# Is the real world deterministic?

by somy
Tags: deterministic, real, world
 P: 55 First of all, this is a really interesting question! The way I see it, both determinism and indeterminism lead to new questions that has to be answered, because if the universe is deterministic, then time has to be infinite in the past, and if it is indeterministic, then randomness has to exist. The reason why time has to be infinite if determinism is true, is because in the deterministic scenario, the history goes the way it does as a result of the "settings" (in lack of a better word) at the time of the BB. However, if that is the case, then we must ask ourselves, "were those "settings" random, i.e. could they have been different?". In case they were/could, then randomness existed atleast then, which actually leads to an indeterministic universe where everything could have been different. If they were not random, then they had to be determined by something before that, and the settings before that had to be determined by something before that as well, etc,etc... And if something random started it all, then randomness has existed atleast once, and in that case, why shouldn't it exist at all times? I hope you understand my point. :)
P: 2,504
 Quote by VikingF First of all, this is a really interesting question! The way I see it, both determinism and indeterminism lead to new questions that has to be answered, because if the universe is deterministic, then time has to be infinite in the past, and if it is indeterministic, then randomness has to exist. The reason why time has to be infinite if determinism is true, is because in the deterministic scenario, the history goes the way it does as a result of the "settings" (in lack of a better word) at the time of the BB. However, if that is the case, then we must ask ourselves, "were those "settings" random, i.e. could they have been different?". I hope you understand my point. :)
I don't think you can necessarily apply the logic that if the universe is deterministic, there must be an infinite regress of causes. There could be a first cause which leads to a an apparently determined sequence of events. For example, the Big Bang could have been a random quantum fluctuation in a 'superspace' or multiverse. On the other hand, there may not be or have been any prior existent at all. Nothing came before and nothing is outside the universe. Everything simply began with the BB. All questions of 'before' or 'outside of' are meaningless. I tend to favor this position unless and until there is evidence of some precursor to the BB.

Likewise, the issue of determinism or indeterminism is largely metaphysical. Scientifically, we must consider all possible outcomes and assign probabilities to them. For law based, highly determined outcomes, there are still the limitations of measurement. My motivation for posting in these types of discussion has to do with scientists and science students taking strong positions on this issue when we have no scientific justification for doing so. What scientists prefer or wish to assume about nature regarding these metaphysical issues has nothing to do with what nature is. I see a problem with such posturing because the general public doesn't necessarily understand the difference between metaphysics and physics. Saying the future already exist in every detail and our future actions are part of a strict causal chain (no free will) may be taken as fact by the public, leading to what I believe is a dangerous kind of fatalism. It's also, I believe, bad science since it says there are really no possible outcomes other than the ones we actually observe. This cannot be justified scientifically and goes against the grain of what is current science.
P: 1,330
 Quote by SW VandeCarr It's also, I believe, bad science since it says there are really no possible outcomes other than the ones we actually observe. This cannot be justified scientifically and goes against the grain of what is current science.
Most scientists make bad philosophers, unfortunately, so do most philosophers.
P: 55
 Quote by SW VandeCarr I don't think you can necessarily apply the logic that if the universe is deterministic, there must be an infinite regress of causes. There could be a first cause which leads to a an apparently determined sequence of events. For example, the Big Bang could have been a random quantum fluctuation in a 'superspace' or multiverse. On the other hand, there may not be or have been any prior existent at all. Nothing came before and nothing is outside the universe. Everything simply began with the BB. All questions of 'before' or 'outside of' are meaningless. I tend to favor this position unless and until there is evidence of some precursor to the BB.
If random quantum fluctuations happened 13.7 billion years ago, then it could just as easily happen today, couldn't it? Or do you mean that our universe is deterministic, but one of many deterministic universes in a indeterministic multiverse, each and every having different "initial values", and hence different content/histories?
 P: 193 I don't understand why people quote the complexity of human behavior to that of an indeterministic universe. We may seem complex in our own rights but who knows we may but pale in comparison to complex structures that exist elsewhere. To those creators, the mathematics that describe our being may be simplistic in comparison.
P: 2,504
 Quote by VikingF If random quantum fluctuations happened 13.7 billion years ago, then it could just as easily happen today, couldn't it? Or do you mean that our universe is deterministic, but one of many deterministic universes in a indeterministic multiverse, each and every having different "initial values", and hence different content/histories?
I don't mean the universe is deterministic. I simply don't know and neither does anyone else. That's my point. The universe may have begun with a giant quantum fluctuation, or according to M Theory, two 'branes' colliding and maybe this was a random event, and maybe from the particular quantum state that was 'realized' from that event, a deterministic causal chain of events occurred leading to the current state of "everything". But then again maybe there are many causal chains (actually multiple histories) originating in the BB as in the Many Worlds interpretation. Or maybe nothing at all preceded the BB, or at least not anything tha we could ever hope to discover. And maybe the universe is deterministic, or not, regardless of how it began. It's all metaphysical and I don't think any of it can be solved by mathematics or logic alone. We need empirical evidence and testable hypotheses. Our best current science indicates that the universe is locally probabilistic.

EDIT: 13.7 billion years is nothing in the time scales of a multiverse where time could be infinite. I once read about a figure somewhere around 10^133 years for a random quantum fluctuation energetic enough to produce the BB but I can't confirm it right now. Perhaps someone could confirm this or calculate it themselves. This, of course, assumes the physical laws we observe are true throughout the multiverse. The Landscape concept (Susskind) does not assume this.
PF Gold
P: 742
 Quote by apeiron No, more like a lot of vanity given that the Apeiron was the first model of a vague beginning!
Perhaps it would be considered contradictory (!), but as far as I understand Heidegger and Derrida, I think they take such notions much further, in better directions.
P: 2,504
 Quote by VikingF If random quantum fluctuations happened 13.7 billion years ago, then it could just as easily happen today, couldn't it?
This doesn't directly answer your question, but does describe how some scientists are viewing the multiverse and our ability to comprehend it.

http://www.technologyreview.com/blog/arxiv/24239/
PF Gold
P: 2,432
 Quote by fuzzyfelt Perhaps it would be considered contradictory (!), but as far as I understand Heidegger and Derrida, I think they take such notions much further, in better directions.
Any references to what you are thinking about here? I've not come across vagueness-related approaches with these guys. In modern times, Peirce did the most developing (while Russell was the most vigorous at arguing against).
 PF Gold P: 742 Sorry, nothing particularly expressed as ‘vague’, but I was just thinking that there are some similarities that may or may not be helpful. As far as I understand, following some of Heidegger’s ideas, Derrida writes of ‘differance’, where dichotomies exist in the blur of their boundaries. A critical method encouraging plural interpretations, investigating hierarchies of antinomies, supplements, paradoxes, etc., suggests this is undermined by ‘irreducible incompleteness’, ‘originary synthesis’, a changing ‘aporia’ of potential, an ‘unresolvable indetermination’ of meaning. I said contradictory for various reasons, including that this is argued against ‘logocentrism'. With some view to the topic, Deconstruction may be regarded as anti-determinist, but inevitable uncertainty has been mentioned.

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