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Kruel
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 01, 2008 12:56 am 
 

If an infitiely intelligent being can amass every single piece of information in the universe and analyze it, would he not be able to predict the future with 100% accuracy? Of course, such a being is unlikely to exist, but the mere fact that the future is predictable with 100% accuracy, even if only under certain conditions, makes everything pre-determinded (even though we cannot know the content of the future events that are determined to occur).

The only way I can think of now to disprove this idea is to find a truly random event whose occurance cannot be predicted with 100% accuracy even with infitie intellect and knowledge. Of course, I am not talking about seemingly random but in fact non-random things like humnan behaviour and rolling a dice, which I think can be predicted perfectly with the analysis of the information of the conditions right before the event takes place.

So, what are your thoughts, and is there a truly random event? Maybe there are some on the quantom level...
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Last edited by Kruel on Thu Jul 03, 2008 11:20 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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greysnow
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 01, 2008 2:46 am 
 

Yes, on the quantum level. Remember Schrödinger's cat? In this thought experiment, one single minuscule quantum event has a macrocosmic result, and quantum events are random; the reality we perceive is, if I understand this correctly, more or less nothing but a sort of distillation of underlying chaos, with the system set up so that the macrocosmic laws of physics never fail. (If we have a quantum physicist here or a layman better read than I am in this respect, please correct me.)

There are other things to consider. Heisenberg's uncertainty principle says that we can only determine the momentum or the position of a particle, not both. So our knowledge about the state of the universe (or a superbeing's, because the laws of physics would apply to it too if you don't want to assume a supernatural entity, which I certainly won't) is necessarily imperfect. Combined with the knowledge that microcosmic events may have macrocosmic results in chaos-theory fashion (see above), it follows that no one, not even a superbeing, can achieve 100% knowledge about the state of the universe and certainly not enough to predict the future.

So, we can never know enough about the state of the universe to make predictions. But is the universe deterministic? Does every quantum leap necessarily follow from another? I don't know (quantum physicists, get in here!), but I'd say that even if it did, for us macrocosmic beings there would be no practical consequences.
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Kruel
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 01, 2008 3:35 am 
 

Thanks for the response.

There is actually an interesting quote I found from the link:

Quote:
states with both definite position and momentum just do not exist in quantum mechanics, so it is not the measurement equipment that is at fault.


..which would mean that not even a supernatural being can know both at the same time.

I don't think uncertainty itself is a problem, though, as far as there is no randomness (although I'll have to drop the superbeing idea). In the cat example, perhaps the conditions around the radioactive substance made it inevitable for the radioactive decay to occur/do not occur within the hour, whether we, or any superbeing, can predict it or not.

But it seems like the quantom events are indeed random, and it may be that the above quote implies randomness even though I fail to see it right now.
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AnimalBones
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 01, 2008 4:25 am 
 

greysnow wrote:
Yes, on the quantum level. Remember Schrödinger's cat? In this thought experiment, one single minuscule quantum event has a macrocosmic result, and quantum events are random; the reality we perceive is, if I understand this correctly, more or less nothing but a sort of distillation of underlying chaos, with the system set up so that the macrocosmic laws of physics never fail. (If we have a quantum physicist here or a layman better read than I am in this respect, please correct me.)
, for us macrocosmic beings there would be no practical consequences.


The cat is an analogy for a quantum event, Schrodinger was not suggesting that quantum uncertainty operates on such a vast macroscopic scale. To my knowledge the most "macroscopic" quantum event that has been observed is quantum interference with neutrons.

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Dark_Gnat
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 01, 2008 11:33 am 
 

I have often pondered whether random is truely random, or simply patterns that are beyond our capacity to understand.
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greysnow
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 01, 2008 12:24 pm 
 

AnimalBones wrote:
The cat is an analogy for a quantum event, Schrodinger was not suggesting that quantum uncertainty operates on such a vast macroscopic scale. To my knowledge the most "macroscopic" quantum event that has been observed is quantum interference with neutrons.

As far as I'm aware the fate of the cat hangs in the balance depending on the decay of a single radioactive atom which would be the outcome of one quantum event. As far as I know Schrödinger used the macroscopic cat example to show how quantum physics was absurd in his opinion. So no, Schrödinger was not suggesting what you say. On the contrary. But the cat experiment has contributed to one interpretation of quantum physics that maintains that the collapse of quantum wave functions is dependent on observation. While this is one interpretation among some others, I don't think it has been disproved.
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rexxz
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 01, 2008 12:27 pm 
 

Kruel wrote:

..which would mean that not even a supernatural being can know both at the same time.


If you're assuming that supernatural beings follow and are restricted by natural laws of physics.

Isn't the whole point of being supernatural to not be held back by those sorts of things?

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Corimngul
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 01, 2008 1:16 pm 
 

Dark_Gnat wrote:
I have often pondered whether random is truely random, or simply patterns that are beyond our capacity to understand.


All seemingly perceived global randomnesses are in fact no more than local randomnesses? It's very hard to give any sensible answer, but Kolmogorov complexity and Kolmogorov randomness are pretty epic concepts in this context.

Basically the assumed randomness would only be random if it's shorter than the shortest "program" to create it, which in this case would be the universe. Deciding the length of the universe and the random events up to a specific point is a bit harder. One could say the series of events get longer but as they and the universe are intertwined at every level solid conclusions are rather hard to come by.
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greysnow
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 01, 2008 2:36 pm 
 

Let's organize this thread a bit so we all don't talk at odds here. I already see chaos asserting itself. :p

Kruel wrote:
If an infitiely intelligent being can amass every single piece of information in the universe and analyze it, would he not be able to predict the future with 100% accuracy?

I think this question of the OP has been answered now. Assuming an omniscient being that is not above the laws of nature, even such a being would be prevented from amassing every single piece of information by the uncertainty principle.

Kruel wrote:
The only way I can think of now to disprove this idea is to find a truly random event whose occurance cannot be predicted with 100% accuracy even with infitie intellect and knowledge.

Even if the position of a particle is not random, it cannot be determined at the same moment as its momentum. This is the event that you're looking for: the position cannot be predicted, if it is random or not.

rexxz wrote:
Kruel wrote:

..which would mean that not even a supernatural being can know both at the same time.


If you're assuming that supernatural beings follow and are restricted by natural laws of physics.

Isn't the whole point of being supernatural to not be held back by those sorts of things?

We must be careful to distinguish what I have called a "superbeing" (= an omniscient being bound to the laws of nature) from a supernatural entity. Both don't exist, but a supernatural being is of no use to this discussion, since, as rexxz said, it would be above the laws of nature.

Dark_Gnat wrote:
I have often pondered whether random is truely random, or simply patterns that are beyond our capacity to understand.

I think that depends on the order of the event on a microcosm-macrocosm scale. If the wing of an airplane comes off because of metal fatigue, this event looks random on the level of airplane wings - it could have broken off or it couldn't. When an investigation reveals that it was a specific bolt holding the wing that was fatigued, we have a non-random explanation for the accident on the wing level. But now the next question follows: it looks pretty much random for one bolt to be fatigued and for the bolt next to it to not be. Now you're down to the level of product tolerances in bolts and variation in the material used for them, and so on and so forth, down the scale to microcosmic dimensions, until we're at the quantum level. At every level you have a pattern that looks random but can be explained by a variation in its constituent elements that in its turn looks random on its own, smaller scale.

So, your perception is correct until we come to the quantum level. I looked up "Randomness" in Wikipedia and with regard to physics it says that according to some interpretation of quantum physics there is objective randomness (answering my own question I asked in an earlier post) on an elementary level. So I think you too have your answer. It all depends, though, on the interpretation of quantum physics that is most to one's liking, it seems.

Corimngul wrote:
Kolmogorov

Corimngul, please try to bow down to the level of non-mathematicians and try to explain these concepts to us dumb bastards in words of one syllable. I looked up Kolmogorov complexity in Wikipedia, but I must admit I lost it after the table of contents. I gather it's all about the mathematical conditions for randomness to be possible, but could you maybe expand on this?
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Corimngul
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 01, 2008 5:20 pm 
 

greysnow wrote:
As far as I'm aware the fate of the cat hangs in the balance depending on the decay of a single radioactive atom which would be the outcome of one quantum event. As far as I know Schrödinger used the macroscopic cat example to show how quantum physics was absurd in his opinion. So no, Schrödinger was not suggesting what you say. On the contrary. But the cat experiment has contributed to one interpretation of quantum physics that maintains that the collapse of quantum wave functions is dependent on observation. While this is one interpretation among some others, I don't think it has been disproved.


In fact he designed this thought experiment to attack the Copenhagen interpretation. It's now the most widely accepted interpretation, far from being disproven. It's followed by the many-worlds interpretation.

greysnow wrote:
Dark_Gnat wrote:
I have often pondered whether random is truely random, or simply patterns that are beyond our capacity to understand.

I think that depends on the order of the event on a microcosm-macrocosm scale. If the wing of an airplane comes off because of metal fatigue, this event looks random on the level of airplane wings - it could have broken off or it couldn't. When an investigation reveals that it was a specific bolt holding the wing that was fatigued, we have a non-random explanation for the accident on the wing level. But now the next question follows: it looks pretty much random for one bolt to be fatigued and for the bolt next to it to not be. Now you're down to the level of product tolerances in bolts and variation in the material used for them, and so on and so forth, down the scale to microcosmic dimensions, until we're at the quantum level. At every level you have a pattern that looks random but can be explained by a variation in its constituent elements that in its turn looks random on its own, smaller scale.

So, your perception is correct until we come to the quantum level. I looked up "Randomness" in Wikipedia and with regard to physics it says that according to some interpretation of quantum physics there is objective randomness (answering my own question I asked in an earlier post) on an elementary level. So I think you too have your answer. It all depends, though, on the interpretation of quantum physics that is most to one's liking, it seems.


It's pretty central to quantum physics that there is a random factor and that the quantum level is probabilistic rather than deterministic.

You can of course, as you have said, expect to find different variants of random in different levels - you may in deed call the layer below the current layer the quantum layer (or probabilistic layer) of your model. It always helps to change perspective.

It can of course be said that those "upper quantum levels" are not the quantum level which would be the actual source of the randomness - or a divine order which we just haven't reached yet. It would of course still work very well mathematically to treat the majority of the universe probabilistically even though the cosmos would turn out to be deterministic.

greysnow wrote:
Corimngul wrote:
Kolmogorov

Corimngul, please try to bow down to the level of non-mathematicians and try to explain these concepts to us dumb bastards in words of one syllable. I looked up Kolmogorov complexity in Wikipedia, but I must admit I lost it after the table of contents. I gather it's all about the mathematical conditions for randomness to be possible, but could you maybe expand on this?


I agree that said wikipedia page is a bit undirect for the casual reader, yes, with the mathematics and programming code thrown in.

The key concept is to be found on the top of the page, the first string with repetitions of 'ab' 32 times is of course not random. The criteria basically says that if the string is shorter than or as long as the shortest possible full description of the string, then the string is Kolmogorov random. The shortest way to describe the second string would be to actually write the string, making it random.

That is, incompressible strings are Kolmogorov-random. One can exclude the trivial cases, i.e. the really short strings as those aren't really interesting in most applications anyway. Otherwise 'and' would be a random word, for example.
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Forrizzledog
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 01, 2008 5:31 pm 
 

This is gonna seem like a really stupid post, but by definition wouldn't you have to know the future to know every single fact? Otherwise you don't know the future, which is a fact.
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Corimngul
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 01, 2008 5:35 pm 
 

Forrizzledog wrote:
This is gonna seem like a really stupid post, but by definition wouldn't you have to know the future to know every single fact? Otherwise you don't know the future, which is a fact.


If the universe is deterministic and you know its set of laws then you can predict all future points accurately without really knowing beforehand.

EDIT: You possible need to know all future and all past to determine that the universe in deed is deterministic. By assuming that the universe is deterministic without that knowledge when we make our predictions (no matter how correct we are) we would not know the future even though we predicted it fully and perfectly accurate. Thus our predictions would be probabilistic. Ha.
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Forrizzledog
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 01, 2008 7:52 pm 
 

I'm just saying TECHNICALLY don't you HAVE to know the future to TECHNICALLY know everything?
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Kruel
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 01, 2008 8:36 pm 
 

rexxz wrote:
Kruel wrote:

..which would mean that not even a supernatural being can know both at the same time.


If you're assuming that supernatural beings follow and are restricted by natural laws of physics.

Isn't the whole point of being supernatural to not be held back by those sorts of things?


I don't have time to read all of the thread right now, so I'll just answer this:

Even a supernatural being cannot know both the momentum and the position of the particle at the same time, because states with both definite position and momentum simply do not exist. It is not a matter of knowledge; even a supernatural omniscient being cannot know something that does not exist to begin with.
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rexxz
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 01, 2008 8:41 pm 
 

The whole requisite for being supernatural is that you exceed nature. Of course beings like this don't exist because it is fiction. No one is arguing that. But if such a thing were to exist then it is entirely reasonable to expect them to be able to break natural laws, hence the term.

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Kruel
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 01, 2008 8:57 pm 
 

But then, it will be like saying that supernatural beings know a 50-year old woman who goes by the name rexxz on the Metal Archives: a thing that does not exist.

You could say that existence itself is somehow defined only in nature, so that supernatural beings can know even something that does not exist, but I think that's going too far.
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rexxz
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 01, 2008 8:59 pm 
 

You're confusing the issue, I think. I am only saying that something that is supernatural would not be bound by nature. How it breaks the boundaries of nature could be anything, not necessarily in the way that you mentioned.

This is a non-issue anyway, only an arguement over semantics, so I will end my participation in this topic at that.

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Kruel
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 01, 2008 10:20 pm 
 

greysnow wrote:
Kruel wrote:
If an infitiely intelligent being can amass every single piece of information in the universe and analyze it, would he not be able to predict the future with 100% accuracy?

I think this question of the OP has been answered now. Assuming an omniscient being that is not above the laws of nature, even such a being would be prevented from amassing every single piece of information by the uncertainty principle.

Kruel wrote:
The only way I can think of now to disprove this idea is to find a truly random event whose occurance cannot be predicted with 100% accuracy even with infitie intellect and knowledge.

Even if the position of a particle is not random, it cannot be determined at the same moment as its momentum. This is the event that you're looking for: the position cannot be predicted, if it is random or not.

The prediction of the superbeing was only a way to explain the idea. Whether it can or not does not matter; what matters is whether there are inherently random occurances of events.

It appears that such randomness does exist anyway; not everything is determined, then.


Forrizzledog wrote:
I'm just saying TECHNICALLY don't you HAVE to know the future to TECHNICALLY know everything?

That's a good point; indeed, knowing everything implies that he knows the future.

But it is possible to know the future by predicting it, without direct knowledge of it. For example, how light will be reflected by a perfectly flat mirror (of course, this is only possible to exist theoretically) is perfectly perdictable.
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Kruel
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 01, 2008 10:33 pm 
 

rexxz wrote:
You're confusing the issue, I think. I am only saying that something that is supernatural would not be bound by nature. How it breaks the boundaries of nature could be anything, not necessarily in the way that you mentioned.

Then I think it's the case in which supernaturality transcends the concept of existence itself.

It's hardly an issue, that's true.

---

Here is another thought: do humans have true free will, as in being able to affect future events by their actions and thoughts? If every human thought/action is perfectly predictable (of course, not by ourselves, but by some superbeing, again), it means that what we think and how we act are not really within our control, even if the future is not determined due to the randomness of quantum motion. The future can be anything, but we may not be able to affect it actively by our will in any way, since it is only the randomness that can have an influence on changing the future events. It's difficult to explain this because of the terminology, but I hope you get the idea.

Of course, our lives will be the same whether we have this type of free will or not; we are completely in control of ourselves, for everyday purposes of the term free will.
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hells_unicorn
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 01, 2008 11:11 pm 
 

Quote:
So, what are your thoughts, and is there a truly random event? Maybe there are some on the quantom level...


Any truly random event would be dependent on knowing the true universe, which would require a knowledge of the entire extent of natural law throughout the metaphysical universe. Absent omniscience, this can not be absolutely declared in the positive or negative, it is just as out of the bounds of human reason as trying to objectively prove or disprove God, any argument would be limited to a persons small scope of knowledge of the universe and an individual's unique understanding of empirical data provided by others.

rexxz wrote:
The whole requisite for being supernatural is that you exceed nature. Of course beings like this don't exist because it is fiction. No one is arguing that. But if such a thing were to exist then it is entirely reasonable to expect them to be able to break natural laws, hence the term.


The only real requisite needed for exceeding nature would be to be its source, in the sense that natural law stems from a consciousness not bound by factors of time or distance. If God is A, and Natural Law is B, then it would proceed that A contains all the nature of B, but that B is distinct from A and does not contradict or undermine the primacy of A. If you begin the equation by assuming that B is primary, then the reason for A existing disappears.

According to the Thomist/Aristotelian Christian concept of God, the supernatural existent does not break natural laws, but is in harmony with them because they reflect its own nature, as the nature of a painting would reflect the will and nature of the artist. There is a distinction in the sense that the artist is more than the sum of his work metaphysically, and as such, the creator is metaphysically distinct though equally bound to its creation.

Granted, this Aristotelian/Platonic philosophical approach to theism has fallen in popularity in favor of a completely mystical approach, which can not really be communicated to anyone else logically because it is 100% subjective and based exclusively upon intuition.


One thing I personally find interesting is energy's relationship with natural law. If energy is continually recycled and merely changes location/form according to the opinion of some, its metaphysical existence isn't affected by time. So time would, in turn, be a non-issue and thus its travel would not be affected by it.
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 02, 2008 12:30 am 
 

Kruel wrote:
Here is another thought: do humans have true free will, as in being able to affect future events by their actions and thoughts? If every human thought/action is perfectly predictable (of course, not by ourselves, but by some superbeing, again), it means that what we think and how we act are not really within our control, even if the future is not determined due to the randomness of quantum motion. The future can be anything, but we may not be able to affect it actively by our will in any way, since it is only the randomness that can have an influence on changing the future events. It's difficult to explain this because of the terminology, but I hope you get the idea.

Of course, our lives will be the same whether we have this type of free will or not; we are completely in control of ourselves, for everyday purposes of the term free will.

The possibility that every human thought or action is predictable doesn't negate free will. Your superbeing can predict, for example, that tomorrow Nightgaunt is going to buy a peppermint stick ice cream cone with chocolate sprinkles but we won't know if it's right until Nightgaunt chooses to do this. It can support its prediction with any amount of data, from the frequency of Nightgaunt's peppermint stick ice cream with chocolate sprinkles buying to the various developmental factors which led to him enjoying this flavor combination, but this still doesn't mean the prediction is destined to be accurate. He may have made this exact purchase every Wednesday at precisely the same moment for the past 10 years, but this is no guarantee that he will do it this time around. Any number of random factors could intrude on his routine, from getting hit by a bus to deciding on a different flavor this week.

I feel kind of retarded posting this because everyone else so far is obviously more well-versed in this subject.

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Kruel
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 02, 2008 1:18 am 
 

I was assuming that the data the superbeing could use to predict Nightgaunt's behavior consisted of everything, from the information of his every cell to every external factor that nay affect his every actionin in the entire observable universe, so that the prediction is 100% accurate. If the superbeing can predict the very near future, say the following second, with 100% accuracy, he would know exactly what everything will be like in that next second, so he can again predict the second after that one with 100% accuracy, and so on until tomorrow when Nightgaunt buys the a peppermint stick ice cream cone with chocolate sprinkles. Whether the superbeing can or not does not affect the free will in the practical sense of the word, but the "free will" itself is taken into consideration by the superbeing who is making the prediction (and the supposed effects of "free will" would be perfectly predictable by the superbeing, by analyzing every genetic/cerebral/etc. information of the human).

But as we have discussed above, some things are indeed random, and thus unpredictable even by an infinitely intelligent/knowledgeable being. So, it is possible that Nightgaunt does not buy the peppermint stick ice cream cone with chocolate sprinkles even if the superbeing predicted so. But is it genuinely because of Nightgaunt's conscious decision (even though it appears to be so), and not because of some random disturbances on the quantum level?
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 02, 2008 1:28 am 
 

hells_unicorn wrote:
Quote:
So, what are your thoughts, and is there a truly random event? Maybe there are some on the quantom level...


Any truly random event would be dependent on knowing the true universe, which would require a knowledge of the entire extent of natural law throughout the metaphysical universe. Absent omniscience, this can not be absolutely declared in the positive or negative, it is just as out of the bounds of human reason as trying to objectively prove or disprove God, any argument would be limited to a persons small scope of knowledge of the universe and an individual's unique understanding of empirical data provided by others.


I am not very keen on the matter of quantum mechanics, so I cannot give any evidence for why it is truly random, but I think it is possible to know if an event is absolutely random or not (whether we know it now is a different matter) just as we can know... anything, save supernatural things. We are dealing with randomness within the context of nature, and it seems perfectly possible to acquire knowledge of it, even if it is extremely hard to do so (and maybe we never do; or we already do).

Of course, skepticism argues that we cannot know anything, but we are taking a more general usage of the term "knowledge," and in that sense we will not be able to know the randomness of an event just as we cannot know if humans have hands.
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Scorpio
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 02, 2008 6:21 am 
 

Kruel wrote:
Then I think it's the case in which supernaturality transcends the concept of existence itself.

It's hardly an issue, that's true.

---

Here is another thought: do humans have true free will, as in being able to affect future events by their actions and thoughts? If every human thought/action is perfectly predictable (of course, not by ourselves, but by some superbeing, again), it means that what we think and how we act are not really within our control, even if the future is not determined due to the randomness of quantum motion. The future can be anything, but we may not be able to affect it actively by our will in any way, since it is only the randomness that can have an influence on changing the future events. It's difficult to explain this because of the terminology, but I hope you get the idea.

Of course, our lives will be the same whether we have this type of free will or not; we are completely in control of ourselves, for everyday purposes of the term free will.


If an omniscient superbeing knew what you were going to do tomorrow at 4 PM, I don't see how that negates what you do at 4 PM being 'within your control.' I need to have a better idea of what you mean by an action 'being within your control.'
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Scorpio
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 02, 2008 6:33 am 
 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hidden_variable_theories

The above should be of interest to people debating whether quantum phenomena really demonstrate that determinism is false or rather they seem to merely because our knowledge is incomplete.
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Kruel
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 02, 2008 7:41 am 
 

Scorpio wrote:
Kruel wrote:
Then I think it's the case in which supernaturality transcends the concept of existence itself.

It's hardly an issue, that's true.

---

Here is another thought: do humans have true free will, as in being able to affect future events by their actions and thoughts? If every human thought/action is perfectly predictable (of course, not by ourselves, but by some superbeing, again), it means that what we think and how we act are not really within our control, even if the future is not determined due to the randomness of quantum motion. The future can be anything, but we may not be able to affect it actively by our will in any way, since it is only the randomness that can have an influence on changing the future events. It's difficult to explain this because of the terminology, but I hope you get the idea.

Of course, our lives will be the same whether we have this type of free will or not; we are completely in control of ourselves, for everyday purposes of the term free will.


If an omniscient superbeing knew what you were going to do tomorrow at 4 PM, I don't see how that negates what you do at 4 PM being 'within your control.' I need to have a better idea of what you mean by an action 'being within your control.'

I meant that if everything is determined, then what we do is already determined. We would still live the same way whether the world is deterministic or not, but "true free will," as I call it now for my lack of ability to think of a better term, isn't really there in that we cannot really change anything by our conscious decisions; or rather, such conscious decisions are bound to occur in one way and no other. For example, a murderer was determined to murder, and the court is determined to sentence the murderer. Ourselves are determined to have this discussion.

This is the best way I can think of to put this idea in words; I'll be thinking of a better way.

Thanks for that link, by the way. I'll check that out.
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 03, 2008 9:50 pm 
 

I think this quote articulates what I was thinking better:

Quote:
Another argument for incompatibilism is that of the "causal chain." Incompatibilism is key to the idealist theory of free will. Most incompatibilists reject the idea that freedom of action consists simply in "voluntary" behavior. They insist, rather, that free will means that man must be the "ultimate" or "originating" cause of his actions. He must be a causa sui, in the traditional phrase. To be responsible for one's choices is to be the first cause of those choices, where first cause means that there is no antecedent cause of that cause. The argument, then, is that if man has free will, then man is the ultimate cause of his actions. If determinism is true, then all of man's choices are caused by events and facts outside his control. So, if everything man does is caused by events and facts outside his control, then he cannot be the ultimate cause of his actions. Therefore, he cannot have free will.This argument has also been challenged by various compatibilist philosophers.
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 04, 2008 7:48 pm 
 

Randomness doesn't truly exist; only a plethora of variables that we can never possess total knowledge of. To use a coin toss for instance, if you knew the exact dimensions and specifications of a coin, the velocity of it, the arc, and many other things, you would inevitably be able to determine the outcome. Thus, a coin toss is not truly random, and if a coin is tossed in the same exact manner consistently, the results will never falter. Expanding upon that, you can obviously include random algorithms (which are used quite extensively in coding, obviously), and any other agents of chance that one might summon to mind (namely gambling devices) to this rule; nothing is completely random.

If omniscience meant only total knowledge of the variables at play, and not necessarily an arbitrary outcome, immediate knowledge of the latter would be irrelevant, for interpretation of the former would necessarily bring the latter. In this sense, I find it best to think of randomness as being our attributing our unavoidable but equally fathomable lack of knowledge of given scenarios, to agents beyond our control or understanding. Representing it accurately would be, for the sake of simplicity (and my lack of imagination when presenting linear expressions), 10 + x = 12, not x + y + z = 12, in which case there would be an infinite number of possibilities. Even though some situations may appear in the form of the latter to men, the reality is not such; that is merely their comprehension. All variables, in that case, are beyond the grasp of man's knowledge; no predicitions can be made, and it is therefore said to be chance.

(I apologize if this post seems incoherent to any great extent.)

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Kruel
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 04, 2008 10:40 pm 
 

Noobbot wrote:
Randomness doesn't truly exist; only a plethora of variables that we can never possess total knowledge of. To use a coin toss for instance, if you knew the exact dimensions and specifications of a coin, the velocity of it, the arc, and many other things, you would inevitably be able to determine the outcome. Thus, a coin toss is not truly random, and if a coin is tossed in the same exact manner consistently, the results will never falter. Expanding upon that, you can obviously include random algorithms (which are used quite extensively in coding, obviously), and any other agents of chance that one might summon to mind (namely gambling devices) to this rule; nothing is completely random.

You side with Einstein, then. But it might be that some events, on the quantum level, are absolutely random, and I think that is the current understanding of quantum mechanics. We cannot know for sure if that is true, but the existence of true randomness is not impossible.
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Stormalv
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 05, 2008 7:47 am 
 

This is really interesting... I've always thought that nothing was random, but maybe you guys are right, that it is on the quantum level. I remember a very smart nerdy guy in my class asking our math teacher (during a lesson on probability) "What are the chances that my desk turns into a donkey?", and he explained this with the movements of the electrons being completely random, so according to him, his desk could suddenly turn into a donkey. If that is true, fate doesn't really exist in my opinion, unless God/The Force/intelligent force of the universe actually control everything with the laws of nature and consciousness.
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 06, 2008 2:38 am 
 

According to contemporary physics, the chance of a desk turning into a donkey or you being able to run through a brick was is minuscule, but non-zero. I wonder why quantum indeterminacy is thought to be a boon for free willists. It seems that random events are no more freely chosen than determined ones.
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Kruel
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 07, 2008 10:13 am 
 

Scorpio wrote:
According to contemporary physics, the chance of a desk turning into a donkey or you being able to run through a brick was is minuscule, but non-zero. I wonder why quantum indeterminacy is thought to be a boon for free willists. It seems that random events are no more freely chosen than determined ones.

That's true. There is no free will unless we can be the ultimate cause of our actions. Randomly determined events are still beyond our control.

Now, I believe that everything we do/think are either determined or mostly determined with some randomness (no true free will). But would it be possible that our brains can really be the ultimate cause of our thoughts and actions? I want somebody well-learned in neuroscience (or whatever field of study that is appropriate) to clarify what the current consensus is, and what evidence there is for one way or the other.
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 07, 2008 10:42 am 
 

rexxz wrote:
The whole requisite for being supernatural is that you exceed nature. Of course beings like this don't exist because it is fiction. No one is arguing that. But if such a thing were to exist then it is entirely reasonable to expect them to be able to break natural laws, hence the term.



Perhaps the term "omnipotent" should be used in place of "supernatural."

Would not an omnipotent being still be constrained to the natural laws of the universe?
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 07, 2008 11:01 am 
 

Resident_Hazard wrote:
rexxz wrote:
The whole requisite for being supernatural is that you exceed nature. Of course beings like this don't exist because it is fiction. No one is arguing that. But if such a thing were to exist then it is entirely reasonable to expect them to be able to break natural laws, hence the term.



Perhaps the term "omnipotent" should be used in place of "supernatural."

Would not an omnipotent being still be constrained to the natural laws of the universe?


'Omni' as in "everything that can be done", then. Sounds reasonable to me, though

the dictionary wrote:
–adjective
1. almighty or infinite in power, as God.
2. having very great or unlimited authority or power.


Infinite/unlimited power probably isn't limited by the laws of nature.

Maxipotent might be a better construction.
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 07, 2008 11:10 am 
 

Corimngul wrote:
Resident_Hazard wrote:
rexxz wrote:
The whole requisite for being supernatural is that you exceed nature. Of course beings like this don't exist because it is fiction. No one is arguing that. But if such a thing were to exist then it is entirely reasonable to expect them to be able to break natural laws, hence the term.



Perhaps the term "omnipotent" should be used in place of "supernatural."

Would not an omnipotent being still be constrained to the natural laws of the universe?


'Omni' as in "everything that can be done", then. Sounds reasonable to me, though

the dictionary wrote:
–adjective
1. almighty or infinite in power, as God.
2. having very great or unlimited authority or power.


Infinite/unlimited power probably isn't limited by the laws of nature.

Maxipotent might be a better construction.


No, nothing is infinite. Maxipotent does make more sense.

During my skimming of the thread, I didn't really notice if anyone was going over what they believe the overall "natural" state of the universe actually is. If it is order, it can theoretically be predictable. If it is chaos, however, it cannot be predictable.

From what I've picked up, the universe, now, is a sort of ordered chaos that will eventually move to a kind of completely chaotic state long into the future when all the stars have long burned out and space is dead and empty. But then, if we can predict that, perhaps there is still a kind of order to it all...
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 16, 2008 8:51 am 
 

It might be an idea to take a historical perspective when assesing the uncertainty principle. What I mean by that is that all sorts of theories, both in science and outside it, have said that certain phenomena are beyond their explanitory power, and that certain phenomena are, by their very nature, unexplainable. However, these theories can be overturned by new ones with a different way of thinking about phenomena that makes new things explicable. The idea that quantum mechanics or any other theory is the end of understanding is a strange one.
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 03, 2008 2:47 pm 
 

Isn't the religious concept of Predestination actually a kind of determinism?
My question about Predestination has always been whether God's predetermined decision was limited to broad categories of people or if it also dealt with individual persons/events.

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PostPosted: Sun Aug 03, 2008 10:01 pm 
 

From what science has shown us:

Everything that happens is a result of actions put in force before us, preceding back to the big bang. We can predict what someone will do if we knew every vector of every atom (impossible at this point, but who knows?)

For religion to be right, it would have to exist on another plane. Everything here is bound by kinematics and physics. A spiritual realm, we cannot discover because of its distance to us (assuming it exists, for those who partake in religious activities).

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PostPosted: Tue Aug 05, 2008 2:57 pm 
 

LotF wrote:
From what science has shown us:

Everything that happens is a result of actions put in force before us, preceding back to the big bang. We can predict what someone will do if we knew every vector of every atom (impossible at this point, but who knows?)


Seems like a whole bunch of "who Knows" to me!

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PostPosted: Tue Aug 05, 2008 4:12 pm 
 

If supernatural being had knowledge of every particle and its motion relative to all other particles than of course predictions could accurately be made... and I imagine that being one very bored supernatural being.

I like the Miracle Paradox as proof against determinism. A miracle would disprove determinism because the very act of altering a preset course would be proof that the course was set in error - and since the course was set by a perfect being, that error would invalidate the perfect being. And reality disappears in a puff of logic.

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