Monday, January 7, 2008

Wide Atheism: There Are No Gods Whatsoever

Many people have muddled thinking about atheism. Proving a negative claim, they often say, is impossible. You can’t look everywhere. You can’t convince everyone. You could always be wrong. You can’t possibly give a proof that there is not a God the way that we can prove that the interior angles of a triangle add up to 180 degrees. God’s too big, we’re too little, and we’d expect that whatever God would be, it would surpass our abilities to understand. So proving there is no God is short-sighted hubris.

There’s a lot here that worth reacting to, but I’ll confine it to two distinctions:

A wide atheist is someone who think there are no gods, no divine or supernatural beings whatsoever. And a narrow atheist is one who just thinks that there no classic God of the Judeo-Christian, Islamic tradition exists. There is no omnipotent, omniscience, and all good being. But narrow atheism by itself leaves open the possibility that some other sort of divine being might exist.

A lot of people, even skeptics and narrow atheists, think that wide atheism is unreasonable. Wide atheists are a rare and foolish breed, they think. Even among the people who have warmed to the idea that you can make a convincing case against the omni-God, they figure that you could never prove that no gods at all exist.
Wide atheism is correct, however.

Here’s a very brief argument in favor of wide atheism. It’s no more challenging to make a compelling case that no elves, pixies, dwarves, fairies, goblins, or other mythical creates exist than it is to argue that there are no Gods. I don’t have to give a decisive proof against every possible mythological, magical being in order to conclude that none of them are real. At some point, once you’ve thought about, reflected on the general considerations about natural laws, magic, and supernatural entities, it becomes perfectly reasonable to conclude that the whole enterprise is an explanatory dead end for figuring out what sort of things there are in the world. Even though scientific naturalism has managed to explain every single alleged supernatural phenomena in the past entirely in natural terms, should we insist on being agnostic about the few magical beings that people still stubbornly cling to? Surely I don’t have to be agnostic about invisible, supernatural beings that might be responsible for those remaining phenomena that we are still trying to explain. All of the instances of phenomena that were alleged to be supernatural but that turned out to be natural give me as much proof as we can hope for that the God idea should go the same way as evil demons did as an explanation of mental illness.


Explicit Atheist said...

Wide atheism is a generalization of the approach that many people properly take towards other supernatural psuedo-explanations like "the devil made them do that" declaration. It isn't about "proof", people who keep asking atheists for proof here, and lots of people ask atheists for proof, are confused. Its about evidence and explanatory validity. Asking for proof in a belief context is a category error. Its also an odd double standard because the same people who so frequently ask atheists for "proof" as the standard for justifying atheism rarely ask theists for "proof" as the standard for justifying theism.

Explicit Atheist said...

This is the way I respond to "you can't prove a negative"

It is commonly argued that the non-existence of God must be "proven" to justify atheism and that negative propositions such as atheism cannot be proven and therefore must be rejected. A classic valid form of argument is modus tollens (Latin for “mode that affirms by denying”): If T then there will be evidence ET for T. There is no evidence ET for T (as far as we have been able to determine to date). Therefore T is false. Inductive arguments won’t give us certainty about anything at all, positive or negative. All observed swans are white, therefore all swans are white looked like a pretty good positive inductive argument until black swans were discovered in Australia. The very nature of an inductive argument is to make a conclusion probable, but not certain, given the truth of the premises.

However, it is a big mistake to dismiss induction because we’re not getting certainty out of it. We use inferences — induction — from past experiences in every aspect of our lives to establish both "absent" and "present" facts about the world that we depend on, and such induction from the evidence, unlike simple faith, is a productive and valid method for justifying beliefs. The bottom line is this: Absence of evidence is evidence for absence via modus tollens.

Furthermore, we can argue for atheism this way: If A then there will be evidence EA. The evidence is EA. Therefore A is true. When something is absent there can be evidence that is either consistent or inconsistent with that absence, as will be demontrated below in the following section that lists some evidence against God.

Adopted from "God: The Failed Hypothesis. How Science Shows That God Does not Exist." Stenger, Victor J., Amherst, NY: Prometheus, 2007. p. 231++

The measured mass density of the universe might not have turned out to be exactly what is required for the universe to have begun from a state of zero energy, which we assume is the energy of nothing. That would have implied that a miracle, the violation of energy conservation, was required to produce the universe.

The universe may have not been expanding but rather turned out to be a firmament (as the Bible says it is). That would have implied that a miracle, the violation of the second law of thermodynamics that requires the universe always had total entropy less than maximum in the past, was required to produce the universe.

The age of the Earth may have turned out to be too short for the evolution of life. Fossils may have been found that were inexplicably out of sequence. Life-forms might not have all been based on the same genetic scheme. Transitional species might not have been observed. Such evidence against evolution would have implied a miracle was required to produce life.

Human memories and thoughts may have provided evidence that cannot be plausibly accounted for by known physical processes. Science may have confirmed exceptional powers of the mind that it could not plausibly explain physically. Science may have uncovered convincing evidence for an afterlife. For example, a person who has been declared dead by every means known to science may return to life with detailed stories of an afterlife containing information he could not possibly have known and is later verified as factual, such as the location of the nearest planet with life.

A nonphysical channel of communication may have been empirically confirmed by revelations containing information that could not have been already in the head of the person reporting the revelation.

Physical and historical evidence may have been found for the miraculous events and the important narratives of the scriptures. For example, Roman records may have been found of an earthquake in Judea at the time of a crucifixion ordered by Pontius Pilate. Campsites from the Exodus may have been found in the Sinai Desert.

The void may have been found to be absolutely stable, requiring some action to bring something rather than nothing into existence.

The universe may have been found to be so congenial to human life that it must have been created with human life in mind. Humans may have been able to move from planet to planet, just as easily as they now move from continent to continent, and be able to survive on every planet with life support.
Natural events may have followed some moral law, rather than morally neutral mathematical laws. For example, lightning may strike mostly wicked people; people who behave badly may fall sick more often; nuns would always survive plane crashes.

Believers may have had a higher moral sense than nonbelievers and other measurably superior qualities. For example, the jails may be filled with atheists while all believers live happy, prosperous, contented lives surrounded by loving families and pets.

But none of this happened. The hypothesis of God is not confirmed by the data. Indeed that hypothesis is strongly contradicted by the data

Fabio Milito Pagliara said...

hi, I am what you call a wide atheist, or more simply a "materialist"

there is nothing beyond matter, and matter is all is necessary to explain everyting

about god.... "we don't need this hypothesis" so why should I prove it's nonexistence? while it's fun to debate with theist it's also very unproductive

on the "you can't be sure" well you can answer "well I just proved this to you don't you remember?" this because if you can't be sure of anything you can't even be sure of your memory or the fact that we have just came into existence...

thanks for your blog

Anonymous said...

Maybe we are the gods.

Central Content Publisher said...

Maybe we are the gods. - Noah

There's the catch. The problem with dismissing all possibility of gods is that conceptualizations of god vary so widely. I met a guy once who believed that everything was a part of god. Literally, that god is the universe and everything in it, but nothing outside it. When I told him he had just replaced the word "universe" with "god", he told me no, his universe was divine. I don't believe the universe is exclusively divine, which I suppose, is a moral call, but I couldn't deny the universe's existence either. I'm not ready to write off any possible conceptualizations of god just yet - especially before I've heard them.

I think, however, I'm pretty close to writing off the supernatural and of course, miracles. Not that I've ever been faced with a credible example, but one tries to keep an open mind. The very concept of the supernatural appears to be incoherant. It seems to me that nature is a set of rules and conditions, and that supernatural occurances are special exceptions to those rules. To me, it seems that once those exceptions occur, they become part of the rule-set that constitutes nature, so there really is no such thing as the supernatural, except as an a priori possibility.

This puts believers in the supernatural in the very strange position of not only having to prove that miracles occur, but also that they are something outside nature. It's pure hubris to cry miracle before all of nature is fully understood.

Matt McCormick said...

Consider how absurd it would sound if someone said that they are going to remain agnostic about the existence of Santa, the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny, elves, fairies, and gnomes. "I know that there's no evidence for the existence of them, but it's good to keep an open mind about these things and not jump to any hasty conclusions." Consider this list of gods, many that you've probably never heard of:
Anansi, West African god who is brings rain, stops fires, and performs tricks.
Brekyirihunuade is the highest god in the religion of the Akan people. He knows and sees everything.
Cghene is the supreme God of the Isoko people of southern Nigeria. He created the world and all peoples.
!Xu is the central benevolent and omnipotent god of the bushmen of southern Africa. He is the sky god to whom the souls of the dead go.
Gefjun, the Norse goddess of fertility and agriculture.
Sobek, the Egyptian crocodile god of water.

Is it plausible and consistent for a normal, educated adult in the west that they are agnostic about these beings and the very long list of other "possible" gods? Or has someone who says that fallen under the spell of magical, supernatural thinking, lulled by the orgy of indulgent religious fantasies that surround us?

I just can't see any difference in principle between Gefjun, Sobek, and the Christian God other than we're all much more familiar and comfortable with the latter because it infuses our culture top to bottom. And mere familiarity can't be grounds for rational preference or giving it a privileged agnostic status.


Central Content Publisher said...

"I just can't see any difference in principle between Gefjun, Sobek, and the Christian God other than we're all much more familiar and comfortable with the latter because it infuses our culture top to bottom." - Matt

I've been abused by Christians for most of my life. By default, I hold them in lower esteem than any other brand of believer. That's my bias - for the record.

"Is it plausible and consistent for a normal, educated adult in the west that they are agnostic about these beings and the very long list of other "possible" gods?" - Matt

It's not only plausible and consistent, but it's the only plausible and consistent position. The only option other than agnosticism is to say that you have knowledge of these beings. Do you know these beings? I don't. Until adequate evidence is supplied, they occupy equal legitimacy with every other being that exists solely in the imagination.

Jon said...

Although I don't believe in any gods I still have trouble with the idea that we know what nature is. We do not know what nature is. What happened 13.7 billion years ago? What happened before that? How does anyone reasonably explain the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle? What is energy? Is there a smallest or largest thing? Are the smallest things (that we can theorize) related to the Plack constants? I have no trouble getting rid of gods, and science does answer alot, but I have trouble knowing the difference between the mystical and the natural when it comes certain kinds of ultimate questions.

Central Content Publisher said...

The word "nature" is an objectification of everything that is true, while "the mystic" is an objectification of everything that is unfalsified - the great ocean of unproven hypothesis.

Consider then that anything posited into a mystical domain would move to the natural domain once it moves from being a hypothesis to being a truth. The difference between the two is really a matter of certainty in perception and evidence. You could say that the difference isn't an objective difference, but rather is a difference among relationships between observers and the object.

For example, astrology is a form of mysticism to those who aren't convinced, but is a part of nature to those whom are convinced. One cannot argue that astrology is mystical and true but not part of nature.

Jon said...

" It is wrong to think that the task of physics is to find out how Nature is. Physics concerns what we say about Nature. "
Niels Bohr

- Sorry got to run central, I'll get back later for a fuller discussion, thanks for the reply.

Jon said...

" Consider then that anything posited into a mystical domain would move to the natural domain once it moves from being a hypothesis to being a truth. " --- Central

Now I definitely don't agree with what people like Deepak Chopra - say about the mystical, so I must give an explanation by what I mean by it.

I think that we cannot fully know what nature is, therefore we really do not know nature. We merely find consistent patterns that we call nature.

What we call natural truths are only partial truths, we do not have a complete theory of nature. Even if we came up with a "Theory of Everything" there still are some difficulties.

In the past physicists have thought they either completed physics or were on the verge of doing so. For example it was thought that physics was virtually done with the atom a while back and that gravity would simply fall into place. We can easily imagine that that could have been correct and that physics became complete with the "elementary" atoms. We can imagine that they were found indestructable by any natural force that we could theorize and at the same time consistent with a theory of gravity and radiation that made up a complete theory. But I see a problem, for even if the above theory were complete, we could also imaging that the atom still had substructure that they could not find, also that substructure would not be necessary to find for their theory of everything because it was a mathematically consistent theory for all observations. But they still exist. We can imagine these onion layers going on for infinity.

In a sense my idea of mystical is almost Spinozian, the difference being that I think it is "turtles all the way down to infinity". That to me is mystical because it says something about nature - namely that it is mystical.

What you call nature then is a set of incomplete patterns, and I agree. I just go one step further and say that the patterns are infinite and therefore nature is mystical. But my sense of mystical is not the same as Deepak Chopra, and mine is not inconsistent with science.

Central Content Publisher said...

jon: ok, that clears some things up. I think our definitions of mystical and natural are more or less the same, except that I define nature as the whole (that we're not completely aware of) and the mystical as possible explanations of the unknown, while you define mystical as the unknowable whole, and nature as the apparent patterns we intuit from it.

I opt for the former because mathematics tells us that a finite algorithm can produce an infinite non-repeating set. Therefore, it's possible that an infinite set can be limited. I'm not at all convinced that knowledge or reality are ultimately infinite, or said another way, I'm not convinced that reality is unknowable.

Jon said...

I think I understand what you mean, so let me try and break it down. If 'pi' is part of what you call a "finite algorithm can produce an infinite non-repeating set" - I still don't see how that solves the 'infinitly small piece/part' issue. Although the 'large piece issue' can appear to be solved if we assume a circle of a given size.

I'm not certain of how this here bears on what you say, but:

"It should also be observed that Wittgenstein exerted considerable influence on Russell, especially in leading him to conclude, much to his regret, that mathematical truths were purely tautological truths." Wikipedia

"By this time Wittgenstein's view on the foundations of mathematics had changed considerably. Earlier he had thought that logic could provide a solid foundation, and he had even considered updating Russell and Whitehead's Principia Mathematica. Now he denied that there were any mathematical facts to be discovered and he denied that mathematical statements were "true" in any real sense: they simply expressed the conventional established meanings of certain symbols." - Wikipedia

Central Content Publisher said...

"[...] mathematical truths were purely tautological truths." - wiki

Wittgenstein is wrong. At the very least, mathematical truths are no more tautological than linguistic truths. Wittgenstein effectively relegated all human statements to the status of non-meaning, including his assertion that "mathematical statements [...] simply expressed the conventional established meanings of certain symbols".

Don't think circle, think Fibonacci numbers.

Jon said...

I looked up Fibonacci numbers, but I failed to see what you mean.

Sure it might be logically possible that there could be an indestructable opaque particle that has no substructure and behaves in a regular/probabilistic way for no reason. I do not see how that kind of ontology operates - that to me is more mysterious than the infinitely deep. Therefore I see an idealized nautilus shell.

When you talk of infinite sets that are limited it reminds me of large infinities and small ones relative to each other, but they are still infinite and can only be limited by some dimensions and not all. I do not see how that limits nature in all dimensions.

But, if you could re-describe what you mean by the Fibonacci numbers or how math might relate to the limitation of nature in the ultimate sense, then I am all eyes.

Central Content Publisher said...

The Fibonacci numbers are a non-repeating set of numbers generated by a repeating algorithm. This implies that an infinite non-repeating universe can be known by understanding a simpler generative mechanism.

It's not necessarily the case that all reality and all knowledge will be known, but the Fibonacci numbers do illustrate that an infinite non-repeating universe may emerge from an easily expressed process. In this way, all reality could be knowable. Even if it's infinite. Even if it's infinite and non-repeating.

Jon said...

Thanks, that helps much. However, I still don't think that it works because (I am stubborn, lol!) the "easily expressed process" say in a Theory of Everything would purport some form of atomism - and I think that is where more questions will arise in an ontological picture. I don't think that the math can match reality in a platonistic way.

I think that what we believe to be metaphysically or physically possible is different. I suppose that I am just not an atomist in any ultimate sense while you believe that it is at least possible due to what you believe concerning the reduction of physical objects to indivsibles while corresponding to a mathematical theory.

But, I will definitely keep what you say in mind, it may at the least show a universe in who's behavior we can complete in at least a practical if not complete way according to my view so far.

"For example it was thought that physics was virtually done with the atom a while back and that gravity would simply fall into place. We can easily imagine that that could have been correct and that physics became complete with the elementary atoms. We can imagine that they were found indestructable by any natural force that we could theorize and at the same time consistent with a theory of gravity and radiation that made up a complete theory...[then the problem I posed earlier]."

Jon said...

I was wrong on a certain point earlier concerning atomism, for - Thinking at it from a different angle, I suppose that the infinite that you talk about does not have to imply atomism. I think that from what you say one could assume a logorithm of an infinite pattern of non-repeating substructure upon substructure.

1) We can never know whether this kind of logorithm is true about the universe either empirically or a priori.

2) Even if it were true and we somehow paradoxically knew that this was in fact the mechanism, the only thing we can know is the mechanism and not the entire infinite non-repeating series for our mind would not be infinite in order to wrap around it.

3) Every empirical observation of ours including our best mathematical models that match to date -show that the the universe is not just non-repeating, but that it is also random and unpredictable with-in probability -which implies that we can not know the future with perfect certainty - therefore it is ultimately unknowable.

Central Content Publisher said...

There are a few wrinkles.

1) I think it's safe to say that we don't know the limitations of what can be known. Certainly, the physical size of the human brain suggests that there is a limitation. However, if one is arguing in favour of mystical reality, that apparent physical limitation is of little hindrance. I don't argue in favour of mystical reality, so, yeah, I agree with you, but you don't apparently agree with yourself.

2) We don't necessarily know this for sure, but I wouldn't argue against it. However, the same is true of infinity. If the human brain is limited, by definition, we can never know an infinite set except by extrapolation.

3) Randomness has yet to be proven. What does seem to be the case, and why Fibonacci numbers are so often invoked, is that randomness appears to be a perceptual artifact of intersecting unknown elements. Take the stock market, for example, it appears to be very random, and yet, we know that it reflects the very non-random choices of specific individuals. It only appears random because we don't know what those individual choices will be - we just witness the seemingly random wake of converging forces. Or take computers. No one has been able to create a truly random number on a computer. The best efforts involve pointing a web came at lava lamps and using that data to generate a number. Are lava lamps random? Well, probably not, but they can create the appearance of randomness because a witness at some distant location can't predict the state of those lava lamps at the time the number was generated.

In defense of randomness. To prove that something is random, one has to account for all possible influences. The problem is that if there is randomness in the universe, the laws of the universe will be distorted by it, and if that's the case we'll never be able to test whether randomness exists or not. We'll simply fail to prove that the universe is ordered according to predictable laws.

Jon said...

Centering on your point "3)", current computer, lava lamp, and economic theories are not precise enough analogies for what I am attempting to show via randomness.

I am thinking of the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle where "Randomness is at the heart of nature (Susskind)". The Copenhagen Interpretation is the standard interpretation of quantum mechanics. "Everything has the quantum jitters (Susskind)".

All physicists see the Copenhagen Interpretation as showing this behavior (although not all are certian that the Copenhagen Interpretation is the ultimate interpretation). That may be more aesthetic very much like Einstein's thoughts on the matter ("God does not play dice").

So it is not our perceptions that cause our idea of randomness in this realm, but randomness is simply intrinsic to the standard model of quantum mechanics which is our most precise form of physical knowledge. This is what I mean when I say "randomness within probability".

For example only 1 out of 137 electrons that hit the TV screen will emit light radiation, and we can never know by shooting 1 electron at a time in the simplist experiment which is the next electron to emit light radiation - even though the average will be 1 in 137 (within probability).

And to hone in on your "all possible influences", that sound much like the 'Many-worlds Interpretation' of QM. But that is only a priori so far, maybe one day it can be shown indirectly (for we can never directly observe a parrallel universe). I have not fully researched how the many-worlds interpretation plays out for randomness - Do to apparent sub-interpretations - , maybe it is supposed to cancel out the randomness apparent in Copenhagen if it becomes standand - although I do not see how that is possible.

Jon said...

There are many more glaring problems with a theory of a knowable universe:

1) We can never know what it is like to be a bat (Nagel). Or even you neighbor or brother.

2) How is "redness" quantified or qualified in any mathmatical theory?

3) Science can only quantify "redness" and not qualify it.

4) "Pain" as the firing of C-fibers? There is a problem with functionalism and the mathematical theories that form them. They do not perfectly correspond. Therefore the universe is ultimately unknowable.

5) Even if a Fibonacci logorithm were shown for with the greatest possible accuracy a theory of everything, it can only explain pattern and not the thing in itself. I am not a Pythagorean obviously. 5+5 cannot equal "mmm that tastes good!" or the ontological/qualification of substance.

Central Content Publisher said...

I'm arguing that infinity isn't necessarily evidence of an unknowable universe. This of course raises the question, what is knowledge? But let's put that aside for now (it's a big question). I'd just like to quickly address the question of whether Fibonacci numbers are a priori or not. The phenomenon exists in nature and is measurable - this makes it a posteriori. It becomes a priori when one extrapolates that pattern to encompass an infinite set. However, the same is true of any concept of infinity. The concept of infinity is an a priori extrapolation of our limited perceptions. What Fibonacci numbers do tell us, is that infinite extrapolation, even infinite non-repeating extrapolation, isn't necessarily unknowable. If one wants to put mathematical extrapolation aside to dispose of the Fibonacci set, one must also put aside infinity, probability, and quantum mechanics in general (side note: quantum randomness isn't actual randomness, but a way of working with data that can't be empirically isolated and observed - as far as we know). Which is fine by me, because it still means that infinity is not a proof of unknowability. It's not a coherant a priori argument, even when one uses onions and turtles instead of numbers.

It seems strange to me that you'd believe in randomness, but not in the non-existence of god. Randomness is the non-existence of order, and is subject to all the same limitations of proving the negative (I get bonus points for including the title of the blog in my summation).

Jon said...

1) Your wrong about quantum mechanics:

"The Copenhagen interpretation, due largely to the Danish theoretical physicist Niels Bohr, is the interpretation of quantum mechanics most widely accepted amongst physicists. According to it, the probabilistic nature of quantum mechanics predictions cannot be explained in terms of some other deterministic theory, and does not simply reflect our limited knowledge. Quantum mechanics provides probabilistic results because the physical universe is itself probabilistic rather than deterministic." (Wikipedia)

2) I believe in randomness and not-god. And that is compatible because God cannot be random.

3) Numbers do not reduce to things, therefore they cannot completly tell us of 'things in themselves'.

4) Therefore the universe is ultimatly unknowable.

Jon said...

Square circles do not exist, therefore negative proved. Two parallel lines cannot cross, therefore negative proved. 2-4=-2, therefore negative proved.

I am not saying that randomness is nature, but simply that nature does not reduce to numbers even though it behaves randomly. Also Fibonacci Numbers cannot describe things in themselves.

Your argument is that it is at least possible to know everything including things in themselves, and Fibonacci shows that that is possible.

My argument is that Fibonacci cannot explain things in themselves, nor that it is possible to know all things in themselves, therefore the universe is ultimatly unknowable.

Either way whether the universe is determinate or indeterminate, we cannot know all of it.

Jon said...

One more point: Remember, Plato was wrong when he said "Knowledge is true, justified belief" due to the Gettier examples. So, how does that fit with Fibonacci numbers? Like this: Even if it is true that a Fibonacci Logorithm describes the world (which is impossible), and someone believes it, and is also justified in their belief; they still do not have knowledge!

So then the next logical conclusion would be to say "Jon, Gettier also applies to your idea of the random". To this I will reply that any Gettier example implies randomness/accidental truth matching the believers experience - Therefore since Gettier examples are built upon randomness, so is our lack of knowledge.

Central Content Publisher said...

I'm not "wrong" about quantum mechanics. If you can point me to an experiment that proves randomness, I'd love to see it. And so would the entire physics community. How about a theoretical experiment? Even that would be earth shattering.

"Quantum mechanics provides probabilistic results because the physical universe is itself probabilistic rather than deterministic" - wiki

The above is errant. Ironically, if it's correct, it can only be errant. This author has extrapolated this conclusion much the way one would extrapolate reality from Fibonacci numbers, which I don't do. In one case, theory suggests that infinity may not be a problem, and the other suggests that randomness may not be a problem either. Neither proves anything about reality.

"Square circles do not exist, therefore negative proved." - jon

That's not a proof, it's a statement. Does it matter that I've seen pictures of square circles? In the context of non-existence, negative numbers are not an example. In math, non-existence equals -1. If 2-5=-1, maybe you'd have something, except that non-existence doesn't equal -1 for any reason other than utility - much like randomness in the gray area between probability limits.

Perhaps I'll demolish Gettier at another time. In the mean time, if you can develop even a theory that could prove that randomness exists, I'd be interested in hearing it.

Jon said...

1) The double slit experiment shows that Fibonacci does not fit with the experiment.
2) The Heisenberg Uncertaintly Principle is a theory of randomness for physical phenomena.
3) Randomness is logically possible, that is proof that it exists logically, and quantum mechanics is consistent with that and not at all for determinism.

A) Our argument is on whether or not we can have complete knowledge of the universe.
B) Number does not reduce to things in themselves.
C) Ontology cannot be known as a whole.
D) Since Gettier bears directly on our ability for complete knowledge I am interested in hearing you demolish Gettier, for I am not satisfied with any of his opponents answers thus far.

Jon said...

A note on randomness:

"For instance:
No event is caused at all
Some events are not caused at all
Some events are partially caused
All events are partially caused.
Indeterminacy is a more general idea.

At one time, it was assumed in the physical sciences that if the behavior observed in a system cannot be predicted, the problem is due to lack of fine-grained information, so that a sufficiently detailed investigation would eventually result in a deterministic theory ("If you knew exactly all the forces acting on the dice, you would be able to predict which number comes up"). However, the advent of quantum mechanics removed the underpinning from that approach, with the claim that (at least according to the Copenhagen interpretation) the most basic constituents of matter behave indeterministically, in accordance with such properties as the uncertainty principle. Quantum indeterminism was controversial on its introduction, with Einstein among the opposition, but gradually gained ground. Experiments confirmed the correctness of quantum mechanics, with a test of the Bell's theorem by Alain Aspect being particularly important because it showed that determinism and locality cannot both be true." wiki

Jon said...

"Bell's theorem is the most famous legacy of the late physicist John S. Bell. It is famous for showing that the predictions of quantum mechanics (QM) are not intuitive, and touches upon fundamental philosophical issues that relate to modern physics. Bell's theorem states:

“ No physical theory of local hidden variables can ever reproduce all of the predictions of quantum mechanics. ”

Einstein was critical of the standard interpretation of quantum mechanics. The EPR paper showed that the standard interpretation implies "spooky action-at-a-distance". Einstein wanted to get rid of the "action-at-a-distance" by introducing "local hidden variables." Bell's theorem, published in 1964, is considered to prove that it is possible to construct experiments in which it is impossible for any kind of interpretation based on "local hidden variables" to give the same predictions as quantum mechanics, providing a means of testing whether "action-at-a-distance" actually occurs." Wiki

Jon said...

1) The concept of 'Pi' exists not only in our universe, but all possible universes.
2) It is impossible to know all the digits of Pi.
3) Therefore the universe is ultimatly unknowable.

"Irrationality and transcendence
Main article: Proof that π is irrational
The constant π is an irrational number; that is, it cannot be written as the ratio of two integers. This was proven in 1761 by Johann Heinrich Lambert.[1] In the 20th century, proofs were found that require no prerequisite knowledge beyond integral calculus. One of those, due to Ivan Niven, is widely known.[5][6] A somewhat earlier similar proof is by Mary Cartwright.[7]

Furthermore, π is also transcendental, as was proven by Ferdinand von Lindemann in 1882. This means that there is no polynomial with rational coefficients of which π is a root.[8] An important consequence of the transcendence of π is the fact that it is not constructible. Because the coordinates of all points that can be constructed with compass and straightedge are constructible numbers, it is impossible to square the circle: that is, it is impossible to construct, using compass and straightedge alone, a square whose area is equal to the area of a given circle.[9]" wiki

Matt McCormick said...

This is getting tedious guys, can we move on?


Jon said...

Your right MM, I'll let Central Content Publisher have the last word if he wants.