Uncertainty – Belief vs Reason (part II)

OK – Have we all let that soak in for a while and refreshed our brains and our coffee/tea cups? Good!

Quick recap: Werner Heisenberg. Uncertainty Principle (HUP). It’s impossible to know with 100% certainty ‘exactly’ two things about a thing at the same time at a VERY basic level.

It should go without saying that it is even ‘more’ impossible for knowing (or observing) three or more things about a thing at the same time for the same reasons Werner proved to all.

OK. Werner was Good but he only went so far. Not very far at all apparently since he basically stopped at the atomic level and much of human experince in our world is way ‘above’ this – or so we currently tend to believe.

There is a growing amount of evidence that much of our life (eg. the way our brains actually operate) is controlled BENEATH this level – WAY beneath! At a Quantum level! – The world of the infinitessimally small ‘Quantum Foam’. The ‘dimensions’ of quantum foam make those of atoms and electrons look like galaxies. We are talking beyond minute here.

Strange things happen here – The impossible becomes merely a well-defined, definite’probability’. Here there is no ‘reality’ as we understand the term in our daily lives, just ‘probabilities’. Mathematical ‘odds’ of something being ‘true’ – a 99.9 % chance of something happening does not make it true in all cases – just 999 out of every 1000.

Good enough for me you may say – but would you bet your life upon it?

There is a 999 chance in 1000 that a rifle has no bullet in the clip – do you put the barrel to your head and pull the trigger to show how ‘right’ you are? You’d be right 999 times out of every one thousand… that one remaining though is what would bother me ‘most’.

Are you feeling lucky, Punk? 🙂

Don’t forget! That rifle with a bullet may very just be the FIRST one you test, then you don’t get another 999 chances to be ‘right’, straight after!!! That’s where probability sucks. That’s why you see all those people winning the lottery and why it COULD be you one day but for every winner there must be around 8 million who don’t win at each attempt.  Winning twice or three times  in one lifetime well that’s just plain greedy!  😉

Back to the point – it is ‘slipping’ a bit i feel.

Reality isn’t quite the picture we paint it to be. At least the canvas we ‘see it’ occuring on is not what we might ‘believe’.

Way back up at the ‘human’ level. Quantum and relativistic effects become so negligible they virtually ‘don’t count’ This is because with an individual ‘quantum probability’, when amalgamated together with the massive quantities of probabilities we experience at the human level, the individualities become so interwoven with all the others that a seemingly seamless ‘common probability’, that is what our ‘reality’ actually appears to us as, ‘exists’ with a probability of around 1 to 1.

Nonetheless, they are still very ‘real’ – moreso than our daily lives are. ( I KNOW how confusing that gets – if you don’t get it yet – don’t worry! but try this to give you an idea… you are an individual, you have unique ‘fixed’ (kind of) qualities. You are also one of some three hundred million or more if you are American (and stats show most of you reading this are). By grouping you all together a ‘picture’ of ‘the average American’ is built up and America can make decisions as a ‘unit’ even though it may be far from the decision you personally would have taken ( or maybe not?) as a valid part of that ‘Unit’. Here, you are the Quantum and America is the ‘real’ you – reality in probabilistic terms. You do not control America yourself but you are an essential indivisible component of it with your own unique qualities/probabilities – make more sense?

We can only ever, AT BEST, be one hundred percent certain about ONE ‘aspect’ of something at any one time is what Heisenberg proved to us all.

So – what is the Spirit of this and how could it extend to us as we discuss ‘things’, when we try to discuss the ‘same’ thing – or an aspect of it – like Faith or Belief or Reason?.

The harder we try to ‘nail’ one aspect of something to the ‘wall’ to show others – the more ‘squishy’ another aspect of it becomes and slides down the wall.

Oh Yes! – VERY Scientific description and ‘logical’ conclusion – I don’t think! 🙂

Radical perspective switch here!.

You’ve heard the saying the Devil is in the Detail? That applies here and is in perfect (to me) accord with Werner.

The more accurately you place something in your consciousness or the greater detail you can get down to, or go into – the further away you push another aspect of that same thing. It is Impossible to ever come close to holding both a perfect understanding of Faith and a perfect understanding of Reason in one human brain at the same time!

–  LWBUT’s Uncertainty Principle. 😉

You can have 100% faith and a less than perfect concept of ‘reason’, or you can have 100% reason and a less than perfect understanding of faith – you can’t do both at once!.  Perhaps another way of putting it is this: If you try to ‘prove’ faith (or God) by reason alone you are doomed to fail to understand the thing you are trying to ‘define’.

This is because by being more and more ‘reasonable’ you ‘quantify’ faith and that simply is not what faith is all about.

Any more than by holding a faith perspective you can ‘justify’ your reason. Reason Justifies Reason – Faith Justifies Faith.

That is not to say that either are not valid and useful human endeavours or that ‘possessing’ one requires a total abolition of the other.

That was NOT what Werner or I am saying.

Those who have faith can also use reason to test their faith. Those who have reason can and most certainly DO use faith to hold up their structure of reason.

Don’t believe me?

Take a good long hard look at what an AXIOM is. Get a dictionary to prove it to yourself.

Axioms are taken on faith and can be, and occasionally are, shown to be completely wrong, requiring a total and complete restructuring of an existing ‘belief’ system. – even those considered mostly ‘rational’.

Reason can fail us because our logic is all to often faulty and imperfect and reason also fails us by not acknowledging loudly enough it’s own potential for flaw – Axioms!

What is an Axiom?

It is the ‘reasoner’s equivalent of faith – a Belief which it is impossible to ever prove, upon which all else depends.

That’s right folks – the pretenders of logic and reason have no more basis for saying so loudly how foolish you are than  they have for being so certain they are ‘right’!!!

Their scientific method may be structurally sound but it is built upon some very ‘shifty’ sand!

And if they were honest with you or honest with themselves they would confess this to you up front. If they even know it, that is.

Axioms and Scientific Method are to the Scientist as is Faith in God and scriptural doctrine are to the believer, as galling as that is to them and as hard as it is to admit!

The closer they try to nail something down – the more their essential ‘flaw’ upon which their reasons depend makes it harder to.

No matter how certain they become, a little ‘chink’ soon appears to make them reconsider what actually ‘IS’. What the fundamental underlying concepts are.

It happened to Newton – it happened to Einstein – it is unavoidable.

Life IS ‘uncertain’ in more than one ‘aspect’.

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50 thoughts on “Uncertainty – Belief vs Reason (part II)

  1. Oh absolutely!!

    I have never seen the Earth from orbit, so i have to have faith that those who say they have are being honest.

    I have also not performed all the experiments necessary to conclusively demonstrate that Maxwell’s Equations are valid. I have to accept their validity as a matter of faith or I can’t move on to the semiconductor theory that’s part of my lively hood.

    As Newton said: “If I have seen further it is only because I stand on the backs of giants.”

    If every scientist had to redo all of the work that came before him to convince himself of its validity he’d be dead before he got to relativity and quantum mechanics! 😉

    I don’t think I have ever said that I have the all the answers.

    My contention is that the methods employed by Scientists, Observation followed by Logic and Reason to try to explain what has been observed, is a more reliable method to understand the physical world than is faith and revelation.

    Does that make me a materialist? Maybe.

    We still have a long way to go before we arrive and the Grand Unified Theory that eluded Einstein.

    I have tried to wrap my head around the Super Symmetry and String Theories….

    My math skills are lacking!

    We may never fully explain the ultimate purpose.

    But I’ll continue to trust logic and reason, until something comes along that’s more successful.

    PEACE,
    Robert

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  2. Oh! i forgot:

    Have you seen the PBS feature “Copenhagen”?

    It’s drama about the dialog between Heisenberg and Niels Bohr.

    Daniel Craig plays Werner Heisenberg.

    Funny to see the new “Bond” playing a physicist!

    R

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  3. “You can have 100% faith and a less than perfect concept of ‘reason’, or you can have 100% reason and a less than perfect understanding of faith – you can’t do both at once!. Perhaps another way of putting it is this: If you try to ‘prove’ faith (or God) by reason alone you are doomed to fail to understand the thing you are trying to ‘define’.”

    Perfect! I love this concept, and this is why I replied to you on my blog (this morning) that our conversations need not end totally. I cannot argue the “fact” of faith with my reason, and one cannot argue my “reason” with their faith. Well put and very insightful. Thank you for sharing it.

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  4. Getting clearer. Well written.

    I tend to find myself on the faith side of things, Not to discount logic and reason though. As you have said, it is very logical for me in my Christian walk to live by faith.

    The Bible speaks a lot to “confidence”. Not needing fact to have faith, yet not living blindly. There is an element to Christianity that is completely faith and Spirit. Someone has to experience Christ as much as knowing Him to believe in Him. This is not to say that someone cannot believe without experiencing. I just believe(and I believe the Bible speaks to this) there is so much more that only Spiritual experience can give. Like I said, I am generally on the “faith train”

    I hope this doesn’t sound like I disagree with you. You make complete sense to me. Just trying to add to the discussion.

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  5. Thank you all for your comments and thoughts They are valued – all of them! 🙂

    Something is worrying me though…

    So far NO disagreement????

    Not that i want debate or controvery, buuuuuuut…

    Anytime nobody argues with you – it’s a warning! 😉 It’s not ‘human’ 🙂

    Maybe i just reached a little too ‘far out’ with these 2 posts and no-one feels firmly enough about their own positioning to get defensive and challenge it?

    Yeah – that must be it ??;-)

    Or maybe i just ‘nailed it’?

    No-wait… that can’t be right. Uncertainty and all that.

    GOT IT!

    The ONE thing everyone agrees on is we are all just a tad ‘Uncertain’ (on some issues) 🙂

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  6. I live my life as a daily faith walk. I know God on about as personal level as you can get….He knows me better than anyone. I trust Him. It’s that simple to me. I don’t need to reason things out, because when I put my faith in Him, He gives me wisdom and insight and shows me the things I need to know to equip me for ministry and daily living. Trying to figure a God out who is so infinately higher than us defies all logic and reason, so it becomes a useless waste of time.

    I also believe that all of the quests people go on is still a blinding trick of the enemy. They never really know more than before, are confused as to what they believe, or end up not believing anything except they can function just fine alone and reach nervana by contemplating their navel.

    What a useless existence that would be. If I really want to know something, I ask my Father….He will not, or maybe even can not, reveal Himself to those who don’t believe He exists. That’s rediculous to think He would.

    Sorry, really didn’t mean to rant, but without faith, it is impossible to please God…..that’s quite enough information for me right there on how I choose to live my life. I’d rather be a Jesus freak fool my whole life and find out I was wrong, than live my life trying to reason the unreasonable, and find out I was wrong.

    Are you awake yet??? 😉

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  7. Robert

    I do not believe i can disagree or argue with a single view you put! 🙂

    I can only add to your comment about reason and the physical world that: I am convinced that the Physical world is not the only thing that impinges upon our human consciousness and that such ‘other’ things do not follow the same laws of physics as we currently understand them, that the physical one does.

    Whatever ‘world’ or term you use to refer to it it certainly has a logic and structure that is ‘consistent’ internally and may match to some degree our own ‘physical’ one. But our current understanding (reasoning) cannot do it justice – for reasons way beyond what Werner proved must be the case in His Uncertainty.

    And i have not seen Copenhagen (don’t get PBS down under!) but i will look out for it and hope it is either shown or repeated soon. Thanks for the tip! 😉

    If i may do likewise.

    Michio Kaku Is a quite briliant man – kind of the David Suzuki of higher maths/quantum physics – It was after reading and putting down one of his works (and a whole other bunch of stuff before that was also going on) that i had my ‘epiphany’.

    I quite literally ‘saw the light’ and the one sentence ‘WE are ALL Connected! Rang like a bell in my brain. I understood a way for there to be ‘more room’ in my physical, logical, rational Universe for the inexplicable. How the ‘unknowable’ (as apart from the merely not yet discovered) can and does exist ‘side by side’ with ( or much deeper ‘within’ ) ‘us’ 😉

    I am not in any way suggesting that can or should happen for you but if you have not already, reading him can make the world of superstrings and higher dimesional space much more ‘accesible’. Fascinating stuff. 🙂

    P.S. My maths could not ‘cut’ it either! 🙂

    I TRUST that those who’s does can and is tested and ‘proven’ sufficiently for this to be possible, probable even. But that is mostly just my faith.

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  8. For me, I kind of see you painting 2 perspectives. Faith and logic. If I am to take a stand somewhere, it is to say I rely more on faith than logic.

    How about you just tell me your favorite color and I will disagree. Of course I cant really disagree, cause it is your favorite…not just mine 🙂

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  9. Hey GG! I Hear Ya! 🙂

    Yep – you would be wasting your time trying to ‘believe’ by reason and logic alone.

    But reason and logic have a very definite place in our world – they are truly indispensable!

    Just less than perfect when it comes to ‘explaining’ God. God is the Master of logic and reason and defying those defies Him!

    He is the Master because He is not limited to the minute vision man possesses , even though that vision is often ‘ALL’ mankind, or a part of it, can ‘see’ (or touch, know of). He is able to grasp the picture of entirity at once and see how all the many facets fit together with perfect logic and order – even when all seems chaotic to us (ahh Chaos Theory – i see another blog coming on! – I won’t subject anyone to that so soon after Uncertainty!) 😉

    Your Faith serves you well! It may quite literally have ‘saved’ you from self-destruction. That alone is sufficient reason never to doubt ‘it’. That you are able to show it’s value to yourself and therefore to others is cause for consideration.

    You are certain in your own mind of it’s ‘source’.

    As my post showed (hopefully?) trying to ‘prove’ or disprove it is not really worth the ‘effort’.

    If it works – it works. I don’t need to understand how a quartz watch works if it tells me the right time!

    If it stops doing that i at least need to know enough to check the battery or get someone who can! I likely never need to know how to make, or the physics behind, a quartz movement tho’ 😉

    Peace GG 🙂

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  10. I understand what you said! YAY!!!! (teasing)

    I guess I’m a bit reason and logic shy because of all of the discussion lately on FC. To me, it isf self, giving self credit instead of where it is do. I understand that my reason and logic are different than what an atheist would deem the same. My reason and logic still give glory to God, He’s the one who gives such things.

    Your watch analogy is great! Why would I take such pains in ripping it apart when all I need to do is look?

    Love to you my friend!

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  11. In Worship! I bet i stopped your laughing with these posts huh? 😉 What was I THINKING??? 🙂

    You just have to read those – I have to LIVE with that stuff whizzing round and round my poor aching head every single day! lol.

    Yeah – I tried to ‘relate’ the two ‘opposing’ (they aren’t really) camps of reason and faith in a way that let each be valid.
    We are free to ‘join’ either camp but we can never be ‘free’ of reason any more than we can be free of faith.

    I get where you are coming from while never yet having had quite that level of faith in God i think you ‘rely’ on – or jusy ‘own’ might be a better term? 🙂

    Anything you say (on Faith)- i can reason and justify the logic behind – you make perfect sense to me! Anything i don’t ‘get’ immediately comes to me if i just take it and ‘go’ with it a while.

    Similarly i can follow most scientific and reasoned arguements for the non-existance of God, they just ‘lack’ something for me is all. Something i can’t quite put my finger onnnnn…

    But you know exactly where ‘it’ is i am guessing! 🙂

    Say Hi to your Cutie from me!

    Love.

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  12. The Laws of Thermodynamics are axioms and, as my old physics tutor used to say, if you understand the implications of the Laws of Thermodynamics then you’ve missed something.

    However a Law that works in all known cases but cannot be proven is sufficient to accurately predict any similar phenomena.

    One interesting application of the uncertainty principle is that it can be used to produce some startling results particularly in the theoretical field of long range communications at faster than the speed of light.

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  13. Hov, You’re ‘preaching to the converrted’ in me my Friend 🙂 Love your tutor’s quote! 🙂

    What i want to ‘know’ about is those unknown cases – the ones where the ‘Law’ falls… short!

    Predicting similar phenomena is great – but there is a whole other bunch of stuff out there ( or more exactly ‘in here’ (points to <3) that SM never even peeks at.

    We have a heart! Science now says it has a neural network and is directly connected to our brains with it. We DON’T just think with our Heads!

    We can quite literally listen to our own hearts and get more out of the experience than a thumping, squelching sound!!!

    P.S. I love the fact that scientists have now proven indisputably (thanks to quantum experiments on individual electrons) that either one or the other of these is true:

    Faster than c speed is possible; or
    Time travel is.

    The snag is we don’t quite yet have the knowledge to figure out which one fits the facts best!

    Are you a betting man? 😉

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  14. “To me, it isf self, giving self credit instead of where it is do.”

    My, is that pathetic or what???? What I was trying to say is, if I depended on logic and reason, it would be all about me….instead of the One who gives it so freely in the firstplace… WOW, it’s been a long day!

    You give brain pain is a good sort of way tho…;)

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  15. I’ve never heard it (me giving brain pain) said in a nicer way, GG 🙂

    But for the Record, you DO rely upon logic and reason in many ways. A pc is just one ‘fine’ example… when logic stuffs up just remember the haovc that ensues! 😉

    I am TOTALLY in agreement with your comment about ‘it would be all about me’ though.

    You could, (that’s could not would) in effect, become completely ‘self-sufficient’.

    The Atheists don’t see a problem in that. To some it may even be a goal they are striving towards… and that is the hub of the ‘problem’ – right? 😉

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  16. Aaahhh – where do I begin? First off…I emailed you today (MY today).

    I lean toward faith – but use logic and reason on a daily basis yet, for me faith play a part in everything I do. Any reason I lean on is in part due to others reason and logic as well, therefore I have faith they are “right” in that particular situation. If that doesn’t make sense it’s only because I’m still trying to unravel some of the biggy words in your post!

    It is not a deep reply – but it’s what I’ve got for the moment 😉 I have faith you will understand…

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  17. Yes it is..if they spent half of their energy trying to prove God that they spend trying to become self-sufficiant and prove He doesn’t exist…I think they would be pleasantly surprised. I know I was 😉

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  18. First, a slight correction: The Heisenberg uncertainty principle (if I understand it correctly) is not that you cannot measure a particle’s position and momentum beyond a certain level of precision. It is that the particle does not HAVE a particular position and momentum until you force the particle’s probability wave to collapse. It gives me a headache. But a particle, in reality, is not the common sense understanding of the word ‘particle.’

    I don’t understand what you are trying to say here:

    Mathematical ‘odds’ of something being ‘true’ – a 99.9 % chance of something happening does not make it true in all cases – just 999 out of every 1000.

    Good enough for me you may say – but would you bet your life upon it?

    I have to. We all do. When I look both ways to cross the street, am I judging speeds and distances of traffic perfectly ? No. But I cross the street knowing I am less than 100% certain of avoiding being hit. I am less than 100% certain of everything (including the preceding portion of this statement), and I do plenty of things that involve ‘betting my life.’ It is unavoidable.

    As far as epistemological axioms, I disagree again that any faith is required. There is a pretty good description of one axiom approach here.

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  19. Thanks for your visit Ben – Don’t be a stranger here please – you keep me on my metaphysical toes.

    I had enough people with sore heads as it is without needing to go into collapsing waveforms and leave everyone else (including myself) ‘floundering’ 😉 The key point was we cant do ( define accurately ) both at the same time ( make one waveform collapse into a ‘fixed’ probability that covers two distinct ‘cases’ )

    Womble!

    What i was getting at was when the waveform is collapsed in accord with the observation you are attempting to make is that 999 times you get a ((schroedingers) cat and one time you might get a thumbtack or an empty box. Reality is not what we always ‘expect’ – we cannot totally ‘trust’ it. Each such ‘reality’ is none the less ‘real’ just more or less ‘probable’. I meant being sure of ‘everything’ is not in any way recommended.

    I’m not explaining this very well i feel – could you step inside my mind a sec? 🙂

    Here is a relevant quote (to my original blog and previous FC comments) from your Richard Carrier link:

    Where is it reasonable to stop doubting, to stop asking questions? When should we just shut up and believe?

    You go that ‘extra mile’ Ben but there is still a point you have yet to reach where belief is the only place left to you – will you take that on ‘trust” or do i have to keep on trying to show it?

    You still don’t get where i am at with Axioms. I am not saying they are not used, valid and ‘proven correct’ (up until the point they fail and we reassess our whole belief system) I AM saying that they cannot be ‘proven’, are currently not DISproven, and we take them purely upon ‘logical-looking’ faith!

    It is not a question of being ‘certain’ or unsure as in the example you gave – it is much more ‘fundamental’ than that and you will never ‘get’ it purely by ‘head’ thinking – it requires the heart!

    I know how hard that part is – trust me on that at least 🙂

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  20. Where is it reasonable to stop doubting, to stop asking questions? When should we just shut up and believe?

    As provided at the link, at the level of my experiences. I cannot doubt an experience is occurring while it is occurring. I can doubt an interpretation of what the experience represents, but I cannot doubt the experience itself.

    You go that ‘extra mile’ Ben but there is still a point you have yet to reach where belief is the only place left to you – will you take that on ‘trust” or do i have to keep on trying to show it?

    What ?

    Look, I am very familiar with uncertainty. I drive my wife up the wall with how many times she will ask a question and get the following pattern: A long pause, a beginning of “I don’t know, but this would suggest that…so I think it would be this” or “I would have to look up (some implication of one idea or another) and then I’ll know whether I think one or the other is right.” I annoy coworkers repeatedly with things like “We fixed A problem. We may or may not have fixed the problem.” I talk about what I can influence or what I cannot influence, not what I can control.

    I AM saying that they cannot be ‘proven’, are currently not DISproven and we take them purely upon ‘logical-looking’ faith!

    It is a brute fact that knowledge / belief justifications must end at an unjustified starting point. That does NOT mean you should pick anything whatsoever as a starting point.

    Since you are introducing the word ‘faith’ on your own here, please tell me specifically what you mean by the word in this thread so I can understand you better.

    It is not a question of being ‘certain’ or unsure as in the example you gave – it is much more ‘fundamental’ than that and you will never ‘get’ it purely by ‘head’ thinking – it requires the heart!

    I know how hard that part is – trust me on that at least.

    I think you underestimate the internal cognitive differences between people. My ability to really put myself in other’s heads is limited – I have learned that others think very differently than I do on fundamental (and seemingly subconscious) levels.

    You may not be intending to give this impression, but the impression I am reading is that you think you have some insight that I am missing and you are trying to gently lead me there. It feels patronizing and implies you know my thoughts better than I do. If so, please reconsider.

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  21. Bah. Actually I introduced the word ‘faith’ in my own post prior to yours, meaning ‘belief that does not rest on logical proof or material evidence.’ My usage is not necessarily your usage, though, and I would hate to talk past each other.

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  22. @LWBUT

    I am convinced that the Physical world is not the only thing that impinges upon our human consciousness and that such ‘other’ things do not follow the same laws of physics as we currently understand them, that the physical one does.

    I don’t deny that our consciousness might be affected by things ‘other’ than those physical forces we can categorize, quantify or observe.

    My feeling is the science that we’ve been relying on for the past 500 years is an approximation. It works very well at explaining merely physical phenomena.

    I am not one of those RADICAL materialists that thinks that there’s nothing more than the physical world.

    On the other hand I cannot completely surrender to a mystical relationship with what I may think is God.

    What else is out there beyond the realm of our perception? I don’t know. Not a clue! But I am not afraid of what I don’t know.

    I don’t think there is an ‘enemy’ looking to ensnare my soul through the illusion of human logic & reason, as some theists like to think. The Universe is not malicious.

    I think I am beginning to understand where you are coming from. 🙂

    (don’t get PBS down under!)

    Now that I think of it I don’t think PBS produced ‘Copenhagen’ I think it was the BBC. I rented it through ‘Netflix’ here in the States.

    Michio Kaku Is a quite brilliant man

    I just “wiki’d” him. I am quite surprised I haven’t come across this guy before. I’ll look up some more of his work.

    I’ve been relying on Brian Greene and Kip Thorn for my String Theory explanations. Maybe Mr. Kaku will help!

    WE are ALL Connected!

    This is something I contemplate often in some very deep ways.

    An comedian, Bill Hicks, said something once that still resonates with me to this day:

    “Today a young man on acid realized that all matter is merely energy condensed to a slow vibration, that we are all one consciousness experiencing itself subjectively, there is no such thing as death, life is only a dream and we’re the imagination of ourselves. Here’s Tom with the weather.” – Bill Hicks

    Think about that little quip for a while and the implications if it be true.

    It’s too bad Bill died from pancreatic cancer more than 10 years ago. He was a brilliant comedian, and he said things that really made you think.

    Peace,
    Robert

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  23. Think about that little quip for a while and the implications if it be true.

    If? IF?? it is the only truth i KNOW! 😉
    I am, however conjecturing a whole other bunch of stuff that also sounds pretty good to my limited imagination! 😉

    Glad we are seing more of ‘each other’

    Loved Brian and Kip and a whole ot of others. Hawking’s work is getting ‘old’ but it was radical when i read it. Loved his biopic. And we can get BBC and ‘Channel 4’ ( France ) stuff here!

    I missed out on Bill Hicks 😦

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  24. Ben, you HAVE to have some doubt about the experience – you can ONLY experience it with your own five senses and you MUST know how unreliable they are surely???? Interpretation merely ADDS another layer of ‘Uncertainty’.

    Familiar with Uncertainty? not from the description you supplied in support of it – that is merely doing as I do – trying to be clear and precise (STOP laughing – i’m being serious now! 🙂 ) when considering and presenting information other people may need to rely upon – that ain’t Uncertainty from MY perspective – not in the least bit!

    I have NEVER, EVER suggested or recommended (nor will I) that anyone pick anything whatsoever as a starting point, nor do i believe all possible starting points have ‘equal’ validity – so just cut that kind of thinking right out, please?

    You think I under-estimate the internal cognitive differences between people? Oh Really??

    FYI – for a long time (the first ten or twelve years of my life actually) I truly thought people all thought the way i did – that we all ‘thought’ the same way. Since that time i have had to accept the brutal fact that i am virtually Unique.

    No-ONE thinks quite like I do – VERY few seem in any way capable of seeing things from as broad and as inclusive a perspective as I can – that could sound pompous – it is based upon long years of experience, observation and deep, deep internal investigation/thought.

    I admit there are times when i, as anyone of us, become ‘narrow minded’ and blinkered (focussed) on a topic, That is only human but, in the main, i can overcome that sooner or later. If you believe i am incapable of seeing things from your ‘persepctive’ you are simply wrong – I am not you but in many ways we seem to think alike. Or at least, i used to think in many ways similar to you.

    You are not a million miles short of the mark on your last para – i truly believe you are missing ‘something’ and i would dearly like for you (and every other person on this planet) to be able to ‘get’ it.

    Or at least walk along the same path for a time to experience it for themselves in their own perceptions.

    No doubt you often feel/have felt that way about some thing/people yourself at the odd time or other?

    And are resigned to it never happening?

    I do actualy ‘get’ that we are not all ‘meant’ to think alike – or even all agree.

    Good luck in your chosen path, Ben. 🙂

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  25. Hiya lwbut,

    If you are coming at this from a Christian angle, there are a couple of problems, as I see it.

    1. My understanding of the Uncertainty Principle is that an object, or idea, or concept which you are trying to track is an object upon which we are acting, that is, we are (often inadvertant) effectors and “it” is affected. But, if any of that ask/receive, turn to/turn from, seek first the Kingdom of God stuff is something upon which we can count in a great is Yer faithfulness fashion, then we don’t have faith and we don’t have reason, because we aren’t the effectors. I certainly see your point, and it is worth considering in matters of real seek-me, 2 Cor 7 kind of repentance, but the Spirit, which you quietly referenced two paragraphs north of the third smilerguy, is the one observing and acting upon, not us, and he is quite certain of our trajectory. I am such an idiot that it gives me the shivers myself think of myself as the effector.

    Our certainty is not the issue, only that He who gives us the desires of our hearts is certain.

    Secondarily your test must work upon your own axiom as well. Nice shade of Hume with just a hint of Foucault. I would love to see you apply it to the bee which must be buzzing around your bonnet. smileyguy.

    bombsaway

    Like

  26. Ben, you HAVE to have some doubt about the experience – you can ONLY experience it with your own five senses and you MUST know how unreliable they are surely???? Interpretation merely ADDS another layer of ‘Uncertainty’.

    Huh ? How would I doubt that I am experiencing ? I am experiencing a tactile sensation in my fingers. I interpret this as my fingers coming into contact with they keyboard, due to my other senses and past experiences. But I cannot doubt the experience itself. It is happening. What it is that is happening is the interpretation.

    I have NEVER, EVER suggested or recommended (nor will I) that anyone pick anything whatsoever as a starting point

    Yes, you did, when you spoke of everyone relying on axioms. Axioms are epistemological starting points.

    Take a good long hard look at what an AXIOM is. Get a dictionary to prove it to yourself.

    “1. a self-evident truth that requires no proof.
    2. a universally accepted principle or rule.
    3. Logic, Mathematics. a proposition that is assumed without proof for the sake of studying the consequences that follow from it.”

    Everyone has to have one or more, though few think about it very much. Play the two-year old successive question game: “How do you know that ?” For any given fact, at some point, the justification ends with a ‘because.’ That would be the starting point.

    Like

  27. OK – being honest – you lost me a little, not saying you are in any way wrong just having difficulty reaching your perspective at this particular moment???

    Probably something like you may have felt reading me on your own blog?? would that be fair of me? 🙂

    I will ‘deal’ with what i think i got from what you wrote, please feel free to add or ask as the case may be.

    First up, I would hope i did not come at this from a Christian Angle, because that would put up such a negativity on so many people that otherwise would probably quite like me/my thoughts. For some sad reason I do so want to be liked ?(to self: that’s ME – yer ego, stupid!)

    I can quote scripture from a bible when and as it takes me cos i do read it as a source of understanding self and others but that should not be taken to imply it rules my views or is the only source of them. Sorry if i come across to anyone as ONLY that.

    I do not in ANY way associate HUP with the Observer Effect you seem to be focussing on in your comment – neither did Werner.

    It is a good point though and one worth bearing in mind – just not what i was ‘involving’ here although i relly could do a number on it – and still might it has great value! – even if most don’t really get that it does or why or how it applies to them in everyday life.

    Your observation about who is the effector and who is the effectee in the case you described (a little vaguely but i THINK i got it?) is well noted by myself here Thank you for seeing that.

    I am not sure if you also see that there are two important ‘effectors’ in ‘our’ (not to speak for you personally) everyday lives.

    The ONE Godsgal gives her’self’ over to and the One most, if not all,of the rest of us do (even GG at infrequent and out-of-character times 😉 )

    Our ‘self’.

    and then i ‘lost’ you just a tad.

    I believe my own Uncertainty and axioms do apply to me also. They don’t seem to me to in any way undermine my ‘logic’ or the validity of what i said though – if you feel they do could you please explain your perspective more fully so i can consider it?

    My underlying Axiom is that ALL humans have Faith at some (lowest, most basic) level in their rational Understanding and by Faith i mean trust in something they cannot rationally ‘explain’ as it is ‘bigger’ than their understanding can contain! Outside of their own ‘direct’ experiences. Not ‘of them’ but they are a part of ‘it’.

    Such a tricky little word that – faith. 🙂

    And just to be a tad ‘controversial’ I feel our ‘certainty’ is most definitely the Issue i was approching in my comments and the reasons why we should always be less than certain of our own selfish knowledge – even mine!

    I’m just more right than you lot in this and you can’t see it yet! 😛

    Like

  28. Hiya,

    Happy is the one who hungers and thirsts for fairness…

    uuuu

    Wait a minute… didn’t the whole thing stem from Heisenberg hitting particles with energy to find out where they were, where they were going, etc., but then of course, he added energy to the system and they changed where they were, going, etc. Is that different? Doesn’t, “Quick recap: Werner Heisenberg. Uncertainty Principle (HUP). It’s impossible to know with 100% certainty ‘exactly’ two things about a thing at the same time at a VERY basic level.” explain the baseline and defining impetus for the HUP? How did he formulate the uncertainty principle apart from his attempts at measurement?

    You are quite right, in that, we are our own effectors much of the time. Hence the first commandment (the one that Jesus put above the Golden Rule). Yah, I suck at that one.

    Actually, faith is only a tricky word in our self centered world. It is a whole world tapping ruby slippers together. As it is almost always used in scripture it refers to knowing what we can count on based on what has come prior. It has come to mean a wish list. God just tells us who He is and what he has done. Faith and faithfulness are almost interchangable in many contexts.

    Lastly, the beautiful word axiom from axios, or worthy, as in you are worthy to receive all glory, honor… Thought of in this way it seems that if something was axiomatic, but isn’t now, then it wasn’t in the first place. Just mislabled, resultant from poor observation? Or maybe I just didn’t believe it hard enough.

    “And just to be a tad ‘controversial’ I feel our ‘certainty’ is most definitely the Issue i was approching in my comments and the reasons why we should always be less than certain of our own selfish knowledge – even mine!”

    Like I said, a hint of Foucault.

    smilerguy

    Like

  29. Ben, You really do seem to be trying your best to come across to me (and maybe others as well) as an ALL or Nothing type of Guy!

    I said SOME doubt of your ‘experience’ not TOTAL doubt please get the difference – you cannot be sure of what your senses are ‘telling’ you you make it up in your head as you go along ‘it’ is not REAL in the sense that – oh yes – there must be a real world that EXISTS out there in the way i chose to believe it does because i can se, it touch it, smell it etc. Yes, you get ‘an experience/sensation’ it is not totally in any way reliable as you may find out should you ever develop a psychosis that is not considered as ‘normal’ by society.

    Again with the black or white… i did NOT say ANYTHING (which includes stuff that clearly cannot be ‘right’ no matter how weird our interpretations are ) – YOU DID though, perhaps you did not mean it the way it sounded?

    The Axioms we all rely upon for our foundation of ‘logical’ thought are very specifi and fundamental exaples we build from – they are in no way ‘anything’. They are a very small subset of it without which we have no ‘logic’ that can in any way ‘stand up’.

    Lok VERY closely at point #3 from your dictionary quote – the ‘assumed without proof’ part is what i am all about here. We take them on PURE ‘faith’ then build completely sound logical structure from them methodically.

    ‘Sound’ until we eventually learn ‘something new’ that breaks the validity of our assumed axiom and our entire structure we built up comes crashing down – no matter how badly our ego tries to shore it up in our own heads!

    NOW do you get it/me?

    Like

  30. Jason – i could always be wrong… but i don’t think we are in any real ‘disgreement’ with each other? At least to the posts in question and background ‘belief’.

    None i detect from your current comments anyway? 😉

    Like

  31. maybe I should spit and growl so you know it’s me.

    spit

    growl

    I just wanna make sure that I haven’t been citing the Uncertainty Principle incorrectly for about 15 years. I’m not sure what I could do about it now…

    I know that the observational issue arose first, but that necessity of interacting, and thereby effecting something in order to know something about the observed item was, I thought, the paradigm and driving principle behind the whole concept.

    That’s all.

    Like

  32. I said SOME doubt of your ‘experience’ not TOTAL doubt please get the difference – you cannot be sure of what your senses are ‘telling’ you you make it up in your head as you go along ‘it’ is not REAL in the sense that – oh yes – there must be a real world that EXISTS out there in the way i chose to believe it does because i can se, it touch it, smell it etc. Yes, you get ‘an experience/sensation’ it is not totally in any way reliable as you may find out should you ever develop a psychosis that is not considered as ‘normal’ by society.

    You are misunderstanding what is meant in the blog post I linked to, then. We can, do, and should have some doubt about ANY explanation of what an experience represents. We can’t doubt the experience itself. Combine that with the axiomatic logical law of non-contradiction – which is really just linguistic in basis – and you can go from there. Everything else is built up from evidence and reason.

    You seem to be refusing to differentiate between the experience itself and the interpretation of the experience that we are assigning to it.

    Again with the black or white… i did NOT say ANYTHING (which includes stuff that clearly cannot be ‘right’ no matter how weird our interpretations are )

    Reading that again, I misread your statement. Somehow I read what you wrote as saying no starting point is necessary, which it clearly doesn’t. My apologies. My response has nothing to do with what you actually said.

    We take them on PURE ‘faith’ then build completely sound logical structure from them methodically.

    Could you please define what you mean by ‘faith’ ?

    NOW do you get it/me?

    Nope. 🙂

    Like

  33. I just wanna make sure that I haven’t been citing the Uncertainty Principle incorrectly for about 15 years. I’m not sure what I could do about it now…

    I know that the observational issue arose first, but that necessity of interacting, and thereby effecting something in order to know something about the observed item was, I thought, the paradigm and driving principle behind the whole concept.

    I’m not sure, but I think you may have as much trouble with it as my calcified brain does.
    Read for yourself:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uncertainty_principle
    “The uncertainty principle was an important step in the development of quantum mechanics when it was discovered by Werner Heisenberg in 1927. It is often confused with the observer effect.”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Observer_effect
    “In science, the term observer effect refers to changes that the act of observing will make on the phenomenon being observed. For example, for us to “see” an electron, a photon must first interact with it, and this interaction will change the path of that electron. It is also theoretically possible for other, less direct means of measurement to affect the electron; even if the electron is simply put into a position where observing it is possible, without actual observation taking place, it will still (theoretically) alter its position.”

    After I was corrected on the topic several times over the last few years I think I’m at least less wrong in my conceptualization of it now. Maybe.

    Like

  34. I rather fancy we are splitting hairs here Ben and doing a damn poor job of it in the process. 🙂

    I’m going to try to explain my viewpoint on this particular subject one last time….

    Experience!

    we receive sensory input into our brain via sensory organs.

    From these we determine that an ‘experience’ has ‘occured’ somewhere (most often external to our bodies).

    We ‘imagine’ this as some actual ‘experience’, based upon previously recalled ‘experiencres’ with which we believe we are in some way ‘familiar’.

    OK?

    we have reason to have some ‘doubt’ as to the nature of such external experience not the least of which is because we have never actually ‘experienced’ this particular ‘event’ before – we just ‘equate it’ somehow to a poor memory we hold of other past events.

    SECONDLY (the ‘other level of doubt)

    What we actually ‘experience’ as a result of our sensory receptors is NOT to be totally ‘trusted’ (although we have no other way of ‘experiencing’ ANYTHING ‘external’ to ourselves – we could merely ‘imagine’ (make up, based upon previous notions/ ideas) what is actually ‘out there’ whether it ‘really’ is or not as we imagine it to be).

    Hence there are AT LEAST two causes (separate and distinct as i see it) for any ‘experience to be doubted.

    This amongst many other factors including dictionary definitions for Axioms) are why i say that we ALL have (and have to have) Faith in something!

    Read all that slowly and carefully – that is about all i can say to explain myself without feeling like i’m just repeating things.

    Please say you understand???? 🙂

    Like

  35. Experience!

    we receive sensory input into our brain via sensory organs.

    From these we determine that an ‘experience’ has ‘occured’ somewhere (most often external to our bodies).

    We ‘imagine’ this as some actual ‘experience’, based upon previously recalled ‘experiencres’ with which we believe we are in some way ‘familiar’.

    OK?

    Again, you are refusing to understand what Carrier or myself are saying in our terms. You are combining the experience itself (the mental feelings, thoughts, emotions, sensations, etc.) with our interpretation of the experience (an external stimulus > sensory organs > brain.)

    http://richardcarrier.blogspot.com/2006/11/epistemological-end-game.html
    “For example, the fact that our thoughts and “interpretations” exist at the moment we experience them is undeniable, regardless of whether they are true or correct, and therefore our belief in the existence of those thoughts and interpretations is properly basic. Likewise, it can also be undeniable that there exists at this moment an experience of our “interpretations” cohering well–or not cohering well–with everything we are experiencing at the same moment. Now, just because we are experiencing an interpretation of the facts that is cohering well with everything else going on, doesn’t mean it is cohering well (we could be in error about that), nor does such coherence mean our interpretation is true (since there are often countless explanations of the same facts that are equally coherent). But the fact that we are experiencing that coherence is undeniable. Since it cannot be false that we are experiencing it right here and now, it is properly basic. We get to believe we are having that experience without needing any reason to believe that, other than the one reason entirely contained within itself: the fact that it cannot be false.”

    Please say you understand???? 🙂

    I do understand that you are unwilling or unable to separate out the idea of ‘an experience’ from the ‘interpretation of the experience.’ Please, read the referred blog entry again, and stop trying to expand what is meant by ‘experiences’ to include ‘interpretation of the experiences.’

    Like

  36. I am not sure if this is going to help us reach agreement or just cement our respective differing ( seemingly?) viewpoints but i have noticed i made an error in my previous post that you quoted but did not apparently pick up on:

    From your blockquote (of me) the second ‘experience’ – I actually meant ‘event’ there not ‘experience’.

    I am focussing on distinguishing an actual external ‘event’ from our own experience of the event, and then saying that there must also be occuring a third (second different internal level) ‘interpretation’ of such an event necessitated by our own interpretation within our brain of what the sensory stimuli we ‘get’ actually mean.

    Three distinct causes for separation of reality from what we experience.

    Actual reality (if such does exist ) – an ‘event’

    Our understanding of how any given event in current external reality exists (own inteprtation of reality)

    And our interpretation of what stimuli our brains receive that we currently asociate with the external event.

    Enough now Ben – seriously – this is chewing up WAY more of my brain time than i wish to expend upon it or feel is truly justified over such a piddling little topic as experience of reality vs doubt vs belief – ok? 🙂

    Peace

    Like

  37. So you want to talk about what is axiomatic without being pinned down on what either of us hold to be axiomatic and whether it is truly a good starting point ? You write two posts about HUP titled ‘Uncertainty – Belief vs. Reason’ but apparently want to talk about some other kind of uncertainty other than the English meaning ? You refuse to define faith after 2 or 3 requests, but continue to use it ?

    No, no reason to be frustrated here. I swear, dialoguing on religious topics is positively corrosive. Actively trying to figure out the message that is being conveyed is consistently painful, because (again consistently) there is no message to be conveyed. It is words without meaning, labeled a ‘mystery’ or ‘faith’ or ‘spiritual’ or ‘supernatural’, and the peddlers of the bunk won’t admit to it.

    Three distinct causes for separation of reality from what we experience.

    This gives me a faint glimmer of hope. What, in your opinion, do we get to assume axiomatically without justification other than itself ? All three ? Two of the three ? (which ?) One of the three ? (which ?) Something else entirely, ala Plantinga ? Or should one not even make the attempt to form solidly thought out beliefs about reality ?

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  38. My understanding of the Observation issue being the necessary corollary and prerequisite of the HUP is from Sagan’s “A demon haunted world”

    Which is funny. In that book, Sagan, over and over, basically repeats Hume’s 2 part what is known idea, and then proceeds to asserrt with certainty things which fit into his own paradigm, but are unapproachable by his own rules of what is knowable.

    Which is suspiciously close to the…

    sez who?

    All of us, but none of us, kind of, and very individualistically.

    sez who?

    …thing going on here.

    This is great.

    Except this goofiness, Ben..

    “It is words without meaning”

    After all your attempts to back lwbut into his inevitable corner, you’d think you would know enough not to jump into your own trap.

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  39. For the time being i have said all i intend to say to Ben with one following exception since i was apparently being so discourteous and unwilling to define myself or my beliefs (??) when he asked me 2 or 3 times to.

    Faith = something you hold personally to be Ultimately true without any possible proof (yet!), that could be proven wrong but not by any fool you’ve yet met – only by your own understanding. Once disproven ‘a’ faith is then replaced by yet another one even harder to prove and so on ad infinitum.

    Good enough for ya?

    If you are looking for some certainty, Ben I TRULY wish you good Luck – when (IF) you find it please explain it to me so I can huh?

    If you just want to pick and argue please do it someplace else. It is a massive waste of time and energy. Life is for experiencing. And this is turning into an experience without any visible end.

    Please don’t try, as Jason detects ‘backing me into my corner, because i can assure you – i don’t have one! I have 8 in 3 dimensions (and more to go to after those 3) and they keep on moving ever further out into infinity as i expand my awareness of all that is.

    In one sense i have a corner that you could back me into – the one ‘point’ equidistant from all 8. But then i have recourse to look inside myself and the entire escape of infinity reopens in the other direction. So backing me into any corner is pointless other than allowing me the opportunity to stretch the ‘boundaries’ – If that was what you hoped to achieve ty but no T I’ll do it my way for now! 😉

    Jason, Tam Thank you for your comments – always welcome. J i think you are able to see like me the ‘pointlessness’ of trying to be tied down to one ‘logical, provable, dare i say axiomatic ‘starting point’?

    Would i be correct in your case? 🙂

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  40. Except this goofiness, Ben..

    “It is words without meaning”

    After all your attempts to back lwbut into his inevitable corner, you’d think you would know enough not to jump into your own trap.

    What are you talking about ? I tried to read Demon-Haunted World once, but didn’t like it at all.

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  41. Jason, Tam Thank you for your comments – always welcome. J i think you are able to see like me the ‘pointlessness’ of trying to be tied down to one ‘logical, provable, dare i say axiomatic ’starting point’?

    That answers that, then. You believe the last option – one should not even make the attempt to form solidly thought out beliefs about reality.

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  42. GOD you are so stubborn Ben – boy do you remind me of me in a very few limited respects 🙂

    I am saying that there can NEVER be ONE FIXED ABSOLUTE starting point for ‘all this’. Logic and rational thought are of themsleves ‘fine’ and valuable, not to be chucked away as ‘pointless’ although in this sense that is exactly what they are and exist without beginning and without end ( Oh GOD now he’s got me speaking religion again when i am trying to be physical and logical) 😉 but to try to ‘find’ the common starting point – you just vanish up your own fundamental orrifice!!!

    I personally make solid thought out of what reality i can comprehend at the time – we all do Ben – even you, hard as that seems to be to get to sink in your head. My POINT is at some point we just begin with a belief that cannot ever be proven given what we currently have at our disposal. Such a logical belief ( is that not a contadiction?) is what i originally meant by saying we ALL have ‘Faith’ in something (FUNDAMENTAL TO US!)

    Now i will read you but on this particular issue i’m done talking – live with it or die – your choice.

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  43. Ben, do you have literary criticism cite? After that pithy review, I would love to hear how you feel about all sorts of things.

    uuuu

    My point is how do you determine this “reality”? It seems that your “feelings” on certain religious ideas are nothing more than that. Oh, yes, all sorts of horrible things have been done by those deceitful religious types, but not clear thinking persons like yourself. All the horrors of nihilistic and materialistic worldviews are off the hook because they are real-er, for you, anyway. If one materialist tries to proselytize another, you don’t really believe that the conversation won’t become corrosive, do you? The connection with the book is that Sagan did what you did in the comment cited. That “reality” of yours is yours alone, Ben. The theology of Ben’s neurons, and here you are, proselytizing, evangelizing, spreading the good news, making your come to…nothing…pitch. In spite of all your desire for realism, your criticism of one of the things which you like the least is just as untethered as any idea out there.

    Hiya lwbut,

    As far as being “tied down”, I think those dreaded axioms should be individaully looked at. I am quite certain I have buckets of axioms which you would find nuts…you know…to whatever degree you could measure it.

    all those dimensions…what diet are you on?

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  44. My point is how do you determine this “reality”?

    Through evidence, reason and testing. Since it’s inductive it’s all tentative.

    Oh, yes, all sorts of horrible things have been done by those deceitful religious types, but not clear thinking persons like yourself. All the horrors of nihilistic and materialistic worldviews are off the hook because they are real-er, for you, anyway.

    No, that’s not what I’m saying. I’m saying we have spent two whole blog posts and ~100 comments going around with ‘I’m saying everyone has something they accept axiomatically, but I don’t think you can just accept anything axiomatically, but I don’t want to discuss what one should accept axiomatically.’ What are you left with ? Nothing. There is nothing being said.

    If one materialist tries to proselytize another, you don’t really believe that the conversation won’t become corrosive, do you?

    In my experience, they are usually at least saying something that is either right or wrong.

    That “reality” of yours is yours alone, Ben. The theology of Ben’s neurons, and here you are, proselytizing, evangelizing, spreading the good news, making your come to…nothing…pitch. In spite of all your desire for realism, your criticism of one of the things which you like the least is just as untethered as any idea out there.

    Ah, reinforcing my point. Thank you. If someone crashes into you at a traffic light because green means go and their green is your red, you are OK with that, I guess. You don’t even believe there is an actual shared real world out there.

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  45. Ben – Would so love to explain where you are missing what I and Jason are trying hard to get you to SEE for yourself but it clearly ain’t gonna happen while you remain so badly binkered in your thinking but like i said, on this point, for this time and place, i am done talking to you.

    Jason, Please explain to Ben if you wish to or like me believe that, that the world and the world of logic does actually have infinite shades of grey that are every bit as real and valid and part of the ‘real world’ as is his Black and White. Maybe you could take this ‘discussion’ over to one of your own guys blogs cos it does take up a lot of space and is really getting none of us closer to seeing the other’s point of view.

    Obviously. – eh, Werner? 🙂

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  46. Hiya,

    “Jason, Please explain to Ben if you wish to or like me believe that, that the world and the world of logic does actually have infinite shades of grey that are every bit as real and valid and part of the ‘real world’ as is his Black and White.”

    If I understand your starting point, and I think I do, I actually do agree with it. Our wisdom fails us everyday. For all the circumstancial blessings of modernization and how much the enlightenment thinkers thought of our abilities and self determinism, crap just keeps getting worse and worse and worse.

    So high above my ways.

    I’m a chronic space taker.

    Like

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