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Author Topic:   Chance moves in mysterious ways.
sinequanon
Member (Idle past 942 days)
Posts: 331
Joined: 12-17-2007


Message 1 of 99 (441430)
12-17-2007 3:54 PM


Is randomness the God of Science?

I believe randomness is the God of Science in the sense that it is used to account for observable phenomena which science is unable to predict. "Randomness done it" is as rigorous as "God done it".

Scientists argue that existence of god is not scientifically verified because there are no repeatable laboratory experiments to support the claim.

Scientists also argue that existence of god is not scientifically falsifiable because god is, by definition, not testable. (My assumption here is that scientifically recordable properties do not apply to god, by definition).

Therefore existence of god is not a scientific proposition. It is neither verified nor falsifiable.

Many scientific theories, including Darwin's theory of evolution, depend on the existence of randomness.

Is the existence of randomness verified and falsifiable?

I believe the existence of randomness is neither verified nor falsifiable. Furthermore, I do not believe it is verifiable.

This thread is intended for the science section.

Edited by sinequanon, : My own opinions and target section added as requested by admin.


Replies to this message:
 Message 2 by AdminPhat, posted 12-18-2007 9:53 AM sinequanon has responded
 Message 5 by PaulK, posted 12-18-2007 5:03 PM sinequanon has responded
 Message 18 by iceage, posted 12-20-2007 3:25 PM sinequanon has responded

  
AdminPhat
Administrator
Posts: 1907
From: Denver,Colorado USA
Joined: 12-03-2004


Message 2 of 99 (441599)
12-18-2007 9:53 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by sinequanon
12-17-2007 3:54 PM


Welcome
Welcome to EvC, sinequanon. Usually, we prefer that new members get a feel for the place by contributing to other peoples topics before starting one of their own on the very first post, but I will consider your topic.

I want you to edit it and tell us what you think the answers to your questions are.

Additionally, do you want this to be a Science topic or a Faith/Belief topic?

Edit and let me know within 2-3 days. Thanks. :)



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  • This message is a reply to:
     Message 1 by sinequanon, posted 12-17-2007 3:54 PM sinequanon has responded

    Replies to this message:
     Message 3 by sinequanon, posted 12-18-2007 11:35 AM AdminPhat has not yet responded

        
    sinequanon
    Member (Idle past 942 days)
    Posts: 331
    Joined: 12-17-2007


    Message 3 of 99 (441629)
    12-18-2007 11:35 AM
    Reply to: Message 2 by AdminPhat
    12-18-2007 9:53 AM


    Re: Welcome
    Thank you, AdminPhat. It did cross my mind that I was taking a small liberty as a newbie, but enthusiasm got the better of me. There will be a decent gap in future before I submit a proposal. :)
    This message is a reply to:
     Message 2 by AdminPhat, posted 12-18-2007 9:53 AM AdminPhat has not yet responded

      
    AdminPhat
    Administrator
    Posts: 1907
    From: Denver,Colorado USA
    Joined: 12-03-2004


    Message 4 of 99 (441738)
    12-18-2007 4:29 PM


    Chance to help a newbie
    Thread moved here from the Proposed New Topics forum.
    ********************************************************************

    Im hoping that some of you older members can use this opportunity to explain why science and chance usually dont intermingle.

    Edited by AdminPhat, : add


        
    PaulK
    Member
    Posts: 14751
    Joined: 01-10-2003
    Member Rating: 1.7


    Message 5 of 99 (441751)
    12-18-2007 5:03 PM
    Reply to: Message 1 by sinequanon
    12-17-2007 3:54 PM


    Any chance hypothesis is falsifiable, In fact a lot of science is dedicated to falsifying chance hypotheses. Every experiment that looks for a causal relationship has to compare the results against those expected by chance.

    In science what "chance" means is that the best models are statistical, probabilistic models. Find a better, deterministic model - one that links to relevant, measurable, factors and it will be used instead. Mutations are random in that there is no good connection between the factors relevant to biology and the particular mutations that occur.

    Chance models can also be very good at making predictions - when there are a lot of elements behaving in the same way statistics work out very well. Radioactive half-lives and gas pressures are two examples where the numbers add up to results that appear deterministic.

    So about the only thing you have about right is that chance is invoked when there is no way to predict the result. Unfortunately you are wrong to suggest that this is a flaw because it is essentially what chance means. Chance IS the absence of a usable non-chance model. (And of course, some chance models DO let us make predictions with a strong degree of confidence, as in the examples above).


    This message is a reply to:
     Message 1 by sinequanon, posted 12-17-2007 3:54 PM sinequanon has responded

    Replies to this message:
     Message 6 by sinequanon, posted 12-18-2007 5:45 PM PaulK has responded

        
    sinequanon
    Member (Idle past 942 days)
    Posts: 331
    Joined: 12-17-2007


    Message 6 of 99 (441763)
    12-18-2007 5:45 PM
    Reply to: Message 5 by PaulK
    12-18-2007 5:03 PM


    Any chance hypothesis is falsifiable.

    Thank you, PaulK. I do agree with this. Equally, a "god hypothesis", which claims that god caused an experimental result, is also falsifiable. But the existence of god is not. I claim that the existence of randomness is also not falsifiable.

    Mutations are random in that there is no good connection between the factors relevant to biology and the particular mutations that occur.

    Does this mean that science has found no connection or that science has found that there is no connection?

    Radioactive half-lives and gas pressures are two examples where the numbers add up to results that appear deterministic.

    I agree that a random element need not mean that all predictability is obliterated.

    Chance IS the absence of a usable non-chance model.

    Does this always mean science is saying, "we don't know how it works precisely, yet"/"we know precisely how it works, but we don't have the processing power"?

    OR is science sometimes postulating that no deterministic model could exists in the particular instance.


    This message is a reply to:
     Message 5 by PaulK, posted 12-18-2007 5:03 PM PaulK has responded

    Replies to this message:
     Message 7 by PaulK, posted 12-19-2007 3:49 AM sinequanon has responded
     Message 8 by Larni, posted 12-19-2007 5:23 AM sinequanon has responded

      
    PaulK
    Member
    Posts: 14751
    Joined: 01-10-2003
    Member Rating: 1.7


    Message 7 of 99 (441863)
    12-19-2007 3:49 AM
    Reply to: Message 6 by sinequanon
    12-18-2007 5:45 PM


    quote:

    Thank you, PaulK. I do agree with this. Equally, a "god hypothesis", which claims that god caused an experimental result, is also falsifiable.

    The chance hypothesis is falsified by statistical tests. How would you falsify the "God hypothesis" ? Doesn't God "move in mysterious ways" ?

    quote:

    But the existence of god is not. I claim that the existence of randomness is also not falsifiable.

    That depends on what you mean by "the existence of randomness". If chance is regarded as the absence of any usable deterministic models then it seems silly to say that it does not exist. It will "exist" unless or until we DO have usable deterministic models for everything. (At a deeper philosophical level it is possible that the universe is deterministic, but that's a quite different issue).

    quote:

    Does this mean that science has found no connection or that science has found that there is no connection?

    It means that science has found no connection, nor any potential signs of a connection nor even a good reason to think that there might be a connection.

    A few years ago some experiments on bacteria discovered useful mutations appearing faster than might be expected under certain conditions (starvation), and this was interpreted as indicating a casual connection. However, it was discovered that the real reason was an increase in the mutation rate. So it is not as if scientists haven't been looking for evidence.

    quote:

    Does this always mean science is saying, "we don't know how it works precisely, yet"/"we know precisely how it works, but we don't have the processing power"?

    It can do - although the practicality of measurement is also a major issue. In the case of gas pressure if you could predict the motion of every molecule individually you wouldn't need the gas laws. But until that becomes a trivial task, why would anyone even bother to do it that way ?

    quote:

    OR is science sometimes postulating that no deterministic model could exists in the particular instance.

    In the case of "random mutations" we're pretty sure that there is no model that would produce a significant connection between selective pressures and the mutations which occur. Nobody has found any evidence of such a thing or any theoretical reason to think that it's a plausible possibility. Even if we discovered that the universe was entirely deterministic we would stick with "random mutations" unless we had a real, usable causal connection between selection pressures and the mutations that do occur.


    This message is a reply to:
     Message 6 by sinequanon, posted 12-18-2007 5:45 PM sinequanon has responded

    Replies to this message:
     Message 9 by sinequanon, posted 12-19-2007 5:42 AM PaulK has responded

        
    Larni
    Member
    Posts: 3975
    From: Liverpool
    Joined: 09-16-2005


    Message 8 of 99 (441869)
    12-19-2007 5:23 AM
    Reply to: Message 6 by sinequanon
    12-18-2007 5:45 PM


    sinequanon writes:

    Does this mean that science has found no connection or that science has found that there is no connection?

    The best science can ever say is that no connection has been found (between any two variable in question) untill a connection (correlation, causal link what have you) is found. One cannot conclude anything as proven with the scientific method.


    This message is a reply to:
     Message 6 by sinequanon, posted 12-18-2007 5:45 PM sinequanon has responded

    Replies to this message:
     Message 10 by sinequanon, posted 12-19-2007 5:50 AM Larni has not yet responded

        
    sinequanon
    Member (Idle past 942 days)
    Posts: 331
    Joined: 12-17-2007


    Message 9 of 99 (441871)
    12-19-2007 5:42 AM
    Reply to: Message 7 by PaulK
    12-19-2007 3:49 AM


    The chance hypothesis is falsified by statistical tests. How would you falsify the "God hypothesis" ? Doesn't God "move in mysterious ways" ?

    I take your point, and I refer specifically to scientific falsification. That is to say, you could, and therefore should, dispense with a god hypothesis by demonstrating a scientific model that predicts the phenomenon in question.

    That depends on what you mean by "the existence of randomness". If chance is regarded as the absence of any usable deterministic models then it seems silly to say that it does not exist. It will "exist" unless or until we DO have usable deterministic models for everything. (At a deeper philosophical level it is possible that the universe is deterministic, but that's a quite different issue).

    I did not want to foreclose, in the title, any debate about the meaning of the word randomness. As you have mentioned, there are cases where a statistical model is preferred to describe complex deterministic phenomena.

    However, there are other cases in which the phenomenon itself is regarded as non-deterministic, and demands a statistical model. You mention the "connection between selective pressures and the mutations", another that springs to mind is quantum state transitions of a particle.

    If randomness exists, surely this means the universe cannot be wholly deterministic.

    To me, this is about the deeper question of a deterministic universe. However, I do not see this as a philosophical issue at all. Surely, given the examples mentioned above and by implication of the consistency of scientific theory, the universe cannot be deterministic. Why would that fact be consigned to the obscurity of philosophy?


    This message is a reply to:
     Message 7 by PaulK, posted 12-19-2007 3:49 AM PaulK has responded

    Replies to this message:
     Message 11 by PaulK, posted 12-19-2007 6:12 AM sinequanon has responded

      
    sinequanon
    Member (Idle past 942 days)
    Posts: 331
    Joined: 12-17-2007


    Message 10 of 99 (441872)
    12-19-2007 5:50 AM
    Reply to: Message 8 by Larni
    12-19-2007 5:23 AM


    The best science can ever say is that no connection has been found (between any two variable in question) untill a connection (correlation, causal link what have you) is found. One cannot conclude anything as proven with the scientific method.

    Science could also give an indication as to the confidence with which any connection is likely to be found. Science could then propound or conclude, in the normal way and within the normal rigorous constraints, a scientific theory regarding the existence of connection.


    This message is a reply to:
     Message 8 by Larni, posted 12-19-2007 5:23 AM Larni has not yet responded

      
    PaulK
    Member
    Posts: 14751
    Joined: 01-10-2003
    Member Rating: 1.7


    Message 11 of 99 (441875)
    12-19-2007 6:12 AM
    Reply to: Message 9 by sinequanon
    12-19-2007 5:42 AM


    quote:

    I take your point, and I refer specifically to scientific falsification. That is to say, you could, and therefore should, dispense with a god hypothesis by demonstrating a scientific model that predicts the phenomenon in question.

    Surely that only refutes that idea that God specifically intervened in a particular case, but not in others. How could you refute the idea that God consistently intervenes in a particular way ?

    quote:

    I did not want to foreclose, in the title, any debate about the meaning of the word randomness. As you have mentioned, there are cases where a statistical model is preferred to describe complex deterministic phenomena.

    There is also the question of what it means for chance to "exist".

    quote:

    However, there are other cases in which the phenomenon itself is regarded as non-deterministic, and demands a statistical model. You mention the "connection between selective pressures and the mutations", another that springs to mind is quantum state transitions of a particle.

    That's a bit confused. We regard mutations as random because there is no identifiable casual connection. We don't model the casual connection because there isn't one (that we can find).

    quote:

    If randomness exists, surely this means the universe cannot be wholly deterministic.

    Only if you define chance "existing" as requiring non-determinism. As you agree a deterministic system might still be better modelled statistically.

    quote:

    To me, this is about the deeper question of a deterministic universe. However, I do not see this as a philosophical issue at all. Surely, given the examples mentioned above and by implication of the consistency of scientific theory, the universe cannot be deterministic. Why would that fact be consigned to the obscurity of philosophy?

    Because we can never be sure. We can't tell the difference between a causal factor that is invisible to us and the absence of any causal factors. It's quite easy for something that is not really random to appear random. Consider the shuffle of a deck of cards - if you know the starting states and the movements of the cards the result is entirely determined. But it's still random enough for us.


    This message is a reply to:
     Message 9 by sinequanon, posted 12-19-2007 5:42 AM sinequanon has responded

    Replies to this message:
     Message 12 by sinequanon, posted 12-19-2007 7:02 AM PaulK has responded

        
    sinequanon
    Member (Idle past 942 days)
    Posts: 331
    Joined: 12-17-2007


    Message 12 of 99 (441881)
    12-19-2007 7:02 AM
    Reply to: Message 11 by PaulK
    12-19-2007 6:12 AM


    Surely that only refutes that idea that God specifically intervened in a particular case, but not in others. How could you refute the idea that God consistently intervenes in a particular way ?

    In the normal way of repeating the experiment until confidence is established. If the necessity of the "god hypothesis" can be disproved within standard scientific confidence margins, I assume the hypothesis to be successfully refuted.

    That's a bit confused. We regard mutations as random because there is no identifiable casual connection. We don't model the casual connection because there isn't one (that we can find).

    The problem I am having is that the concept of "identifiable" and "identified" seem to be being used interchangeably. I see a similar ambivalence in your use of brackets round "that we can find". I wonder if you could please spell it out. :) Are we talking of things that no one has found, or things that we have evidence will never be found?

    Because we can never be sure. We can't tell the difference between a causal factor that is invisible to us and the absence of any causal factors. It's quite easy for something that is not really random to appear random.

    How do you interpret the uncertainty principle in quantum particle physics? It is an inherently probabilistic model that cannot have a deterministic equivalent?


    This message is a reply to:
     Message 11 by PaulK, posted 12-19-2007 6:12 AM PaulK has responded

    Replies to this message:
     Message 13 by PaulK, posted 12-19-2007 8:09 AM sinequanon has responded

      
    PaulK
    Member
    Posts: 14751
    Joined: 01-10-2003
    Member Rating: 1.7


    Message 13 of 99 (441886)
    12-19-2007 8:09 AM
    Reply to: Message 12 by sinequanon
    12-19-2007 7:02 AM


    quote:

    In the normal way of repeating the experiment until confidence is established. If the necessity of the "god hypothesis" can be disproved within standard scientific confidence margins, I assume the hypothesis to be successfully refuted.

    But if God consistently intervenes the experiment will reliably produce the same results. So you are arguing that data consistent with the hypothesis actually refutes it.

    quote:

    The problem I am having is that the concept of "identifiable" and "identified" seem to be being used interchangeably. I see a similar ambivalence in your use of brackets round "that we can find". I wonder if you could please spell it out. Are we talking of things that no one has found, or things that we have evidence will never be found?

    It's only ambivalent if you take a very extreme reading. The point is that science doesn't offer absolute certainty, so if you take any statement about science as meaning an absolute you're making a mistake.

    quote:

    How do you interpret the uncertainty principle in quantum particle physics? It is an inherently probabilistic model that cannot have a deterministic equivalent?

    You really want to talk to Cavediver about that.

    The uncertainty principle is about the relationship between the precision with which simultaneous values for momentum and position may be known. If you take the position that these values exist but are probabilistic (rather than simply that there are limits on measurement) then you have indeterminism. But what if you take the view that the values exist but are not measurable or even that they do not exist and the particle is "smeared" across space ?


    This message is a reply to:
     Message 12 by sinequanon, posted 12-19-2007 7:02 AM sinequanon has responded

    Replies to this message:
     Message 14 by fallacycop, posted 12-19-2007 11:21 AM PaulK has not yet responded
     Message 15 by sinequanon, posted 12-19-2007 1:12 PM PaulK has responded

        
    fallacycop
    Member (Idle past 3599 days)
    Posts: 692
    From: Fortaleza-CE Brazil
    Joined: 02-18-2006


    Message 14 of 99 (441935)
    12-19-2007 11:21 AM
    Reply to: Message 13 by PaulK
    12-19-2007 8:09 AM


    If you take the position that these values exist but are probabilistic (rather than simply that there are limits on measurement) then you have indeterminism. But what if you take the view that the values exist but are not measurable or even that they do not exist and the particle is "smeared" across space?

    The last point of view is the only one that is consistent with observations. The idea that the values of position and momentum exist, but are not observable is one variant of what is known as hidden variables (variables that exist but cannot be observed). hidden variables have been ruled out by experiments Bell's inequality is evaluated.


    This message is a reply to:
     Message 13 by PaulK, posted 12-19-2007 8:09 AM PaulK has not yet responded

      
    sinequanon
    Member (Idle past 942 days)
    Posts: 331
    Joined: 12-17-2007


    Message 15 of 99 (441972)
    12-19-2007 1:12 PM
    Reply to: Message 13 by PaulK
    12-19-2007 8:09 AM


    But if God consistently intervenes the experiment will reliably produce the same results. So you are arguing that data consistent with the hypothesis actually refutes it.

    (My assumption in post#1 is that god is not governed by any law)

    Should god choosing to consistently intervene be treated any differently from god being governed by the consistent pattern? I am arguing that consistency of results builds confidence that some law or consistent pattern is governing the experiment.

    ...or even that they do not exist and the particle is "smeared" across space ?

    That is the line with which I am more familiar. It would be interesting to hear exactly how this "smearing" affects repeatability of measurement, and what any single physical measurement for a particle, in a bubble chamber say, actually represents.


    This message is a reply to:
     Message 13 by PaulK, posted 12-19-2007 8:09 AM PaulK has responded

    Replies to this message:
     Message 16 by PaulK, posted 12-19-2007 5:55 PM sinequanon has responded

      
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