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Posts posted by Memammal

  1. Interesting that he argues that free will is compatible with the block universe model. I wonder if Tampitump is still around to read an alternative point of view.

    Yes, but it remains to be illusionary...akin to the randomness of the quantum phenomena that we discussed earlier. His argument really boils down to yes, you may have free will to choose...but said choice will be deterministic as it has already been made/implemented (seeing that the future event is as real as the present).


    The difference between presentism/tensed and eternalism/tenseless lies in the fact that with the first-mentioned only the present (-event) IS real [EDIT: a past event WAS real, a future event WILL BECOME real...these imply that the past and future are seen as less real than the present] whereas with the eternalism/tenseless approach ALL events ARE EQUALLY real and simply occurring at different coordinates of spacetime. It is a very important distinction.

  2. @ Strange: This is one of the most concise and best explanations of the implications of the block universe model that I have come across and it also happens to have relevance to this thread: Time, Free Will and the Block Universe.


    PS. The above article refers to tensed and tenseless theories of time. These correspond with presentism vs eternalism. A block universe model featuring tensed time or presentism is commonly referred to as the growing or evolving block universe.

  3. Note the following:


    The eternal block universe is one (of more) interpretation(s) of said model, but seemingly the most "popular".

    Secondly, eternal does not necessarily imply (physically) infinite. That illusionary time concept again...(among other things).


    Perhaps we are steering a bit off topic, no? The block universe has been (and still is being) discussed in a number of threads here in the Philosophy category.

  4. (At least partly because it is a bit like "god did it" in that it shuts down any further questioning or investigation.)

    Possibly (but not necessarily) w.r.t. something like deism or pantheism, but not w.r.t. theism. Said model does not allow for an external agent or tinkerer. It also implies that the universe is eternal, i.e. no beginning and no end.


    As there is, currently, quite a fundamental disconnect between GR (which I assume is what you base the "block universe" model on) and quantum theory, I don't think it is reasonable to use one to try and invalidate the other.

    Yes, the standard block universe model incorporates Minkowski spacetime and is based on GR & SR. I was merely trying to explain Tampitump's p.o.v. as quoted in my previous post.

  5. I know I should not be sticking my nose into this, but let us all just calm down a bit. Who knows, Tampitump might just have a bad day and might have over-reacted. Keep in mind the topic of the discussion...did he have free will..? Enough said.


    Radioactive decay.


    That's very simple if we start with laser and polarization filter.
    Laser is sending beam of photons with random polarizations, or random circular polarizations.
    Then they interact with polarization filter.
    50% of beam of photons is reflected,
    50% of beam of photons pass through.

    If you have just single photon, which way it will go?

    Suppose so that after reflecting there is photodiode, or other optoelectronics, which is triggering nuclear explosion (similar case like in Schrödinger's cat)

    You're sending single photon with random polarization.
    There will be explosion or not?

    These examples do not necessarily point to indeterminism (or randomness), even though it may seem like it. An eternal deterministic block (4D) universe could resolve that particular argument as it states that all events (past, present and future) are immutable, carved in stone and equally real. Whatever may appear to be random, cannot be as it "has already occurred in the future" (according to said theory). In that sense Tampitump had a point when he wrote that (perceived) "quantum indeterminism does not negate determinism".

  6. Regardless of who is right or wrong. My question is how to explain this to laypeople who have a hard time grasping what I'm talking about.

    It is still not an open-and-shut case, but the evidence seem pretty strong. A deterministic universe is one angle of said argument, but apart from- and in further support thereof are the mounting behavioural and neuroscientific evidence. This may help: Free Will - Jerry Coyne. Here is an introduction: Our thoughts and actions are the outputs of a computer made of meat—our brain—a computer that must obey the laws of physics. Our choices, therefore, must also obey those laws. This puts paid to the traditional idea of dualistic or "libertarian" free will: that our lives comprise a series of decisions in which we could have chosen otherwise. We know now that we can never do otherwise...

  7. @ EdEarl, I find this quite fascinating. As you, I thought of panspermia as something akin to a possible contributing factor at most (perhaps explaining the origin of RNA?). This suggests something more substantial, no? I have a growing suspicion, mere speculation at this point in time, from connecting certain dots. Your post above, your other post in another thread plus some of the articles that I quoted and referenced in that same thread (below your before-mentioned post) represent some of those dots. It seems somewhat radical, so let me rather search for more dots first.

  8. The argumentation here appears to be to the effect that a pen cannot be a three dimensional object!


    Did I hear that correctly??

    Look at that pen again, Tim88. It is still the same pen, but your observation or experience of the pen now constitutes a different event than the one you referred to "before". The pen may appear to be 3-D, yet your separate observations of it happened at different coordinates in a 4-D universe. Hope this helps.

  9. I think you are overestimating how much of an effect this is going to have.

    The backlash within Republican Party ranks look pretty damaging. And so it should be; Trump is a walking, talking disaster.

  10. When do you want to start?

    When there will be 10 bln people? 20 bln people? 50 bln people? 100 bln people? Tell me..

    Start with what? Just so that we are clear...you do realise that colonising stars is a pretty horrific way to fix overpopulation, no?

  11. Uhmm, we have not yet worked out exactly how we intend to colonise Mars, which is easy going and just a stone throw away compared to other galaxies...and colonising stars will probably not feature on the short list of alternatives...

  12. Let me add this to the above post:


    You probably already knew that naïve reductionism is often too simplistic. However, there is another point. It's not just that you are composite, something you already knew, but you are in some senses not even human. You have perhaps a hundred trillion bacterial cells in your body, numbering ten times more than your human cells, and containing a hundred times as many genes as your human cells. These bacteria are not just passive occupants of the zoo that is you. They self-organize into communities within your mouth, guts and elsewhere; and these communities—microbiomes—are maintained by varied, dynamic patterns of competition and cooperation between the different bacteria, which allow us to live.

    In the last few years, genomics has given us a tool to explore the microbiome by identifying microbes by their DNA sequences. The story that is emerging from these studies is not yet complete but already has led to fascinating insights. Thanks to its microbes, a baby can better digest its mother's milk. And your ability to digest carbohydrates relies to a significant extent on enzymes that can only be made from genes not present in you, but in your microbiome. Your microbiome can be disrupted, for example due to treatment by antibiotics, and in extreme cases can be invaded by dangerous monocultures, such as Clostridium difficile, leading to your death. Perhaps the most remarkable finding is the gut-brain axis: your gastrointestinal microbiome can generate small molecules that may be able to pass through the blood-brain barrier and affect the state of your brain: although the precise mechanism is not yet clear, there is growing evidence that your microbiome may be a significant factor in mental states such as depression and autism spectrum conditions. In short, you may be a collective property arising from the close interactions of your constitutents.

    Now, maybe it is true then that you are not an individual in one sense of the word, but how about your microbes? Well, it turns out that your microbes are a strongly interacting system too: they form dense colonies within you, and exchange not only chemicals for metabolism, but communicate by emitting molecules. They can even transfer genes between themselves, and in some cases do that in response to signals emitted by a hopeful recipient: a bacterial cry for help! A single microbe in isolation does not do these things; thus these complex behaviors are a property of the collective, and not the individual microbes. Even microbes that would seem to be from the same nominal species can have genomes which differ in content by as much as 60% of their genes! So much for the intuitive notion of species! That’s another too-anthropomorphic scientific idea that does not apply to most of life.


    Individuality - Nigel Goldenfeld...it may be useful to read the rest of the article as well...from the same Edge publication - 2014 : WHAT SCIENTIFIC IDEA IS READY FOR RETIREMENT?


    And since I have now found the published articles, let me link these too:

  13. Just back to the topic. May I suggest the following reading material:


    The Neural Correlates Of Consciousness - Susan Blackmore

    The Self - Bruce Hood

    Cognitive Agency - Thomas Metzinger

    Free Will - Jerry Coyne


    These are short, but powerful and insightful articles that form part of “This Idea Must Die; Scientific Theories That Are Blocking Progress”. Reading the title of said publication together with the titles of each of the above-mentioned articles will give you a hint about their respective opinions.

  14. In another exchange (somewhere shortly before, or after that...I would have to search for it) an important principle of the so-called "myth theories" was debunked.

    For what it is worth, I was referring to the discussion on page 35 and in particular post # 693.

  15. This in order to explain why I consider it to be the status quo and why I felt justified to put (null hypothesis) in brackets next to it:


    Most historians, Biblical scholars and authors on the topic of a historical Jesus hold an opinion similar to the one that I articulated in the post that was met with a few thumb down votes.


    For substantiation please read my post# 676 of this thread together with the parts that I quoted and commented on in said post. In another exchange (somewhere shortly before, or after that...I would have to search for it) an important principle of the so-called "myth theories" was debunked (something that you might have also touched on when you wrote "and that of a god who like most other gods of that time had a human aspect").


    I see that some people pressed the "negative reputation" button under that reasoning; I think that it's more useful to briefly comment on the probable cause, which is the one-sided view of that post which doesn't fairly reflect the discussion.


    The OP video clarified that we are facing two hypotheses: that of a man who was a bit like most other people of that time, to which the god concept was added; and that of a god who like most other gods of that time had a human aspect, with a historical narrative added to it. The hypothesis that the OP chose for discussion here is the second one; a "null-hypothesis" approach would consist of trying to disprove that hypothesis.

    Thank you Tim88, but I do not agree with your assessment as set out in the second paragraph above. Please read the OP again...and/or browse through the thread...and you will notice that the discussion here has focussed almost entirely on the first "hypothesis". The OP is welcome to clarify.


    PS. The Jesus Myth Theory was the alternative option, which is the one that corresponds with your second "hypothesis". But the OP clearly asked about the actual historicity (i.e. whether he existed or not) of the man popularly known as Jesus (of the Bible, i.e. the one who was later elevated by virtue of early Christianity to the son of God who died for humanity's sins, etc.). Most historians, Biblical scholars and authors on the topic of a historical Jesus hold an opinion similar to the one that I articulated in the post that was met with a few thumb down votes.

  17. I do not vote for the presentism argument. Nor the Lorentz ether absolute frame being a privileged observer. Relativity of simultaneity has specific requirements that are not merely "convention" ...


    It is more real to think of physical reality as a four-dimensional existence, instead of the evolution of a three-dimensional existence ...


    Presentism regards the event here-now as the most real, It should be stressed that it amounts to a contradiction in terms to say that the world is four-dimensional, but for every observer only the event "here-now" is real. If the world is four-dimensional all its events are equally real otherwise it would not be four-dimensional...


    If you wish to use Block the eternalism view is more real than the presentism view. The presentism view cannot confirm his frame is more real than any other.


    Eternalism view is compatible with the 4d view. This is the view relativity uses.


    Thank you Mordred for clarifying that. I agree with your opinions above and they are also in line with at least two other findings that I previously referenced:

    Vesselin Petkov​'s Is there An Alternative To The Block Universe View

    And Springer Berlin Heidelberg's Relativity of Simultaneity and Eternalism: In Defense of the Block Universe

  18. Fair enough...I must have read too much into this "With that the question about a historical Jesus was sufficiently answered for me: I discovered that I had allowed myself to be fooled by religion and religion-based historians."

  19. Still, one argument of Christians is that Christianity could not have taken off if there had not been a Jesus who did miracles and whose resurrection motivated his followers to continue despite persecution. Consequently it may have relevance now to know what of the Jesus narrative is verifiable.


    But the facts which I discovered by digging deeper -deeper than ever before- showed that the existence of Christianity does not imply the existence of such a Jesus; and a non-miraculous Jesus who was killed in Jerusalem is less useful but not needed to explain the rise of Christianity. With that the question about a historical Jesus was sufficiently answered for me: I discovered that I had allowed myself to be fooled by religion and religion-based historians.

    I respectfully disagree with your assertion in context of this thread. We are not discussing the merits of a supernatural Jesus, or Christianity. Furthermore, the historians and Biblical scholars who have researched the topic of a historical Jesus were not all religious or Christian. Having an informed opinion that it is more likely for a historical Jesus to have existed than not, does not necessarily imply that one is a Christian. I am not a Christian. I am not sure why my previous post was voted down. I merely repeated my earlier opinion, one that I had already motivated, and I did so in support of Tampitump's opinion above and to a lesser degree, John Guthber and others who argued that there is little point to continue the debate without new information.

  20. I.m.o. there exist sufficient circumstantial evidence to maintain the status quo (or null hypothesis) that an historical Jesus figure PROBABLY did exist and that the life and times of said historical Jesus had SOME resemblance to what is being portrayed in parts of the synoptic gospels. There seems little to no credible evidence to support the non-existence of-, or to point to some sort of fictional/fabricated Jesus. All these arguments have already been presented and there seem to be little new information that could shed some light on it. No need to argue about it in circles any longer. If the OP, or any reader comes to a different conclusion or is happy with WE DON'T KNOW, so be it.

  21. Maybe its the physicist side of me. Definetely. When I look at a model. I'm only interested in one key question.


    "What is its predictive power"




    Block follows the philosophy "all events must be deterministic." In macro systems ordinarily this works but not in all cases. There are macro processes that are not reversible. Entropy for example isn't reversible.


    If we start to reverse expansion we should have a decrease in entropy. According to reversible process.

    However entropy doesn't decrease in this case. It will either remain the same or continue to increase.

    arrow of time was proposed to be modelled via entropy. So this conflicts with block.

    (Yes you guys can google the Internet to find counter arguments to the above examples) I know they are there...


    The problem is the majority of those articles include a detailed math analysis.

    I gather it is the physicist side of you...which is perfectly understandable. I can only speak for the block universe approach, hence me snipping out the rest for the purpose of my response. I.t.o. the block universe approach the so-called arrow of time becomes a bit of a misnomer. Perhaps a arrow of location would be more descriptive..? *(Perceived)* entropy may indeed be different at different locations within the block universe. As I alluded to, that would then be a given...a physical and predetermined (unavoidable) property of being at (or experiencing) a different coordinate along said reality. Reversing expansion implies moving to another (prior) coordinate. All locations are equally real though, with its associated properties (w.r.t. entropy et al).



    Here is another perspective, which was not googled. I have the book, so I apologise beforehand if copying from it may infringe copyright:


    In “This Idea Must Die; Scientific Theories That Are Blocking Progress” there are a number of references to how our conventional paradigm may hinder our scientific understanding. In “Essentialist View Of The Mind” Lisa Barrett writes: In physics, before Einstein, scientists thought of space and time as separate physical quantities. Einstein refuted that distinction, unifying space and time and showing that they’re relative to the perceiver. Even so, essentialist thinking is still seen every time an undergraduate asks, “If the universe is expanding, what is it expanding into?” In “The Big Bang Was The First Moment Of Time” Lee Smolin states: What concerns me is the other meaning of Big Bang, which is the further hypothesis that the ultimate origin of our universe was a first moment in time, at which our universe was launched from a state of infinite density and temperature. According to this idea, nothing that exists is older than 13.8 billion years. It makes no sense to ask what was before that, because before that there wasn’t even time. The main problem with this second meaning of Big Bang is that it’s not very successful as a scientific hypothesis, because it leaves big questions about the universe unanswered… There is, however, a chance for science to answer these questions, and that’s if the Big Bang was not the first moment of time… For there to have been a time before the Big Bang, the Hawking-Penrose theorem must fail. But there is a simple reason to think it must: General relativity is incomplete as a description of nature, because it leaves out quantum phenomena… There is robust evidence from quantum cosmology models that the infinite singularities forcing time to stop in general relativity are eliminated…which allows time to continue to exist before the Big Bang, deep into the past. In “The Universe Began In A State Of Extraordinarily Low Entropy” Alan Guth argues: There’s an important problem, therefore, which is over a century old: to understand how the arrow of time could possibly arise from time-symmetric laws of evolution. The arrow-of-time mystery has driven physicists to seek possible causes within the law of physics we observe, but in vain. The laws make no distinction between the past and the future… The standard picture holds that the initial conditions for the universe must have produced a special low-entropy state because one is needed to explain the arrow of time. We argue, to the contrary, that the arrow of time can be explained without assuming a special initial state, so there is no longer any motivation for the hypothesis that the universe began in a state of extraordinarily low entropy. The most attractive feature of this idea is that there’s no longer a need to introduce any assumptions that violate the time symmetry of the known laws of physics. The basic idea is simple: We don’t really know if the maximum possible entropy for the universe is finite of infinite, so let’s assume it’s infinite. Then, no matter what entropy the universe started with, the entropy would have been low compared to its maximum. That’s all that’s needed to explain why the entropy has been rising ever since! He uses a metaphor of gas in a box (finite) compared to gas with no box where all particles will eventually start moving outwards and the gas will continue indefinitely to expand into the infinite space, with the entropy rising without limit. He continues: An arrow of time has been generated, without introducing any time-asymmetric assumptions. An interesting feature of this picture is that the universe need not have a beginning or an end.​

  22. I think you don't fully understand block universe/expanded block universe.

    Neither of the above add anything to the SR metrics. Those two models don't add anything to any metric. QM, classical or otherwise.

    All processes that can be modelled as reversible fit under block. If you can't model it as reversible you have the evolving block.

    Neither model above adds any dynamic to GR/SR etc.

    Lorentz Ether however is a different matter. It adds a hidden background medium. One that is unnecessary as it has no measurable influence.

    So if you wish to use block or evolving block go right ahead. There is no questionable dynamic added to any time dilation formula. It doesn't try to add any dynamics to any formula.

    Its simply a philisophical classification of time with events.


    I don't have any objections on block/evolving block. Provided they are used correctly. (reversible/irreversible)


    Fundamentally all it does it ask the question. "Can all processes be accurately modelled as deterministic,"


    Evolving block tries to keep events as deterministic as possible.


    Nothing more....

    Although I agree with a lot of what Mordred posted in the part quoted above, I do have a few reservations. This is not necessarily to counter- or question Mordred, but an attempt to share the visualisation of this model. As far as I am concerned the standard block universe is generally perceived as both deterministic and eternalistic (although there are arguments favouring presentism and indeterminism). In another thread studiot and myself were, at first, unable to find common ground re the block universe until we resolved a simple misunderstanding re the term deterministic. So before we proceed, let us revisit said term and its intended definition i.t.o. the block universe: A deterministic system is a system in which no randomness is involved in the development of future states of the system. A deterministic model will thus always produce the same output from a given starting condition or initial state. It is important to understand that the (deterministic and eternalistic) standard block universe proposes immutable past, present and future events (fixed in stone, done and dusted). One has to actually visualise a "physical" (granular, particle, or field-assembled) eternal horizontal block; with no beginning and no end (if you want to, add an infinitely expanding shape). This eternal (on-its-side-cone-shaped) block is made up with an infinite (yes I know, another topic for another discussion) number of vertically aligned slices, each with its own immutable event. Embedded into this block (say from left to right along its expanding shape) is our "chronological" perception of these events (aka our sense of reality). Each "consecutive" slice will yield an immutable future event that will be perceived as "qualia", i.e. experiencing or observing an event on a specific coordinate (opposed to a moment in time) within this four-dimensional block. No doubt that there are physical processes (both on quantum and on macro level) transpiring in the unfolding of each event...but these processes are predetermined...immutable. They may appear random or uncertain, yet they simply "manifest as they should have" in order to illuminate (as per the moving spotlight) the next event. Let us consider that film analogy as described in the source that I referenced earlier in the thread where our embedded perception of reality within this block universe equates to a film consisting of countless frames, each frame consisting of a separate mini process towards an inevitable future. Our perception thereof is akin to watching the movie where everything occur in a sensible, chronological and natural manner...waiting for events to unfold. Imagine having an alternative manner of accessing said reality, like the ability to pause, rewind or even fast forward...for example a scene where a car falls from a cliff that can be paused, or rewind...as if violating the laws of physics..?


    Which brings me to the evolving block. I find it hard to buy into the notion that "evolving block tries to keep events as deterministic as possible" given the above explanation and illustration. Let me also add another- and slightly different perspective, an opinion that I find quite appealing:


    Registry and Evolving Block Universe


    The block view and the time evolution view are not as incompatible as they may look at a first sight. We can recover the time evolution by watching the entropy distribution between the events of the block world, and the causal co-relations between them. I would like to compare the registry time evolution with the Evolving Block Universe of George Ellis. Professor Ellis proposes an evolving block universe, perhaps the most credible proposed so far. He explains that the quantum phenomena (in the standard indeterministic interpretation of QM) should have gravitational effects. Consequently, they must change the spacetime. I agree with this argument. Further, he details a theory in which the time flows, evolves, in a sort of presentist way, and the past, which already happened, is “archived” in a block universe. The block universe increases with time, as new “presents” adds to it. The future is not decided yet, and as it happens, it becomes present, and then it is archived. This view is well elaborated, and reflects well our feelings of time flow, free-will, carved in stone past, and open future. On the other hand, I do not agree with Professor Ellis that QM proves the indeterminism. Even so, assuming the indeterminism valid, this doesn’t eliminate the possibility of the standard block view.


    Perhaps the most important difficulty of such an Evolving Block Universe is the possibility, offered by QM, of deciding the past events chronologically after they took place. This implies that we have to wait to archive the passed times. Moreover, it is possible to never be able to determine the past completely. Consider Wheeler’s delayed choice experiment, with the photon emitted by a distant star. The observer watching the star will decide whether to measure the “both ways”, or the “which way”. Her decision affects the past history of the observed photon, hence of the observed star. Of course, it is unlikely that she affected the star’s state in a significant way, but she affected it at least in a small way. Until the observation, the photon, hence the star (by entanglement), was in an undefined state. Assume now that the photon is never observed, and escapes far from any planet and any possible observer. The Universe will remain in an undetermined state. So, we cannot say that the past block will be ever created. On the other hand, my proposal of a “registry” of incomplete initial data which increases with each observation, relying on Smooth Quantum Mechanics, allows the possibility that the state of the Universe remains undetermined. Professor’s Ellis idea of foliating the spacetime so that the spacelike surfaces contains the wavefunction collapses may be unreachable, because the entanglement makes the collapses impossible to be ordered temporally. I am afraid that the entanglement can be complicated enough. The measurements of the spins of the two electrons in the EPR-B experiment can be in any spacetime relation. We cannot consider that the wavefunction collapse takes place necessarily along such preferred spacelike surfaces, which are compatible with a spacetime foliation. It is easy to see that, if we associate spacelike surfaces to the collapse, it is possible that these intersect in complicated ways. Moreover, collapse can take place also between events that cannot belong to the same spacelike surface, being for example one in the other’s future.


    The standard BU attempts to express the temporal structures in terms of timeless structures. We can consider it, in a way, as a research program of explaining the time itself in terms of timeless structures. But, by adhering to a presentist view, and by reducing the BU functionality to a purely archiving role, there is the danger of explaining the time by appealing to time in a circular way: the EBU includes the passed time in the archived BU, but the evolution happens in a metatime. Another interesting feature the BU has is that it contains all the physical fields in its description. By giving a special role to the present, we introduce a feature which has no correspondent in the matter fields. The BU accounts for the physical fields, but it cannot include an intrinsic present, and maybe doesn’t even need. Yet, if it would need to mark the present, a “BU with a bookmark” would solve the problem.


    The registry view is compatible with both time evolution, and with the standard block universe view. And it shares with the EBU picture the compatibility with our feelings of time flow, free-will, open future, but not the carved in stone past.​


    Lastly and simply as a matter of interest: There seems to be a compelling parallel with another thread in the Biology/Evolution section that deals with free will, consciousness and evolution: http://www.scienceforums.net/topic/74370-since-we-have-no-free-will-what-purpose-doesdid-consciousness-serve/

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