God and cosmology

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Buddhists believe in God? Please don't feel you have to answer since you've been wanting to keep this private.
The thing that makes Buddhist different from Christianity is that Christianity says that there is one true way. There are parts of Buddhist in which one believes that to be a good Buddhist you must be anti-Buddhist.

Well, Taoists don't believe in string theory
Yuck.... There is a lot of total crap out there trying to link Eastern religion to physics. Taoists had no clue what string theory was, and there is a lot of totally bogus stuff that tries to like quantum mechanics to Taoism.

Let me just try to keep focused on physics....

A lot of my philosophy comes from the evdential school of Confucian learning that existed in the late-18th century/early-19th century. The Confucian scholars of the early 19th century believed that Confucius had lived at the end of a golden age, and that he recorded his works in histories which had been hopeless contaminated by Buddhist teachings. So their belief was that by rigorous historical analysis and textual evidence based research, they could reconstruct this golden age, and they did a lot of scientific and mathematical experimentation based on this project. As the 19th century proceeded this need for rigorous evidence based analysis became more important. The Chinese scholars in 1860 believed that science and technology had started in China, that it went to Europe, and the Europeans refined the technology and then used to back at China, which made decoding the classic texts more important.

Then go another thirty years, when it became obvious that the scholars had it all wrong, and they were searching for a golden age that never existed. But in the process of going through this exercise, they established a tradition of logical and rigorous evidence based thinking, which then incorporated science and technology as Chinese students started going to Yale and Cornell and starting factories. Throw in some Baptist missionaries in here, a Marxist revolution, shake well, and you get me......

So when people start talking about Taoist non-sense and physics, it all goes back to facts, and Taoists ain't got none.

One thing I do wonder about is that I've pieced together the Chinese threads. I'm pretty sure that there was also something interesting happening in Eastern Europe, and I'd be interested in that story......
 
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Stephen Jay Gould is one of those who have criticized Dawkins's criticism of the classical view.
I really wish Stephen Jay Gould were still around. He came up with the concept of "Non-overlapping magisteria" and I wish he were around to publicly defend it. I'd be less concerned about what Dawkins was arguing if there was some prominent scientist that is publicly arguing with him.

One of the points that Stephen Jay Gould made was that creationists often made "divide and conquer" arguments. That there were in fact controversies in evolutionary biology, but that creationists made them look like fundamental disagreements, when they weren't. The problem is that I'm in a situation where disagreements I have with young-earth creationists about the age of the universe looks like a minor disagreement compared to the big philosophical disagreements I have with Dawkins over the limits of science.

One reason I'd really be interested in a valid survey of scientists beliefs about religion and God is because I really don't know where the battle-lines are. It may be that 99% of cosmologists are hard core atheists, but that would extremely, extremely surprise me. I'm less interested in raw numbers, than in the *types* of different beliefs. This isn't something you could be via a checkbox survey, but would require a fair bit of interviewing.
 
DaveC426913
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I really wish Stephen Jay Gould were still around. He came up with the concept of "Non-overlapping magisteria" and I wish he were around to publicly defend it. I'd be less concerned about what Dawkins was arguing if there was some prominent scientist that is publicly arguing with him.
Have I mentioned recently that Stephen's artist for his Wonderful Life and Book of Life is Marianne Collins? My sister? :approve:
 
atyy
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One reason I'd really be interested in a valid survey of scientists beliefs about religion and God is because I really don't know where the battle-lines are. It may be that 99% of cosmologists are hard core atheists, but that would extremely, extremely surprise me. I'm less interested in raw numbers, than in the *types* of different beliefs. This isn't something you could be via a checkbox survey, but would require a fair bit of interviewing.
You should also make a survey of religious people (who are not professional scientists) who believe in evolution, geology and cosmology, and who also know that "believe in" there is provisional. Maybe the creationists are to them as Dawkins is to you.
 
atyy
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Have I mentioned recently that Stephen's artist for his Wonderful Life and Book of Life is Marianne Collins? My sister? :approve:
OK, I shall have to read those now. :smile:
 
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A pretty loaded title for the thread (I know).

I would like to know what are everyone's perceptions/opinions regarding the beginning of the universe (of time) as it relates to the notion of a god or God?
"God" = Symbolic and creative way to give meaning to and interpret that which brought about the mind's experience.
 
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While we are discussing God and cosmology, let us not forget that the Big Bang cosmological model was given to us by a Roman Catholic priest, Fr. Georges Lemaître,SJ

I really wish Stephen Jay Gould were still around.
Ditto! we need a saner figure for evolutionary biology than Richard Dawkins x_x
 
Chalnoth
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While we are discussing God and cosmology, let us not forget that the Big Bang cosmological model was given to us by a Roman Catholic priest, Fr. Georges Lemaître,SJ
What does that have to do with anything?
 
Chronos
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Lack of evidence proves nothing. We have no proof of life elsewhere in the universe, but, few rational scientists deem this as proof life is unique to earth.
 
Chalnoth
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Lack of evidence proves nothing. We have no proof of life elsewhere in the universe, but, few rational scientists deem this as proof life is unique to earth.
Except we do have evidence. We have life here on Earth, and all of our observations to date show that the laws of physics are the same wherever we look. Therefore if life could form here, it is likely to have formed elsewhere as well. The only question is how common it is.

With a god, on the other hand, not only is the very idea of a god just completely incompatible with everything that we do know about our world, but there also isn't any verifiable evidence that is even suggestive of a god's existence.

To flesh this out a bit more, here is a good analogy:
http://machineslikeus.com/scientific-proof-of-gods-non-existence [Broken]
 
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Intelligent observers can't exist except if these things were true, so it is impossible to make any conclusions one way or the other about what these simple statements mean.
Source on intelligent observers only being able to exist in a coherent and orderly universe? Why couldn't they come to be in an absurd one? It is impossible to say whether a universe need to be coherent for intelligent life to form.

To put it another way, it shouldn't be any surprise that you weren't born in the vacuum of space, because if you were, you'd be dead. So you can't conclude anything one way or the other about the fact that you were born in a habitable environment.
But that doesnt answer anything. Total anthropic principle reasoning as with your first point. "It's that way because that's the way it is, or the only way it could be." That isn't an explanation. It is a tautology.


I meant prove as in mathematics. Science is a means of finding an approximation to the truth. That approximation gets better and better as we learn more and more. But it is only ever an approximation, and we don't always know precisely where the approximation breaks down.

What theologians and philosophers have attempted to repeatedly do is find an actual proof, not just present evidence (because there is none). They've fallen flat every time, mind you. But they've tried.

He states what he means quite explicitly:



Science requires a philosophy known as "methodological naturalism", which basically is a statement that science can only discover natural causes. In other words, science can only discern things which adhere to materialism. The fact that science has been incredibly successful, however, lends credence to the statement that there isn't anything else out there that doesn't adhere to some natural rules (that is, the supernatural).
Theism includes deism which doesn't require an interventionist God. But a God who set up the initial conditions of the universe and then "retired". He lets physical processes do the work. He set up a framework so he doesnt have to intervene every 2 seconds. Or as Francis Bacon said: "God never wrought miracle to convince atheism, because his ordinary works convince it."
 
Chalnoth
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Source on intelligent observers only being able to exist in a coherent and orderly universe? Why couldn't they come to be in an absurd one? It is impossible to say whether a universe need to be coherent for intelligent life to form.
Intelligence requires, at a minimum, a complex stable ordered structure capable of information storage and processing. You can't have complex stable structures unless the universe is also stable.

But that doesnt answer anything. Total anthropic principle reasoning as with your first point. "It's that way because that's the way it is, or the only way it could be." That isn't an explanation. It is a tautology.
I didn't claim it was an explanation. Yes, it is a tautology. It's a statement that there are some things that we don't have any right to be surprised about, because it's just not possible for those things to be any other way.

Theism includes deism which doesn't require an interventionist God. But a God who set up the initial conditions of the universe and then "retired". He lets physical processes do the work. He set up a framework so he doesnt have to intervene every 2 seconds. Or as Francis Bacon said: "God never wrought miracle to convince atheism, because his ordinary works convince it."
I am entirely aware of deism. It may be somewhat more reasonable than an interventionist deity in that it isn't directly contradicted by observation. But it's still a god of the gaps.
 
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Science requires a philosophy known as "methodological naturalism", which basically is a statement that science can only discover natural causes. In other words, science can only discern things which adhere to materialism. The fact that science has been incredibly successful, however, lends credence to the statement that there isn't anything else out there that doesn't adhere to some natural rules (that is, the supernatural).
That is more of a personal belief rather than a scientific statement, perhaps the methodology of science cannot prove or disprove the existence of the spiritual or the divine, but does it mean that simply because something is not scientifically fallible it is therefore bogus? that sounds more of a truism, science is not the absolute and only justifiable access to the truth, and in no way does methodological naturalism eliminates traditional epistemology, philosophy, metaphysics,etc. as other sources of truth, there are epistemic principles which are not natural facts, methodological naturalism relies on empirical evidence and therefore all epistemic facts which comprise this method must be reducible to natural facts, that is, all facts related to the process of understanding must be expressible in terms of natural facts, but there are things which are not reducible to natural facts, therefore outside the scope and methodology of science, consider metaphysical statements, in a Popperian criterion they are not falsifiable, untestable, but as Karl Popper said, simply because metaphysical claims are not falsifiable they are therefore rendered epistemically meaningless, they may be reasonable but not empirically testable, to insist that all valid knowledge must first be scientific and that existent things must be no more than an extension of its' physical properties is just a personal conviction/belief in scientism.

I am entirely aware of deism. It may be somewhat more reasonable than an interventionist deity in that it isn't directly contradicted by observation. But it's still a god of the gaps.
I am baffled as to why some assume that any event which is eventually explained by science automatically excludes God, and that the activity of the paradigmatic God is isolated/restricted to such "gaps", it's not altogether impossible that through natural processes the Deity could have brought forth the creation of the universe. the "god of the gaps" argument against theism/deism is limited ( like occam's razor) in that it's only applicable to beliefs which are overly gratuitous.
 
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Chalnoth
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That is more of a personal belief rather than a scientific statement,
It's just basic inductive reasoning: if something works again and again and again, chances are it's going to continue to work. In this case, not only has scientific investigation repeatedly and consistently demonstrated natural causes for observed phenomena, but it has also supplanted previous supernatural explanations over and over and over again. In fact, in each and every case where a supernatural explanation was favored in an area where science could investigate, the supernatural explanation has been found to be false.

You might well continue to hold the belief, "This time, it will be different," or, "Well, since science can't test things here, maybe the supernatural explanation is true this time," but it's just not a reasonable position to hold.

science is not the absolute and only justifiable access to the truth,
It's the only one that we know works. At least for truths other than tautologies (which is in the domain of logic and mathematics). The other claimed ways of accessing the "truth" contradict one another using the same types of "evidence" and are therefore invalid.
 
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It's the only one that we know works. At least for truths other than tautologies (which is in the domain of logic and mathematics). The other claimed ways of accessing the "truth" contradict one another using the same types of "evidence" and are therefore invalid.
Well then that is where our intellectual position differs, I think you are using vaguely defined terms such as "truth" or "evidence" by injecting your own materialist mindset into it, there is a difference between evidential truths and rationally-defensible truths, like I said, to say that all valid knowledge must be scientific is scientism, it is more than anything, a form of belief
 
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You might well continue to hold the belief, "This time, it will be different," or, "Well, since science can't test things here, maybe the supernatural explanation is true this time," but it's just not a reasonable position to hold.
You are making a categorical error by positing that both the scientific and supernatural philosophical view about something are both scientific theories, the contrariety and conflict of these two views arises by categorizing them both in a scientific sense, it is perfectly reasonable therefore to hold for example that the our biological world is a product of evolution while evolution itself is a tool that God employed to develop human life.
 
Chalnoth
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Well then that is where our intellectual position differs, I think you are using vaguely defined terms such as "truth" or "evidence" by injecting your own materialist mindset into it, there is a difference between evidential truths and rationally-defensible truths, like I said, to say that all valid knowledge must be scientific is scientism, it is more than anything, a form of belief
By saying that, you are implicitly placing science into a small box in which it simply does not fit. Science is just a rigorous, disciplined investigation into the nature of reality. It has no rules that aren't open to argument. It has no limits as to what questions it can or cannot consider (though the answer to some may well be, "that cannot be determined.").

This isn't a statement, by the way, that all of reality fits inside of science, but rather that science (i.e. disciplined investigation) can be applied to any facet of reality.

To put it another way, science is the only discipline that has the gall to ask, about anything and everything, "How do you know? How can you be certain?" Science checks and re-checks. It verifies. It doesn't take for granted that a given statement is true, it verifies to see that it is. And then, once verified, it checks again. And again. Then it looks at it from a different angle to see if the statement still holds up. Even then the statement is not taken to be absolutely and utterly true all the time.

It is that questioning nature that separates science from non-science. Without engaging in this questioning and cross-verification that science demands, people make mistakes. Even with the questioning and cross-verification demanded by science, we still manage to make mistakes. We still manage to not get the truth quite right, or in some cases get things quite wrong. Because we know how often we are wrong about the nature of reality when we check and recheck and check again, there is no question whatsoever that we are guaranteed to be wrong when we loosen that discipline and don't bother to check our results.

That is why science is the only reliable means of finding truth about the nature of reality.
 
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A pretty loaded title for the thread (I know).

I would like to know what are everyone's perceptions/opinions regarding the beginning of the universe (of time) as it relates to the notion of a god or God?
You might not like my style, I am straight like this that
If you don't believe in God, then don't. No one ever in this world in any particular society can force you to believe in God or in absolute science.
Lifeforms on earth started with chemical elements.
Thoughts started to be known with modern developments in neuroscience.
 
Intelligence requires, at a minimum, a complex stable ordered structure capable of information storage and processing. You can't have complex stable structures unless the universe is also stable.


I didn't claim it was an explanation. Yes, it is a tautology. It's a statement that there are some things that we don't have any right to be surprised about, because it's just not possible for those things to be any other way.


I am entirely aware of deism. It may be somewhat more reasonable than an interventionist deity in that it isn't directly contradicted by observation. But it's still a god of the gaps.
But how do you know it's not possible for things to be any other way? Many prominent atheist Cosmologists, like Weinberg and Susskind, are running to the multiverse and AP for cover because they do think the universe looks a little too perfect. As Weinberg says:

In several cosmological theories the observed big bang is just one member of an ensemble. The ensemble may consist of different expanding regions at different times and locations in the same spacetime, (7) or of different terms in the wave function of the universe. (8) If the vacuum energy density rhoV varies among the different members of this ensemble, then the value observed by any species of astronomers will be conditioned by the necessity that this value of rhoV should be suitable for the evolution of intelligent life.
It would be a disappointment if this were the solution of the cosmological constant problems, because we would like to be able to calculate all the constants of nature from first principles, but it may be a disappointment that we will have to live with. We have learned to live with similar disappointments in the past. For instance, Kepler tried to derive the relative distances of the planets from the sun by a geometrical construction involving Platonic solids nested within each other, and it was somewhat disappointing when Newton's theory of the solar system failed to constrain the radii of planetary orbits, but by now we have gotten used to the fact that these radii are what they are because of historical accidents. This is a pretty good analogy, because we do have an anthropic explanation why the planet on which we live is in the narrow range of distances from the sun at which the surface temperature allows the existence of liquid water: if the radius of our planet's orbit was not in this range, then we would not be here. This would not be a satisfying explanation if the earth were the only planet in the universe, for then the fact that it is just the right distance from the sun to allow water to be liquid on its surface would be quite amazing. But with nine planets in our solar system and vast numbers of planets in the rest of the universe, at different distances from their respective stars, this sort of anthropic explanation is just common sense. In the same way, an anthropic explanation of the value of rhoV makes sense if and only if there is a very large number of big bangs, with different values for
However, we would not expect to live in a big bang in which galaxy formation is just barely possible. Much more reasonable is what Vilenkin calls a principle of mediocrity,
But we do live in a Big Bang where life is just barely possible. So, what you're saying is that we could only live in a universe where life was barely possible. Why couldn't we live in a universe that was much more suited for life? A more "mediocre" universe as Weinberg and Vilenkin call it.
 
By saying that, you are implicitly placing science into a small box in which it simply does not fit. Science is just a rigorous, disciplined investigation into the nature of reality. It has no rules that aren't open to argument. It has no limits as to what questions it can or cannot consider (though the answer to some may well be, "that cannot be determined.").

This isn't a statement, by the way, that all of reality fits inside of science, but rather that science (i.e. disciplined investigation) can be applied to any facet of reality.

To put it another way, science is the only discipline that has the gall to ask, about anything and everything, "How do you know? How can you be certain?" Science checks and re-checks. It verifies. It doesn't take for granted that a given statement is true, it verifies to see that it is. And then, once verified, it checks again. And again. Then it looks at it from a different angle to see if the statement still holds up. Even then the statement is not taken to be absolutely and utterly true all the time.

It is that questioning nature that separates science from non-science. Without engaging in this questioning and cross-verification that science demands, people make mistakes. Even with the questioning and cross-verification demanded by science, we still manage to make mistakes. We still manage to not get the truth quite right, or in some cases get things quite wrong. Because we know how often we are wrong about the nature of reality when we check and recheck and check again, there is no question whatsoever that we are guaranteed to be wrong when we loosen that discipline and don't bother to check our results.

That is why science is the only reliable means of finding truth about the nature of reality.
Oh, please. Science has a ton of limits. The biggest one being us.

It consists in asking a definite question which excludes as far as possible anything disturbing and irrelevant. It makes conditions, imposes them on Nature, and in this way forces her to give an answer to a question devised by man. She is prevented from answering out of the fullness of her possibilities since these possibilities are restricted as far as practible. For this purpose there is created in the laboratory a situation which is artificially restricted to the question which compels Nature to give an unequivocal answer. The workings of Nature in her unrestricted wholeness are completely excluded. If we want to know what these workings are, we need a method of inquiry which imposes the fewest possible conditions, or if possible no conditions at all, and then leave Nature to answer out of her fullness.
The so-called "scientific view of the world" based on this can hardly be anything more than a psychologically biased partial view which misses out all those by no means unimportant aspects that cannot be grasped statistically.
and

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

-Bohr

"We have to remember that what we observe is not nature herself, but nature exposed to our method of questioning."

-Heisenberg

"You can tell whether a man is clever by his answers. You can tell whether a man is wise by his questions."

Stop assuming man and his questions are so wise.
 
DaveC426913
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Oh, please. Science has a ton of limits. The biggest one being us.

It consists in asking a definite question which excludes as far as possible anything disturbing and irrelevant. It makes conditions, imposes them on Nature, and in this way forces her to give an answer to a question devised by man. She is prevented from answering out of the fullness of her possibilities since these possibilities are restricted as far as practible. For this purpose there is created in the laboratory a situation which is artificially restricted to the question which compels Nature to give an unequivocal answer. The workings of Nature in her unrestricted wholeness are completely excluded. If we want to know what these workings are, we need a method of inquiry which imposes the fewest possible conditions, or if possible no conditions at all, and then leave Nature to answer out of her fullness.
A load of hooey disguised as profundity.
 
Chalnoth
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But how do you know it's not possible for things to be any other way? Many prominent atheist Cosmologists, like Weinberg and Susskind, are running to the multiverse and AP for cover because they do think the universe looks a little too perfect. As Weinberg says:
For cover? Clearly you have no clue what the arguments here are even about. The weak anthropic principle is simply a statement of fact: we can only observe conditions that allow us to exist. This is a tautology, and therefore undeniably true.

All that these physicists are saying when they bring up the anthropic principle is that when you start to consider theories about why certain cosmological parameters are the way they are, it is absolutely necessary to take into account this selection effect.

To call this "running to the AP for cover" is patently ludicrous. As far as the multiverse is concerned, it is seeming more and more likely to be a necessary consequence of high-energy physics.

But we do live in a Big Bang where life is just barely possible. So, what you're saying is that we could only live in a universe where life was barely possible. Why couldn't we live in a universe that was much more suited for life? A more "mediocre" universe as Weinberg and Vilenkin call it.
We do? Finding that we live in a universe that is near the boundary of the region of parameter space conducive to life would be quite exciting (as it would be evidence of a particular bias in the cosmological parameters, one which we expect must be predicted by a proper theory of how such parameters come about). But as far as I know this has not yet occurred.
 
Chalnoth
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A load of hooey disguised as profundity.
Indeed. Science doesn't "impose conditions" on reality.
 
DaveC426913
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Indeed. Science doesn't "impose conditions" on reality.
I started to dissect the quote but soon realized the post would be yards long. The unspoken implications, attempts at manipulation, and errors are legion.
 
Indeed. Science doesn't "impose conditions" on reality.
No? What is an experiment? Your tests are imposed conditions. Your methods are imposed conditions. Who made the rules?
 

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