Anthropic Principle – Why the Fuss ?

I must have passed over the Anthropic Principle quite some time ago, because it leaves me unmoved. The reason to mention it is the debate about physical fundamentals of the universe and the recurring intelligent design debate, where I have also gone beyond debate to peremtory dismissal.

I got a combative comment on my report about the quantum information developments at BCS / CASYS below. “Crap”, to quote the comment in fact. The anonymous commenter “Island” runs a web-site called “Anthropic-Principle.Org“, and a blog called “Uncommon Ascent” with the URL “evolutionarydesign” under blogspot.

Also picked up via a Google / Technorati cross-hit a link to a blog by Melbourne student Will G with some extended Christian reasoning on the subject that Island liked. It includes this erroneous application of Occam

1. The universe has the appearance of design
2. There are no simpler explanations of design with evidential support
3. I am justified in believing the universe is designed

Very simple (not), except the absence of any explanation of the existence of the design itself, or any agent behind use of the verb “designed”. Just moved the “first cause” problem.

Unfortunately neither can I take seriosuly anyone who dismissess neo-darwinism with the rhetorical summary “where everything somehow happens this way for no good reason”. Of course Darwinism supplies plenty of “good reasons” and “explanations” – just not a teleological design from any intelligence higher than nature itself, with any pre-planned outcomes.

Anyway Wikipedia restored my belief that weak or strong the Anthropic Principle is just a truism that can explain nothing. Anyway, Island’s case on a brief read looks like “evolutionary design” – where design exists in nature itself, and the natural laws in this universe, but to me that design is a recipe for possible processes not a blue-print for an outcome of intelligent humans with any further pre-ordained destinies. With that spin, I wouldn’t argue against design. Design = Physics = Evolution in fact.

I might actually largely agree with Island.
Choose your metaphor for the fundamental existence of a universe containing these particular laws of physics.

58 thoughts on “Anthropic Principle – Why the Fuss ?”

  1. I don’t dismiss neo-darwinism with the rhetorical summary “where everything somehow happens this way for no good reason”.

    My comment was more in-line with Lynn Margulis statement at the most recent evolution conference where she, (one of evolutionary biology’s most respected sceitists), blasted neodarwinists for their fanatical knee-jerk reactionism to mechanisms that don’t work by random chance occurrence. So maybe you should take the time to find out exactly what island meant before you dismiss his statement out of hand:

    The problem with neo-Darwinism is that Random changes in DNA alone do not lead to speciation. It was like confessing a murder when I discovered I was not a neo-Darwinist. I am definitely a Darwinist though. I think we are missing important information about the origins of variation. I differ from the neo-Darwinian bullies on this point.

    -Lynn Margulis

    http://www.geocities.com/naturescience/TalkOriginsArchive.html

    I als don’t agree with the same erroneous applications of occam, but the guy did a good job overall, (especially for a fIloSipHer)… and seems to know more about the proper application of the arguments than most “experts” on the subject.

  2. Tell me if I’m wrong or not, but I think that I’ve finally figured out the problem with the following:

    I might actually largely agree with Island.
    Choose your metaphor for the fundamental existence of a universe containing these particular laws of physics.

    You think that the stuff that humans design is motivated by anything greater or less than the same forces that motivate fungi to make “fairy-rings”.

    How arrogant are we humans… “intent” is just the sum of an object’s expressed bias toward satisfying whatever relevant need, “intent” is a teleological manifestation if the most accurate cosmological principle in a finite universe is anthropic in nature.

    I argue that this is the most conservative mainstream approach until somebody proves Einstein wrong…

  3. Interesting, the first person to criticise one of my ideas (my blog is relatively unknown…)

    You are correct that I don’t supply a mechanism or a designer, but it seems to work by analogy. For example (and I am not saying I endorse any form of creationism) if you lived in the early 1800s you were in the epistemological position of having justified belief in special creation (sans the geological and paleontological evidences) even though Lamarckian evolution offered a theory (sans God) simpler and more explanatory, but had no evidential support. It is only the mechanism, plus the simplicity that eliminates the possibility of knowledgeable belief in the alternative.

    Also your comment about the first cause problem is a bit strange considering that (to my knowledge) the first cause problem is who caused God, and I already answered that in my post.

  4. Hi Island, obviously my comments are based only on one brief reading of your stuff, but I recognise the arguments. I also know who Lynn Margulis is.

    On your first point – about the so-called “random” cause of mutations that stimulate evolution. Correct, not all such mutations are chance, their causes are many, but “circumstantial” though, bound by the current state of nature, including the laws of physics. My only “certainty” is there is no evidence they are driven by or towards any overarching intelligent plan or goal – no teleology beyond the rules of physical processes, etc. The recurrence of many similar (and wonderful) adaptations tells me the issue is basically “engineering” solving environmental problems / opportunities. There are no “sky-hooks” as Dennett would say. (Gould has a lot to answer for.)

    Your second point … human arrogance. I do believe free will is genuine, though “free” is naturally constrained. Living things with concsiousness and “higher” intelligence do make choices about their own actions, goals and plans, beyond reacting to their immediate natural circumstance and limitations of physics. Any teleology arises out of this intelligence – “sum of expressed bias” is not a bad way to look at it – but it’s not a simple arithmetic “sum” – complex systems have emergent processes on may levels, and intelligence brings in another dimension to that complexity . That argument is in no way limited to humans or individual beings.

    Finally … most conservative approach, evidential deficiencies ? This is the interesting subject for me. What makes a good argument – does it explain anything ? (I’m heavily into Chalmers and Deutsch on that subject currently.)

    Post-finally – if you remain anonymous, I may not continue this correspondence.

  5. Ha… ian, what does telling you that my name is Rick, like, you writing your name, “ian”… do to dispell our anonymity? “island” is simply my internet “handle”… or whatever, I can assure you that there are no sinister plots lurking behind the screen, I’m just a poor slob that was studying gravity when I got unlucky enough to get this mess dumped on me too.

    My only “certainty” is there is no evidence they are driven by or towards any overarching intelligent plan or goal

    I would agree that that there are no “intelligent” skyhooks, and I’d say that solving environmental problems is close to accurate, as well, “engineering” is simply an extension of practicality, as usual.

    These scientists have independently found the same evidence, except that theirs is a more local derivation:

    http://www.taipeitimes.com/News/edit/archives/2004/09/30/2003204990

    One of the players mentioned in the article is Dorion Sagan, who is Lynn Margulis and Carl Sagan’s son!… go figure???… 😉

    You can “believe” whatever you want to, but LaPlace’s Demon is valid in the cosmological model that I’m using, so that’s where we live until someone proves Einstein wrong.

    Dimensions of complexity???… emergent properties are still reductionist physics, ian.

    Re: “evidential deficiencies”

    No, a closed and finite universe is the most natural extension of general relativity, Einstein was forced to abandon this model when the universe was found to be expanding, because it was thought that this made his model unstable. As I demonstrated in the article to the physicist moderated research group, here…

    http://www.lns.cornell.edu/spr/2005-06/msg0069755.html

    …Einstein was not wrong… his finite model with a cosmological constant is not unstable if matter generation causes expansion.

    A good argument in this case is that the most natural extension of a theory is its strongest argument, relativity was severely weakend by the infinite universal model that science wrongly adopted after that, and Einstein went to his grave believing that “god”, (meaning nature), does not throw dice.

    He was right… as usual.

  6. Hello Joveia, I guess that ian doesn’t want to rationalize his criticisms of your work, but how did you find this place?… i.e., what sinister plots lurk behind your screen?… lol

  7. Oi Island, behave yourself. Who says I don’t want to rationalise my criticisms of Joveia ? I only picked on one, which I’ll come to in a minute. (With all these “handles” how on earth could tell Island and Joveia were different people ?)

    As for anonymity – what’s in a name ? I’m more concerned to know WHO you are than your name – something about you, your background, where you are “coming from” – what motivated you to creat the domain “anthropicprinciple”. No conspiracy theory plots implied here. (If you read more of my blog, you’ll find I’m completely anti-conspiracy theories in general.)

    Too many points to address.

    Joveia – First Cause. It’s only about what caused God, if God is part of your explanation. It’s about what caused the first state in your chain of reasoning. If I get Island right, he holds that there is no beginning in any temporal sense – hence his finely balanced Einsteinian uinverse, neither expanding nor contracting – that right Island, so far ? I can live with that.

    What makes a good explanation ? “Most natural extension” is good – it’s kinda like Occam – simple constructive steps from your starting point.

    Emergent properties are reductionist ? – Ultimately yes. I think the subtlety is in the link between explanation and causality. Even with emergent layers with quite different causal models in the different layers, there is always a reductionist explanation about the relationships between the layers, how the ermergent emerges. However to use the hackneyed example; No one would ever say the butterfly “caused” the hurricane, even if a reductionist explanation could show that the smallest local air disturbance might make the difference in whether and where a hurricane might arise.

    Interestingly, when I said Engineering, you said “environmental problem solving”. I say spot on. I subscribe to Popper’s views on “reasoning” (extended by David Deutsch) where the only real test of a good explanation is if it solves a problem that already existed

    (The title escapes me for a moment, but didn’t I read a book co-authored by Sagan and Margulis ?)

    Island – given that my main interest is Epistemology, not quantum / gravitational physics, could you summarise in say just two or three sentences (without all the rationale initially) … how the Anthropic Principle and the conclusion that G=0 (or whatever) undermines “uncertainty” and quantum physics generally. That seems to be what you are saying – No ?

  8. Hi Island, I’ve now read the Taipei Times article. (Interestingly I was in Taipei about that time, and met a Canadian journalist who was talking about E O Wilson – spooky)

    Anyway – I don’t see much in the article to disagree with – Increasing order in local (living) matter, actually still leads to overall net increase in entropy. I always saw life and biological evolution as “concentrating” or “extracting” order, rather than creating it out of nothing, and the processes are always constrained by the efficiencies in the laws of thermodynamics.

    Call me arrogant, but I still see intelligence (cultural and intellectual memetic evolution) as a different layer above life – where “free-will” emerges, and whilst still constrained by the laws of physics, can choose directions in which to develop.

    Even with the biological entropy explanation you’d be hard pushed to say life was “caused” by the 2nd law, and expect people to take that as an “explanation”. With cultural developments, even less so. The logic in the journalistic article not only uses the word “cause” it even talks about the “purpose” of the 2nd law. Do me a favour – it’s a natural outcome, not a purpose.

  9. Well ian, if the cosmological model that I claim is the most accurate is correct, then I am right and you are wrong about free-will and purpose… as I’ve already explained… simple as that… it’s just physics, not philosophy, not culture, not nothin but physics.

    Anyway… I’ve been studying physics for about 20 *cough* years, sometimes under the strict scrutiny of a mean-ass old experimental physicst, who then finally pushed me out of the nest and into the world of theoretical physics where I found some other very smart people to admire and follow until the fateful day that I asked a harmless question:

    ‘But what about the hole that the “hole” left behind”… ?

    The is the sequence of events leading to the discovery of this theory, which have been documented in the Cornell archives as it unfolded within the physicist moderated research group that is linked throughout my website. The discovery was made when research involving two seemingly unrelated discoveries came together, although I didn’t originally realize that I was not using the standard model of GR with a cosmological constant. I wasn’t alone, many physicists have missed that at first also, which is why I got some funny answers that didn’t make a whole heck of a lot of sense in context until I figured out what the problem was and began distinguishing the difference:

    1) A small flaw was discovered concerning the the effects of real particle pair production on the gravity of the universe:

    http://www.lns.cornell.edu/spr/2003-08/msg0053122.html
    http://www.lns.cornell.edu/spr/2003-08/msg0053200.html

    2) And then, in a separate and apparently unrelated discussion, it was noted that an entropic interpretation of the anthropic principle is most natural in an expanding universe, since this predominant tendency is a grand scale expression for “purpose” in our universe, because every action is ultimately made in an effort to satisfy the grand scale imbalance.

    http://www.lns.cornell.edu/spr/2003-10/msg0055522.html

    Any universal scale entropic favoritism toward humans must take this into consideration, where human “attributes” are necessarily manifestations of the increasing entropic need in a less than perfect world, so that our ability to influence the entropy of the universe becomes significant in context with these most fundamental points.

    Both discoveries came together in another discussion about the anthropic principle:

    http://www.lns.cornell.edu/spr/2003-10/msg0055961.html

    And then, all-hell broke loose after that:

    http://www.lns.cornell.edu/spr/2003-11/msg0056253.html
    http://www.lns.cornell.edu/spr/2003-11/msg0056478.html
    http://www.lns.cornell.edu/spr/2003-11/msg0056466.html

    That’s the whole story in a nutshell. Get a physicist and bring him here, (I have discussed this with many), so that I can prove to you that I know what I’m talking about, that I am not a crackpot, that my intentions are pure and honest… and then I can beg him to do the math that I listed in the other thread… heh… 😉

  10. my current response to the first cause problem is to say that ‘only things that come from somewhere/something have causes’. That is a seemingly valid self-consistent definition that would of course omit God (as he doesn’t come from somewhere) and the universe under naturalism.

  11. Hi Island, thanks for that comprehensive response- I’m not sure I can do justice to following your arguments, but I’m interested to try. (Mainly for the philosophical aspect of your claim to have “proven” the absense of free will. No small claim.)

    Just a couple of points for now.

    You said
    “it’s just physics, not philosophy”

    I’d just like to point out that Max Born once said “I’m convinced that theoretical physics is actual philosophy”

    You also said
    “as I’ve already explained”

    I say … hmm … claimed yes, but explained ?
    Explained is in the eye of the beholder. I may be some time. Thanks

    Ian

  12. Joveia,

    Whatever the validity of other parts of you argumentation … I can only remain “dismissive” of the logic that a model including God is conveniently exempt from explaining the existence of such a complex and powerful thing, in posession of anything like intelligence or purpose.

    No offence, but.
    Ian

  13. Island … before we get to the theoretical physics …

    In point 2 above you said
    ” … it was noted that an entropic interpretation of the anthropic principle is most natural in an expanding universe, since this predominant tendency is a grand scale expression for “purpose” in our universe, because every action is ultimately made in an effort to satisfy the grand scale imbalance.”

    And in the link you gave me it says
    “indicates that intelligent life is at least one of nature’s preferred methods for accomplishing its ultimate task. [Moderator’s note: I think that island is saying that life is entropically favored …]”

    Firstly – I’ve already said I can buy the idea that the evolution of “life” is a natural consequence of the 2nd Law (though as I said “cause” is too strong). I can also buy the idea the the emergence of “intelligence” is a further natural outcome. (Something like intelligent humans would evolve naturally in a Universe like ours with its physical laws – “like” intelligent humans leaves great room for weird and unrecognisable variety of course – but no argument here.)

    What I cannot buy is all the anthropomorphic language. Purpose, tasks, preferred methods, etc. Nature / physics has none of these. These teleological, “free-will-like” processes only arise with the emergence of intelligence itself. Just using the words is not going to “explain” or “prove” anything to me.

    Ian

  14. ian… Teleological processes do not arise with the emergence of intelligence. That isn’t what it means.

    Look up Telic, then realize that Mach’s principle is valid in the cosmological model that I claim to have reasonably proven is most accurate.

  15. Backing up to hit a couple of points:

    ian said:
    I don’t see much in the article to disagree with – Increasing order in local (living) matter, actually still leads to overall net increase in entropy. I always saw life and biological evolution as “concentrating” or “extracting” order, rather than creating it out of nothing, and the processes are always constrained by the efficiencies in the laws of thermodynamics.

    There’s something else too that’s related to emergent properties. If negative pressure increases as the vacuum expands, then increases in order and complexity necessarily equate to an increase in the potential for disorder that gets compounded as the universe expands.

    ian wrote:
    Island – given that my main interest is Epistemology, not quantum / gravitational physics, could you summarise in say just two or three sentences (without all the rationale initially) … how the Anthropic Principle and the conclusion that G=0 (or whatever) undermines “uncertainty” and quantum physics generally. That seems to be what you are saying – No ?

    I guess that you probably already got the point about Mach’s principle, so now for the rationale…

    Albert Einstein wrote:
    “The Meaning of Relativity”, 1922,

    The following are his three arguments against infinite space and for a bound and closed universe:

    (1) From the standpoint of the theory of relativity, to postulate a closed universe is very much simpler than to postulate the corresponding boundary condition at infinity of the quasi-Euclidean structure of the universe.

    (2) The idea that Mach expressed, that inertia depends on the mutual attraction of bodies, is contained, to a first approximation, in the equations of the theory of relativity; it follows from these equations that inertia depends, at least in part, upon mutual actions between masses. Thereby Mach’s idea gains in probability, as it is an unsatisfactory assumption to make that inertia depends in part upon mutual actions, and in part upon an independent property of space. But this idea of Mach’s corresponds only to a finite universe, bounded in space, and not to a quasi-Euclidean, infinite universe. From the standpoint of epistemology it is more satisfying to have the mechanical properties of space completely determined by matter, and this is the case only in a closed universe.

    (3) An infinite universe is possible only if the mean density of matter in the universe vanishes. Although such an assumption is logically possible, it is less probable than the assumption of a finite mean density of matter in the universe.

    ian… I think that occam is only correct when he chooses the most natural path, rather than the most obvious easiest path.

    Einstein could have said that it’s more natural to conclude that his curved space geometry derives a finite, bound, and spherical universe, than to expect that the inertia of a body is due partly to an interaction with curved space, and in part upon an interaction with flat space.

    He shoulda’ called em dumbass “free-thinkers” and left it at that… 😉

  16. Hi Island, backing up even further, note that I’ve not had time to follow-up and digest the links and arguments in your long comment of 19th, yet …. this isn’t my day job 🙂

    A few comments on your recent comments …

    Mach’s principle I recognise as one of the ideas that led to relativity itself, but I wouldn’t claim any deep understanding of its specific consequences for cosmology.

    Telic, Telos, Teleological – I think I already understood well enough – tending towards an end. If you’re saying the 2nd Law is tendency towards maximum entropy and therefore teleological I would have to disagree. This is a linguistic problem. We describe it as tending towards and end, but it’s really shorthand for a consequence of the processes tending to increase entropy – a tendency in a direction, not to the end itself – the individual processes “know” nothing about an entropy maximum – do they ?.

    You’re denial “Teleological processes do not arise with the emergence of intelligence. That isn’t what it means” is not an explanation.

    Using loose language – you need something like intelligence to look ahead and “see” an end, beyond the local proximate cause / effect processes.

    Moving on … I can see the logic and the natural “Occam” attraction in points (1) to (3) in your last comment (but I need to take your word for it on the technicalities.) Perhaps what your missing is that I don’t see how this “spherically closed universe” (if true) invalidates quantum physics and uncertainty. I always been happy with the idea that the universe (or any one of many) may be open or closed, continuously expanding or eventually re-contracting (or neither) – and recognised much debate about conclusions on that subject.

    Ian

  17. http://www.answers.com/teleology&r=67

    “A more recent evolutionary view finds purpose in the higher levels of organic life but holds that it is not necessarily based in any transcendent being.”

    teleology (tĕl’ēŏl’əjē, tē’lē–) , in philosophy, term applied to any system attempting to explain a series of events in terms of ends, goals, or purposes. It is opposed to mechanism, the theory that all events may be explained by mechanical principles of causation. Aristotle argued that all nature reflects the purposes of an immanent final cause. Frequently, teleologists have identified purpose in the universe with God’s will. The teleological argument for the existence of God holds that order in the world could not be accidental and that since there is design there must be a designer. A more recent evolutionary view finds purpose in the higher levels of organic life but holds that it is not necessarily based in any transcendent being.

    They must be talking about me… 😉

  18. Me too.

    Purpose in higher levels of life.

    (and not in direct causal explanations of physical processes)(nor anything transcendent).

    As I suspected we largely agree – still need to understand your problem with quantum cosmology.

    Ian

  19. Perhaps what your missing is that I don’t see how this “spherically closed universe” (if true) invalidates quantum physics and uncertainty.

    There can be no uncertainty because all objects are interconnected, which is why I said that LaPlace’s Demon is valid in this model, all events in the past, present and future are always knowable. In this model there is only one solution compatible the initial distribution of matter and energy, and general relativity can never gives an unambiguous answer to the twins paradox.

    “God” does not throw dice in this model, which tells you that Einstein held onto it privately, even though he admitted that he couldn’t prove it on about 1918.

    Had he rejected arguments for an infinite universe on the grounds that matter generation from his vacuum energy causes expansion, then he wins, hands-down, in Copenhagen.

    My contention is that nothing has changed. His model wasn’t wrong, even if he didn’t realize it at the time. It’s still up to “them” or he won in Copenhagen too.

  20. Oooh, real time commenting – doesn’t happen very often.

    Anyway, thanks – it’s late and I’ll need to digest your laplace demon point …

    G’nite
    Ian

  21. “transcendent” in your case, means that you think that human purpose is detatched from the rest of nature via free-will.

    Praise Chaos… but no dice, purpose is still a manifestion of the KNOWN outcome of an effort that is inherent to every object in the universe from getgo to getgo.

    Unless the universe isn’t finite and closed… although this recent observational stuff really puts a 99.9% confidence level of hurtin on that crap-idea.

    http://www.arxiv.org/abs/astro-ph/0508047/

  22. Nite-nite… don’t let the bed-bugs bite…

    There’s no pressure, no rush… no real point… lol… I’m just having fun talking to somebody that actually gets some of this… with pre-understanding of it too!

  23. Not sure what you mean by my meaning of transcendent.

    (a) Transcendent – I meant beyond that which is explained by the physical workings of nature – god-like.

    (b) I keep saying – NOT human – intelligence (any kind, biological or cybernetic, an ant colony, whatever) is a higher evolved form of life which supports free-will and “purpose” beyond proximate causes.

    Your dice / uncertainty fixation – I really need to digest what you’re telling me.

    I’ll be back
    Ian

  24. (a) Transcendent – I meant beyond that which is explained by the physical workings of nature – god-like.

    Which I equate to uncertainty… 😉

    Whatever purpose pops out of proximate cause is a reflection of the grand-scale projection.

    We humans “seek” finacial, spiritual, sexual, whatever satisfaction… because nature says that “balance is good”… even if we can’t get there from here.

    Pick your purpose and I’ll plug in the relevant teleology.

  25. Here’s something else interesting that I found on the answers.com site:

    teleology
    Teleology is the supposition that there is design, purpose, directive principle, or finality in the works and processes of nature, and the philosophical study of that purpose.

    Teleology stands in contrast to philosophical naturalism, and both ask questions separate from the questions of science. While science investigates natural laws and phenomena, Philosophical naturalism and teleology investigate the existence or non-existence of an organizing principle behind those natural laws and phenonema. Philosophical naturalism asserts that there are no such principles. Teleology asserts that there are.

    Thus, within philosophical naturalism, man sees because he has eyes. Within teleology, however, man both sees because he has eyes, and has eyes so he can see. As Aristotle wrote in support of teleology, “Nature adapts the organ to the function, and not the function to the organ” (De partib., animal., IV, xii, 694b; 13). Lucretius replied in support of philosophical naturalism: “Nothing in the body is made in order that we may use it. What happens to exist is the cause of its use.” (De nat. rerum, IV, 833; cf. 822-56)

    According to my theory, we have the ability to make particles from vacuum energy because the universe needs us to do this so that the universe can evolve.

  26. ian, you missed out on the rest of my article. it is possible that intelligence/complexity is a necessary characteristic of god, just as physicality is a necessary characteristic of atoms. also even if that’s not possible, it is probably impossible/very difficult to establish given a ‘god’ type of thing, that for this ‘god’ thing it would be unlikely that it has omnipotence and omniscience. not an explanation why ‘he’ has though, just pointing out showing ways god could fail to have intelligence/omniscience given a god is quite difficult.

  27. Island, we seem to have got stuck on teleology … dictionaries are the wrong place to look … we end up playing word games … choose your meaning etc.

    If you want to use teleology to simply mean “directive principle” – then any physical rule about any causal process could be teleological. But you’ve so diluted the word, it would be crass to equate it with purpose. Whether we use the word teleological or not the distinction is between

    Directed – proximate causes that drive immediate effects, the way things interact and happen – physical laws and mechanisms – ways and means.

    Goal Directed – purpose or intent towards some end or goal beyond proximate cause / effect. This is the more normal use of teleology, the key word being “goal” or “end”.

    All I say is ways, means, causes, effects are about simple, direct, immediate relationships between the causes and effects – physical laws if you like.

    But goal, end, intent, purpose are not so simple – essentially they are complex and indirect, through many distinct interacting causes and effects. Sufficiently complex, that we would characterise them as intelligent – requiring knowledge, conception, foresight based on remembered experience, planning, etc.

    Whatever word you use – I’m distinguishing cause & effect from ends & purposes. Teleological is generally used for the latter, but I’m not here to play word games.

    The universe doesn’t “need” anyone to do anything. No organism (biological or cosmological) “wants” to evolve (until you get to a level of intelligence where that concept could be understood as a means to an end, though free-will and purpose would find themselves severely limited by physics and complexity.)

    We need explanations, not definitions. Dictionaries are a big problem. They should be “banned” from debates. Dictionaries are a product of evolution (they evolve) they are not the means of evolution.

    Ian

  28. Joveia – I said I was being dismissive, and I meant it – sincerely no offence, but I haven’t the time to start arguing with a premise about the existence of transcendent intelligence and purposes, without any conception of how that intelligence and purpose arose. Use of the word “he” just begs too many questions.

    I did see your piece was long and detailed, covering many different arguments and possibilities – but at that point I was really on Island’s tail and tring to pin down one issue at a time.

    Ian

  29. The universe doesn’t “need” anyone to do anything

    That’s false in an expanding universe that has an increasing negative pressure component, sorry, (your leap to the position of physics authority is noted), and it was in the cards from the moment of the big bang that we would appear to fulfill the need, so you’re wrong, and you need to acknowledge that this defines the need for the teleology that you claim is not there.

    All of these papers use teleology in the manner that I use it, in the manner that I was taught, so either you are wrong… or … you’re wrong according to two very reliable sources, them-n-me:

    http://arxiv.org/abs/gr-qc/9310022
    http://arxiv.org/abs/physics/0210081
    http://arxiv.org/abs/astro-ph/0403050
    http://arxiv.org/abs/physics/0105066
    http://arxiv.org/abs/gr-qc/9812093
    http://arxiv.org/abs/gr-qc/9904084
    http://arxiv.org/abs/hep-th/0005268
    http://arxiv.org/abs/gr-qc/9507028
    http://arxiv.org/abs/gr-qc/9507025
    http://arxiv.org/abs/hep-th/0006024
    http://arxiv.org/abs/quant-ph/0210140
    http://arxiv.org/abs/physics/0507194
    http://arxiv.org/abs/quant-ph/0006070
    http://arxiv.org/abs/astro-ph/9805275
    http://arxiv.org/abs/astro-ph/0407329
    http://arxiv.org/abs/astro-ph/0505005
    http://arxiv.org/abs/hep-ph/0001148

  30. No you’re not …

    I’m distinguishing between
    “cause” (direct, simple, physical), and
    “purpose” (indirect, complex, intelligent, free-will-like).

    You are expanding on why Einstein’s intepretation of Mach’s principle undermines quantum uncertainty (because I saw the latter as fundamental to “information”, though I’m not sure it’s crucial to my position, just a surprise to find received wisdom challenged as “crap”.)

    Ian

  31. And I’m sorry… I took “pinned-down” to mean that you suddenly thought that we are in some kind of debate or whatever… but I can assure you that I’m not interested in that.

    Either you want to know what this is about, or you don’t, and not that this is the case, but if you just want to string it out until you think that you’ve perceived of some trivial weakness so that you can dismiss the whole enchalada… then I don’t need to be here.

  32. Religious ?
    I did say “received wisdom” 🙂

    Seriously though – Every argument presumes some stable ground, some premises – I call it suspending disbelief, as distinct from faith. It is possible to have too many balls in the air at once – too many plates spinning.

  33. Not interested in debate ?

    There is something here I want to understand – the non-uncertainty thing – but I need to challenge your arguments as we go. We may both learn something, but there is no winner.

    All I meant by pinned down was defined or ring-fenced what it was we were debating.

  34. Yeah… that’s fine… I wouldn’t expect not to be challenged

    This has been good constructive conversation.

    Just do me a favor and don’t run the devil’s advocate role into willful ignorance, cause I have a great disdane for that.

  35. FWIW Island, that long list of reference papers on Arxiv …

    I’ve spot checked a few, and I don’t see teleology being used positively in any specific way by the authors so far. However as I summarised I’m really concerned with a strong (purpose) and weak (cause) distinction, rather than any definition of the word.

    Question – how does a physical tendency towards greater entropy do when in encounters local minima / maxima ?

  36. Island, I’ve now read your posts to the Cornell discussion board – the ones you listed in your comment of 19th.

    I can see that this summarises your position, even if I don’t get it all technically – or follow it into undermining uncertainty yet. You say “all hell broke loose”, but in fact no other poster seems to be reacting – you are adding to your own thread.

    You sound like a lone voice shouting “you’re all wrong, Einstein was right” – which doesn’t mean you’re wrong of course – do you have any published paper of your thesis (peer reviewed or not) – that I could ask for a couple of opinions ?

  37. Island, Ive been checking up on teleology, “formal teleology” and causation – I’m in good company …

    Ernst Mayr (an evolutionary biologist, not a cosmic physicist I’ll grant you) says …

    “It is illegitimate to describe evolutionary progress or trends as goal directed (teleological). Selection rewards past phenomena … but does not plan for the future.” Mayr excludes “cosmic” teleology, that is, a “causally effective end result,” from acceptable science, stating boldly that: “Indeed, I do not know of a single modern scientist who believes in it.”

  38. Speaking of…

    1) “Evobiologist” = willfully ignorant moron. Typically.

    ian, evobiologists are 99.999% strictly pre-biased against the anthropic principle and all of its non-accidental ramifacations due to knee-jerk reactionism that they get from fending-off relentless attacks from creationists who quite commonly abuse the principle as evidence for god’s existence.

    They automatically, without fail, react with rationale that is specifically targeted at downplaying the significance of the principle. They NEVER act like honest scientists when faced with the oddity, they never ask the obvious and begged question of why there might be some good physical reason that it is true. NEVER.

    Don’t EVEN tell me that mayr honestly looks for evidence for purpose or goals in evolution, because he always looks with a warped lense that defines his intent NOT to find any evidence for design in nature for the reasons that I’ve previously given.

    And ya know why, ultimately?… because the nit-wits evobiologists **believe** in their hearts that any admissions for design in nature are evidence for god’s existence… aka, anti-fanatic’s slippery-slope paranoia.

    Don’t even talk to me about antifantical “neodarwinian bullies”, ian, and if you think that I’m wrong, then just try looking up the Anthropic Principle on the net. 99% of everything that you find takes one or the other highly motivated side, and no honest science EVER gets done.

    H. Allen Orr is a fine example of a freaking idiot biologist that thinks that biologists can tell physicists what the anthropic principle is really about. Yeah, right!

    To extend the absurdity, there is now a movement by some of the more fanatical within the community to stop using mechanistic language to describe mechanistic processes and systems in biology… and this is ONLY because they don’t want to give creationists an inch, but NOT because they give a damn about honest science.

    Evobiologist is a bad word in context with honesty in science, and I don’t care how right they think that they are.

    2) “indeed, i do not know of a single modern scientist who believes in it.

    Yeah, so… are you paying attention to the year of the physics that I’m attempting to re-intstall and would mayr have the first real clue what that means to evolutionary theory anyway?… Not no, but hell no.

    3) http://www.templeton.org/biochem-finetuning/

  39. re: cornell discussion board

    You’ve got to be joking. In the first place, the forum is moderated by a phd physicst who isn’t perfect and doesn’t claim not to be tired, but that might fly once.

    In the second place, once they approve your pre-screened contibution they release it to the hounds. Those quantum physicists will eat your face off if it is at all possible, so no response is real good in that forum.

    The fact that I can’t apply the the math to the quantum vacuum doesn’t help my case, so my shouting that somebody needs to go all the way back to 1917 and start over… “takes time”… or so they tell me.

    The anthropic principle isn’t real popular with quantum gravity theorists anyway, because there is a big battle raging between them and String theorists over whose theory is least wrong and string-freaks use the anthropic principle to attempt to choose a landscape for their theory.

    Do you know how many crackpot theories get published every day? Who is going to reference an incomplete paper by me?… besides nobody… and I wish that I could find the end of this thing, I learn new and important stuff about this more often than I would have ever expected, so I’d need to publish a paper that is in constant edit-mode like my website.

    Yes, I have been told by physicists that I have a valid point that needs to be formalized, although… I haven’t managed to make the point well enough yet that the ball is still in their court… not Einsteins… so the owe him a look-see.

    Like I said, get a physicist and bring him here or we can take this directly to the moderated forum if you’d prefer?… because I have a valid scientific point.

    FYI: All hell broke loose for ME when two seemingly unrelated discoveries came together to become one Theory of Everything… as I noted before many physicists, NONE of whome could shoot me down.

    Get a physicist or let’s go there… I don’t care… I’m for real.

  40. oops… I missed that you weren’t asking for peer review…

    http://www.anthropic-principle.ORG is usually a reliable link that you could have somebody look at. They’ll tell you that I tell a fine story in plausible context, but they won’t give me much more than that without the oft mentioned derivation in the quantum vacuo.

    Tell them that it’s not up to me to prove Einstein wrong… it’s still “their” move… per the physics on my website. It really would be better if I was able to defend myself, but whatever…

    This address will also work if the other one doesn’t:

    http://www.geocities.com/naturescience

    P.S. Watch who you call “good company” if you want to keep this civil… lol

  41. “Question – how does a physical tendency towards greater entropy do when in encounters local minima / maxima ? ”

    I’m not completely sure that I understand this question… can you give an example?

  42. OK Island, so I do understand your position- I had to ask, in order to test.

    The polarisation of argument is a bug-bear of mine too. I’m no fan of Dawkins, because he is so reactionary, so offensively defensive against creationists, that the quality of scientific argument suffers – did you read my essay on Dawkins – I’m no fan ?
    http://www.psybertron.org/Dawkins%20Hyper-Rationalism.html

    “Good company” was a tongue in cheek appeal to (meaningless) authority. I am a pan-darwinist in a big way, but like to think I’m open minded and balanced. I recognise a meme when I see one. I did say “it doesn’t mean you’re wrong”.

    The year of physics stuff I found disappointing, particularly that survey of what scientists think is the most important thing everybody should know.

    OK, so your web-site contains anything you have written ? I’ll need to browse a while.

    Ian

  43. Local maxima ?

    Sorry, this was just schoolboy maths.

    If we have a variable (entropy) over a domain (space and or time) which has some global maximum at some point – call it the end say.

    If a mechanism tending to increased entropy found itself at some local entropy peak, not the global maximum, it seems that the mechanism would tend to that local maximum – it takes knowledge and foresight to see the existence of the global maximum elsewhere ?

    Ian

  44. Island, do you know of Brian Josephson at Cambridge ? Nobel prize-winning physicist, Josephson effect / junction etc.

    I’ve corresponded with him once or twice. He’s been branded a bit cranky by mainstream physics because he is forever championing fights by “unexpected” physics against received wisdom – various so-called paranormal phenomena, cold fusion, you name it. But he is a “serious” physicist.

    He’s had some big battles with Arxiv and other moderated on-line science resources who’s vetting processes frequently bar or blackball people because of either their name or their subject matter, rather than the quality of the science in their material.

    Despite the fact his own main successful work is quantum uncertainty based – I’m sure he would be receptive – if you didn’t rant at him 🙂

    If I could find a succint statement of your position, he’s one of the people I was going to forward it to, with a question like “This stuff seems to be being ignored by mainstream peer-reviewed channels – does it deserve it ?” – but you could do it yourself.

    Ian

  45. Me… rant???… that’s just rediculous… heh

    I wrote everything on that site that isn’t specifically quoted, although I do recommend a book on the first page that I didn’t write, by Sagan and Schneider.

    Tell him that the physics very simply resolves all of the listed problems on this site, and many more, without the need for inflationary theory:

    http://zebu.uoregon.edu/~imamura/209/mar31/anthropic.html

    The anthropic principle link doesn’t seem to be working and I can’t get hold of the domain service, maybe til monday, but the other link still works:

    http://www.geocities.com/naturescience/

    Halfway down the first page is the best that I can do in terms of the math, but an “entropic” anthropic cosmological principle stands alone as supported by empiricism.

    This previously referenced article, including my three attatched follow-ups make the points that need to be made.

    http://www.lns.cornell.edu/spr/2005-06/msg0069755.html

    And thanks, I appreciate the effort.


  46. Ian Says:
    October 22nd, 2005 at 12:50 pm
    Local maxima ?

    Sorry, this was just schoolboy maths.

    If we have a variable (entropy) over a domain (space and or time) which has some global maximum at some point – call it the end say.

    If a mechanism tending to increased entropy found itself at some local entropy peak, not the global maximum, it seems that the mechanism would tend to that local maximum – it takes knowledge and foresight to see the existence of the global maximum elsewhere ?

    No wonder I didn’t get it. This is a deep question that involves gravity, an expanding
    universe, and thermodynamics, which requires an understanding of how general relativity and thermodynamics fit together in context with the “new” physics as it applies to the entropy of gravitational fields.

    The short answer is the mechanism “has (inherent) foresight” because they come into existence via localized regions of compression in the zero-g field, which pulls back proportionally.

    I hope that helps, or am I still struggling to understand?

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