Author Topic: Evolutionists, arguing for their own imprisonment?  (Read 16805 times)

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Offline JeffPT

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Re: Evolutionists, arguing for their own imprisonment?
« Reply #783 on: January 21, 2012, 09:03:12 AM »
You don't see a third alternative even though you present one? Deterministic and stochastic can not be equated.

Properly stated:
1) If you get the same decision each time, then the universe – and our decisions – are deterministic.
2) If you get different results within a narrow range of probabilities, then the universe – and  our decisions – are stochastic.
3) If you get different results without constraint, then the universe – and our decisions – are random.

I think you're right about the knowledge base idea.  You probably have much more.  But forgive me for being on the fence about this idea.  At the quantum level, I can see you might have a point, and since everything can boil down to the quantum level, I can't seem to square in my mind the fact that every time you toss a ball up in the air, it will fall back down again.  Are you arguing that there is a chance, albeit very small, that the ball will not fall back to earth because there is uncertainty in the universe? 

I have a hard time understanding the notion that the neurons and chemicals in our brain are any more subject to the uncertainty principle than the ball returning to the earth.  If I delve deeply into the uncertainty principle... will it become clear how it works? 

Even eliminating randomness there is an inherent uncertainty in the universe prohibiting determinism. The Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle and the variations in the two slit experiment are the two major factors that I can name off the top of my head.

I admit I am not overly familiar with the Heisenburg Uncertainty principle, but in terms of the 2 slit experiment... when you do the experiment... regardless of our ability to understand it, don't you get the same results every time?  With no detector, it behaves one way, and with a detector, it behaves another?  Does it ever act otherwise?  Has there ever been a 2 slit experiment which had different results?  Are you saying that it's possible to get different results? 

Honestly, I want to understand this.  I'm not saying you're wrong, and I am saying I am somewhat ignorant in this topic, so if you can help me understand it, that would be cool. 

The variations in the two slit experiment demonstrates quite effectively that there are inherent uncertainties.

I don't see how.  Do they get different results each time?  In order to have uncertainty, wouldn't you have to see a different result at least once in all the experiments you do? 


No matter whether the universe is deterministic or stochastic, we still don't have free will, as we would still be at the mercy of the narrow range of possibilities.  They would be out of our control. 
Whenever events that are purported to occur in our best interest are as numerous as the events that will just as soon kill us, then intent is hard, if not impossible to assert. NDT

Offline jaimehlers

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Re: Evolutionists, arguing for their own imprisonment?
« Reply #784 on: January 21, 2012, 04:08:01 PM »
JeffPT: The basis of the uncertainty principle is that you cannot know the current position of a subatomic particle and simultaneously predict its future motion.  In essence, every measurement made of a system subject to quantum mechanics degrades the knowledge obtained via previous measurements.

The easiest way to visualize it is to imagine an object flying through vacuum, and someone uses radar pulses to locate it.  Now, if the radar pulses were powerful enough to exert some level of force on the object, they would change its momentum by some amount.  In other words, every time someone measured its position using radar, the object's path would be altered, so you can't predict its future path with the same level of accuracy as you can determine its current position.  So as you can see, it isn't something that's necessarily limited to the purely quantum level.

The uncertainty in the universe doesn't mean that absurd things can happen.  A ball being thrown into the air is subject to gravity, and it would be absurd for it to simply hang in the air on its own or to start accelerating upwards on its own.  It would be equally absurd for the ball to fall through your hand when you try to catch it.  What it means is that you can't necessarily predict what will happen before it actually happens, though you can predict a range of possible things which can happen, and you can sometimes get a very good idea of what will happen.  Uncertainty keeps the universe from being deterministic.

The two-slit experimentWiki shows that observing something can change it.  In other words, uncertainty is affected by the mere fact of observation.  Observing something alters its future behavior in ways that cannot be predicted except by more observation, which then changes its future behavior even more, and so on.  Another thing to consider is that the results of the two-slit experiment do not predict exactly where an individual electron will hit, but instead, they predict the broader pattern.  Even though the pattern is the same, each result is essentially unique, though very similar.  If you're observing it, you can predict which slit it goes through, which is not the same as predicting where exactly it impacts.  In other words, the uncertainty is based on how accurately one quality is being observed (if you observe its position, you increase the uncertainty of its momentum, and if you observe its momentum, you increase the uncertainty of its position).

One of the reasons I was arguing with Anfauglir is because of his insistence on using the save-state thought experiment to try to prove that starting from the same initial state would guarantee a deterministic result.  It took me a while to figure out why it bothered me so much, but I think I can demonstrate it now.  So you have your saved-state.  The exact position of everything in that universe - including photons  - is recorded with an extremely high degree of accuracy - which means it has to have been observed.  The uncertainty principle thus ensures that knowledge of the accuracy of their momentum will be extremely low.  In other words, by saving the current state of the universe you have dramatically increased the uncertainty of the future of that universe.  It doesn't matter if you rewind and try again, the mere fact of having the current position of everything recorded ensures that the uncertainty of its future positions would be very high.  Sure, this might only be at a quantum level, but the quantum level pervades everything everywhere, so those differences at the quantum level would affect things at higher levels, and you'd end up with a situation where you'd always have differences in how things played out.

That doesn't say anything about free will, or lack thereof.  If you can't possibly guarantee the same result because the uncertainty principle prevents it, then you can't really be sure of what factors created that result.

Also, the fact that there's only a range of possibilities to work with doesn't mean that the exact specific possibility is locked in.  If there's any freedom to make decisions, that's where it must be.

Offline Samothec

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Re: Evolutionists, arguing for their own imprisonment?
« Reply #785 on: January 22, 2012, 02:00:39 AM »
Damn. That's an excellent point! :-( 
Thanks for the correction! :-)
You're welcome
(As I wrote that it occurred to me that normally I use the correct "your/you're" but have fallen into the bad habit of using "your welcome" even though that is incorrect since the full phrase is "you are welcome")

I think you're right about the knowledge base idea.  You probably have much more.
Afterwards I was a bit embarrassed since that statement could be taken as very arrogant – and it was a bit high-handed at least but I do keep in mind that my knowledge base seems to be greater only in this area.

But forgive me for being on the fence about this idea.  At the quantum level, I can see you might have a point, and since everything can boil down to the quantum level, I can't seem to square in my mind the fact that every time you toss a ball up in the air, it will fall back down again.  Are you arguing that there is a chance, albeit very small, that the ball will not fall back to earth because there is uncertainty in the universe? 
No. But the uncertainty allows you to not catch the ball every time when it comes down again even in the save-state restart. The tiny multitude of uncertainties can cancel each out or magnify.

I don't know if you've had a chance to see the snow after a windy snowfall but if you have then you have seen how it drifts – even making huge drifts from a seemingly small snowfall. You may have also seen bare areas of driveway or road where the wind sweep it clean (to pack it into a drift probably). So while the official snowfall might have been 4 inches (to pick a number) you can see a drift 2 feet tall and barren areas of 0 inches snow height. The areas of 4 inch height snow is where things cancelled each other out. The drifts and barren areas are examples of magnification (to opposite extremes).

I have a hard time understanding the notion that the neurons and chemicals in our brain are any more subject to the uncertainty principle than the ball returning to the earth.  If I delve deeply into the uncertainty principle... will it become clear how it works? 
Maybe. You have probably just read jaimehlers post which very helpfully expands on my ideas regarding the HUP[1]. It's not an easy idea to wrap your head around - our experiences rarely include obvious expression of the HUP[1] and when it does, it is still difficult. I do understand that it is easier to consider uncertainty to be the same as randomness because we can understand randomness.

What might help more would be studying chaos theory. It might seem like I've changed topic but not really. Chaos theory helped me understand that chaos isn't really purely chaos and order isn't really purely order. Waxing poetical: the universe is magnificently complex while being elegantly simple without an iota of woo.

I admit I am not overly familiar with the Heisenburg Uncertainty principle, but in terms of the 2 slit experiment... when you do the experiment... regardless of our ability to understand it, don't you get the same results every time?  With no detector, it behaves one way, and with a detector, it behaves another?  Does it ever act otherwise?  Has there ever been a 2 slit experiment which had different results?  Are you saying that it's possible to get different results? 
Honestly, I want to understand this.  I'm not saying you're wrong, and I am saying I am somewhat ignorant in this topic, so if you can help me understand it, that would be cool. 
As jaimehlers points out above, there are patterns produced. I hadn't thought of the 2 slit experiment in terms of HUP[1] but now it seems obvious that observing the photons beforehand changes the behavior as HUP[1] predicts. But that is the problem for determinism: the observation should not change things, either both results (observed and unobserved) are two lines or both are wave interference patterns. That is the variation I was referring to above.
For the universe to be deterministic, such variability can not exist. There are deterministic elements in the universe, very definitely but as we've discussed there are other factors in play.

No matter whether the universe is deterministic or stochastic, we still don't have free will, as we would still be at the mercy of the narrow range of possibilities.  They would be out of our control.
We don't have the woo-will, true. Fortunately the stochastic universe allows for experiential "free" will giving us that range of possibilities rather than locking us into a purely deterministic fate.


The two-slit experimentWiki shows that observing something can change it.  In other words, uncertainty is affected by the mere fact of observation.  Observing something alters its future behavior in ways that cannot be predicted except by more observation, which then changes its future behavior even more, and so on.  Another thing to consider is that the results of the two-slit experiment do not predict exactly where an individual electron will hit, but instead, they predict the broader pattern.  Even though the pattern is the same, each result is essentially unique, though very similar.  If you're observing it, you can predict which slit it goes through, which is not the same as predicting where exactly it impacts.  In other words, the uncertainty is based on how accurately one quality is being observed (if you observe its position, you increase the uncertainty of its momentum, and if you observe its momentum, you increase the uncertainty of its position).
Thank you. When I read JeffPT 's post I was initially going "oh, crap, how do I expand upon this" since my social interaction knowledge base is mediocre at best. You covered the important bits I was worried about so I dealt with re-explaining the other parts I didn't do so hot with the first time around.

One of the reasons I was arguing with Anfauglir is because of his insistence on using the save-state thought experiment to try to prove that starting from the same initial state would guarantee a deterministic result.  It took me a while to figure out why it bothered me so much, but I think I can demonstrate it now.  So you have your saved-state.  The exact position of everything in that universe - including photons  - is recorded with an extremely high degree of accuracy - which means it has to have been observed.  The uncertainty principle thus ensures that knowledge of the accuracy of their momentum will be extremely low.  In other words, by saving the current state of the universe you have dramatically increased the uncertainty of the future of that universe.  It doesn't matter if you rewind and try again, the mere fact of having the current position of everything recorded ensures that the uncertainty of its future positions would be very high.  Sure, this might only be at a quantum level, but the quantum level pervades everything everywhere, so those differences at the quantum level would affect things at higher levels, and you'd end up with a situation where you'd always have differences in how things played out.
Again, thank you.
 1. Heisenburg Uncertainty Principle
Faith must trample under foot all reason, sense, and understanding. - Martin Luther

Offline Anfauglir

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Re: Evolutionists, arguing for their own imprisonment?
« Reply #786 on: January 23, 2012, 09:37:41 AM »
One of the reasons I was arguing with Anfauglir is because of his insistence on using the save-state thought experiment to try to prove that starting from the same initial state would guarantee a deterministic result.  It took me a while to figure out why it bothered me so much, but I think I can demonstrate it now.  So you have your saved-state.  The exact position of everything in that universe - including photons  - is recorded with an extremely high degree of accuracy - which means it has to have been observed......

No, no, no - that's not the point at all!  But now I see why we were at loggerheads!

The use of the "save-game" terminology was only to establish that we would be working from exactly the same initial setup.  The "save-game" just seemed like a simple way of explaining that - but I see where it could muddy that waters.

That doesn't say anything about free will, or lack thereof.  If you can't possibly guarantee the same result because the uncertainty principle prevents it, then you can't really be sure of what factors created that result.

Absolutely agreed.  But what if the uncertainty principle wasn't a factor?  If we COULD absolutely set up the exact same conditions to 100% accuracy and comparability?  That's the whole point of "my" universe - that if everything were the same, could things move on differently?
Just because you've always done it that way doesn't mean it's not incredibly stupid.
Why is it so hard for believers to answer a direct question?

Offline jaimehlers

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Re: Evolutionists, arguing for their own imprisonment?
« Reply #787 on: January 23, 2012, 10:47:13 AM »
No, no, no - that's not the point at all!  But now I see why we were at loggerheads!

The use of the "save-game" terminology was only to establish that we would be working from exactly the same initial setup.  The "save-game" just seemed like a simple way of explaining that - but I see where it could muddy that waters.
If you haven't observed and recorded everything, how can you be sure that you have exactly the same initial setup?  I realize that it's a thought experiment and that you can just say it is, but I think that's an important question that you need to be able to answer to show that the thought experiment has relevance in the universe we live in.

Quote from: Anfauglir
Absolutely agreed.  But what if the uncertainty principle wasn't a factor?  If we COULD absolutely set up the exact same conditions to 100% accuracy and comparability?  That's the whole point of "my" universe - that if everything were the same, could things move on differently?
If you exclude both randomness and uncertainty, then probably not.  On the other hand, "your" universe would then be different enough from the real one that the question would be moot.  Again, it's an issue of relevance.  I can imagine a universe where there's no electrons, but how relevant would that universe be to the one we live in?  And that's the thing you need to show, that your thought experiment has relevance, not just that you can devise a model for it.

Offline Samothec

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Re: Evolutionists, arguing for their own imprisonment?
« Reply #788 on: January 24, 2012, 02:44:15 AM »
No, no, no - that's not the point at all!  But now I see why we were at loggerheads!
The use of the "save-game" terminology was only to establish that we would be working from exactly the same initial setup.  The "save-game" just seemed like a simple way of explaining that - but I see where it could muddy that waters.
So I found that original post[1] in this thread:
Imagine that the entire universe can be "saved", like a giant computer game, and can be "reloaded" to that point without the reload having any effect on the universe itself. (Just a fancy way of setting up the background for the thought experiment, to be able to isolate and repeat a particular set of conditions).

Okay....so. Save the state of the universe just before making a choice. Make your choice. Reload the universe, and make the choice again.

Was the choice the same, or different? Will it always be the same, or can it be different every time?

Because every moment in the universe comes with a particular set of circumstances, answering the above question for our one chosen save point will answer for ANY save point.

My contention is that in exactly the same circumstances, a person who has exactly the same thoughts and memories and upbringing and stimulation, in exactly the same environment and in exactly the same physical and mental state, will ALWAYS - ALWAYS make the same decision, UNLESS there is some random factor involved. So "choice" is either deterministic, or random )or a stochastic combination of the two).

The opposing argument must perforce be that there is some element in "choice" that is neither determined, nor random. That there is something other than these choices that means that - in the save game state - a different decision can be made each time that is NOT the result of a random fluctuation, but is equally NOT the necessary product of what has gone before.

I've raised this example a few times on this forum. I've never, to my recollection, had it refuted. We normally go off on a tangent such as "what do you mean by moment....?" or some such.

It will not always be the same. It will also not always be different. We live in a stochastic universe which means that neither randomness nor determinism rules everything. Uncertainty and complexity allow the neurons to perform in ever so slightly different ways as the linkages in the brain weigh decisions.


I notice that you have presented a false argument here.

"My contention is ... a person ... ALWAYS make the same decision, UNLESS there is some random factor involved." Then continue with: "So 'choice' is either deterministic, or random (or a stochastic combination of the two)." So your contention is that everything is deterministic until disrupted by randomness. And you define what choices there are for 'choice': deterministic, random or your version of stochastic.

Then the kicker in the next paragraph: "That there is something other than these choices that means that - in the save game state - a different decision can be made each time that is NOT the result of a random fluctuation, but is equally NOT the necessary product of what has gone before." Meaning someone taking the opposing view of choice being possible can not say it is due to random fluctuations or stochastic process so they must create woo.

You've never had it refuted because you've set up a paradox where you have said people can't answer you with the answer.
 1. edited for spelling although I did like the original "reslut"
Faith must trample under foot all reason, sense, and understanding. - Martin Luther

Offline Anfauglir

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Re: Evolutionists, arguing for their own imprisonment?
« Reply #789 on: January 24, 2012, 06:45:27 AM »
Then the kicker in the next paragraph: "That there is something other than these choices that means that - in the save game state - a different decision can be made each time that is NOT the result of a random fluctuation, but is equally NOT the necessary product of what has gone before." Meaning someone taking the opposing view of choice being possible can not say it is due to random fluctuations or stochastic process so they must create woo.

You've never had it refuted because you've set up a paradox where you have said people can't answer you with the answer.

Fair enough.

What ARE the choices as to "what happens in the next moment" then?

<<EDIT:  See the answer below.  I'm happy for someone to answer me with "the fourth option is free will"......provided that they can explain what that actually means: how "free will" operates that is not random, determined, or stochastic - because if it's any of those, then it ISN'T a different option, just a relabelling.>>
« Last Edit: January 24, 2012, 07:02:19 AM by Anfauglir »
Just because you've always done it that way doesn't mean it's not incredibly stupid.
Why is it so hard for believers to answer a direct question?

Offline Anfauglir

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Re: Evolutionists, arguing for their own imprisonment?
« Reply #790 on: January 24, 2012, 06:58:35 AM »
No, no, no - that's not the point at all!  But now I see why we were at loggerheads!

The use of the "save-game" terminology was only to establish that we would be working from exactly the same initial setup.  The "save-game" just seemed like a simple way of explaining that - but I see where it could muddy that waters.
If you haven't observed and recorded everything, how can you be sure that you have exactly the same initial setup?  I realize that it's a thought experiment and that you can just say it is, but I think that's an important question that you need to be able to answer to show that the thought experiment has relevance in the universe we live in.

The universe itself is in many ways irrelevant - the point is in the next moment.

I am indeed saying "I have the same setup" each time - but the "same setup" is only relevant in the question it poses, which is to ask what the options are for the next moment.

I've said umpteen times before, don't get too hung up on the mechanics of it all.  My contention is that with exactly the same initial conditions, the next moment will either always be the same (through determinism); will always be different (through randomness); or will be a combination thereof.

To argue for any "free will" worthy of the name, what I want to know is by what process one can go from ONE particular set of circumstances to TWO (or more) possible "futures", WITHOUT that process being random or stochastic.  We've advanced the label for it, sure - but I'm trying to examine what that label actually means.
Just because you've always done it that way doesn't mean it's not incredibly stupid.
Why is it so hard for believers to answer a direct question?

Offline jaimehlers

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Re: Evolutionists, arguing for their own imprisonment?
« Reply #791 on: January 24, 2012, 03:12:26 PM »
The universe itself is in many ways irrelevant - the point is in the next moment.

I am indeed saying "I have the same setup" each time - but the "same setup" is only relevant in the question it poses, which is to ask what the options are for the next moment.
First, even with cellular automata, where you can run a repeatable experiment that discounts both randomness and uncertainty, knowing the existing generation is absolutely essential in order to predict the next generation.

Quote from: Anfauglir
I've said umpteen times before, don't get too hung up on the mechanics of it all.  My contention is that with exactly the same initial conditions, the next moment will either always be the same (through determinism); will always be different (through randomness); or will be a combination thereof.
The problem with saying not to get hung up on the mechanics is that you need the mechanics in order to do anything.  A cellular automata without the mechanics and rules just sits there.  I would argue that the mechanics are the most important part of the whole process.

And I disagree with your contention.  You are ignoring uncertainty, which is not random, yet not deterministic, and certainly not some combination thereof.  Run the two-slit experiment, and the results will change depending on whether the photons are being observed as they enter the slits or not.  It isn't deterministic, because the result changes; it isn't random, because the result is consistent; what it is, is uncertain, because the exact place where any photon will hit is not predictable.

Quote from: Anfauglir
To argue for any "free will" worthy of the name, what I want to know is by what process one can go from ONE particular set of circumstances to TWO (or more) possible "futures", WITHOUT that process being random or stochastic.  We've advanced the label for it, sure - but I'm trying to examine what that label actually means.
Uncertainty demonstrates that; measure one of a pair of particles, and the other will always have the opposite quality, even though you can't predict which it will be until you actually do the measurement.  Of course, you have to have something that does the measurement or makes the observation, but it does demonstrate that something has to in order to break the entanglement.

Offline Azdgari

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Re: Evolutionists, arguing for their own imprisonment?
« Reply #792 on: January 24, 2012, 04:17:51 PM »
Jaim, your explanation of the two-slit experiment is entirely deterministic.  If we do A, then X will happen.  If we do B, then Y will happen.  That we can't make an in-practice prediction is 100% beside the point, because even if it weren't for such quantum uncertainty, we would still be unable to make an in-practice prediction due to the small scales and the clumsy nature of our instruments.
The highest moral human authority is copied by our Gandhi neurons through observation.

Offline Anfauglir

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Re: Evolutionists, arguing for their own imprisonment?
« Reply #793 on: January 25, 2012, 09:24:10 AM »
Quote from: Anfauglir
I've said umpteen times before, don't get too hung up on the mechanics of it all.  My contention is that with exactly the same initial conditions, the next moment will either always be the same (through determinism); will always be different (through randomness); or will be a combination thereof.
The problem with saying not to get hung up on the mechanics is that you need the mechanics in order to do anything.  A cellular automata without the mechanics and rules just sits there.  I would argue that the mechanics are the most important part of the whole process.

And I disagree with your contention.  You are ignoring uncertainty, which is not random, yet not deterministic, and certainly not some combination thereof.  Run the two-slit experiment, and the results will change depending on whether the photons are being observed as they enter the slits or not.  It isn't deterministic, because the result changes; it isn't random, because the result is consistent; what it is, is uncertain, because the exact place where any photon will hit is not predictable.

As Azd says, this is incorrect.  If the results were uncertain, it would be the case that sometimes when we observed, we would get lines, and sometimes blobs.  And when we DIDN'T observe, sometimes we would get lines, and sometimes blobs.

But the fact is, when we observe, we always get slits (or blobs, I forget which!).  And when we do NOT observe, we always get the other.  Unless you can tell me different?

See, the act of observation is itself one of the factors that influences the outcomes.  I think we agree on that.

Or are you saying that if we observed the exact same experiment in the exact same way, we would get different results?

You don't seem to be grasping the point behind the thought experiment - I'm not sure if that is down to my explanation - possibly it is, because I've talked about "reloading".  So I'll phrase it differently.

Imagine two parallel universes, which are entirely identical right down to the very very smallest detail - including, if you like, that we are observing both of them in exactly the same way, so as to eliminate uncertainty.

From moment A (when we start the experiment, when the two universes are identical), each will move to moment B......

Will moment B always be the same in both universes?  If so, they are entirely deterministic.

Or will moment B be different in the two universes?  If so, how can this be?
   Is it through random fluctuations, be they purely random, or in some mein stochastic?
   Or is it through the deliberate action of "free will"?  In which case it needs to be exaplained how this free will is NOT random, or stochastic.
« Last Edit: January 25, 2012, 09:26:25 AM by Anfauglir »
Just because you've always done it that way doesn't mean it's not incredibly stupid.
Why is it so hard for believers to answer a direct question?

Offline jaimehlers

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Re: Evolutionists, arguing for their own imprisonment?
« Reply #794 on: January 25, 2012, 02:17:56 PM »
Alright, not a good example.  A better one is to take a pair of entangled particles.  Because they're entangled, both particles have opposite spins, but because it's a quantum entanglement, both spins are possible for either particle; you can't determine which spin a particle will have until you measure it.  However, even though either particle has a 50% probability of having either spin, the process of entangling them hides the spin and makes it impossible to determine without measuring it.  I think of it as losing track of which particle is which, so the spin itself is completely non-random; it would be like a shell game, where someone could mix up the shells so fast that nobody knows which one has the bead under without checking (measuring).  The uncertainty makes it non-determinable without making it random, though it appears random to an outside observer since they do not know which one has the bead under it.

I'll respond to the thought experiment part later.

Offline Azdgari

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Re: Evolutionists, arguing for their own imprisonment?
« Reply #795 on: January 25, 2012, 02:40:09 PM »
That's non-determinable, but still deterministic.  Just like the behaviour of planetary motion around stars outside our light-cone is non-determinable, yet still deterministic.
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Offline jaimehlers

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Re: Evolutionists, arguing for their own imprisonment?
« Reply #796 on: January 25, 2012, 04:08:08 PM »
Yes.  But the "non-determinable" part conceals the deterministic part.  Let's say you have a simple choice, with a deterministic result.  However, you cannot confirm what the result will be before you make it.  The fact that the result will be deterministic doesn't mean the choice was; the choice concealed the result.  And the choice was not random either; the person reasoned their way into making one choice or the other, based on what they could figure out.  A decision is only deterministic if you know in advance what the result will be.

Offline Azdgari

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Re: Evolutionists, arguing for their own imprisonment?
« Reply #797 on: January 25, 2012, 04:13:43 PM »
That is not what "deterministic" has meant to those espousing it in this thread.
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Offline Azdgari

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Re: Evolutionists, arguing for their own imprisonment?
« Reply #798 on: January 26, 2012, 02:38:16 AM »
To clarify:

Yes.  But the "non-determinable" part conceals the deterministic part.  Let's say you have a simple choice, with a deterministic result.  However, you cannot confirm what the result will be before you make it.

Agreed up to this point.

The fact that the result will be deterministic doesn't mean the choice was;

What non-deterministic factors interfered with the physics inside one's brain that caused the choice to end up being non-deterministic, then?  This is where it starts sounding like woo, Jaim.

the choice concealed the result.

You mean, the result was concealed from the one making the choice?  Otherwise, this doesn't parse meaningfully as worded.

And the choice was not random either; the person reasoned their way into making one choice or the other, based on what they could figure out.

Sounds deterministic to me.

A decision is only deterministic if you know in advance what the result will be.

See, those who are saying that the universe is deterministic, are saying that it is objectively deterministic.[1]  That is, that the goings-on in the universe are governed by physical laws.  Our knowledge of it is utterly irrelevant to this.  See my example of stars outside our light cone.  They either exist, or they do not.  It doesn't depend on our knowledge of them.  Reality is not subjective.
 1. And a little random, sure.
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Offline Boots

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Re: Evolutionists, arguing for their own imprisonment?
« Reply #799 on: March 03, 2012, 08:59:31 AM »
I sincerely apologize if htis has already been brought up, but I really didn't feel like reading 28 pages.  Yes, I'm lazy.  Sue me.

The OP's original point is flawed.  He was combining the survival of the *individual* with the survial of the *species*.  These, while often related, are NOT the same thing.  Evolutionary forces can change individual survival, and vice versa.

A healthy and smart married human couple may choose to not procreate due to a variety of personal reasons.  They are making choices contrary to their evolutionary programming to propagate the species.

Many animal mothers will die to protect their young.  They will give up their individual survival (when they could have chosen to save it) to continue their species.

The argument of individual free will is completely unrelated to evolution/natural selection.  (although they can converge . . .I've often thought that we as a species are "outsmarting evolution" to our detrement, but that's another topic)
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Offline Ambassador Pony

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Re: Evolutionists, arguing for their own imprisonment?
« Reply #800 on: March 03, 2012, 09:53:06 AM »
I agree, but disagree when you seem to treat evolution as something with a conscious goal. "Outsmarting" evolution is impossible, if evolution is a fact of reality. It cannot be outsmarted with decisions any more than gravity can be outsmarted by a space shuttle.

I get what you mean, though. 
You believe evolution and there is no evidence for that. Where is the fossil record of a half man half ape. I've only ever heard about it in reading.

Offline Boots

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Re: Evolutionists, arguing for their own imprisonment?
« Reply #801 on: March 03, 2012, 11:03:20 AM »
I agree, but disagree when you seem to treat evolution as something with a conscious goal. "Outsmarting" evolution is impossible, if evolution is a fact of reality. It cannot be outsmarted with decisions any more than gravity can be outsmarted by a space shuttle.

I get what you mean, though.

you are right to bring up that point, but that wasnt' what I meant (and your "I get what you mean though" indicates you already know that!!).  IN case others don't get what I meant, I was referring to our conciousness/language ability, which gives us the ability to think about (and invent??) abstractions, anthropomorphize, empathize, stuff like that.  For example, we as a species (mostly) have decided that saving any human life, even one that natural selection would disagree on, is "good" (with exceptions, of course--there are always exceptions).

We have used our evolved brains to overcome some of evolution's forces to some extent--arguably to the detrement of our species.
* Religion: institutionalized superstition, period.

"Many of my ultra-conservative Republican friends...have trouble accepting the idea God is not a Republican. " ~OldChurchGuy

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Offline dloubet

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Re: Evolutionists, arguing for their own imprisonment?
« Reply #802 on: March 04, 2012, 04:57:32 AM »
For practical purposes, I would think the uncertainty principle does not apply to macro-scale objects such as planets. We can see where they are and how fast they're going to an arbitrary degree of accuracy.

Thus the question is, are the decision-making processes in our brains big enough to operate deterministically like planetary orbits, or are there links in the process that are small enough that the uncertainty principle is a determining factor?

It would seem that if all the links in the decision making process are macro-scale, then our decisions are mechanical and will be the same every time you re-wind and play the universe. But that's wrong.

The reason it's wrong is that there are processes that are subject to the uncertainty principle in the environment in which the brain makes a decision. When you rewind and play the universe, there's no reason to think the same atoms will decay at the same time with each re-play. Their decay is completely random and not based on previous states.

Now, if you rewind 10 minutes and play, the same decisions will likely be made in that period. But if you re-wind a hundred years, the sheer weight of random quantum events during the re-play can make the decision making environment radically different.

For example, what if many years ago an atom decayed in just the wrong place at just the wrong time and Abraham Lincoln died of cancer as a young boy. The decisions I would be making today in that alternate timeline, if I even existed, would be radically different from the ones I face in this timeline. All on account of a single quantum event. So the environment in which I make decisions is important, and given time, the environments for those decisions can be radically different from re-play to re-play.

So even though any given decision of mine may be mechanical, the environmental input for those mechanical decisions can be very different and so the resulting decisions will be different.

I can even think of contrived scenarios based on the clicks of a Geiger counter that would produce different decisions within a 10 minute universe re-play.

This is what I mean when I say we're robots marching towards an open future. Even though each decision is "deterministic" like a robot, the universe on which those decisions are based is not, and so the future is open.
« Last Edit: March 04, 2012, 05:11:50 AM by dloubet »
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Offline jaimehlers

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Re: Evolutionists, arguing for their own imprisonment?
« Reply #803 on: March 07, 2012, 06:10:50 PM »
I still don't buy into the argument that since the brain is deterministic (with a bit of uncertainty), it automatically follows that the mind itself is as well.  Even granting that the mind is produced by the brain, the connectiveness of the brain leaves a lot of options for how the different parts of the mind will combine, even once it's fully developed.  So to say that something like that is nothing more than a robot that would always take the same path forward if quantum fluctuations didn't change the path doesn't make sense to me.

I can certainly accept that determinism and uncertainty constrain our choices.  That just stands to reason.  The problem is that a person who believes that their actions are essentially determined for them, and the only variation is due to uncertainty that is equally out of their control, will think and act dramatically differently than someone who believes that they determine their actions and can change their future path without relying on random chance.  I've heard it argued that this is an illusion, and a necessary one; but if an illusion is so complete that you can't penetrate it even knowing about it, is it really an illusion?

For example, we could just as easily argue that the solidness of matter is nothing but an illusion; the atoms that make up material objects do not touch each other, and the only reason we think they do is because electromagnetism repels the atoms of other solid objects.  Yet, even knowing that this is the reality on the atomic level makes no real difference.  We can't walk through solid objects without digging or breaking through them.  For all practical purposes, the reality at the atomic level has no bearing on the reality we live with, except that we have a better understanding of how the fundamentals work and can maybe do things relating to that.

So, what's the point as it pertains to our actions as human beings, aside from talking about us being robots?  When I think of determinism, I think of things like how an enzyme always reacts the same way with the same substances, but humans don't do that, and the idea that human actions are deterministic in the way of something which lacks volition makes no sense to me.

Offline Azdgari

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Re: Evolutionists, arguing for their own imprisonment?
« Reply #804 on: March 07, 2012, 06:25:52 PM »
^^ So just like we can say that open-spaced matter is "solid" by adjusting our idea of what solidness entails, we can say that deterministic thoughts are "free" by adjusting our idea of what freedom entails?  I like that.
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Offline Tero

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Re: Evolutionists, arguing for their own imprisonment?
« Reply #805 on: March 07, 2012, 06:45:30 PM »
I don't see what the arguing part is. Evolution is a fact. Free will is philosophy. Different field.

Offline jaimehlers

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Re: Evolutionists, arguing for their own imprisonment?
« Reply #806 on: March 07, 2012, 07:34:41 PM »
^^ So just like we can say that open-spaced matter is "solid" by adjusting our idea of what solidness entails, we can say that deterministic thoughts are "free" by adjusting our idea of what freedom entails?  I like that.
It seems like you misunderstood what I was talking about.  I'm referring to the literal fact that atoms do not touch each other under most circumstances (nuclear fusion is one exception).  At the atomic level, there's space between each and every atom; they do not touch.  So what we call solid matter still has space between the atoms that make it up.  If I push my finger against a piece of solid matter (say a piece of wood), the atoms of my finger will not touch the atoms of the wood.  There will still be space between them, even if I were to give myself a splinter or poke my finger through the wood, because of electromagnetism.

At the atomic level, the only difference between "solid" and "liquid" and "gaseous" is the amount of space between the atoms and how energetic they are.  Even a solid object, at our scale, has more empty space than atoms.  Yet, that empty space may as well not exist as far as we're concerned.  We can't interpenetrate the solid matter of a piece of wood or a brick or a piece of metal.  If we drill a hole through it, all we've done is move some of the atoms around via a brute-force mechanism.  So we can no more push our finger inside a solid object without making a hole than we can breathe in a vacuum (furthermore, even if we do make a hole, the atoms themselves are unaffected).  In this case, the difference between the macro scale we live in and the micro scale of the atoms themselves is significant.  In short, even though solidity is immaterial on the atomic scale, it acts exactly as a material object on the macro scale we live in.

My point is that there are real, tangible differences between the scale at which we find individual atoms, and the scale at which we live.  I think, though I can't prove, that "free will", being able to make decisions that aren't determined below the level of our consciousness, could be one of them.

Offline Anfauglir

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Re: Evolutionists, arguing for their own imprisonment?
« Reply #807 on: March 08, 2012, 07:04:14 AM »
So, what's the point as it pertains to our actions as human beings, aside from talking about us being robots?

The point is how we deal with crime - and, more importantly, the causes of crime.  How we deal with sink estates, urban deprivation.  How we deal with drug dependancy. 

How we treat, educate, and raise children.

They're just the two biggies.  Under the currect model of thinking, we assume that people choose to do whatever they do - and this means we don't have to look hard at what certain political and economic decisions actually do to lives and communities, because it was "their choice" to turn to crime.  It gives exploiters a free pass.

Change that way of thinking to one that effectively says "if you do this to people, they will do that", and the excuses disappear.  We become properly responsible for what our actions do to other people.

If free will is an illusion, and reality IS essentially deterministic, then we are living a societal lie that causes a whole lot of misery for a whole lot of people through no choice of their own.

That's the point of it all.
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Offline jaimehlers

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Re: Evolutionists, arguing for their own imprisonment?
« Reply #808 on: March 08, 2012, 10:59:15 AM »
The point is how we deal with crime - and, more importantly, the causes of crime.  How we deal with sink estates, urban deprivation.  How we deal with drug dependancy. 

How we treat, educate, and raise children.
Okay, I can accept those provisionally.

Quote from: Anfauglir
They're just the two biggies.  Under the currect model of thinking, we assume that people choose to do whatever they do - and this means we don't have to look hard at what certain political and economic decisions actually do to lives and communities, because it was "their choice" to turn to crime.  It gives exploiters a free pass.
No, ignoring the fact that the choices of the exploiters are constraining the choices of the exploited is what gives exploiters that free pass.

Quote from: Anfauglir
Change that way of thinking to one that effectively says "if you do this to people, they will do that", and the excuses disappear.  We become properly responsible for what our actions do to other people.
You're basically saying it's like a reflex - tap someone on the knee, and their leg will move forward.  I don't agree with that viewpoint.  So I would modify your statement to say "If you do something to people, you will constrain their possible responses".

Quote from: Anfauglir
If free will is an illusion, and reality IS essentially deterministic, then we are living a societal lie that causes a whole lot of misery for a whole lot of people through no choice of their own.

That's the point of it all.
No, the societal lie is the idea that the choices we make have no real consequences. 

There's also a bigger, more fundamental problem with your approach to this.  You're basically saying, "if you do X to a person, they will do Y, therefore they are not responsible for Y because you are responsible for X".  So, what about the person who did W, which caused you to do X?  Doesn't that mean that that person is responsible instead of you?  Except then we have the person who did V to the person who did W, and so on.  In other words, the responsibility gets deferred indefinitely - it's always someone else's fault.  And that approach is actually worse than the one we have now, because you can always pass the buck.  "I'm a greedy, conniving business tyrant?  Blame my parents for raising me that way!"

In other words, you won't end up with a society where everyone thinks before they do something because the blame can fall on them for what someone else does as a result, you'll end up with them doing the same thoughtless actions and passing the blame up the line, because they'll have the perfect out - blame the guy who caused them to do it.

I have no objections at all to getting people to understand that their actions have consequences.  I just don't think saying human decisions are deterministic is the way to go about it.  Because what that essentially means is that the reasons for our actions are external to what we think of as ourselves.  "I don't make decisions, my brain does.  My mind is just a convenient means to communicate the results of those decisions, which I had no say in and no way to countermand."

Do you see the problem with this approach now?

Offline Azdgari

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Re: Evolutionists, arguing for their own imprisonment?
« Reply #809 on: March 08, 2012, 11:18:57 AM »
It seems like you misunderstood what I was talking about.  I'm referring to the literal fact that atoms do not touch each other under most circumstances (nuclear fusion is one exception).

No, my understanding is in-line with what you said - I think I just didn't explain myself very well.  By "adjust our idea of what 'solidness' entails" I mean that since our intuitve concept of "solid" does not require things to be composed of atoms that actually touch each other (as you explained in detail), we can either:
1. Live with the contradiction in our understanding. (incoherent)
2. Give up on the idea of solidness (impractical).
3. Adjust what "solid" means to us (coherent and practical)

"Solid" means objects being able to collide and not pass through each other, etc.  That's what it means on the macro-scale, when it's relevant to us.  Fine.  That's a coherent definiton, and it is not contradicted at all by the scientific fact of atoms not touching each other.  If our concept of "solid" is adjusted to mean only what I just described, then no contradiction exists and the concept is still useful to us.

I think that something similar can be done with "free will".
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Offline jaimehlers

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Re: Evolutionists, arguing for their own imprisonment?
« Reply #810 on: March 08, 2012, 12:16:30 PM »
That's much clearer, Azdgari.  Thanks for clarifying what you meant.

Offline Samothec

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Re: Evolutionists, arguing for their own imprisonment?
« Reply #811 on: March 08, 2012, 06:14:23 PM »
If free will is an illusion, and reality IS essentially deterministic, then we are living a societal lie that causes a whole lot of misery for a whole lot of people through no choice of their own.
How about we ignore both unrealistic extremes (free will & determinism) and just deal with the stochastic world we live in? Preferably one where people take responsibility for their actions instead of just begging sky-daddy for forgiveness when they do bad things to others.

That is one of the things I don't get about Xians is the whole repentance thing:
Oh, I did a bad thing. I'll ask sky-daddy for forgiveness but I'm not going to do anything to fix the problem I created - not even apologize for it.
How is it a genuine repentance if they aren't even apologizing to the person they hurt? That is the minimum necessary for genuine repentance and only valid if there is nothing that can be done to fix the problem they created.

I would like to hear an explanation of this messed-up concept from theists.

Edit: post # 100*pi: 314 (severely rounded off) (If I had +15/-9 Darwins they would extend it (314159) but that is not a request for them.)
« Last Edit: March 08, 2012, 06:17:58 PM by Samothec »
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