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Epistemic Determinism

  1. Mar 27, 2005 #1
    Firstly - if this topic has already been debated on this forum then I apologise, and would be grateful if someone could refer me to the relevant thread(s).

    If not......

    Epistemic Determinism : The incompatibility between infallible foreknowledge and human free will

    (sometimes presented as the equivalent Theological Fatalism : The incompatibility between God’s omniscience and human free will)

    This thread investigates the hypothesis that infallible foreknowledge of a human act renders the act necessary and hence unfree.

    Or : If there is a supreme being (God?) who/which is omniscient (ie knows infallibly the entire past and future of the universe) then all human acts are constrained and no human act is free.

    The dilemma has attracted much attention in the history of philosophy because both the belief in a being with infallible foreknowledge and the belief in the existence of free will are strongly entrenched in the “world-view” of many philosophers. To give up one or both of these beliefs is difficult and often has many ramifications for one's other beliefs. It is to be expected therefore that many people will go to great lengths to try and preserve their beliefs both in a being with infallible foreknowledge and in the existence of free will.

    Can I ask what do forum members think of the suggestion that infallible foreknowledge is incompatible with human free will?
    Do you agree, if so why?
    Do you disagree, if so why?


    MF :smile:

    (ps I chose to post this topic in Logic rather than under General Philiosophy because the Epistemic Determinism argument is an argument in logic)
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 29, 2005 #2


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    I once heard someone say that God's present knowledge is affected by our future actions. That is, we are free to choose what to do, and when we do it will backwardly cause God to have known it since the beginning of time. I personally don't believe any of this, including free will, but I thought it was an interesting idea.
  4. Mar 30, 2005 #3
    Yep. Two things here :
    1 I deliberately phrased the topic as Epistemic Determinism rather than theological fatalism to avoid (if possible) talking about God. But I'm happy to phrase the question any way, I think the argument for epistemic determinism stands, regardless of whether it is God or any other being that has the foreknowledge.

    2 I have also heard the thing you suggest - it often goes by the name of the assumption of "counterfactual power over the past" or CPP. CPP states that it is within my power today to choose to do something such that if I did it, God would not have had the knowledge He in fact had yesterday. This implies counterfactual power over not only the past but also over God’s knowledge – both the past and God’s foreknowledge will always be in accordance with my choices no matter what my choices are.

    The alternative assumption is sometimes called the Principle of Necessity of the Past (PNP), which basically says that the past is fixed (we have no power today to change or to affect what happened yesterday in any way), and in this sense the past is "now-necessary", where "now-necessary" designates temporal necessity, the type of necessity that the past is supposed to have just because it is past.

    One other problem - If we do refer to God, then I think the Christian God is normally represented as being "timeless", existing outside of time? In this sense, if we accept CPP, I cannot see how our actions "in time" can retro-actively affect the knowledge of a being who is supposed to exist outside of time?

    Clearly, CPP and PNP are incompatible. I believe that CPP is in fact the only way to avoid the logical conclusion of Epistemic Determinism (ie that infallible foreknowledge is incompatible with human free will), but it is (to my mind) a heck of a price to pay - in order to rescue our "free will" in the face of God's omniscience we have to allow that all of our free will choices retrospectively affect the past and God's knowledge. To me this seems ridiculous because it debases God's foreknowledge - it means that God does not have any absolute foreknowledge, and even though He is supposed to exist outside of time, His foreknowledge is "constantly" changing and adjusting (but it is not changing in "time"?) according to the personal whims of billions of people....... seems crazy (but this is my personal opinion).

    MF :smile:
  5. Apr 5, 2005 #4
    From Moving Finger: :
    Can I ask what do forum members think of the suggestion that infallible foreknowledge is incompatible with human free will?
    Do you agree, if so why?
    Do you disagree, if so why?

    I think the argument is the same as determinism in physics versus free will. I don't believe that because there is only one outcome or future and because that outcome is physically deterministic, that there is no free will. Free will is misinterpreted as needing to have decision making be completely free of the physical restrictions that occur within all physical things.

    We incorrectly view the idea of free will to mean that the path of our decision making is not subject to the same physical determinism as every other physical action that occurs. Our memories contain a history of directions that we consider desirable or undesirable. We eat ice cream because it tastes good, and we walk on the left side of the road, and facing the traffic because we believe that is best. All the experiences written in our minds send us down certain paths of decisions. It would be incorrect to say that all of our motions and the motions of everything around us are occuring due to impulses that came before them, but that when we make a decision in our minds, the forces that act just before the last electron sets into place, thereby making our decision, was metaphysical and not physically determined.

    In other words, we make decisions down paths that are deteriministic and this is exactly the way we would like to have it. We are perfectly happy that we did not irrationally choose to put our hand in a fire, or walk in front of a moving truck and be killed and that our decision paths are restricted and rationally determined.

    Therefore we wake up on a planet with an environment that is suitable for living and the physics is predicatable within all of the world's physical things. We are perfectly satisfied that we can not decide to live on alpha-centauri for the day. All the things around us act in a deterministic way, including our bodies. Our hearts beat regularly and all our organs function in a deterministic way. Why do we want that physical determinism to be suspended when it applies to the physical processes in our mind? Don't we want our mind to operate deterimistically so that we can function and make rational decisions? Why then would the last electron, settling into its final position in our mind just before our decision is made be not a physical process? What occurs in our minds must be part of physical process and can not be meta-physical. Godel, Turing and even Penrose say this much.

    I would say that if we suspend determinism in a 'part' of the process of making decisions, then the decision will not be rational. We make rational decisions therefore the process must be deterministic.
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 6, 2005
  6. Apr 7, 2005 #5
    Nickdanger, much of what you say I agree with. However I deliberately did not introduce causal determinism into the start of the thread, because causal determinism is not the same as epistemic determinism. A (hypothetical) world can (theoretically) be epistemically determined but not causally determined, and vice versa. Yes, I agree there are parallels, and whether our world is causally determined or not is an interesting topic of discussion, but is not the topic of this thread. I agree with you, however, that whatever free will we possess (and that is open to definition) I believe is of a kind that is compatible with causal determinism.

    Metaphysical is just a term for something that we cannot yet explain within our existing physics. When we can explain it and incorporate it into physics then it will no longer be metaphysical. BTW - I think you will find that Penrose will not give up on the idea of some kind of non-deterministic source to human free will, his brief references to free will in his book Shadows of the Mind are, frankly, sad. It is disappointing to see such a brilliant mind drawn into dead-end hypotheses that try to propose such things as ‘perhaps the free will of an external mind might be able to influence the quantum choices that actually result from....non-deterministic processes’ (Shadows of the Mind, p349). Penrose seems to think there must be a physical (material) non-deterministic basis for free will. Penrose associates the concept of free will with non-determinism and searches in vain for a place for his idea of free will in an apparently deterministic universe (see The Emperor’s New Mind, p559).

    MF :smile:
  7. Apr 11, 2005 #6
    infallible foreknowledge of what ?
  8. Apr 11, 2005 #7
    Moving Finger, I agree with much of what you say, including Penrose seems to be reaching for a new theory, but in the end does not seem to propose anything. His new book "Shadows of the Mind" will probably make you even more frustrated with him. However, I will say that he starts to put some issues on the table by asking is there a higher level mathematical concept (one's we are now missing) that could incorporate human decision making, which must underlie our free will. Or are we doomed by Godel's theorem which can be taken to mean that our 'understanding' (and therefore decision making and free will) is part of an unconscious and ultimately 'unknowable' algorithm?

    I would like to know more about what you've read and believe. Because I am not as well read on the philisophical issues as you. Having said that, it seems they are a bit out of reach of our current logic....To wit, the idea that God (or the imagined conscienceness that would have 'infallible foreknowledge', it doesn't matter as you say) lives outside of time. How would we deal with that logically or computationally?

    But to your question, "Is infallible foreknowledge incompatible with human free will?" . In my last post, I was only using 'physical determinism' to substitute for the 'infallible foreknowledge'. I know, as you say these are not the same...However, if there was an infallible foreknowledge that existed in a way that has higher understanding, then we could only estimate that infallibility (trapped as we are in, let us say our 'physical and worldly plane) as being full knowledge of all physical motions (causes and effects as it were), and this since the higher logic level of the infallible foreknowledge is out of our reach. And this brings us full circle, because Godel is saying this same thing. Our understanding of the infallible foreknowledge is always unreachable to us and we are stuck describing it with a logic that is insufficient for a full description. But I would say that this is now Niels Bohr's argument; it is not just the logic is out of reach, but our 'language' for describing the higher level is insufficient as well.

    Now, I would say Bohr is correct. We will have to set into place some rules of how we 'speak' of things. If I describe to you some argument for which I use the idea of 'physical determinism', you would say (and be quite right) that it is not the same thing as epistemic determinism. But because we are stuck in the worldly plane of understanding, you would have to admit that when I speak physical determinism, that you do not know for sure:

    1. If my logic lies below yours: That is, I do not understand the difference between epistemilogical determinism and physical determinism as separate concepts and as you understand them. You may just plainly, have a better understanding than I when you speak of it.

    2. I understand the difference, and so you and I are truely at the same logic level. But since I am forced to speak in terms of the physical determinism for reference (that is reference to something we both have the same, full understanding of), because the epistemological determinism description is quite beyond our logic. Therefore our language is somewhat insufficient to describe what we want to agree upon.

    3. finally, I could in theory, have discovered a new theorem that shows quantum mechanical descriptions to be incomplete, (and as you say, what was metaphysically beyond us then becomes for me, part of standard physical description) so that now my understanding of physical determinism is more complete than yours, and so theoretically my logic and knowledge about physical determinism lies above your logic level and we are once again lacking a common language, until I teach you the new theorem.

    This last seems to be an unneccesary reach. But, if we are going to try to work together on the question, "Is infallible aforeknowledge and free will incompatible?". Then we have to allow for one of us going back and independently discovering a new truth. Not the complete final truth of the infallible understanding, but a new, and let's say correct piece of the puzzle. In which case, the problem becomes raising the other up to the new logic level. Now, if because, the one of us with the new truth, has to use some of the lower logic level language to help the other one understand the new idea.....well there you have it, the other one, now stuck at the lower logic level may believe that nothing new has been arrived at, because the new logic was described with the old language, which we at some point agreed was insufficient for the full description.....

    You can see the problem, we can't rise to a truly new level of understanding, without at first confusing one another with our mis-understandings within the language we use. Then we do not know, is my level of understanding above, below or the same as yours.

    In my mind, this is the current problem in quantum mechanics, string theory and even a new theory that accounts for free will. We need a new language and even a new logic to reach for the new theory, and current mathematics is insufficient to account for this new language and therefore can not describe the new logic that is needed. A new idea will necessarily arrive with a new logic and therefore a new languange and new mathematics to go with it.
  9. Apr 12, 2005 #8
    Of anything.

    If I know "infallibly" that A is true (where A is a statement about the future), then does this necessarily mean that no agent has the power to render A untrue (ie no agent acts freely)?

    One could say "oh, but of course I have infallible foreknowledge that the sun will rise tomorrow, but that does not mean that I do not have free will"..... but I would disagree. You do NOT have infallible foreknowledge that the sun will rise tomorrow (you only believe it will rise, and I would say that there is an extremely high probability that you would be correct in your belief) - but this is NOT infallible foreknowledge.

  10. Apr 12, 2005 #9
    New book? Read it. His “new” new book is The Road to Reality, and (apart from some excellent introductions to mathematics) simply regurgitates most of his ideas in Emperor & Shadows.

    I believe he’s chasing phantoms. Until he defines what he means by “free will” then he will never understand it.

    Nothing to do with Godel. No mind can ever know everything about the universe it inhabits (to do this it would have to be bigger than the universe…….)

    I’m not sure about that!

    Logically it can be done. Just imagine that we humans are restricted to the 4D spacetime that we know and love, but that there is some hyperbeing which exists in higher dimensions. Analogy : Imagine 2D beings (flatlanders) living on a plane. They live in a 3D universe (2 space & 1 time). We as 4D beings can “see them” from our third spatial dimension, but they cannot necessarily see us. Now we can extend the idea to time as well, this is the idea behind the “block-time” view.

    Infallible foreknowledge may be out of our reach, but the point is that if there is a hyperbeing out there which has this infallible foreknowledge then (no matter whether we have access to it or not) the mere fact of the existence of a being with such abilities has implications for our ability to “act freely”.

    I do not agree that it has anything to do with understanding. As I said above, the mere existence of a being with infallible foreknowledge, regardless of whether we can understand it or not, has implications for our ability to act freely.

  11. Apr 12, 2005 #10
    What if ?

    What if infallible knowledge doesn't come in a being it is just a predictive equation encompassing the sum total of all possible permutations of a system that's dependence is on the conditions that were in place at it's inception and it's outcome is to know the certainty of things beyond all doubt ?

    Now what if we called this equation a mind or consciousness without a conscience and it's presence permeates every point in this universe making it as big as the universe in real spacetime. However if this universe were somehow part of a multi dimensional larger multiverse then it would transcend what we know of this universe in 4d yet still be an equation in the larger scheme of things ?

    And what then would then happen to us if we were to eventually discover this equation and evolve to become that being ?

    Would we still have free will to manipulate matter as we see fit and what would we do with it ?

    But then what if we called this mind or consciousness a universe ?

    Sorry Mr finger, I got a bit lost in thought there but basically what i'm saying is :confused: actually, i don't really know what i'm saying just thinking out loud

    so anyway to answer your question, I dont know, but thanks for the opportunity to kick start my day with a freethinking rant :rolleyes:

    If pressed I'm going to invoke something like the uncertainty principal and claim duality of man's free will exists complementarily as infallible knowledge also because I have infallible knowledge of what i am going to do next as i can freely choose to do the exact opposite and that is make a cup coffee or tea.

    I haven't decided yet but once i do i will infallbly know for sure :tongue:

    By the way isn't "because" an interesting word if you break it down and have you seen that movie Pi ?
  12. Apr 13, 2005 #11
    Yep, but this is essentially causal determinism (ie the configuration of the universe at time t0 combined with the laws of nature fixes or determines the configuration of the universe at time t1).
    Epistemic determinism is not dependent on causal determinism, nor causal on epistemic. Both could be true, both could be false, and one or the other could be true or false.

    Still talking about causal determinism I assume?

    That's the tricky part. The being can know everything about the universe as long as it is outside the universe. But if we wish to "evolve to become that being" then we are faced with the problem that we can never know everything about the universe that we inhabit.

    Depends on how one defines free will. In my book, a free agent is one which is able to act without being completely constrained by present or future factors.

    As I said, a mind cannot know everything about the universe it inhabits. If you want to endow this mind with total knowledge of the universe then it must exist outside of the universe, not within it, and hence is inaccessible to us.

    I have yet to see anyone show how the introduction of "uncertainty" endows an agent with free will where no free will existed before. I don't think you do have infallible knowledge of what you are going to do next - you only think you have.

    Unless you then change your mind again, in which it was fallible wasn't it? :tongue2:


  13. Apr 13, 2005 #12
    I choose to know exactly what I am going to do next and it is infallible up to a point

    Yes i do think the mind exists outside of the 4d universe and that we are evolving towards the limits of what we think we know about the universe and it is precisely because of the freedom man has to choose and exercise our will that we will know this mind eventually

    so to answer your question they are compatible in as much as we have infallible knowledge of our thoughts and actions in the present

    as for the future who knows :biggrin:

    see that's what happens to logic when I use it on myself and reason too much I find it best to go with instinct and intuition and feel my way around an answer. Go with the flow

    In your premise is it possible to have infallible knowledge and is there really such a thing as infallibility given an ever present principle of uncertainty ?
  14. Apr 14, 2005 #13
    IMHO you cannot in general "choose to know" anything about either yourself or the world. Either you know or you do not know. The only "choice" you have in terms of epistemology is that you can choose to accept or to ignore knowledge that is available to you, in which case I agree you could say that you have chosen to know or not not to know something. But that knowledge is never infallible.

    nice :biggrin:

    IMHO we do not have infallible knowledge of our thoughts and actions, even in the present. Much (most?) of the processing of your mind takes place in your subconscious, and you see only the tip of the iceberg of these thoughts and actions in your conscious experience of the world.


    fortunately, science rarely proceeds this way

    It is not possible (IMHO) to have infallible foreknowledge of a universe or world in which we partcipate (why? because we are players on the stage of that world, and infallible foreknowledge would result in a self-referential loop that would not necessarily be consistent).

    Uncertainty means that there is a limit to the precision to which we can know anything, and in this sense yes it is a limit on all kinds of knowledge, past present and future.
  15. Apr 15, 2005 #14
    nice pickup on the foreknowledge :biggrin: and inconsistent self referential loops as in deja vu ?

    how about a best guess based on all probabilities predicting an outcome that has a margin of error of less than 0.1 percent recurring. Still not infallbile and that is because of the freedom of will to change one tiny little thing.

    think of modelling the movement of a pebble in the bottom of the turbulent rapids being affected by the leaf falling from an overhanging branch...chaotic eh ?

    so in my opinion also there can be no infallible foreknowledge but we can get real close, enough to predict accurately but still have free will as we can cut the tree down to remove the leaves from ever entering the turbulent stream

    I still can't figure out if that answers you original question but given my opninion can you answer it for me ?

    it would be much appreciated Mr Finger

  16. Apr 16, 2005 #15
    I have no problem with fallible foreknowledge. Even with 99.999999% foreknowledge.

    ahhh, but can you be sure (ie do you know infallibly) that it was indeed the leaves entering the stream which affected the movements of the pebble…. Or maybe it was the fish that swam by….. or maybe the wind on the water….. or maybe the little boy peeing in the water upstream…… or maybe……..

    In other words – once we acknowledge that infallible foreknowledge is impossible, then anything is possible….

  17. Apr 19, 2005 #16
    I have always been uncertain about why this entire topic is an issue for people. Altho'
    moving finger says (s)he (Sorry, I do know your gender.) wants to avoid talking about God, "God" appears twice in the original post. To make it easy, I will use the word "God" to talk about any sort of Supreme Being. The entire issue is only relevant if you first postualte the existence of God. There is no other concept for an omniscient being.
    Given that this postualted Being has the attributes (Creator, Omniscient, Pre-Existent, Unconstrained by Phsyical Law, etc.) of the typical God, then we are forced to acknowledge, in any discussion of this topic, two separate frames of reference, a "special relativity" of reality. But given that definition of God, there is nothing you or I can know of the God frame of reference. For instance, if the God created you, you are in relation to God the same as your signature on a piece of paper is to you. The graphite in the signature, as well as the completed signature itself, can never understand anything about you, its creator, or about your world. It is futile to discuss any such linkage. (If the idea of being no more than a squiggle of graphite offends your ego, then consider the analogy of dogs, which man made from wolves. Dogs have a certain degree of emotion and intelligence, but they cannot understand the world of humanity. It would be a disservice to expect them to.)
    Given this dichotomy, it does not seem to me we can even accurately formulate the original question you asked. We cannot postulate a causation between one frame of reference and the next. We do not, and cannot know, how the God frame of reference works. You are playing "what-if" and we can play that game however we like. We may postualte anything at all without restriction. The enquiry devolves into meaninglessness.
    However, there are certain ideas about determinism that help me. For instance, your body is created with an ideal lifespan of about 120 years. If you choose to smoke, you shorten that span. So, no matter what, your lifespan is pre-determined to have a maximum length. You or others may choose to shorten that span. That is free will. Another example: You have se up a nice evening with candles and music. The candles will eventually burn out. That is determined. However, a freak gust of wind extinguishes the candles before they burn completely. That is quantum chance.
    There is no logic to claim in either example that because God knew ahead of time that you would smoke, or your spouse would bend the poker over your head, or that the gust would blow, that they had to happen. You are trying to make a causal link from a referant frame which, by definition, you are not empowered to make. You have established this powerlessness by the very question you asked initially.
    Given this inability to understand both references, it is just as logical to assert: 1) pre-knowledge causes the shorter life span; 2) pre-knowledge does not cause the shorter life span; 3) there is absolutely no connection between pre-knowledge and anything else.
  18. Apr 21, 2005 #17
    The original post talks about Epistemic Determinism, ie the idea that infallible foreknowledge is a form of determinism. As I tried to make clear in that post, this idea is SOMETIMES also put forward as Theological Fatalism, but I do not accept that the concept Epistemic Determinism necessarily implies either an omniscient being or a God. I was deliberately trying to steer the debate towards discussion of Epistemic Determinism as a concept, and NOT towards discussion of omniscience or of God as a concept.

    Perhaps so. But as I said, the thread is supposed to be specifically about Epistemic Determinism, and not about God.

    I did not ask a question about God. I asked about Epistemic Determinism. With respect, since most of the rest of your post goes on to discuss God and God’s abilities, I shall skip to the next relevant part of your post.

    Infallible foreknowledge of a “statement” (let us call it “A”, for example A might be “it will rain tomorrow”) is dependent on the truth of that statement. Only if A is true can I then have infallible foreknowledge that it will rain tomorrow. The statement “there is absolutely no connection between pre-knowledge and anything else.” is obviously therefore false.

    None of this assumes that, and nobody is suggesting that, foreknowledge “that it will rain tomorrow” actually “causes” it to rain tomorrow. The causation is actually the other way about – the truth of the statement “it will rain tomorrow” causes my foreknowledge to be correct.

    The determinism comes about because, in order for my foreknowledge to be correct, there is a logically deterministic link between the infallibility of my foreknowledge that it will rain tomorrow and the fact that “it will rain tomorrow” is a true statement.

  19. Apr 21, 2005 #18
    but doesn't the uncertanly principle ruled out infallible foreknowledge ???

    in that case, free will could be say that is the ability of the "mind" to select the outcome of the quantum wavefunction? or somenthing like that.....
  20. Apr 21, 2005 #19
    In practice, possibly.
    In principle, no.
  21. Apr 22, 2005 #20
    Perhaps you are able to see some way Epistemic Determinism does not imply the existence of a superior being. I do not see it, but I am often a plodder. To return to the original post that started the thread, you are postulating either an omniscient or an infallible being, said being having certain knowledge of a future event. In either case, we have a being who possesses a quality to a supreme degree. The characteristic of either infallibility or of omniscience is ultimate--no more of that characteristic can be added to the being. The being possesses ALL of the characteristic. This being is supreme, at least along that characteristic's dimension. It matters not to me if you call this being Zark, Kali, Zeus, God, Allah, Prophet, Seer. This is a being of superhuman quality.

    To pretend a human could possess this characteristic and still be human invalidates the definition of human. Every example given in the above postings for a human to possess absolute foreknowledge runs into the reality that anything we "know" about the future can only have a finite probability. I am certain I will awake tomorrow with ten fingers, and I plan on this being the case, but it is possible, however improbable, that I will not. Either your person is not human, nor in fact even an alien in this cosmos, or your human has had access to a plane of existence other than this one.

    This plane of existence requires that information flow no faster than c. To have foreknowledge violates the fundamental speed of info in this reality. It is as if you are saying, imagine we have a black hole where time does not exist, but spatiality remains. Since the black hole and the universe at large both have spatiality, we can assume there can be a connection between the two. Symmetry will not allow this statement. It's as if you are saying, "Imagine an earth just like this, except water flows uphill..." Since everything else is the same, we can conjecture about certain aspects of that earth.

    But we know nothing about a reality that would allow water to flow uphill. We know nothing of the laws which govern a reality that allows foreknowledge. There is no cardinality between realities. Therefore we cannot specify that there can be or can't be a link between the one reality and the other. If foreknowledge exists somehow, there is no way logically to state that the reality of that existence has some kind of either causal (e.g., the future event MUST now happen) or preventive effect on this reality. We cannot see beyond the event horizon, and we have no idea how anything works inside your infallible universe. If there is a connecton, we cannot specify anything about that connection, such as foreknowledge on that plane of existence inhibits or does not affect free will, whether causality is invoked or not.

    I have taken philosophy courses and studied the philosophers. I have many times seen, in one guise or the other, this idea of "relaxing" one of the constituents of our reality to investigate thought realities. However, I have yet to see anyone show how any of these proposals contributes in any way to understanding the reality in which we live. And this is because, as soon as we relax some constraint, we may know longer speak knowledgeably about the reality with that relaxed constraint. As soon as you say, "What if...?" you have lost all ability to constrain any other "what if," or to explain how your "what if" may interact with with our cosmos, or to specify the rules governing your "what if" reality. It is something we let philosophers do because we need to keep them off the streets.

    Epistemic Determinism MUST be about some kind of creature that is not part of this cosmos. Or, if if it is part of this cosmos, it is a creature that has access to some plane of existence that is NOT part of this cosmos.

    It may rain tomorrow but neither you nor I can know it with certainty.

    If the situation were other than as I have depicted it, we would have no problem explaining what came before the Big Bang, where apparently the realities of our cosmos did not exist (unless the pea instanton theory is correct). We could just a prior relax whatever constraints we needed to, and voila, we are done explaining. Next problem!
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