Friday, November 30, 2012

Sauce for the goose

Perhaps I can pose the question concerning the multiverse and ECREE this way. Look, if people consistently denied the probabilistic relevance of the multiverse in all contexts, that would be one thing. They could say "Regardless of the multiverse, we have to look at what is probable in the world as we experience it. but in fact, the multiverse theory is used to mitigate the initial improbability of a finely-tuned universe without a designer." But, if you can help yourself to the multiverse to blunt the effect of the fine-tuning argument, can't you also use the multiverse theory to blunt the effect of the initial improbability argument against miracles such as the Resurrection.

85 comments:

BeingItself said...

Fix the punctuation please.

BeingItself said...

"can't you also use the multiverse theory to blunt the effect of the initial improbability argument against miracles such as the Resurrection."

No. If you use the multiverse theory to explain an improbable event, that event is no longer a miracle.

Tony Hoffman said...

This makes me think you haven't read the comments you posted on the other thread.

As Angra pointed out there, the multiverse can be used to explain apparent fine tuning. But seeing as how gods are not well defined, and those that are appear to contradict one another, and miracles (again, hard to define) like those I suppose you imagine posit extra-nomological forces, there is no reason to include them in the multiverse.

Maybe it would help if you consider that the multiverse is everything we know, expanded to an infinite level, whereas the resurrection and the multiverse merely adds to this with something we don't know. Hardly seems like a good argument to me.

Crude said...

You don't understand what Angra is saying, Tony. Please leave commentary on the conversation to people capable of grasping it.

Crude said...

No. If you use the multiverse theory to explain an improbable event, that event is no longer a miracle.

Ridiculous, since God can make use of both multiverses and the related probabilities.

Papalinton said...

Crude
"Ridiculous, since God can make use of both multiverses and the related probabilities."

Says you?

Tony Hoffman said...

Crude: "You don't understand what Angra is saying, Tony. Please leave commentary on the conversation to people capable of grasping it."

I do not mean to pretend to speak for Angra, but I am pretty sure that is what I recall him writing in at least some of his comments in the other thread, and I think those are all answers to VR's question.

So, you're assertion appears false to me, and your insult unwarranted. And seeing as how I have come to admire Angra's patient rebuttal to repeated insult and insinuation, I'm going to take the time to point that out as well.

Cheers.

Crude said...

I do not mean to pretend to speak for Angra, but I am pretty sure that is what I recall him writing in at least some of his comments in the other thread, and I think those are all answers to VR's question.

You said:

But seeing as how gods are not well defined, and those that are appear to contradict one another, and miracles (again, hard to define) like those I suppose you imagine posit extra-nomological forces, there is no reason to include them in the multiverse.

If you're saying that Angra believes there is no reason to include gods in the multiverse, then again, you're not following or grasping the conversation.

So, you're assertion appears false to me, and your insult unwarranted

Your.

It wasn't an insult, it was an estimation and a polite request. I agree with you that you should do your best to imitate Angra - you could use the improvement.

Now, that was an insult of sorts. Also a statement of fact.

Tony Hoffman said...

Crude: "If you're saying that Angra believes there is no reason to include gods in the multiverse, then again, you're not following or grasping the conversation."

Um, yeah, no. I don't want to get into an argument of who understands someone else's arguments better (you introduced that topic), but you are incorrect in implying that my comments are not appropriately based on those portions I have read of the prior thread.

Crude: "It wasn't an insult, it was an estimation and a polite request. I agree with you that you should do your best to imitate Angra - you could use the improvement."

Actually, I've chastised your false assertions and insinuations many times, until I found the routine tiresome. So in that regard, I think I (like so many others) have preceded Angra. But I do admire Angra's ability to have more powerfully and patiently broken through your bluster and hubris, and I am happy that you may come to a greater understanding as a result.

Cheers.

Crude said...

I don't want to get into an argument of who understands someone else's arguments better (you introduced that topic), but you are incorrect in implying that my comments are not appropriately based on those portions I have read of the prior thread.

I don't doubt you read it. I doubt you understood it.

Actually, I've chastised your false assertions and insinuations many times, until I found the routine tiresome.

What you found tiresome, Tony, is being demonstrably wrong. You went at me for a freaking week over a Dawkins quote you decided, despite all evidence to the contrary, could not have possibly been real because you're the resident Dawkins expert and could feel it in your bones. Finally someone pulled a cached version and - surprise! - you were wrong.

But hey, continue to be silent. I encourage it, in fact.

William said...

Tony:

"But seeing as how gods are not well defined, and those that are appear to contradict one another, and miracles (again, hard to define) like those I suppose you imagine posit extra-nomological forces, there is no reason to include them in the multiverse. "

Hmm... Given that consciousness and agency are not well defined, and our definitions and explanations for them appear to contradict one another, they would seem to have no place in the multiverse _either_. So, our planet is then a rather lonely anomaly (just sayin ;-).

Dan Gillson said...

I don't know how people can have such tortuous arguments about something as speculative as multiverse theory. (Yes, that's tortuous, not torturous, though one can make a case that reading such arguments and the subsequent commentary is torturous indeed.) Bob's comment int the previous thread that MV theory is incapable of being scientifically proven should have been an argument stopper, but unfortunately, it wasn't. Pay me no mind; I'm just jealous that I'm bad at physics.

ozero91 said...

Gillson for Best Commenter 2012.

I died when I read that last line.

Jennifer Harman said...

Perhaps this has already been addressed, but to me it seems that a “god” isn’t a bona fide god unless he can violate the laws of nature. I think the only sort of miracles and gods the atheist considers to be live options would all operate within natural constraints (i.e. a massively improbable quantum event or a super advanced alien race).

Crude said...

Perhaps this has already been addressed, but to me it seems that a “god” isn’t a bona fide god unless he can violate the laws of nature.

I don't think that's going to work, since plenty of theists deny that laws of nature are violated when God intervenes. Not even suspended, necessarily.

Jennifer Harman said...

"I don't think that's going to work, since plenty of theists deny that laws of nature are violated when God intervenes. Not even suspended, necessarily."

Do they also assume God is bound by the laws of nature, even owing his existence to them?

Crude said...

Do they also assume God is bound by the laws of nature, even owing his existence to them?

It depends on the theist in question. Mormons? Yes. Polytheists? Yes.

How about classical theists? It depends on what's meant by 'laws of nature' I imagine. Is a necessarily existing being, by existing necessarily, existing due to a law of nature?

Jennifer Harman said...

"It depends on the theist in question. Mormons? Yes. Polytheists? Yes."

Interesting. It strikes me as an absurd conception of deity since it effectively makes you and me gods as well.

To the extent that you’ve gotten this right, I’d expect the reasonable atheist to consider your two examples to be genuine possibilities. I’d like to hear input on this from atheists participating in this discussion.


Crude said...

Interesting. It strikes me as an absurd conception of deity since it effectively makes you and me gods as well.

How would it do so? The fact that gods can be bound by laws of nature no more suffices to make me a god than the fact that squirrels are bound by laws of nature makes me a squirrel.

On the subject of mormons, they believe (if I read right) they will become gods anyway. With polytheists, a non-god becoming a god seems to be a live possibility at times.

Jennifer Harman said...

"How would it do so? The fact that gods can be bound by laws of nature no more suffices to make me a god than the fact that squirrels are bound by laws of nature makes me a squirrel."

Because under this conceptions, "god" could mean anything.

If the Morman points to things like super power and super goodness as morkers of deity, that gets us back to a concept that is indistinguishable from a highly, but still accidentally, evolved super alien.

If a Morman would truly accept my above characterization, then I don't think it's fair to use that conception of god to push back on the original atheist claim.

Why? Because I don't think the original atheist argument, reasonably construed, ever disallowed that kind of god's (possible) existence.

I'm open to correction by atheists and Mormons on this one.

Jennifer Harman said...

Markers, not morkers.

Crude said...

Because under this conceptions, "god" could mean anything.

Well, no. It just means that a particular standard you were looking at isn't definitive.

If the Morman points to things like super power and super goodness as morkers of deity, that gets us back to a concept that is indistinguishable from a highly, but still accidentally, evolved super alien.

Are you aware of the origin of Zeus and the greek pantheon? They're a bunch of (largely) third generation beings who were ultimately spawned by chaos.

Why? Because I don't think the original atheist argument, reasonably construed, ever disallowed that kind of god's (possible) existence.

Well, I disagree entirely, and you've picked an absolutely terrible time to ask about this since this topic is precisely what's under major discussion right now, so the bias is going to be particularly keen on the atheist side.

If a Morman would truly accept my above characterization, then I don't think it's fair to use that conception of god to push back on the original atheist claim.


Are you saying that mormons are atheists and naturalists?

I'm open to correction by atheists and Mormons on this one.

Why just them?

Jennifer Harman said...

“Well, I disagree entirely, and you've picked an absolutely terrible time to ask about this since this topic is precisely what's under major discussion right now, so the bias is going to be particularly keen on the atheist side.”

No sure I understand.

Are you claiming that the original argument by atheists didn’t allow the possibility of a highly evolved being convincing some of us to believe he should be called god?

I ask specifically for correction from Mormons and atheists, because I’m voicing mere speculation on what they believe.

Crude said...

Are you claiming that the original argument by atheists didn’t allow the possibility of a highly evolved being convincing some of us to believe he should be called god?

Considering atheism as a position is old enough to predate discussions of 'highly evolved beings', it'd have to be the case.

I ask specifically for correction from Mormons and atheists, because I’m voicing mere speculation on what they believe.

It goes beyond what modern atheists believe, to what has been believed in the past.

Jennifer Harman said...


“Considering atheism as a position is old enough to predate discussions of 'highly evolved beings', it'd have to be the case”

Wait. I’m not referring to original as in ancient or something. I mean the argument as it is typically presented in the present day, the very argument Steve H. was responding to. That's the relevant argument.

Crude said...

Wait. I’m not referring to original as in ancient or something. I mean the argument as it is typically presented in the present day, the very argument Steve H. was responding to. That's the relevant argument.

So long as it's admitted that atheism has changed pretty drastically since the time of the greeks, sure, go for it.

Jennifer Harman said...

"It goes beyond what modern atheists believe, to what has been believed in the past."

Why is that even relevant?

Dan Gillson said...

Sh-sh-sh-sh-sh. . . don't ask why. Just light up a bowl and feel the understanding settle upon you.

Dan Gillson said...

By 'understanding' I mean 'relevance'.

Crude said...

Why is that even relevant?

Because a pretty substantial change in a historical viewpoint is important? I suppose you can say you personally don't care - that would be fine, of course. I think it highlights a pretty important issue about how atheistic thought has developed and changed, and whether the change was reasonable.

Your mileage may vary.

Jennifer Harman said...

“Because a pretty substantial change in a historical viewpoint is important? I suppose you can say you personally don't care - that would be fine, of course. I think it highlights a pretty important issue about how atheistic thought has developed and changed, and whether the change was reasonable.”

This doesn't seem to answer my question. How is it (the above) important to the present discussion? The original Hays post was intended to disarm living (not dead) atheists of the one of their stock arguments.

Jennifer Harman said...

Maybe I should ask:

What change are you referring to?

Crude said...

This doesn't seem to answer my question. How is it (the above) important to the present discussion? The original Hays post was intended to disarm living (not dead) atheists of the one of their stock arguments.

I don't think that's true, since there's plenty of atheists (not Sagan) who made use of the argument or variations of it in the past, many of them long gone.

What change are you referring to?

Actually, I'll tell you what. Since I think Dan's fretting that my conversation in another thread carries over here, I'll just leave you to ask your questions of other rather than get you wrapped up in debates about atheism's meaning. What I said about Zeus and Mormonism still hold.

If you want Mormon information, here you go: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/God_in_Mormonism

I'm pretty sure that mormon 'supernatural' is basically 'science/technology we're not yet privy to'.

Tony Hoffman said...

Crude: "If you're saying that Angra believes there is no reason to include gods in the multiverse, then again, you're not following or grasping the conversation."

No, your misunderstanding seems to be be based on something other than what I wrote. You should re-read what I said. I think it's fairly clear, and accurate.

Crude: "I don't doubt you read it. I doubt you understood it."

Yes, this is another insult, and one that is ironic given the amount of time that Angra has devoted to explaining a fairly straightforward set of concepts to you. I believe I understand Angra's argument well enough, and it appears to be you who has been struggling to grasp what has been written there. For instance, the last comment I read there from Angra to you states, ""You've been changing the topic a few times; if you make a claim about changing uses of words, I think it's find to point out changing Christian beliefs." This is a typical response when an interlocutor such as yourself struggles to stay on topic or remain consistent with their definitions, objections, etc. So, your portrayal of yourself as having a firmer grasp or understanding of the concepts presented by Angra on that thread appear to be a kind of inappropriate self-congratulation.

Crude: "What you found tiresome, Tony, is being demonstrably wrong. You went at me for a freaking week over a Dawkins quote you decided, despite all evidence to the contrary, could not have possibly been real because you're the resident Dawkins expert and could feel it in your bones. Finally someone pulled a cached version and - surprise! - you were wrong."

This is false. On the contrary, you exposed yourself as being over-eager to accept anything on the internet that supported your confirmation bias on this subject, and you were never able to explain why evidence that contradicted your assertion should be ignored. I regret that you so easily resort to changing the subject, making false accusations, but I must reply by referring to our discussion here:
http://dangerousidea.blogspot.com/2012/08/does-end-of-faith-justify-means-it.html and inviting anyone to read for themselves that your portrayal is false.

Cheers.

Tony Hoffman said...

William: "Hmm... Given that consciousness and agency are not well defined, and our definitions and explanations for them appear to contradict one another, they would seem to have no place in the multiverse _either_. So, our planet is then a rather lonely anomaly (just sayin ;-)."

I am not following your comment. I did not say that our explanations for gods contradict one another. I said that definitions for gods and miracles are not clear (some say a violation of natural laws, others say not, some say beyond nature, others say natural but unexplained, etc.), and that definitions for gods appear to contradict one another (a timeless, thinking agent, etc.)

Clearing up definitions overcomes the first problem, but that exercise appears to result in a definition of gods that remains consistent with our nomological understanding of the universe (and multiverse), at which point the multiverse provides no problem for atheism.

But you added a smiley face at the end of your comment, so maybe you didn't mean for your comment to be taken seriously?

Tony Hoffman said...

Dan Gilson: "Bob's comment int the previous thread that MV theory is incapable of being scientifically proven should have been an argument stopper, but unfortunately, it wasn't. Pay me no mind; I'm just jealous that I'm bad at physics."

Well, no, not if you're interested in the arguments in the discussion. If you want to accept a hearsay account from a non-expert about a field where science and metaphysics intersect, you are welcome to do so, but that merely makes you gullible (albeit probably content, and in this case, with little downside to your everyday life.) But the question wasn't really, Is there a multiverse, and can it be scientifically known? The question was, If there's a multiverse, doesn't this pose a problem for atheists? At that level, the ability for science to investigation the question becomes moot. (And I think the question is interesting -- I've learned a lot so far that I hadn't thought about.)

Tony Hoffman said...

Crude: "How about classical theists? It depends on what's meant by 'laws of nature' I imagine. Is a necessarily existing being, by existing necessarily, existing due to a law of nature?"

I'd like to point out that this is not a problem for atheists in this argument. If theists would like to point out how a multiverse supports their theism, it is their burden to define God in such a way that their argument can make use of it and atheists cannot.

Tony Hoffman said...

Crude: "Actually, I'll tell you what. Since I think Dan's fretting that my conversation in another thread carries over here, I'll just leave you to ask your questions of other rather than get you wrapped up in debates about atheism's meaning. What I said about Zeus and Mormonism still hold."

Actually, I don't recall anyone asking to debate atheism's meaning here. I do recall you being asked a direct question about how your comments here relate to the topic in the OP. I don't believe you answered that.

Also, your only reference to Zeus was in this comment, ""Are you aware of the origin of Zeus and the greek pantheon? They're a bunch of (largely) third generation beings who were ultimately spawned by chaos."

Yup. This might tie into the OP somehow, but I don't yet see how. Again, you raised this issue, then referred back to it as if it somehow responds to the issues at hand here. If anyone else understands what Crude was referring to here, I'd appreciate the clarification.

ozero91 said...

"I'd like to point out that this is not a problem for atheists in this argument. If theists would like to point out how a multiverse supports their theism, it is their burden to define God in such a way that their argument can make use of it and atheists cannot."

Tony, you might want to check this out. The authors attempt to show that the multiverse is compatible with theism in a non ad hoc way.

http://sententias.org/2012/11/17/god-and-the-multiverse-eps-2012-paper/eps-paper-god-and-the-multiverse-pdf/

The authors are actually looking for constructive criticism, so if you have any thoughts on the paper you can post on their blog.

Tony Hoffman said...

Ozero91, thanks. I'll check that out later. Appreciate it.

Dan Gillson said...

I don't know: I wouldn't think I was being "gullible" if I listened to some non-expert say that an argument over what unicorn meat tastes like is moot because unicorns, you know, don't exist, and that therefore we can't really say whether or not it tastes good. That's just me, though, and I may be fretting.

Jeffery Jay Lowder said...

ozero91 wrote:

The authors are actually looking for constructive criticism, so if you have any thoughts on the paper you can post on their blog.

I am not aware of anyone who claims that the multiverse hypothesis is logically incompatible with theism. It seems obvious to me that it is logically compatible, and that that compatibility by itself is not a very interesting conclusion.

B. Prokop said...

" If you want to accept a hearsay account from a non-expert"

Tony, I have no idea who you consider an "expert", but let me enlighten you about just a few of my qualifications in this field.

I am the President of the Howard Astronomical society, a public/private association of amateurs in Howard County, MD, to promote the knowledge of astronomy to the public. We conduct extensive educational programs locally, and are in the middle of building an observatory on county land. I am a faculty member at the Howard Community College, where I teach astronomy. I am an acknowledged authority on the near stellar neighborhood within the astronomical community, and have lectured on that subject at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory and the Hubble Space Telescope Institute. I have appeared on NASA's cable TV channel in panel discussions of various topics (most recently concerning observations of the planet Venus). I keep abreast of all major developments in the field, and am on first name basis with many of the leading researchers in planetary and space science. I conduct my own observations from nearby dark sky sites on nearly every clear night.

Yes, what I posted earlier was technically "hearsay", but unless you get the cosmologists themselves to post to Victor's website, I'm afraid that's all you're going to get on this venue.

Sorry to everyone for going all Saint Paul on you here, but sometimes a guy's gotta stick up fer hisself.

Dan Gillson said...

So Bob, unicorn meat: yay or nay?

William said...

Tony:

I was suggesting that the presence of human epistemic contradiction and vagueness does not seem to affect ontology in many cases.

Actually, if you've read some of Tegmark's own answers to objections to the level 4 multiverse speculations (see for example his The Mathematical Universe, Founds. Phys. November 2007, page 17), one such objection he tried to address was that many mathematical objects contradict one another. He addresses this by putting each in a different universe (he assumes that neither mathematical structure can contradict the other at the multiverse level).

He also talks about how many such structures may be beyond human understanding, may address your epistemic problems as well. He also mentions that a given individual (any given John Doe) may not for some reason be expressible as a computable methematical structure, and so any given person may or may not exist in reality (I personally see a problem with the mathematical universe here, because I can't see how _any_ person can be expressed as such an abstract structure alone).

All of this remains fantasy, and as such it's fun to see the individual bounds of personally acceptable fantasy displayed here :).

Syllabus said...

a “god” isn’t a bona fide god unless he can violate the laws of nature.

Which assumes that the "laws of nature" are prescriptive entities, rather than inductive generalized descriptions of physical events.

B. Prokop said...

I think the case for/against the multiverse idea is for the moment pure speculation, without a shred of evidence. It does serve, as I said, a very useful function at present in theoretical cosmology by simply tabling the whole issue of fine tuning. Otherwise (you'll have to just accept the following "hearsay") the pros in the field admit that fine tuning becomes a show-stopper, beyond which they cannot proceed. By simply hypothesizing other universes not so fortuitously fine-tuned, one can then move along to issues that are actually testable and solvable.

That said, there is a growing minority of cosmologists who think there may eventually be found a way to prove/disprove the idea. One promising line of inquiry currently being investigated is to examine the Cosmic Microwave Background (the "echo" of the Big Bang itself) for evidence of contact with other universes very early in the history of our own. (By "early", we're talking within the first trillionth of a second or so!)

Personally, I hope they do come up with some way of proving the hypothesis, solely on the irrelevant grounds that I think it's really cool. And why shouldn't an infinite God have created a truly infinite universe?

William said...

B Prokop:

I think the hypothesis is that if the uniform microwave background is not completely uniform, it may have been shaped the way several soap bubbles put together are influenced in their 3d structure by bubbles that they are touching.

I think that there are certain to be competing explanations for any subtle assymetry that may be found, but at least it will be a testable prediction,eh?

B. Prokop said...

Yup. But more probably, there will be endless debate over whether any positive results are merely over-processed noise. I've seen this at a more prosaic level when some astro-imagers do too much processing of their photographs of the moon, where you can tease out (non-existent) details on the surface that look positively artificial, but in reality aren't even there.

Crude said...

This is false. On the contrary, you exposed yourself as being over-eager to accept anything on the internet that supported your confirmation bias on this subject, and you were never able to explain why evidence that contradicted your assertion should be ignored. I regret that you so easily resort to changing the subject, making false accusations, but I must reply by referring to our discussion here:
http://dangerousidea.blogspot.com/2012/08/does-end-of-faith-justify-means-it.html and inviting anyone to read for themselves that your portrayal is false.


Indeed, read it. Watch Tony waste everyone's time with a ridiculous hyper-skepticism and inability to comprehend a relatively simple webpage, on pain of having to admit Dawkins wrote something embarrassing. Watch him do this despite the full article being presented, multiple links to atheists referring to the article as something Dawkins wrote, etc, and insisting that he 'knows how Dawkins writes' and this doesn't seem like Dawkins at all, even going so far as to doubt the article's existence - until someone produces the damn cache. (I was already in contact with the editors behind that defunct mag, but the cache beat me to it.)

The only one who had confirmation bias in play was yourself, Tony.

Actually, I don't recall anyone asking to debate atheism's meaning here. I do recall you being asked a direct question about how your comments here relate to the topic in the OP. I don't believe you answered that.

Consult the conversation I'm having with Angra for more information on that. Multiverses don't just increase the chances for accidental miracles, but for designers as well.

Yup. This might tie into the OP somehow, but I don't yet see how.

The Zeus response was to Jennifer's definition of gods. I brought up Zeus as a problem case for her standard.

Really, pretty damn simple to follow. Regarding the compatibility of the multiverse with classical theism, well, Lowder and ozero are giving their input there. That'll do.

Crude said...

Bob,

That said, there is a growing minority of cosmologists who think there may eventually be found a way to prove/disprove the idea. One promising line of inquiry currently being investigated is to examine the Cosmic Microwave Background (the "echo" of the Big Bang itself) for evidence of contact with other universes very early in the history of our own. (By "early", we're talking within the first trillionth of a second or so!)

Well, I suppose you mean give evidence for/against that particular multiverse suggestion. Even if that evidence didn't show up at all, there's an 'out' for multiverse proponents. I also recall Peter Woit discussing that this evidence was looked at with the data we have already and was determined in the negative, but you still had people and popular media presenting the case as if it were positive.

I (a real amateur) agree that the arguments won't be settled so easily either way.

Dan Gillson said...

I'd like to take a moment to recognize that Bob Prokop is an exemplar of sanity here at DI. Thank you, Bob.

B. Prokop said...

Dan,

Either your standards are really low, or my competition is awfully weak!

I'd like to give a shout-out to Crude, who (except when it comes to politics) is always worth paying attention to.

Tony Hoffman said...

Dan Gillson: "I don't know: I wouldn't think I was being "gullible" if I listened to some non-expert say that an argument over what unicorn meat tastes like is moot because unicorns, you know, don't exist, and that therefore we can't really say whether or not it tastes good. That's just me, though, and I may be fretting."

I don't think that you need a follow the advice of someone else to to make your own determination on the merits of Unicornism. I think that you almost certainly will need the help of experts to determine whether or not a multiverse is a testable hypothesis, or if it is meaningful to our understanding of physics. My point is that the arguments around the multiverse's possible existence (and relevance) are what I am first interested in, and following that, at least the opinion of experts in that particular field. Citing someone who is not an astrophyscist on a topic as complex as the multiverse as in some way determinative just seems, as I said, gullible. If you prefer, I would gladly modify that to incurious, as that is probably, on reflection, a better label.

Dan Gillson said...

"Incurious"? I'll take it!

Tony Hoffman said...

Bob P: "Yes, what I posted earlier was technically "hearsay", but unless you get the cosmologists themselves to post to Victor's website, I'm afraid that's all you're going to get on this venue."

Bob, I find your involvement with this field to be admirable. But my point is that you are not a theoretical physicist, and that your recounting what others have to say in regard to the multiverse is hearsay.

And I disagree that having an expert in the field post on this site is the only means we have to learn more about contemporary thinking on the multiverse. There could be works written by experts for reference, or (certainly better) explanations of the investigations and theories of these experts written for the scientifically literate. I think you should agree that your off the cuff comment on the multivers would constitute "all we're going to get" if we are genuinely curious about the topic.

Tony Hoffman said...

William: "Actually, if you've read some of Tegmark's own answers to objections to the level 4 multiverse speculations (see for example his The Mathematical Universe, Founds. Phys. November 2007, page 17), one such objection he tried to address was that many mathematical objects contradict one another. He addresses this by putting each in a different universe (he assumes that neither mathematical structure can contradict the other at the multiverse level). "

Thanks for the reference. I was so happy to see that it's available as a download, and for free.

Tony Hoffman said...


Crude: "Blah blah... The only one who had confirmation bias in play was yourself, Tony."

Right. As long as you continue to repeat your false assessment, I will refer to the full exchange here
http://dangerousidea.blogspot.com/2012/08/does-end-of-faith-justify-means-it.html
so that anyone can judge for themselves the extent you are able to characterize our exchange accurately. Please keep on referring to it as often as you like, and I will continue to reference it.

Me: "I do recall you being asked a direct question about how your comments here relate to the topic in the OP. I don't believe you answered that."
Crude: "Consult the conversation I'm having with Angra for more information on that. Multiverses don't just increase the chances for accidental miracles, but for designers as well."

This answer makes me think that you have not understood Angra's comments there, starting with his first comment in the post you reference.

Crude: "The Zeus response was to Jennifer's definition of gods. I brought up Zeus as a problem case for her standard. Really, pretty damn simple to follow."

This seems like a non sequitur. I will leave the previous silence of all other commenters here regarding my question about your comment's relevance to the OP (or Jennifer's question) as a testament to its adequacy.

Crude said...

Please keep on referring to it as often as you like, and I will continue to reference it.

You're saving me the trouble of linking it myself. ;)

This answer makes me think that you have not understood Angra's comments there, starting with his first comment in the post you reference.

I know it's hard for you to grasp since it involves concepts that make yer dog gone brain hurt sumfin' awful, but the discussion's gone into more detail beyond what Steve Hays originally explored.

This seems like a non sequitur.

Of course it does, because you don't understand how 'super alien' and 'Zeus' are related concepts. Do you know the origins of Zeus and the greek pantheon, Tony? Look it up.

Hint: I don't mean "watch this movie again".

Tony Hoffman said...

Crude: "I know it's hard for you to grasp since it involves concepts that make yer dog gone brain hurt sumfin' awful, but the discussion's gone into more detail beyond what Steve Hays originally explored."

The fact that you can't provide a cogent argument in a 300+ comment thread or adequate reply here is hardly to your credit. I would refer anyone to http://dangerousidea.blogspot.com/2012/11/steve-hays-on-some-implications-of.html to see how it is that Crude's reference addresses my simple question.

Crude: "Of course it does, because you don't understand how 'super alien' and 'Zeus' are related concepts."

They are related depended on how they are defined. You are deluded if you think that either are adequately defined here or in general use in order for anyone to assess what it is you are trying to say.

Crdue: "Do you know the origins of Zeus and the greek pantheon, Tony? Look it up."

That's what I meant when I said "Yup" earlier. Do you know anything about me or my background? As it turns out, nope. Now why don't you try and put forth some good arguments and improve your understanding and everyone else's while we hash things out and try to learn from each other's different views and understandings.

Crude said...

The fact that you can't provide a cogent argument in a 300+ comment thread or adequate reply here is hardly to your credit. I would refer anyone to http://dangerousidea.blogspot.com/2012/11/steve-hays-on-some-implications-of.html to see how it is that Crude's reference addresses my simple question.

And anyone who reads that thread is going to see what I'm saying: I maintain that was historically would have been called 'gods', and what rightly could be called 'gods' now, become likely or even inevitable given certain conjunctions of philosophy of mind and multiverse theory. That poses a challenge to atheism broadly, even given some particularly favorable-to-atheists assumptions.

The problem, Tony, isn't that your question it's simple. It's that you are.

They are related depended on how they are defined. You are deluded if you think that either are adequately defined here or in general use in order for anyone to assess what it is you are trying to say.

The justifications relating to how to define such things are precisely what Angra and I are discussing, Tony. I know, it's all over your head because gawrsh, brain hurt, etc. ;)

That's what I meant when I said "Yup" earlier. Do you know anything about me or my background? As it turns out, nope.

Let's see. I know that you're a Cult of Gnu wingnut. I know that you'll fight tooth and nail against relatively obvious inferences unless, much like Linton, you're caught so red-handed that you're actually forced to concede. I know you're now really angsty with regards to me particular based on the numerous petty smacking-arounds you've received.

See, I put forth plenty of good arguments and have nice, long, pleasant conversations with atheists and theists alike. I know that there are quite intelligent atheists and agnostics who are worthy of discussion, and who know their stuff. I also know that you, Tony, don't make the cut. You're a cut or two above Linton, but man, them's some mighty thin cuts.

As I said, watch your betters - like Angra. To quote Pontius Pilate from the Last Temptation - "Perhaps you'll learn a lesson. ... No. Probably not." ;)

ozero91 said...

C'mon Crude, I'm on your side in terms of the whole Dawkins thing, but is all the goading really necessary?

Tony Hoffman said...

Crude: "And anyone who reads that thread is going to see what I'm saying: I maintain that was historically would have been called 'gods', and what rightly could be called 'gods' now, become likely or even inevitable given certain conjunctions of philosophy of mind and multiverse theory. That poses a challenge to atheism broadly, even given some particularly favorable-to-atheists assumptions."

Actually, on that thread Angra has (with superhuman, almost godlike patience, I'd say) awaited basic clarification on how it is that one should define Gods so as to examine your contention. As of my most recent reading, he is still awaiting this from you.

Crude: "The problem, Tony, isn't that your question it's simple. It's that you are."

I've found that insults are usually the resort of one who is struggling to form a cogent response.

Crude: "The justifications relating to how to define such things are precisely what Angra and I are discussing, Tony. I know, it's all over your head because gawrsh, brain hurt, etc. ;)"

I've found that insults are usually the resort of one who is struggling to form a cogent response.

Crude: "Let's see. I know that you're a Cult of Gnu wingnut."

I've found that insults are usually the resort of one who is struggling to form a cogent response.

Crude: "I know that you'll fight tooth and nail against relatively obvious inferences unless, much like Linton, you're caught so red-handed that you're actually forced to concede."

False. I refer to this thread, or the others pointed to earlier.

Crude: "I know you're now really angsty with regards to me particular based on the numerous petty smacking-arounds you've received."

False. I refer to this thread, or the others pointed to earlier.

Crude: "See, I put forth plenty of good arguments and have nice, long, pleasant conversations with atheists and theists alike. I know that there are quite intelligent atheists and agnostics who are worthy of discussion, and who know their stuff. I also know that you, Tony, don't make the cut. You're a cut or two above Linton, but man, them's some mighty thin cuts."

Actually, everything considered, I'm not really even sure if this is an insult. I do think that you may sometime confuse extraordinary patience on the part of your interlocutors as something other than it is. I suppose that you are not able to see this.

Crude: "As I said, watch your betters - like Angra. To quote Pontius Pilate from the Last Temptation - "Perhaps you'll learn a lesson. ... No. Probably not." ;)"

I do agree with part of this -- Angra is clearly more patient, and certainly more expert in his dismantling of specious claims than I am. And I have learned much from reading his comments.

Cheers.

B. Prokop said...

but his posts are still wa-a-a-ay too long.

Ilíon said...

My own analysis

steve said...

B. Prokop said...

"I think the case for/against the multiverse idea is for the moment pure speculation, without a shred of evidence."

Keep in mind that Bob's personal opinion regarding the merits of the multiverse is irrelevant to the actual argument.

Many atheists endorse the multiverse. Indeed, they think that's a way of undercutting some theistic proofs.

So that's the frame of reference. We're arguing with the atheist on his own grounds.

Now, some atheists may reject the multiverse. That's their prerogative. In that case, the argument won't have traction for them.

Mind you, in rejecting the multiverse, they also reject the perceived benefits of the multiverse as an undercutter for Christian theism. So they pay a price for their rejection.

Crude said...

ozero,

C'mon Crude, I'm on your side in terms of the whole Dawkins thing, but is all the goading really necessary?

Necessary? No. But the thing is, I'm not really goading here - I'm just bluntly telling the truth, and even there largely because Tony's asking for it. Everything I said about his reasoning capabilities is true.

And it's not like I play the game of 'anyone who disagrees with me or even insults me is clearly a stupid person'. I've told off dguller and BDK, but I never once accused them of having no grasp of what they talk about or being stupid, because they simply aren't. They're quite smart and can grasp what they discuss. When things got heated with Angra, I would not jump on board with the 'he's just another Linton!' comment, because - despite my disagreements with him - it was clear he wasn't. Ilion snarls at me and calls me a lying liberal, but I still have to grant what I see with him. I've disagreed with Dan Gillson on multiple topics, but I still think he's intelligent and reasonable - I've never even insulted him. (Gee, maybe it's because he's never insulted me, or anyone who didn't deserve it - at least not obnoxiously. I'm sure his opinion of me is lower for my telling Tony off here - so be it.)

With Tony? Tony really is slow. He can spell decently and has good grammar, but really, that's about it. He'll still defend Dawkins desperately, to the point of stupidity. He'll still twist logic and BS, but worst of all he BSes badly. He wastes people's time, and he has a very high, unwarranted opinion of himself. Hell, he tears snottily into Victor over ridiculous things - Victor! The nicest guy on these stupid blogs!

Either way, the reason I tear into him over that incident is because it was the last straw. It was like the second plagiarism moment with Linton - that was the point where it became clear just what everyone was dealing with. Like with Linton, I'm going to drill it in a couple times, and then leave it alone and just ignore him, since he really deserves nothing more. Like with Linton, other people will still talk to him and I'll be left confused as to why anyone would bother, given the evidence on the table. That's for them to decide.

But in the meantime, pointing out his wretched track record, calling him out on BS, telling him just what his reasoning capabilities are? It's harsh, sure. Some people don't like that kind of blunt mockery and dismissal - grates on the ears (I suppose, eyes here.) I think it's warranted and necessary.

So, sorry if it bugs you, ozero. I sincerely mean that. I'm just doing what I think the situation calls for.

Crude said...

And just to amend to ozero.

I don't think it's necessary in a 'Will the world stop spinning if I don't do this / will some huge loss come if I don't do this' sense. But it's necessary in the sense of 'this is what I think should reasonably be done in such a situation' sense.

steve said...

I'd like to reiterate a rudimentary distinction which is getting deliberately blurred in this discussion:

i) Whether the multiverse is inconsistent with Christian theology is irrelevant to whether the multiverse is inconsistent with atheism, either on its on terms or in conjunction with Sagan's motto.

At least one verbose commenter is attempting a bait-n-switch by shifting the discussion from whether the multiverse is consistent with atheism to its consistency (or lack thereof) with Christianity. But these are separate questions. Even if the multiverse were incompatible with Christian theology, that, of itself, doesn't let the atheist off the hook.

ii) Although, although this observation shouldn't be allowed to derail the discussion from the real issue, some commenters seem to be ignorant of the fact that many professing Christians endorse the multiverse. And they range along a theological spectrum. For instance:

http://www.ryerson.ca/~kraay/multiverse.html

Therefore, even if the Christian status of the multiverse were germane to the actual argument (which is not the case), atheists can't simply posit that the multiverse is contrary to Christian theology, to dodge the implications of the multiverse for atheism.

Crude said...

Adding on to what steve said - you don't have to accept the multiverse to have a discussion about it. I'd be sympathetic to Bob's position, but the fact is you still have many people out there who accept a multiverse for various reasons - there's some interesting things to say about it.

Ilíon said...

"... Ilion snarls at me and calls me a lying liberal ..."

Yet, that assertion is a two-part lie, as anyone can plainly see for himself.

Crude said...

Yet, that assertion is a two-part lie, as anyone can plainly see for himself.

You deny you've accused me of lying? You deny you've accused me of being liberal?

If you deny that you snarl, ha. Ha! I'll just let your denial stand and admire the chutzpah. ;)

William said...

Steve:

"Mind you, in rejecting the multiverse, they also reject the perceived benefits of the multiverse as an undercutter for Christian theism. So they pay a price for their rejection."

I agree about this, though I'm also of the opinion that only the "local universe" has truth-makers that are valid for us.

Let's set that aside for now and assume we can actually make meta-truth (multiverse level) statements that make sense: here's what I get.

To summarize where I agree with your argument: most multiverses that tend to increases the probability for fine tuning also tend to increase the probability of miracle and deity.

Also, any argument about defining god applies in spades to defining the world or the universe, so it's all effectively just evasion.

Tony Hoffman said...

Crude: "With Tony? Tony really is slow. He can spell decently and has good grammar, but really, that's about it. He'll still defend Dawkins desperately, to the point of stupidity. He'll still twist logic and BS, but worst of all he BSes badly. He wastes people's time, and he has a very high, unwarranted opinion of himself."

You keep repeating all these insults and falsehoods, and so I will again refer the reader to this exchange and the one you keep referring to ( http://dangerousidea.blogspot.com/2012/08/does-end-of-faith-justify-means-it.html). I suggest readers come to their own decision on who is being all the things you describe, and I would suggest that you quit repeating false assertions that require me to respond -- I think it bogs down what could otherwise be interesting discussions.

Crude: "Hell, he tears snottily into Victor over ridiculous things - Victor! The nicest guy on these stupid blogs!"

Citation please.

I would also suggest that you appear to be employing the fact that I comment here as a voice of the opposition, and the fact VR does appear to be a nice guy, to appeal to the crowd's emotions in an attempt to falsely vilify me. This is classic demagoguery.

Crude: "But in the meantime, pointing out his wretched track record, calling him out on BS, telling him just what his reasoning capabilities are? It's harsh, sure. Some people don't like that kind of blunt mockery and dismissal - grates on the ears (I suppose, eyes here.) I think it's warranted and necessary."

This is just insinuation again. I refer the reader to this comment thread and the others to come to their own decision about who is being forthright and pushing "BS."

Btw, I only respond to these comments from Crude because it has occurred to me that repeating false charges here often enough does have some effect. (It's a well-known fact of psychology that false charges, repeated often enough, are considered more believable than ones that are not repeated.) Whether it's done consciously or not doesn't really matter -- it does have an effect, and the only recourse I think we have is to point them out as often as they're repeated. So I'm sorry to burden this post with my replies, but to do otherwise would, as they say, let the haters win.

Cheers.

Tony Hoffman said...

William: "To summarize where I agree with your argument: most multiverses that tend to increases the probability for fine tuning also tend to increase the probability of miracle and deity."

I am curious why you think that. The multiverse, as I understand it, is a possible explanation for the (what some think) is the apparent fine tuning of our universe. I understand the multiverse to contain the full set (infinite, actually) of nomological possibilities. While I don't think this poses an argument for the impossibility of theism, it can be used to counter the argument that our universe is so extraordinarily improbable it could only have been designed.

It seems to me that if theists would like to take comfort in the possibility of the multiverse, then they find themselves accepting a kind of deity that is extraordinary but is not the stuff of classical theism. In short, it appears that a deity would be a product of the multiverse, whereas both the God of the Bible and the God of classical theism is a creator God who resides outside reality.

William said...

Tony:

" In short, it appears that a deity would be a product of the multiverse, whereas both the God of the Bible and the God of classical theism is a creator God who resides outside reality."

Would belief in a "deity that is the product of the multiverse" yet resides both inside and in part outside our universe" be theism? I think yes, though not a classical kind, agreed.

B. Prokop said...

"it appears that a deity would be a product of the multiverse, whereas both the God of the Bible and the God of classical theism is a creator God who resides outside reality."

I fail to see how you reach this conclusion. God is still "creator of all things visible and invisible" whether there is one universe or an infinite number of them. He is still outside whatever is created. Even in the case of a (hypothetical) multiverse, He remains the "producer" and not a "product".

No problem here.

Tony Hoffman said...

Bob P: "I fail to see how you reach this conclusion."

It's not a conclusion -- it's a possibility depending on how you define something like a deity in a multiverse.

Bob: "God is still "creator of all things visible and invisible" whether there is one universe or an infinite number of them. He is still outside whatever is created. Even in the case of a (hypothetical) multiverse, He remains the "producer" and not a "product"."

If you define God as being outside the multiverse then that's fine. The OP had asked if the multiverse could be employed to help explain the resurrection. I count you as one who does not believe it would (and I would agree with you).

Cheers.

steve said...

Tony Hoffman said...

"I am curious why you think that. The multiverse, as I understand it, is a possible explanation for the (what some think) is the apparent fine tuning of our universe."

Actually, I believe the original rationale for the multiverse was to solve the measurement conundrum in quantum mechanics. It later became very popular among atheists due to its perceived power to deflect the fine-tuning argument and some other theistic proofs.

William said...

Tony:

"If you define God as being outside the multiverse then that's fine. The OP had asked if the multiverse could be employed to help explain the resurrection. I count you as one who does not believe it would (and I would agree with you)."

This is really interesting. It tends to cooroborate William James' ideas of the place of live options versus non-live options for the choice of belief. Both Bob and you agree that a world-limited, Hindu-style god pantheon is simply not a live option for your personal multiverse-enabled definitions of god-ness.

So our workable god definitions are not always fuzzy-- they are sometimes, instead, limited by what we see as valid worldviews for our peer group, and this in turn gets projected into the multiverse hypotheses. Very postmodern :-).

Crude said...

William,

Would belief in a "deity that is the product of the multiverse" yet resides both inside and in part outside our universe" be theism? I think yes, though not a classical kind, agreed.

Pretty sure you're talking about panentheism or something close to it. Aren't you?

William said...

Crude:

I think that Steve's version of a total ensemble of alternate possibilities as multiverse implies that there are alternate universes where certain beings are effectively a pantheon. Bob and Tony would deny that any of those immortals were gods though. Your word for it earlier was one I'd never heard before (henotheism).

William said...

Steve:

"Actually, I believe the original rationale for the multiverse was to solve the measurement conundrum in quantum mechanics. It later became very popular among atheists due to its perceived power to deflect the fine-tuning argument and some other theistic proofs."

That was the original rationale for the world-splits-every-quantum-reduction (Tegmark type II) type of multiverse, yes.

Yet another fun irony here is that in string theory one huge problem with multiverses is yet another measure problem, that of deciding on the frequency distributions of a given set of features across the multiverses. So a postulated fix for the measurement problem creates another measure problem :).

B. Prokop said...

I have just recalled another science fiction predecessor to the mutliverse concept - the very fine novel Star Maker by Olaf Stapledon (1937). This book posits an infinite number of universes created (depending on how one viewed the process)either sequentially or simultaneously. Stapledon did not call his creator "God" but rather stuck to the term "Star Maker".

Arthur C. Clarke considered the novel to be the finest work of science fiction ever - C.S. Lewis absolutely hated the book. My own view is that it is magnificently imaginative, but nearly impossible to read.

Crude said...

You keep repeating all these insults and falsehoods

They are neither insults nor falsehoods. They are starkly stated observations and truths. Yes, again, everyone who reads that thread will see exactly why, in that thread itself, I mention I'll be citing it in the future. Because you were a damn fool then, and really, you haven't improved much since.

Citation please.

I would also suggest that you appear to be employing the fact that I comment here as a voice of the opposition, and the fact VR does appear to be a nice guy, to appeal to the crowd's emotions in an attempt to falsely vilify me. This is classic demagoguery.


Uh, if you don't want to be exposed as a jackass who acts so towards someone who manifestly doesn't deserve it, here's a good way to solve it Tony: don't do that.

You want a citation? Let's start with this: Victor makes a post linking to a D-K effect paper by a theist with merely the comment of "Oh, I forgot. It's just believers who suffer from cognitive pathologies." After atheists on this site were insisting that various theist commenters were subject to the effect.

Your response? [...]This reaction to it seems profoundly anti-intellectual, and kind of juvenile. And your comment makes me wonder if you even undersand what it is the field of psychology studies.

Profoundly anti-intellectual? Really? You're a fool, Tony.

Btw, I only respond to these comments from Crude because it has occurred to me that repeating false charges here often enough does have some effect.

Which would explain a good amount of your comments.

Pity others are so often there to correct 'em, eh?