49 PM
Reply to: Message 89 by nano
05-18-2016 8:26 AM


My specific assertion is that the origin of the universe cannot be explained. I could have been more clear about that in my proof.

I understand that. The problem is that an assertion is not a proof. Your assertion needs to be backed up.


Under a government which imprisons any unjustly, the true place for a just man is also in prison. Thoreau: Civil Disobedience (1846)

History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people. Martin Luther King

If there are no stupid questions, then what kind of questions do stupid people ask? Do they get smart just in time to ask questions? Scott Adams


This message is a reply to:
 Message 89 by nano, posted 05-18-2016 8:26 AM nano has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 118 by nano, posted 05-18-2016 6:01 PM NoNukes has not replied

  
NoNukes
Inactive Member


(1)
Message 117 of 342 (784482)
05-18-2016 5:55 PM
Reply to: Message 114 by nano
05-18-2016 5:46 PM


I don't think its absurd when simple logic leads one to the conclusion that the origin of the universe cannot be explained.

I disagree of course. And your reasoning in this statement is completely circular. You are supposed to be proving your conclusion and not admiring your conclusion.

If a corollary of your explanation leads to the conclusion that nothing is ever explained, but you then accept explanations for things other than the universe, you've actually disproven your own hypothesis using a classic reductio ad absurdum technique.


Under a government which imprisons any unjustly, the true place for a just man is also in prison. Thoreau: Civil Disobedience (1846)

History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people. Martin Luther King

If there are no stupid questions, then what kind of questions do stupid people ask? Do they get smart just in time to ask questions? Scott Adams


This message is a reply to:
 Message 114 by nano, posted 05-18-2016 5:46 PM nano has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 133 by nano, posted 05-18-2016 7:44 PM NoNukes has replied

  
NoNukes
Inactive Member


(1)
Message 119 of 342 (784484)
05-18-2016 6:09 PM
Reply to: Message 109 by Modulous
05-18-2016 3:44 PM


Per the rules of the OP, which includes 'multiverses', things outside of our universe is something that requires an explanation.

That's fine. I acknowledge that we do not have an explanation of those external dimensions and entities. But I submit that I have still pointed out an error/inconsistency in the OP.

If in fact, we cannot base any explanation on a previous unexplained event or entity, then there can be no such thing as an explanation for anything. An explanation of how I pocketed the nine ball relies on the existence of the pool table, the solar system, and the universe. If we are going to allow that state of affairs then we have equivocated the meaning of the term explanation into something foreign and in my mind useless.

We might save those other explanations by assuming the precursors are all understood despite not being mentioned and that the original question is, "Given the state of the universe including all physical laws and the current state of the pool table, how did the nine ball go into the pocket". But then we should ask why can we not make the same assumptions regarding unstated precursors in an explanation of the universe. If the answer is in fact, "because the OP requires all precursors to be provided an explained", then the OP boils down to saying that if there is no known ultimate cause then we cannot deliver an explanation that includes the ultimate cause. In short the OP is an valueless tautology of exactly zero import scientifically or philosophically. We cannot explain what we cannot explain.

In a later post, the original poster indicates that explanations of things resulting from a second cause are in fact acceptable. If that leaves anything to salvage from the OP, it is clear then that the OP defines 'explanation' as something that uniquely applies to the universe in a way that it would never apply to anything else.

In short 'explanation' either has a meaningless meaning, or some particular special meaning that applies only to the universe for the purposes of this particular thread. Fine. I'm satisfied to allow that kind of walling off from reality.

Edited by NoNukes, : No reason given.


Under a government which imprisons any unjustly, the true place for a just man is also in prison. Thoreau: Civil Disobedience (1846)

History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people. Martin Luther King

If there are no stupid questions, then what kind of questions do stupid people ask? Do they get smart just in time to ask questions? Scott Adams


This message is a reply to:
 Message 109 by Modulous, posted 05-18-2016 3:44 PM Modulous has seen this message but not replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 121 by Dr Adequate, posted 05-18-2016 6:31 PM NoNukes has replied
 Message 126 by Dr Adequate, posted 05-18-2016 7:01 PM NoNukes has replied

  
NoNukes
Inactive Member


Message 127 of 342 (784496)
05-18-2016 7:22 PM
Reply to: Message 126 by Dr Adequate
05-18-2016 7:01 PM


The definitions stay the same, but the cases are special.

So why is the case of explaining 'the universe' different? I agree in principle with your proposition, but absent some reason for 'explaining the universe' to be a different concept from 'explaining the solar system', it appears to me that you are just pleading for special treatment.

It still appears that the reason for the difference is simply imposed by the OP and relaxed to avoid the repercussion that the difference in application does not apply to any other explanation. If so, is there really anything to see here?

What if we could explain mathematically and physically how the universe was created by a collision of parallel branes and that such explanation also detailed how the universe evolved from that event to its current state again in terms understandable mathematically and physically. Why is that not an explanation of the universe in exactly the same since as we might explain how the sun came to condense from a pocket of gas and dust? And if those things are explanations in the same sense, why isn't that sense appropriate when speaking of the universe?


Under a government which imprisons any unjustly, the true place for a just man is also in prison. Thoreau: Civil Disobedience (1846)

History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people. Martin Luther King

If there are no stupid questions, then what kind of questions do stupid people ask? Do they get smart just in time to ask questions? Scott Adams


This message is a reply to:
 Message 126 by Dr Adequate, posted 05-18-2016 7:01 PM Dr Adequate has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 128 by Dr Adequate, posted 05-18-2016 7:24 PM NoNukes has replied

  
NoNukes
Inactive Member


Message 130 of 342 (784499)
05-18-2016 7:32 PM
Reply to: Message 121 by Dr Adequate
05-18-2016 6:31 PM


After all, a secondary cause is only acceptable as an explanation when it is in fact a cause of the thing being explained. If we ask "Why did Fred murder John?", then "Because the bullet penetrated John's heart" is not an answer, because that comes further down the causal chain.

I don't see how this really addresses the question at hand. If the universe was in fact created by a collision of branes, or by God waving his hand, then those things are causes.

Beyond that, answers to why questions are only one kind of explanation. Answers to how questions should also be considered explanations. I don't think your answer gets to the dispute between us.

If John were instead killed by a rock that happened to fall on him as he passed under an cliff, 'why' such a thing happened might not even be a part of the explanation of John's death. Instead the question would be how, and the answer might be a complete explanation.

Edited by NoNukes, : No reason given.


Under a government which imprisons any unjustly, the true place for a just man is also in prison. Thoreau: Civil Disobedience (1846)

History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people. Martin Luther King

If there are no stupid questions, then what kind of questions do stupid people ask? Do they get smart just in time to ask questions? Scott Adams


This message is a reply to:
 Message 121 by Dr Adequate, posted 05-18-2016 6:31 PM Dr Adequate has not replied

  
NoNukes
Inactive Member


Message 132 of 342 (784501)
05-18-2016 7:40 PM
Reply to: Message 128 by Dr Adequate
05-18-2016 7:24 PM


As I said, because any proposed secondary cause would in fact be part of the thing to be explained, and so would not constitute an explanation.

I submit that we don't commonly require such a thing as part of explanations, and I repeat my question of why you do require that kind of 'completeness' when explaining the universe.

In that case of why Fred killed John, where would we stop our inquiry into why Fred killed John? Is the answer because Fred stole John's money an explanation? Does it add anything to say that Fred is unable to control is emotions and overreacted? Why does not the answer require us to examine the origin of whatever mental state Fred had when he pulled the trigger. Why don't we have to further inquire into the events that led up to the events that formed Fred?

It is because we cut off the explanation and back tracking at some suitable point and not because any one thing is not a cause. Some particular event is considered a proximate cause suitable for the circumstance, and no further cause seek is required.

Edited by NoNukes, : No reason given.


Under a government which imprisons any unjustly, the true place for a just man is also in prison. Thoreau: Civil Disobedience (1846)

History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people. Martin Luther King

If there are no stupid questions, then what kind of questions do stupid people ask? Do they get smart just in time to ask questions? Scott Adams


This message is a reply to:
 Message 128 by Dr Adequate, posted 05-18-2016 7:24 PM Dr Adequate has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 139 by Dr Adequate, posted 05-18-2016 8:18 PM NoNukes has replied

  
NoNukes
Inactive Member


Message 136 of 342 (784505)
05-18-2016 8:07 PM
Reply to: Message 133 by nano
05-18-2016 7:44 PM


I merely said you had an interesting point and I would think about it.

Where apparently "think about it" means avoiding the consequences of what it means for you definition of 'explanation' while continuing to assert that you have proven something.

Either you are limiting explanation to refer to only absolute first causes, in which case your OP is a mere tautology, or you are not in which case your proof fails because buried within your proof is a requirement for first causes only as explanations.


Under a government which imprisons any unjustly, the true place for a just man is also in prison. Thoreau: Civil Disobedience (1846)

History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people. Martin Luther King

If there are no stupid questions, then what kind of questions do stupid people ask? Do they get smart just in time to ask questions? Scott Adams


This message is a reply to:
 Message 133 by nano, posted 05-18-2016 7:44 PM nano has not replied

  
NoNukes
Inactive Member


Message 142 of 342 (784513)
05-18-2016 9:27 PM
Reply to: Message 139 by Dr Adequate
05-18-2016 8:18 PM


But if you are being asked for the cause of everything, then if there are things you're neglecting to explain

I agree. But asking 'explain the universe' may not be synonymous with asking for 'the cause of everything'. That position would seem to be trivially easy to demonstrate if you are willing to concede that there might be things either external to or prior to the existence of the universe. Apparently the OP does concede exactly that. Further, I think it is enough to say 'may not be' if all that is necessary is to provide possible explanations for the universe rather than real ones.

So my question remains why, other than for the purpose of converting 'explain the universe' into an unanswerable question must we insist that the explanation include a complete explanation of any extra-dimensional causes and why are effects requiring no causation ruled out? It seems we agree that we do not always ask for such things. Why is it not sufficient for an explanation to describe a proximate cause rather than an ultimate one? If I asked you to explain radioactive decay would you actually be stymied by the fact that decay is uncaused? Did that state of affairs trouble you when you tackled the subject in your text on geology?

If the answer is only 'because that is what is requested', which is how I read your answer here, then what is being asserted in the OP is a simple tautology. But more than that, the tautology is one that we should and do ignore in normal conversation.

Edited by NoNukes, : No reason given.

Edited by NoNukes, : Replace 'geography' with 'geology'


Under a government which imprisons any unjustly, the true place for a just man is also in prison. Thoreau: Civil Disobedience (1846)

History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people. Martin Luther King

If there are no stupid questions, then what kind of questions do stupid people ask? Do they get smart just in time to ask questions? Scott Adams


This message is a reply to:
 Message 139 by Dr Adequate, posted 05-18-2016 8:18 PM Dr Adequate has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 143 by Dr Adequate, posted 05-18-2016 10:15 PM NoNukes has replied

  
NoNukes
Inactive Member


Message 144 of 342 (784517)
05-18-2016 10:50 PM
Reply to: Message 143 by Dr Adequate
05-18-2016 10:15 PM


Nonukes writes:

That position would seem to be trivially easy to demonstrate if you are willing to concede that there might be things either external to or prior to the existence of the universe. Apparently the OP does concede exactly that.

Dr Adequate writes:

That's not what I got from the OP.

I re-read the OP and I don't see that concession either. Which makes me wonder why you said the following:

Dr. Adequate writes:

Per the rules of the OP, which includes 'multiverses', things outside of our universe is something that requires an explanation.

Your statement says that the OP includes rules about things outside of the universe which I would suggest implies that those things might exist. While I acknowledge that concept is not in the OP itself, it can be found in other statements made by the original poster.


Under a government which imprisons any unjustly, the true place for a just man is also in prison. Thoreau: Civil Disobedience (1846)

History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people. Martin Luther King

If there are no stupid questions, then what kind of questions do stupid people ask? Do they get smart just in time to ask questions? Scott Adams


This message is a reply to:
 Message 143 by Dr Adequate, posted 05-18-2016 10:15 PM Dr Adequate has not replied

  
NoNukes
Inactive Member


Message 147 of 342 (784521)
05-18-2016 11:02 PM
Reply to: Message 145 by kbertsche
05-18-2016 10:53 PM


Nano is using "universe" to mean "anything and everything that exists"

And apparently anything that ever existed even if that thing disappeared as a result of forming the universe and even if claiming that such a thing is part of the universe is facially silly. For example if God created the universe then God is part of the universe and must then be explained as well.

Again, such a definition makes the OPs claims about explanations a simply tautologies. His reasoning does not tell us anything about whether or not we can explain the universe in the conventional meaning of that term. If we can agree that his "proof" is not intended to do that and should not be equivocated to discussing what we conventionally call explanations or what we conventionally call the universe, then he is welcome to his definition.

Edited by NoNukes, : No reason given.


Under a government which imprisons any unjustly, the true place for a just man is also in prison. Thoreau: Civil Disobedience (1846)

History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people. Martin Luther King

If there are no stupid questions, then what kind of questions do stupid people ask? Do they get smart just in time to ask questions? Scott Adams


This message is a reply to:
 Message 145 by kbertsche, posted 05-18-2016 10:53 PM kbertsche has not replied

  
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