Definitions: miracles, naturalism, materialism, reductionism

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Definitions: miracles, naturalism, materialism, reductionism

Postby EnlightenmentLiberal » Thu May 16, 2013 9:07 pm

While reading this,
http://www.myspace.com/sirthinkalot42/b ... 9C90299768
and making my response (in another thread just now), I realized that I still didn't have a firm grasp on how I want to define those terms, on what is the useful essence of those terms.

To the best of my knowledge, the closest any popular speaker has gotten to my position is Stephen Hawking and model dependent realism.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Model-dependent_realism
I never make a claim that things are "really there", or "really exist". I do not differentiate between being in "the real world", vs in "The Matrix", vs "in someone's dream". Each of those have been carefully constructed to be indistinguishable from each other, and that's precisely why it's irrelevant.

But of course, they want their cake and to eat it too. People who seriously propose such models do specifically and carefully define the models to be indistinguishable from the conventional models of materialism and physics and reductionism, but they do propose significant differences that are observable, but observable only under such obscure scenarios as to be almost effectively non-existent, except when they make their special pleading argument. It is a form of special pleading, to say that reality obeys all of these rules, except in this one case where I take "the red pill" (The Matrix). If it could be demonstrated, then it is definitely not special pleading. It's special pleading precisely because they posit a small but important difference, a small but important exception to the usual rule, without any justification whatsoever.

I think we can all agree that materialism, naturalism, and reductionism, are all talking about the idea that reality is just mindless forces acting on microscopic particles (or equivalent formulations for quantum field theory). For example, in my field of computer science, I can reason about the behavior of a computer program in terms of the source code text and the relevant standards and library documentations. This is how it's usually done. This constitutes a predictive model of reality. I feed in the source code and the relevant standards, and out comes predictions.

That's what a predictive model is. It's a process, an algorithm, by which it transforms inputs - observations about reality - sensory experience - into outputs - predictions about reality - predictions about future sensory experience. Of course, with modern science, sometimes the models' inputs and outputs are themselves in terms of the terminology of other models. Eventually though, the input and outputs have to resolve down to sensory experience. For the example of the code, the inputs - the source code and relevant standards - are not immediately in terms of sensory experience, but I hope it's easy to see how you would resolve it down to sensory experience. The outputs of the model, what I expect to see on my computer screen, is much more straightforward to convert to sensory experience.

Now, the model of source code and standards is a predictive model of reality. It is a scientific model. It is not, however, a model of mindless forces acting on microscopic particles. We're talking about rather abstract concepts, of human language, and text, not microscopic particle and mindless forces. However, as a programmer, I can work in terms of other models. It's usually convenient to work in terms of the source code + standards model because it's computationally simple, but I also can work in terms of the assembly + standards model. Furthermore, every rule of the source code + standards model can be described in the language of the assembly + standards model. This is what is called a formal reduction in theory of computation, the transformation of one problem to another. Any sort of reasoning I do about source code + standards can be changed to equivalent reasoning about the relevant assembly and assembly standards.

I can go even further. I can reduce the problem description of assembly into that of logic gates and registers. I can reduce that down to transistors and solid state electronics. Finally, I can reduce that down to quantum physics.

There is every reason to believe that I can predict the contents of my computer screen when I compile and run the C program:
int main() { return 0; }
using only the models of quantum mechanics, and the roughly known position and velocity of the matter particles that make up my computer. There's nothing more to it. There's no magic or other stuff that creeps in. There's no radical change of behavior that happens when you combine these, what some might call "emergentism".

Of course, there is a reason why I don't do that regularly for my job. It's because it's impractical. Again, there's every reason to think that with a sufficiently powerful supercomputer to do the computations, that I could predict the screen contents for compiling and running that C program.

This is IMHO the best description of what is meant by naturalism, materialism, and reductionism. I like to call it physics-reductionism. It's the idea that all predictive models of our shared reality are computationally reducible to the model of physics, which is a model of mindless forces acting on microscopic particles (or equivalent formulations for quantum field theory).

To be non-vacuous, let me tell you what this excludes.

This excludes the possibility that physics differs depending on the state of the macro object. In other words, the mindless forces should be "pairwise". The rules for electrons in rocks should be the same rules for electrons in human brains. The rules must be pairwise. They must be indifferent to the "kind" or "shape" of the macro object.

This excludes all forms of emergentism. This computational reductionism is the idea that the observable state of any system is 1- fully accurately describable solely in terms of the "atomic" parts, and 2- that the behavior of the whole system is describable via that computational reduction to the behavior of the "atomic" parts. I have to admit though, frankly, I'm not even quite sure how it could be otherwise. It's almost like saying that 2 electronics behave like this, but if you put 3 together, then they would behave differently, but that would be captured by physics. I think the alternative is almost incoherent.

Ex: For people who claims soul is: "Are you claiming that there are some atomic or subatomic particles in the brain somewhere - say an electron - which is behaving differently than what physics would predict?". The electron is going to obey physics. This narrowly constrains the possible behavior of that electron. Even when you throw on quantum effects (which of course dominate at this scale), this still narrowly constrains the behavior of the particle in terms of probability distributions. If you want that soul to do something, then the electron has to not obey those probability distributions. If the soul does do something, and the electron does obey those probability distributions, then that's semantically equivalent to saying the soul is a useless construct and that the electron obeys physics, and physics is sufficient to describe the system. See "model dependent realism" above. That IMHO is key. If people think that they can make choices and verbalize those choices, and the choices are not reducible to physics, then this implies that we should be able to detect breaks in physics with the particles in the brain.

Finally, this gets me to what I wanted to talk about.

http://www.myspace.com/sirthinkalot42/b ... 9C90299768
Secondly, a miricle is by definition a rare event, if something is commonplace it is not a miricle. Therefore its a big headed for any indvidual person to expect to see one within his lifetime(for the record I havent seen any miricles, but that doesnt damage my faith any). In fact, Biblically speaking, miricles only occur for particular people who God has called, and usually they are either small scale, or not blatently miriculous, Ie its the timing or the way circumstances worked that made it a miricle. Truely big, obvious miricles(the stopping of the sun by Joshusha ect) are very rare indeed.

What is a miracle? I don't want to define miracle in terms of rareness, and instead in terms of whether it's a break from physics. However, I realized that it might be incoherent to say that. Allow me to explain, through unfortunately lots of wandering.

Consider a conventional fantasy setting with magic. Specifically, consider the usual Dungeons And Dragons setting, or any setting with wizards and musty old tomes. A wizard is a scientist. A wizard discovers the rules that govern his sensory experience through experimentation and inductive reasoning. He may call it magic, but it's in effect no different than when an engineer works with static friction or Young's modulus. A wizard doing magic in this way is an engineer doing science. There's absolutely no difference to the methods employed.

Now, can we possibly phrase a difference between naturalism and the magic of wizards of DnD? I'm finding it difficult. Of course, the wizards of DnD could know about physics, about Maxwell's equations, and so forth. They would just have some additions to the equations for new terms, the "magic" terms. They would know that Maxwell's equations are good and valid in the absence of "magic", just like we know that Newton's equations are good and correct in the absence of large velocity differences and in the absence of large gravity gradients.

However, is it possible to even describe a magic system that's not just mindless forces acting on microscopic particles? Maybe. I suppose it might be similar to my soul/brain example above. It may be the case that there simply is a different physics for electrons in brains vs the physics of electrons in rocks and stars. I'm pretty sure it's not, and the evidence is overwhelming against, but it coherent, possible, and discoverable. Nothing in the scientific method forbids that discovery. Naturalism, materialism, and physics-reductionism I think would forbid such a discovery that physics is different for rocks and brains and stars. That is, physics is not different depending on the type of the macro object, but I think I'm just defining things in circles now.

Am I missing anything? I'm afraid I have a contradiction in here, some circular definitions, or at least a shortcoming.

I think the electron example is key. Is it fair to define physics-reductionism as all predictive models as being computationally reducible to a model of only mindless forces acting on microscopic objects, and the rules are agnostic to whether the particles are in brains, rocks, or stars? Am I being circular somewhere?

The fiction that describes a wizard may be that all living creatures participate in the "mana field" or interact with the "mana bosons". If demonstrated, that trivially destroys physics-reductionism as I've defined it (I've defined it to be "pairwise" mindless forces that don't care about the "kind" or "shape" of the macro object, e.g. brains vs rocks), but of course gets us no closer to demonstrating gods. It may also be that the fiction of wizard's magic is that anything can manipulate the "mana field" or the "mana bosons" - you could even construct a non-living machine to do some "magic" effect.

Finally, from this, can we make a useful, accurate, and honest definition of miracles consistent with common usage that makes it different than a wizard's magic? Maybe. At the very least, I think that if you could demonstrate that the physics of electrons changes depending on if the electron is in a star or rock, vs a live human brain, or vs a dead human, then you're definitely onto something. I would have to stop calling myself a materialist, a naturalist, and a reductionist, though I still don't think that gets us any closer to demonstrating gods. However, I of course would continue to use the scientific method.
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Re: Definitions: miracles, naturalism, materialism, reductio

Postby EnlightenmentLiberal » Thu May 16, 2013 9:35 pm

Having thought about it, I think the key is "pairwise". I know a little bit about physics, and I would love for a real physicist to correct me, but all of known physics can be accurately described as pairwise interactions of microscopic particles, or some equivalent formulation for quantum field theory and such.

Namely, the rules describing a system of three bodies is merely the sum of the rules of the 3 2-body systems.

If someone could show me reality breaking this "pairwise" rule, then we're on to something. You would shatter my world view. I would no longer be a physics-reductionist as I've defined the term. I think all of the evidence clearly indicates this position, and if this were to be shown false, I would have a lot of so-called "soul searching" to do as I try to find what is the best model and description of our shared reality.

So, at the very least, I think I want to define "miracle" as phenomena which is not describable in terms of a model of pairwise mindless forces acting on microscopic particles.

PS: A DnD wizard's magic may pairwise mindless forces acting on microscopic particles. Alternatively, it may treat living creatures as special, self-aware creatures as special, etc., and thereby break the "pairwise" rule. The first would be a simple addition to known physics. The second IMHO would be a complete revolution of more or less all known science (except the basic scientific method and statistics). You could no longer apply reductionist ways of thinking. It's not incoherent, but just so far removed from how I operate that it would be a fundamental game changer for how I think about the world.
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Re: Definitions: miracles, naturalism, materialism, reductio

Postby EnlightenmentLiberal » Thu May 16, 2013 9:45 pm

One last detail. I was thinking, and there might not be a difference between "emergentism" and breaking the pairwise rule. I called the first almost incoherent, while I called the second not necessarily incoherent. They may be the same thing. I'm just so steeped in this way of thinking I suppose that it's hard to consider alternatives. I'm going to have to go with the weaker approach and say it's not incoherent, just completely alien and foreign to all of my experiences and knowledge.
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Re: Definitions: miracles, naturalism, materialism, reductio

Postby NearlySane » Fri May 17, 2013 7:26 am

First off, nice post. I enjoyed reading it. You have the knack of writing a long post that's readable (ie not tl;dr).

Anyway, I just wanted to focus on what defines a miracle. I personally see it as a manipulation of nature by something outside of nature. This is different from a wizard's magic because the wizard is inside nature where any manipulation of nature can be demonstrated.

Take a wizard who brings a dead person back to life a week after death. From our current understanding of nature, this is impossible. So, as it goes, the wizard either has a better understanding of nature and also has the ability to use it to bring a dead person back to life, or it is impossible under current natural laws but it is possible to manipulate nature so that bringing a dead person back to life is no longer impossible. It doesn't matter which of these is correct in terms of being demonstrable, because they are both occurring in nature.

Now to add in a miracle - so I'll carry on with this example with the wizard manipulating nature so that making such a resurrection is no longer impossible. The wizard can only manipulate nature in such a way because an agent outside of nature has manipulated the wizard (who don't forget is part of nature) so that he can also manipulate nature to a further degree. The miracle is the explanation behind the natural explanation.

To use your computer programming as an example, the running program is nature and the programmer is God. The code is where the laws which set up and govern nature lie, and God can chop and change this code as he wants. We, as beings that exist in the running program are limited to only perceiving things which happen in the running program because we are also just code. So the wizard, who has code governing his nature, has had his code changed by God the programmer, so that he can now manipulate parts of the code that he couldn't manipulate before. The wizard however, is completely unaware of being manipulated because he is limited to only perceiving things which happen in the running program. So, from the perspective of the wizard and everything else in the running program, manipulation of nature by God the programmer is indistinguishable from no manipulation at all by God the programmer.

So, where you say you'd be onto something if you could demonstrate that the physics of electrons changes depending on if the electron is in a star or rock, I would say that yes, you are, but whatever it is you're onto can only demonstrated to be natural. God is outside of this and can never be demonstrated from the inside.
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Re: Definitions: miracles, naturalism, materialism, reductio

Postby EnlightenmentLiberal » Fri May 17, 2013 8:31 am

I disagree. I think I've rewritten this several times now, trying to keep it short.

I don't know what you mean by "nature" and "natural". I think it's a huge cop-out to assert that things outside of nature are immune to the methods of science, and define god to be outside of nature. I am going to use the methods of science to learn about our shared reality, and if god exists in the material causal sense - aka not some mere abstract notion like the number "1" - then it is subject to the methods of science. Perhaps the god is so powerful that it could fool my senses, just like any sufficiently advanced aliens could shove me in a simulation like The Matrix and fool my senses. I admit that against an adversary of such power you are probably doomed to fail, but if they were volunteering to be subject to tests, then we could make headway.

I don't like the word "inside" when you said "God is outside of this and can never be demonstrated from the inside.". If I was in The Matrix, and saw people jumping over tall buildings dodging bullets, and other shenanigans, I would be curious. If they were willing to explain how, and demonstrate under laboratory conditions, then we've demonstrated that they have some special power, but perhaps not the source. I could appeal to psychology, of basic human trust, that it's not unreasonable to base future expectations of a particular human based on past experience. If they could be shown to be trustworthy, at least that's bad evidence that they have those powers for their stated reasons.

Now, to get to the "inside" part. Suppose they opened up a virtual terminal that allowed someone inside to see the running code, modify it at their leisure, however they wanted. Is that still "inside"? What does "inside" even mean? Not only is there no bright line, there's no line at all!

I think, only in a very narrowly constrained, carefully crafted model of reality can you get that bright "inside" vs "outside". Again, I'm not sure how you're using the words, but this is my best guess. I think you would say that the chair I'm sitting on is "really here" (whatever that means), and that physical reality is ... self contained(?). Or maybe you'd agree with me that everything in physical reality is just mindless pairwise forces acting on microscopic particles. So, anything which doesn't fit this model is "outside"? K... When the wizard uses the mana field and the mana bosons to do magic, why is that inside, and when a god does whatever it does to do whatever magic, why is that necessarily outside? Who gets to decide? You? How? And suppose I'm inside The Matrix - I can use science to discover about the "outside world", but why can't I use science to discover about the god which is similarly outside of our current shared "material reality"?

tl;dr I haven't yet heard a definition of natural vs supernatural which wasn't just a special pleading ass-pull, or just silly. You could define "natural" to mean "physics", but then we discover new physics via the scientific method, which means we do use science on supernatural stuff. You could define "natural" to mean "physical", but I'm pretty sure I would use science to learn about the mana field and mana bosons which affect only living creatures. You could define "natural" to mean "mindless forces acting only pairwise on microscopic particles, and anything that can be modeled as computationally reducible to that", but again I'm forced to conclude that I would still use science to learn the differences between the behavior of electrons in brains vs electrons in rocks if there was such a difference. I don't see any coherent definitions which allow the absurd conclusion that you can't do science on supernatural stuff.

PS:
First off, nice post. I enjoyed reading it. You have the knack of writing a long post that's readable (ie not tl;dr).
Thank you.
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Re: Definitions: miracles, naturalism, materialism, reductio

Postby EnlightenmentLiberal » Fri May 17, 2013 8:45 am

I hope I'm not missing your point. I think I am. Is your point something like the following? Neo can fly by sheer willpower more or less. We can verify this. Neo claims that's because this is The Matrix, and anyone with sufficient willpower jacked in on a special connection can do that. But suppose Neo can't or won't take people outside The Matrix, or do anything but personal demonstrations (but he would do personal demonstrations under laboratory conditions on demand). Is your point merely that this is not compelling that we live in The Matrix because Neo isn't trustworthy? Is your point just that we have demonstrated something odd, but we haven't demonstrated that The Matrix? I think this is rather silly. What if he also opened a terminal to the code running The Matrix, and allowed us to play around with it? Would that be compelling?

What would be compelling? "Getting outside"? Again, I think that's ill-defined. It's ill-defined because it uses the word "outside" which itself is inherently tied to a model, and IMHO it's inappropriate to use the language of the model in this way before demonstrating it to be true. It's unjustified to say "well, god is outside of nature, and you can't do science on stuff outside of nature if you're stuck in nature".

Maybe what you are saying is "if you are stuck inside of nature, then you cannot say anything about things outside of nature". My response would be "why?". How can you make such a claim? As long as there's a window, some way to observe it, then I can do science on it. As long as it's observable, I can make models on it, and I don't care whether it's "inside" or "outside" or whatever. Being inside vs outside is completely irrelevant as to whether I can do science on it. What matters is whether it's observable, whether it affects my sensory experience. I really do mean it when I reject realism as meaningless ala the logical positivist position, and I only use model dependent reality.
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Re: Definitions: miracles, naturalism, materialism, reductio

Postby NearlySane » Fri May 17, 2013 9:42 am

Hope you don’t mind me breaking this down:

EnlightenmentLiberal wrote:I disagree. I think I've rewritten this several times now, trying to keep it short.
I don't know what you mean by "nature" and "natural". I think it's a huge cop-out to assert that things outside of nature are immune to the methods of science, and define god to be outside of nature. I am going to use the methods of science to learn about our shared reality, and if god exists in the material causal sense - aka not some mere abstract notion like the number "1" - then it is subject to the methods of science. Perhaps the god is so powerful that it could fool my senses, just like any sufficiently advanced aliens could shove me in a simulation like The Matrix and fool my senses. I admit that against an adversary of such power you are probably doomed to fail, but if they were volunteering to be subject to tests, then we could make headway.


I’ll try and be a bit clearer. When referring to “nature” I’m pertaining to the confines of the universe. You, as above, might refer to it as “material”, but I’m open to the idea that everything within nature may not be materialistic. That’s probably another discussion, though.

Anyway, the scientific method is defined as being naturalistic. It has nothing to say about that which isn’t natural (if there is such a thing). So if God is posited as being supernatural and the creator of nature, then it is beyond the purview of science. I am referring to such a God that is outside of nature (as it’s the most common general definition I come across).

I don't like the word "inside" when you said "God is outside of this and can never be demonstrated from the inside.". If I was in The Matrix, and saw people jumping over tall buildings dodging bullets, and other shenanigans, I would be curious. If they were willing to explain how, and demonstrate under laboratory conditions, then we've demonstrated that they have some special power, but perhaps not the source. I could appeal to psychology, of basic human trust, that it's not unreasonable to base future expectations of a particular human based on past experience. If they could be shown to be trustworthy, at least that's bad evidence that they have those powers for their stated reasons.


Everything that has been demonstrated to you, though, is in The Matrix. Yes, there might be some freaky shit going on, but it says nothing about it being caused by something which isn’t in The Matrix. You’d have to get out of first it to know there is an outside that can possibly cause things to happen inside it.

Now, to get to the "inside" part. Suppose they opened up a virtual terminal that allowed someone inside to see the running code, modify it at their leisure, however they wanted. Is that still "inside"? What does "inside" even mean? Not only is there no bright line, there's no line at all!


Like I said above, I’m only using a common definition of God that has been put to me. This isn’t strictly my definition, being a non-cognitivist.

This is a very good point that you’ve made. It’s basically the “hard problem”. You can’t view your experience in third person, so no matter how much you flit between realities, there is no way of getting to what is really real – how do you know that the reality controlling The Matrix isn’t a matrix, and the reality behind that ad infinitum? This is just another problem of defining God as being “outside” because you could never reach it.

I think, only in a very narrowly constrained, carefully crafted model of reality can you get that bright "inside" vs "outside". Again, I'm not sure how you're using the words, but this is my best guess. I think you would say that the chair I'm sitting on is "really here" (whatever that means), and that physical reality is ... self contained(?). Or maybe you'd agree with me that everything in physical reality is just mindless pairwise forces acting on microscopic particles. So, anything which doesn't fit this model is "outside"? K... When the wizard uses the mana field and the mana bosons to do magic, why is that inside, and when a god does whatever it does to do whatever magic, why is that necessarily outside? Who gets to decide? You? How? And suppose I'm inside The Matrix - I can use science to discover about the "outside world", but why can't I use science to discover about the god which is similarly outside of our current shared "material reality"?


Yes, I agree. To divide an in and an out there needs to be constraints in order to define what’s considered to be in or out. That’s the major problem for the theist who posits God as being outside, because they give God no constraints, there’s no justification to posit him as outside. So who gets to decide God is and how is a good question. However, it’s another reason why using science is useless for demonstrating God, when God is said to be outside and can do anything.
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Re: Definitions: miracles, naturalism, materialism, reductio

Postby EnlightenmentLiberal » Fri May 17, 2013 9:58 am

However, it’s another reason why using science is useless for demonstrating God, when God is said to be outside and can do anything.
Mmm. To a theist who says this, on some days I would say that it's just as meaningless as the claim which the god which does nothing. Claims (about purported things in our shared reality with material causal power) are only meaningful when says that I should see something - equivalently that I should not see something - ala the standard logical positivist position.

Regardless, I can't grant that position. It's semantic word games. Definitionally, it's akin to saying "you can't use science on my god because I say so". My pithy response: "nope".
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Re: Definitions: miracles, naturalism, materialism, reductio

Postby NearlySane » Fri May 17, 2013 10:04 am

EnlightenmentLiberal wrote:I hope I'm not missing your point. I think I am. Is your point something like the following? Neo can fly by sheer willpower more or less. We can verify this. Neo claims that's because this is The Matrix, and anyone with sufficient willpower jacked in on a special connection can do that. But suppose Neo can't or won't take people outside The Matrix, or do anything but personal demonstrations (but he would do personal demonstrations under laboratory conditions on demand). Is your point merely that this is not compelling that we live in The Matrix because Neo isn't trustworthy? Is your point just that we have demonstrated something odd, but we haven't demonstrated that The Matrix? I think this is rather silly. What if he also opened a terminal to the code running The Matrix, and allowed us to play around with it? Would that be compelling?


Yes, my point is we have demonstrated something odd and not that we are in The Matrix. It's only silly if we have evidence that we are in The Matrix, but to have that evidence we would need the terminal opened up to see it running. That, I would say, would be compelling.

What would be compelling? "Getting outside"? Again, I think that's ill-defined. It's ill-defined because it uses the word "outside" which itself is inherently tied to a model, and IMHO it's inappropriate to use the language of the model in this way before demonstrating it to be true. It's unjustified to say "well, god is outside of nature, and you can't do science on stuff outside of nature if you're stuck in nature".


It's compelling enough to conclude that you were in a matrix because you are now outside of it. However, as you say, this outside is still tied to a model and could also just be another matrix, so really both realities are tied to a bigger inside. As I said in my previous post, this can go on ad infinitum.

I agree, you know, that positing God as outside of nature is a daft, unreachable proposition, but if that's what the theist is giving me to work with, then I can only respond by saying that science has nothing to say about that which isn't natural. We're agreeing that no matter what reality we are perceiving, we're going to view it as being natural, but the theist will continue to push God outside of that.

Maybe what you are saying is "if you are stuck inside of nature, then you cannot say anything about things outside of nature". My response would be "why?". How can you make such a claim? As long as there's a window, some way to observe it, then I can do science on it. As long as it's observable, I can make models on it, and I don't care whether it's "inside" or "outside" or whatever. Being inside vs outside is completely irrelevant as to whether I can do science on it. What matters is whether it's observable, whether it affects my sensory experience. I really do mean it when I reject realism as meaningless ala the logical positivist position, and I only use model dependent reality.


Yes, as long as you can perceive observable phenomena then I would agree you can do science on it. As soon as something becomes perceivable, it ceases to be outside and becomes inside. Again, this is a problem for positing God outside like theists do, because you can never reach the outside. It's akin to tomorrow never comes.
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Re: Definitions: miracles, naturalism, materialism, reductio

Postby NearlySane » Fri May 17, 2013 10:10 am

EnlightenmentLiberal wrote:
However, it’s another reason why using science is useless for demonstrating God, when God is said to be outside and can do anything.
Mmm. To a theist who says this, on some days I would say that it's just as meaningless as the claim which the god which does nothing. Claims (about purported things in our shared reality with material causal power) are only meaningful when says that I should see something - equivalently that I should not see something - ala the standard logical positivist position.

Regardless, I can't grant that position. It's semantic word games. Definitionally, it's akin to saying "you can't use science on my god because I say so". My pithy response: "nope".


In a sense, yes it is, but if it's this model of God you are working with then you can't use science on it. This shouldn't be seen as a negative towards those who don't believe in God, as it's really a kick in the pants to those who specially plead specific events as evidence for God, when they simultaneously believe God can do anything. No constraints = no method for gauging probability.
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Re: Definitions: miracles, naturalism, materialism, reductio

Postby EnlightenmentLiberal » Fri May 17, 2013 10:17 am

Mmm. We seem to be agreeing, but with some unimportant semantic quibbles.
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Re: Definitions: miracles, naturalism, materialism, reductio

Postby NearlySane » Fri May 17, 2013 10:24 am

Yes, I think we are. I think you originally took what I used as God as my own. There is no inside and outside, only perception.

Just to be clear as well, I did originally state what my personal take of a miracle was, but what I didn't say at the time was that that take is based on the most common model of God and miracles given to me by theists. That perhaps could've saved some talking at cross-purposes.
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Re: Definitions: miracles, naturalism, materialism, reductio

Postby EnlightenmentLiberal » Thu May 23, 2013 4:32 am

Fascinating what I learn. I was blatantly, flagrantly, wrong. Grossly ignorant. "Back to the drawing board" for the amateur that is me.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Three-body_force
http://arxiv.org/pdf/0909.2881.pdf

So, I'm left to see if I can salvage anything. Is there a formal-ish way to say that the rules of physics are specified in a way that is agnostic whether it makes up a star, rock, or human brain? I think that's still too vague to be terribly meaningful.

This is weird though. If there are 3-body forces, does that mean reductionism is just an approximation of reality? One that is exceedingly good because multi-body forces seem to only happen with the strong nuclear force? (I wonder about the weak nuclear force too now.) Oh, how I wish I had more than a college intro understanding of physics.

PS: Maybe a requirement with regard to geometry. Maybe that's what I'm looking for, that the forces acting on the microscopic particles are specifiable in a simple geometry way. Something to distinguish between the soul and not-soul case. Heh.
EnlightenmentLiberal
 
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