Saturday, December 03, 2022

An atheistic justification for violence

 An atheistic argument for violence:

1) Atheism is true, and so obviously so that religious believers must be insane.
2) Insane people can do outrageous things.
3) The people who promulgate belief in God are putting other people's sanity in danger.
4) Even if we have to forcibly stop them from doing so, we can prevent them from leading other people on the road to insanity, and hence possibly outrageous actions.
5) Therefore, the use of force in the name of suppressing religion is justified.

68 comments:

bmiller said...

Here's a more historical/realistic revision of the argument.

A Leftist argument for violence:

1) Leftism is true, and so obviously so that non-Leftists must be insane.
2) Insane people can do outrageous things.
3) Non-Leftists are putting other people's sanity in danger.
4) Even if we have to forcibly stop them from doing so, we can prevent them from leading other people on the road to insanity, and hence possibly outrageous actions.
5) Therefore, the use of force in the name of suppressing non-Leftism is justified.

John B. Moore said...

These arguments might make sense if we had certainty. But we don't have anything close to certainty on these questions. It's doubtful whether force can stop religious people from proselytizing. It's very possible that the attempt to use force would just make things worse.

Lack of certainty is the very essence of atheism - that's why atheists insist that atheism just means "lack of belief" rather than a positive belief in the non-existence of God. Atheism means accepting our ignorance.

The claim to certainty is typical of religions, not atheism. A more historical/realistic revision of the argument would describe the inquisition, or the witch burnings, or the holy wars, etc.

Starhopper said...

"Lack of belief" is not atheism, but rather agnosticism.

One Brow said...

Starhopper,

"Lack of belief" is atheism. Uncertainty of belief is agnosticism. I'm very sure I don't believe in gods/God.

John B. Moore,

Agnosticism means accepting ignorance. I believe God does not exist. I don't claim to have any proof he does not exist.

Meanwhile, the original post uses 1) an obviously false statement, 2) ableist language (the insane are no more likely to be violent than the sane), and 3) additional ableist language that you can be driven insane. It's truly disgusting.

Starhopper said...

OB,

But is not believing there is a God the same thing as believing there is no God?

Kevin said...

Lack of certainty is the very essence of atheism

Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Peter Boghossian, PZ Myers, and such atheists and their fans do not lack certainty. They are supremely confident there is no such thing as God.

For them, the "lack of belief" definition simply releases them from the burden of presenting any sort of evidence for their own beliefs, or a standard by which evidence presented to them could be found valid.

The only commonality between all atheists is not believing in a God. Certainty is very easy to find within their ranks.

David Brightly said...

I'm with Starhopper and Kevin. Theists believe that God exists, atheists believe He does not, and agnostics have no belief either way. We can bring in uncertainty by talking about strength of belief. I think that is the simplest and clearest way of using these terms. When younger I used to say I was agnostic, but later came to see that atheist was more accurate. Of course, much depends on what you think 'God' means.

Victor's argument should be applied to anyone who accepts (1). Just joking.

One Brow said...

Starhopper,

In the sense that they are unevidenced, unprovable positions, they are indeed the same. That's aside from the difference between "I lack belief" (a surety in my case) and "I believe in a lack" (an unevidenced suspicion).

bmiller said...

David,

Of course, much depends on what you think 'God' means.

Can you elaborate on this? I'm curious why the definition would turn an atheist into an agnostic or vice versa.

David Brightly said...

I think the meanings of 'theist', etc, are relative to the meaning of 'God'. Consider Spinoza. He thought of God as Nature, I think, which he believed in. So he is a theist relative to his own conception of God. But his religious community in Amsterdam had a different conception which Spinoza rejected. He was an atheist in respect of his community's conception and was thereby driven out. A contemporary example might be Jordan Peterson. He seems to accept some kind of transcendent entity which he calls 'God' but it's a long way away from the Christian conception, as far as I can tell. I think he sees the Christian God as his own, but rendered into myth, as it were. I was brought up in the CofE but I never arrived at a satisfactory conception of quite what I was meant to believe. So I drifted towards atheism.

bmiller said...

One of the charges against Socrates was that he was an atheist because he didn't believe in the pantheon of Greek gods. But he believed in a different deity. So both Spinoza and Socrates were atheists relative to the society that surrounded them but they were not atheists full stop since they believed in a deity or higher power or whatever you want to call it, IMO.

Although those 2 were atheists wrt the Anglican Church they were not atheists wrt a/the deity. Where do you fit in then? Atheist full stop? Or some belief in a higher/transcendent being or something along those lines?

David Brightly said...

Right. If you make the credo smaller it becomes in one way easier to accept---there are fewer things you must adhere to. But the tendency is to discard the more concrete features and retain the more abstract ones, so it becomes harder to say quite what it is that one believes in. I think successful religions hit upon a balance here that satisfies our kind of understanding. I like the way Peterson and Iain McGilchrist, say, start with the givens of human psychology and neurophysiology and try to work outwards. I'm not confident this gets us to anything transcendent, but it may help us better to understand ourselves and our limitations as embodied minds in space and time.

bmiller said...

I guess some folks look at the universe and wonder why and others look at themselves and wonder why. In both cases we see limits and so wonder why the limits are there.

bmiller said...

If I remember back correctly, it was the orderliness of the universe and wondering why it was so orderly rather than not that was most convincing to me. Definitely not the route DesCartes took.

Starhopper said...

For me, the "smoking gun" for God's existence was existence itself. I could never accept "brute fact" as an explanation as to why there was something rather than nothing, since the universe was entirely composed of contingent things.

bmiller said...

I was a child so never heard of a brute fact or contingent beings. If I had I probably would have been disgusted. I hated brutes and beans.

David Brightly said...

The sort of limitation I have in mind is a bit like this. Imagine a two-dimensional being on the surface of a sphere in three dimensions. It could realise that there was something weird about the space it lived in---travel in a straight line and eventually it gets back to its start point---but it couldn't intuit the third dimension the way we can. It transcends all of its possible experience. By analogy, just being the rational minds we are need not mean that we can reach and comprehend everything that is. There could be something transcendent of us that we cannot reach. But how could we say anything about it, apart from its transcendence relative to ourselves?

Starhopper said...

David, you must be aware of the 1883 SF novel Flatland. In it, the main character (a square), living in a 2 dimensional world, travels to the 3rd dimension, as well as to Lineland and (my favorite) Pointland.

bmiller said...

But how could we say anything about it, apart from its transcendence relative to ourselves?

I'm not sure I follow.

Your example is of us imagining how a 2 dimensional being would perceive a 3 dimensional world. Then imagining perhaps that there are other dimensions that cause us confusion since we are 3 dimensional beings.

In your analogy, the 2D being does perceive/know something about the 3D world since he came back to his starting point and so must come up with an explanation if he is at all curious.

Likewise, who could think that somehow we ever could know everything there is to know about everything. We can reach the conclusion that there is more to it than we know or ever could know. Yet we can see that things are orderly (or there could be no science), things seem to be caused by or rely on other things as in the 2 examples that Starhopper and I used.

Yes, we can only go so far using only empirical, experimentally derived consistent results and logical rules, but doesn't exhaust knowledge. I'm alive for instance. What is life?

bmiller said...

By that I mean, I can't be experimentally put together, taken apart and put together again like H2O could be. Once a living thing is not living you can't naturally put the living back in.

David Brightly said...

I'm suggesting that the 2d being simply cannot perceive (intuit) the 3d world at all. It's just not there for it, as it were. The best it could do is to develop a mathematical conception of a 2d space embedded in a 3d space. But it would have no 'feel' (intuition) for 3d space, just as we have no feel for Einstein's radical unity of space and time, for example. All we can say about this is conceptual not empirical. For us, clocks don't go slower or bodies contract in length, just by being in motion. How absurd!

Regarding order and chaos, I think these are relative terms. There is no absolute order and no absolute chaos. The interior of the sun is pretty chaotic but the chaos is ordered by regularities within the interactions between hydrogen, deuterium, tritium, and helium nuclei.

Surely we have had an empirical understanding of life for millennia which precedes any contemporary molecular biology, biochemistry, etc? Birth, death, eating, breathing, moving, thinking, and so on. I am reluctant to apply the term 'knowledge' to the theoretical sciences. Of course we know that certain chemical procedures produce certain results---it's been tried over and over again, just as we know the leaves fall in autumn. Our present explanations for what happens seem to me a kind of fancy guesswork. We are limited in what we can know to what our senses tell us, and our senses themselves are limited and not 100% reliable, at that. We see only in the visible spectrum, and what we see depends on lighting conditions. We are rather like the 2d creature in its attempts to probe the unknowable, I think.

Yes, I have heard of Abbott's Flatland but have not read it. Though I see it's only 80-odd pages.

bmiller said...

I guess I don't worry too much about things I cannot possibly perceive or know about. I can perceive and know about some things and so it's those things I have to work with in building my understanding of reality.

Part of what I perceive is that people do things for reasons. To reach goals and so on. It seems that animals and plants do too. Even inanimate things seem to trend in predictable ways. The theory of gravity, for instance, tells us all objects are attracted to each other.

Do I perceive why things seem to have goals? Not directly no.

David Brightly said...

Lots of things in different categories here. We perceive people, animals, plants, and objects generally. We perceive them doing things. That's all with the senses. Do we perceive with the senses the reasons for these doings? Mostly No. 'Reason' has two senses here: (a) A goal or objective I'm aware of within myself. (b) An explanation within some system of understanding. I don't perceive a-reasons in other people, but I assume they are there and I use them in my b-explanations of what they do. But I think it's a bit of a confusion to call this 'indirect perception'.

bmiller said...

Right. I have my own experiences and build my understanding of reality from that. I observe things moving and changing and try to understand what they are doing by drawing on my own thoughts. It's not a direct perception but an inference.

I mentioned how I come to view reality in reference to this statement of yours:

I'm suggesting that the 2d being simply cannot perceive (intuit) the 3d world at all. It's just not there for it, as it were.

How does this statement about perception relate to your latest statement? I mean it's true in both cases the subject does not directly perceive something.

David Brightly said...

I guess I'm trying to get to grips with what 'transcendent' might mean. My Collins says 'beyond our experience of phenomena, although not beyond potential knowledge'. I struggle with this. I wonder how we could know of anything that lies beyond experience.

Starhopper said...

I believe transcendent refers to realities that are not directly perceptible via our senses - thinks like beauty, grandeur, heroism, evil, purpose, meaning, love.

bmiller said...

I think you first introduced that word wrt Jordan Peterson. Maybe you're attaching too much significance to it.

I wonder how we could know of anything that lies beyond experience.

Does everyone know what they infer to be the case is actually the case? I don't know that animals have goals because I cannot read animal minds or have their experience, but it seems to be the case to me and I see no good reason to disbelieve it.

My point is that we reach conclusions about things outside our direct experience all the time and operate as if we are right. No way to live our lives otherwise.

I guess plenty of us can live our lives without ever thinking about what is life, for instance, since it is indeed beyond our experience. But we are here because we are the ones thinking about these things. The answer will be transcendent, but that's why we're here. I want to give it a shot.

bmiller said...

From https://www.etymonline.com/:

transcend (v.)
mid-14c., "escape inclusion in; lie beyond the scope of," from Old French transcendre "transcend, surpass," and directly from Latin transcendere "climb over or beyond, surmount, overstep," from trans "across, beyond" (see trans-) + scandere "to climb" (see scan (v.)). Meanings "be surpassing, outdo, excel; surmount, move beyond" are from early 15c. Related: Transcended; transcending.


Maybe like living your life among trees and then climbing a mountain and seeing your home is a forest.

David Brightly said...

SH, Surely beauty etc are not beyond our experience? They may not be the immediate deliverances of the senses but they follow pretty quickly, I think, and without rational thought. They are aspects of the world to which we respond involuntarily. So I cannot see them as transcendental in the 'beyond' sense.

BM, Yes, we make inferences, guesses, assumptions about the world, and especially other people, in order to conduct our lives. We can think of animals as being somewhat like us and this helps us interact with them. But this isn't knowledge, at least not in my perhaps rather strict sense of the term. More a heuristic.

Why say life is beyond experience? In one sense life just is experience.

Peterson talks about 'the transcendent' in a way that puts one in mind of classical theism. But what he seems to mean is rather some universal aspects of the human condition, especially an ethics, which he finds in myth and rooted in our evolved psychology as a social species. I think it's the universality---for all humans, in all places, over all time---that leads him to use the term 'transcendent'.

bmiller said...

What I meant was that what life is is beyond experience. Not that we don't experience life. It's more of a "why?" question, than a "how is it going?" question.

I can see how your take on Peterson's use of the word can fit in with the historical usage of the term. When we move our analysis from particular cases to commonality among all cases we can see something more, something beyond what we can see in individual cases.

What do you consider knowledge then? Can you ever have it according to your definition?

David Brightly said...

In Biology at school we were taught that life was seven things: eating, breathing, eliminating, growing, reproducing, moving, and responding to stimuli (in a single organism). I see now the list has changed a bit but there are still seven! We experience all those going on in us. We know they go on. They involve sensible aspects of our existence. The modern list is more abstract, including homeostasis, for example. Do I know, can I sense, homeostatic processes within me? That's not so clear. It seems to me that if we ask what the seven original characteristics themselves are then we are driven down the path of expanding scientific 'knowledge', a very great deal of which rests on hypothetical goings-on that we cannot sense directly. We have instruments like microscopes of course, but some philosophers of science will say that our confidence that they reveal how the world is itself rests on our accepting other hypothetical goings-on. Rather than trying to show that the scientific system is really well-founded I prefer to accept what they say. I don't care. It works. So I'm retreating a bit from scientific realism. This leaves me open to attack from the rabid scientific anti-realists, but that is another problem. Our present question is where this leaves scientific knowledge (no more scare quotes). Is it transcendental? Surely not. It rests on our experience, imagination, and thought. Hawking's 'knowing the mind of God' is a step too far for me.

bmiller said...

I see. You are only talking about "scientific knowledge". Science specifically excludes the "why" questions or questions of purpose. Science may shed some light on the those types of questions, but philosophy is the proper tool to use.

David Brightly said...

Wouldn't any philosophical conclusion equally rest on our experience, imagination, and thought, just as science does?

bmiller said...

Because both science and philosophy reach conclusions based on our experience, imagination and thought does not make them the same thing.

Science specifically avoids asking "why". Only "how".

To be precise, only questions related to the efficient and material causes are to be considered in science. Questions related to formal and final causes are not to be considered. This was an historical decision made so technology could focus on making man "like masters and possessors of nature”.

Philosophy is allowed to consider those questions forbidden to science.

David Brightly said...

Perhaps, but I think you miss the logic. If scientific knowledge fails to be transcendental because it rests in human experience, imagination, and thought, and if philosophical knowledge is similarly founded, then philosophical knowledge also fails to be transcendental.

bmiller said...

I think it fails to be transcendental because it purposefully avoids transcendental questions. Philosophy transcends (goes beyond) science because it considers more things than science.

Although the tools may be the same, how the tools are used will produce different results. I can do many things with a hammer and chisel, but I won't be the next Michelangelo if I'm told not to use them to sculpt human figures.

BC Commentary said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
David Brightly said...

Philosophy starts with premises drawn from our experience of the world around us and proceeds by deductive arguments. This makes it more akin to mathematics than the natural sciences, though the validity of the arguments, compared to mathematics, is more open to question, because the terms it operates with tend to be less well-defined than those of mathematics. Unlike the sciences, there is little or no notion of checking its conclusions against experience. I'm dubious that philosophy delivers knowledge, let alone transcendental knowledge.

bmiller said...

I think mathematics does not necessarily have to correlate to actual things in world we live in. Does that count as knowledge in your definition?

Aside from that consideration, it seems there is an implication that philosophers intentionally violate and disagree with the reasoning being used in mathematics and science. It seems you see a conflict while I see the study of math and science as just particular branches of the seeking of knowledge under the broad term philosophy. Particular branches that require particular methods applicable to their specific cases. But those branches do not exhaust all there is to inquire about. Other branches of philosophy deal with those questions.

Isn't that why we're here on this blog?

David Brightly said...

How about this suggestion. Philosophy tackles the hard questions, those left over when all the easy ones have been spun off into maths, the sciences, history, etc. Philosophy of X is often more contested than the science of X, which often for decades, is thought of as 'settled'. The traditional domains of pure philosophy are also highly contested with rival positions that survive for centuries and more. I really do struggle with the thought that these philosophical investigations are delivering knowledge. The conclusion I tend to make is that these questions are beyond our limited understanding, or that they are pseudo questions with no real meaning.

bmiller said...

I'm not sure that math gives us knowledge of the external world other than the knowledge of how to do math. I would also suggest that history is subjective. It may be settled amongst the winners, but the losers may disagree.

I'm also not sure that the science and philosophy can be separated without damage to both. Quantum Mechanics is a good example. The first generation of scientists that investigated QM had at least some philosophical background and so could spot the philosophical errors of some of the theories. Take for example the Copenhagen "collapse of the waveform" where something is not "real" until it is observed. There are plenty of philosophical (and logical) issues with this prevalent view and "knowledge" of reality is involved.

Since most physicists hold this view, it may said that it's settled. But if nothing is "real" until it's observed, then how did the observer become "real" and make the observation? If he was made real by a previous observer then we have an infinite regress. I doubt physicists without a philosophical background care. Is this then "knowledge"?

David Brightly said...

Russell somewhere says,
Mathematics may be defined as the subject in which we never know what we are talking about, nor whether what we are saying is true.
This is because it consists entirely of true claims of the form A-->B. These are logical truths and true in all possible worlds. But then came Gödel.

You are right about QM. Its interpretation is a philosophical mess. Most physicists follow the 'shut up and calculate' mantra. But if it's going to be fixed I suspect it will be by physicists with a philosophical turn of mind rather than philosophers not deeply engaged with the physics. For example, mysterious Newtonian action at a distance gets fixed after 200 odd years by Einstein. I agree that what mathematicians and physicists know is how to do their subject. That's what a PhD is for. But I can't accept a bald 'history is subjective'. That's offering too much to our philosophical enemies. Most of history consists of finding out and writing down in everyday language what happened in the everyday world. That's knowledge in my book. We edge into the realms of hypothesis perhaps when historians try to imaginatively reconstruct what the actors in history thought, felt, and believed. But that's what makes history one of the humanities.

bmiller said...

For example, mysterious Newtonian action at a distance gets fixed after 200 odd years by Einstein.

Fixed for now. It requires us to think that space is somewhat like a fluid that gets disturbed by the things within it. Sounds sort of like some kind of aether again. Let's talk about this again 200 years from now and see if anyone ever had any knowledge at all.

My point about history is that historians, like journalists, have a world-view and that may come out in their work. It seems more so today than in the past.

bmiller said...

BTW. Newton could not explain the mechanism of how gravity caused action at a distance, but Einstein did not do much better. Better math and so better predictions, but not better as an explanation of the mechanism.

Things travel in straight lines unless they travel near a massive object. Does the massive object then "bend" space and therefore the trajectory of the traveling object without applying a force to the object? GR says yes. But then how does the massive object "bend" space in the first place? Doesn't that require a force of some kind?

Also if force is not required for gravity according to GR, then why are physicists looking for gravitons to explain a force that doesn't need explaining according to GR?

It doesn't look like physicists have as many definitive answers as the general public is led to believe.

David Brightly said...

Aha. Here is an opportunity to show how causes and mechanisms have disappeared from physics.

Remember the 2d flatlander living on a sphere in 3d space? It turns out that by making measurements purely in the surface of the sphere---the only space he has any experience of---he can figure out how the spherical surface curves in 3-space. This was worked out by mathematicians in the 19th century starting with Gauss. At bottom Einstein's equations of GR boil down to

G = κT

The G object measures the curvature of space-time, the T object measures the density of mass-energy, and κ is a constant involving Newton's gravitational constant, the speed of light, and π for good luck. The G and T are matrix-like thingies with 10 components, so the above is really 10 separate equations. This is not so far from Maxwell's first equation,

div E = ρ / ε

E is the electric field strength vector at some point in space and moment in time, div is a differential operator which extracts the spatial rate of change of E, ρ is the electric charge density at that place and time, and ε a constant. Rather than seek a causal account of the relation between T and G or ρ and E, it's better to think of them as part and parcel of the same phenomenon. For example, there is an integral rather than differential version of Maxwell which says that the total electric flux across a surface enclosing a volume is proportional to the total charge within that volume. Roughly, the more charge the stronger field, and that makes a kind of intuitive sense with respect to how we understand charge and electric field. So, yes, we can say that mass-energy 'bends' space-time but there is no force-like thing going on, just as charge needs no force to project an electric field. It's just part of what charge is and does.

Regarding gravitons, these are 'particles' of gravity analogous to photons of the EM field, in some putative quantum compatible upgrade of GR. These are not the same as gravitational waves which experimentalists are currently building instruments to detect. Gravitational waves are classical and predicted by Einstein.

bmiller said...

Newton showed how action worked at at distance in his time. Gravity just is what massive objects do was the explanation. Turns out people thought it was unacceptable.

Our math has gotten more precise but our explanations haven't kept up. Have modern physicists given up? The math works so what more is there to say?

David Brightly said...

I think that's right. On the one hand, explanations in ordinarily understandable human terms like forces and causes have not kept up and probably cannot keep up. On the other hand mathematical gadgets have raced ahead. Remember Newton had to invent the calculus to show that an inverse square law of force would explain planetary paths. By Einstein's time differential geometry was a tool waiting to be put to work in physics. Eugene Wigner.

bmiller said...

The problem could be that the math gadgets are hiding a simpler explanation. For instance the Ptolemaic system was as accurate as anyone could measure for 1000 years, but it had started with some wrong assumptions and needed epicycles and equant points for it to make those accurate predictions.

We use calculus to calculate rates of changes of things (even the rate of change of the rate of change), but hopefully we understand that there actually are things that are changing. It seems that a lot of physicists today have abstracted themselves out of that reality.

David Brightly said...

How so?

bmiller said...

As you said, QM physicists are told to "shut up and compute" and are happy to do so. That doesn't sound like the pursuit of reality to me.

I think that scientists who've reached the conclusion that cause and effect are unimportant or non-existent because their equations tell them so have lost their calling.

bmiller said...

F=ma.

There is no arrow of cause and effect in this equation. Does that mean if I apply a force to a mass that I am not the cause of the acceleration? Or that if I get hit with an accelerating mass that it is not the cause of the force I feel?

David Brightly said...

Well, we have ploughed this furrow before! You believe, a priori, that the world is shot through with cause and effect from top to bottom, as it were. The proper method of the sciences is the pursuit of causation to the utmost degree. The scientific revolution began with that in mind. But causation turned out to like one of those rivers in central Asia that flow down from the mountains and just peter out in the desert sands. Nevertheless, upstream the flow is strong. No one can live their everyday life without thinking in causal terms. Yet, like other topics of philosophical investigation, the literature on causation is a mess. So we have a tool for dealing with the world that we can't, as yet, analyse. Nothing new there.

Isn't it the applying of the (non-zero) force to the mass the cause of the (non-zero) acceleration? Something an experimenter can choose to do or not. Like striking a match. If no force is applied, no acceleration occurs. No striking, no lighting. Isn't that a counterfactual understanding of cause, a that without which not? F=ma just says that F and a are proportionate quantities. And there are preconditions for using this formula, one of which is that the force F really is applied to the mass m, which are not stated in the equation.

bmiller said...

But causation turned out to like one of those rivers in central Asia that flow down from the mountains and just peter out in the desert sands.

People certainly aren't going to find a cause if they deny they exist. A strange development for an enterprise that began as a pursuit of explaining cause and effect.

Regarding F=ma. My point was that I've read of physicists claiming that since equations have no built in pointer to cause and effect then cause and effect are not relevant to physics. I think they have it backwards. It is through examination of cause and effect that we derived the formula to begin with, not that since we have this formula that has an equal sign there is therefore no cause and effect.

I agree with your analysis that in reality something has to be exerting a force on accelerating in order to even use the formula.

bmiller said...

I find it interesting to read about the history of scientific thought. Here is a paper summarizing the theory of gravity in 1902.

It seems "spooky action at a distance" always provoked intuitive resistance. Even from Newton.

Newton himself was opposed to this doctrine, although his gravitation law led to its development. In the oft quoted letter to Bentley he says — "That gravity should be innate, inherent, and essential to matter, so that one body may act on another body at a distance, through a vacuum, without the mediation of anything else by, and through which, their action and force may be conveyed from one to the other, is to me, so great an absurdity, that I believe no man who has in philosophical matters, a competent faculty of thinking, can ever fall into it."*

As if to enforce still further this opinion, Newton himself attempted a dynamical explanation of gravity, by means of the differential pressures of a medium in which all bodies were supposed immersed.


*Yet they fell into it

Some things that stood out to me were:
1) The last sentence from Newton sought to explain gravitational motion from the surrounding non-quantized medium. Vaguely sounds like motion directed by bends in space. Einstein acknowledged that he had made space a sort of medium, like the aether in some ways.
2) There were various corpuscular theories that involved quanta. Gravitons anyone?
3) The list of 10 characteristics of gravitational action to which any theory must satisfy. #10 especially.

David Brightly said...

A strange development indeed. What the Asian river metaphor is meant to convey is that the descending chain of explanatory cause and effect cannot go on for ever. At some depth the causes are simply unexplained. The scientific project has been one in which the gamut of causes and effects we are familiar with in our everyday world have ultimately come to be understood in terms of a very few general principles. But these principles no longer look like causes. As you point out, seeking a cause which accounts for Newtonian gravitation proves fruitless. Likewise a causal explanation for the motion of bodies in GR. We just say that their world-lines are geodesics in a curved space-time, and leave it at that. GR plus Hubble expansion then opens up the new subject area of cosmology. And so it goes on. To repeat my earlier example, there need be no explanation of how electric charge, causes, produces, projects, or whatever, an electric field. Field and charge can be seen as aspects of a single conception. Well, actually, quantum field theory does offer an account of this, but it's even less characterisable in cause and effect terms, as everything quantum seemingly is! So the river of causation really does run into the sand.

bmiller said...

I believe we are hard-wired to see cause and effect in the world. It's intuitive. And that's why explanations (or non-explanations) that deny cause and effect leave us with an unsatisfactory feeling.

It seems to me that science is pretty unsettled itself when it comes to telling us what knowledge is, not just the other branches of philosophy. Perhaps that's why the other branches are unsettled. After all Aristotle started his study of philosophy with an examination of physics since it was apparent to the senses.

bmiller said...

At some depth the causes are simply unexplained.

Or there is an ultimate explanation.

I think the river analogy goes the wrong way. We start by noticing wet sand and trace backwards toward the source to find out why the sand was wet.

Starhopper said...

Nothing to do with this discussion, but I am forever astonished at how relevant even the most insignificant details in the Gospels are to our daily existence. Not only in the Big Things, such as "reform your lives!" or "proclaim the Kingdom!", but also in their minutiae.

Lately, I've acquired the lazy habit of not making my bed in the morning. But then I read in John:

Then Simon Peter ... went into the tomb; he saw the linen cloths lying, and the napkin, which had been on his head, not lying with the linen cloths but rolled up in a place by itself. (John 20:6-7)

Wow. Here Our Lord has just risen from the dead, and what's the first thing that He does? He makes his bed, so to speak. He doesn't just toss aside His burial wrappings, but folds them up and neatly places them on the shelf upon which He had lain.

Well, in "imitation of Christ" I ought to make my own as well.

And on that note, a Merry Christmas to all.

bmiller said...

Returning to the OP and this bullet in particular:

5) Therefore, the use of force in the name of suppressing religion is justified.

David,

Is this news in the UK?
Woman arrested because she may have been praying in her mind.

There may be good arguments government arguments against free speech. But thoughts?

bmiller said...

Scratch the first "arguments" above.

David Brightly said...

It's in the local press in Birmingham but not at the national level. By a strange coincidence the lady lives just a few streets from us, but the news has to travel via Arizona! Yet it seems the police are unable to arrest Just Stop Oil protesters walking slowly in the road.

David Brightly said...

Just spotted this in spiked-online.

bmiller said...

Funny that she lives to close!

Hey. The spiked-online link doesn't work.

bmiller said...

This looks like another local story with more details.

David Brightly said...

Mea culpa.

David Brightly said...

Now in unherd.

bmiller said...

Good point about how blasphemy laws never really went away. They just changed who or what one is allowed to blaspheme.

I followed the link to her other article about how the new "laws" are contradictory in essence and so are incoherent.

Jeffery Jay Lowder said...

https://naturalisticatheism.blogspot.com/2023/01/asimovs-argument-from-bible-for-atheism.html