Le 05-août-05, à 14:44, Kim Jones a écrit :

On 04/08/2005, at 11:44 PM, Bruno Marchal wrote:

Le 31-juil.-05, à 03:13, Kim Jones wrote (just before the thread was censored).

Go Bruno!!

I will. Thanks to your post I realize that a possible quite huge misunderstanding here could vacuously grow between us. Perhaps you didn't realize the impact of Godel's theorem in computer science, and then, with the assumption of comp, the impact on science in general. I probably underestimate some difficulties. I reassure you at once on Plato. By Plato I mean Plato with all the necessary revision and updating made necessary by the discovery of the incompleteness phenomenon. In particular its "politics" does not survive and I agree with Popper on its critics of *that* aspect of Plato.

(I will answer Colin, Chris and Hal Finney later, but my answer to Colin will somehow try to clarify points in those discussions too, actually the reciprocal is also true).

Theology concerns itself with the "mechanism" of belief.

What is the mechanism of belief?

It acts like a filter, or a pair of tinted glasses if you will.
Belief is that way of looking at reality that reinforces that way of
looking at reality. Is that scientific?

No. But then your definition of theology is perhaps a little bit to much a contingent matter. Perhaps the word "theology" has too many connotations. I explain below why I do think that, despite its heavy historical background, it could still be the less misleading word.

I prefer "metaphysical" myself. After all, it claims to be the system that is looking at the system. That is perhaps best described as "metaphysics"

I don't like too much that word because, in my neighborhood it has become almost a synonym of crackpot. It interfere also with metamathematics, which is the mathematical study of what machine (or more general theories) can prove and guess about themselves.

Any assessment of supposed objective rigour in ANY form of
theological thinking - be it "total unrigorous manipulative pseudo-
theology" or even the usual kind of theology taught to the average
working cleric has to be seen in the light of this comment.

The FOR book, Everett formulation of QM, and my own work rely on the computationalist hypothesis. Is this not a "theological" assumption?

Only if it can never be proven.

It is incredible that you say that. My point is, among others, that IF comp is true, then it will never be proven. It is the beauty of it; the theory justifies why you should not take the theory for granted. Practically it means that if your doctor guaranties you under the name of science that you will survive with some artificial digital brain, you better run. He is provably an ignorant, or a lier, or "joking person", or mad, or a zombie, etc: he communicates the false. Bf.

The trick is to NEVER believe that it can never be proven!

My problem, Kim, is that I have a "theology". With comp, it is computer science. But, after Godel computer science splitted somehow into two parts revealing an inescapable gap between truth and provability. The most "theological part" of it is the difference between computer science and computer's computer science, that is between what is true about the destiny of machines from their many possible points of view, and what machines can prove, in all generality, from, in and out of those points of view. Mathematically the propositional part of that "theology" is given by the difference between two modal logics G* and G. By (machine) theology I mean G* - G. My result (see my url) is that physics is derivable from it, constructively, if comp is true. I have reason to identify (at first) the scientific belied with proof. You tell me ~B~B(comp), making you false by G*. Read Smullyan's "Forever undecided" which gives a good introduction to G.

If COMP one day turns out to be true

You mean will be proved ? What do you mean?

then it's not theological anymore, it's logical.

Mmmh... Since the fall of logicism even "numbers" are not "logical". But comp is at the intersection of computer science, theoretical physics and cognitive science. It is at at best applied mathematics. We can only bet on our better theory. (my work shows that comp is testable, that is we could learn it is false, but if comp is true we will need forever some act of faith to say yes to the doctor. Thought experiments can illustrate that even if you survive with an artificial brain, that personal fact of you does not make it possible to be use for a third person (scientific) communication of that facts.

I'm assuming an equivalence of meaning here in the use of the terms "theological" and "metaphysical" in dealing with assumptions.

No problem at all. I told that I have use biology, psychology etc. I am searching a term, that's all.

Of course, if quantum computers turn out to work in the specified manner, then MWI is proven

No. Is comfirmed. Not proven. We don't have prove that there is even one accessible world, or observer-moment (as we are used to call them here).

and there never was anything metaphysical going on. Whether or not that is seen as reliable proof of COMP remains to be seen

I insist. IF true, COMP will never be proved. And then, as you confirm, it is a reason to take it as a theological assumption.

The danger, that Alan guards against, lies in STARTING from the metaphysical/theological viewpoint. But this of course makes it extremely hard to deal with all these assumptions out in the open (as you say).

But any ontological commitment is a form of metaphysical/theological starting point. To ignore this is hidden the doubt we can always have form some theories. Moreover, the difference between David Deutsch and me, is that David makes two ontological commitments: numbers and physical universe(s). Me: numbers.
I feel less "superstitious".

I certainly do not hold that scientists are somehow free of the ravages of belief.

Of course. All theories are hopefully consistent set of beliefs.

In science, one's beliefs are always smuggled in through the back door -

But we start from it.

hence Einstein's famous "God does not play dice with the universe". He meant it quite as much as a statement of religious faith as a refutation of QM (and I do not believe Einstein would have considered himself offtopic either)

(we can go back on this. Einstein is still quite mysterious for me on the "theological" point.)

Is this not a belief in a form of survival after a form of possible death? A belief that I can survive with an artificial body can be seen as an argument for the ability of the "soul" to be independent of its body. No?

Yes of course, but again if it turns out to be physically real or at least possible (testable), why do we need the metaphysics?

Because it gives the overall pictures making you capable to cope with the long term, personally and collectively. With comp, "consciousness" is itself a result of an unconscious *bet* on the existence of some accessible world. As Stathis has explained, once you belief in comp, you can retrospectively bet that "amoebas" did bet on it a long time ago (they do self-duplicate). But the fact is that if we assume comp we need, for mathematical reason, to make the difference between what is true on us, and still undecidable. We can bet on it at our risk and peril. It reminds it is a personal affair. (With comp) we are necessarily humble and modest in front of very tricky questions.
Science is above all modesty. With comp theology inherits that modesty.

What if the "soul" turns out to be the summation of the "amplitude of your minds" to use Herwig's words, spread across the multiverse? I can cope with that notion under the banner of the real, the possible. No star in the east, no burning bushes - just a mind-blowing real possibility

And probably a necessity with comp, except that the observable multiverse will appear as the board of the "mindscape". Of course if you don't know my work I could seem a little quick here. 10000 apologies.

Those cases also illustrate the possibility of some theological assumptions about which we can reason. As Deutsch and Tipler do, it seems to me.

The exciting part surely in what they do is to bypass the theology altogether.

I don't buy this. Any talk on "immortality" is theological, unless you take an explicit non computationalist theory of mind, like the one of Penrose. I mean, Deutsch and Everett bet on comp, and with comp, even the belief in one world is a bet. We must be far modest than most materialist and dualist are usually.

It's simply an unnecessary explanatory step. Truth really is stranger than fiction. Theology would try to reference everything to the Bible - see next

Bibles are important for historical and affective reasons. No serious, or just consistent, theologian will take Biblic texts has definitive theories on the matter. True, in our story, the bible and its messages has been deformed or has been given inconsistent literal interpretations and that has been bloody as those sorts of confusion usually are.

Theology wants to limit the field of ideas because theology is the
traditional gate-keeper of the intellect of organised religion.

It is not because 99% of the theologians, and this 99% of the time, are under the control of political organization (like science sometimes, somewhere: ex: genetic in Soviet Union), that we should dismiss the original questioning.

I feel it is the other way around. Politics is belief or spirituality in action.

Hopefully nowadays with regulative self-correcting procedure. Like elections.

What we believe authors what we do, sets up what we call "moral". The supposed split between the Church and the State is as much nonsense today as it was in the Middle Ages.

What are you saying? That democracies does not always work? True, it is something of the type "alive". Democracies can die. They could defend themselves too. Better to avoid to mix science and/or theologies with politics.

Law is ultimately rooted in adherence to a moral framework, so belief in values, morals etc precedes politics, indeed gives rise to it


anyone heard of an organised religion that is gagging for new
thinking, new ideas???

Come on. The jewish commentaries, the scolastic christians, The Muslim neoplatonist, the Hinduism school, the taoist schools, the buddhist schools: all have been open some long time to critical argumentations and improvements. Hinduism and Buddhism have even had quite sophisticate internal school of logic.

Most look to their past for a continuing mandate and thus fall back on their laurels.

Not at all. You see them like that. Perhaps it is the way those things are taught.

There is not enough futuristic stuff in theology.

I cannot imagine something more futuristic. Forget the bible and the boring sermons. Work on the mind-body problem by yourself. "official theology" has stop to think since its last very deep discussion in the middle age. Science has not yet solve the mind body problem. We are ignorant. But with the comp hyp, suddenly we can at least see how much the matter is non trivial. The future is 99% theological, actually theotechnological.

It's usually about why things have to be NOW the way they are because of something that happened way back THEN. COMP is exciting because it offers the possibility of "future" conditioning of "past" events. Religious thinking is not really up to this

OK. But comp is meta-theological if you want. It is consistent with many non literal reading on most sacred text, which most of the time are written by people who have some serious concern with our possible destinies. Literal and fanatical reading are prohibited by the most elementary logic and recognizance (bet!) of the other and their abilities to reason.

Look at the neo-platonist tradition: quite a long and sincere argumentation. It still exists today everywhere on the planet, even if it is hidden by the media politically correct cacophonia.

Yet, Plato was a truly fascist thinker. He admired Sparta, a fascist state - and built this power-structure thing into his vision of what a Republic was. Let's not forget that. He believed in slavery.

This is the mark of great genius. They told us from time to time enormous stupidities!
As I said I am with you.

This surely is of interest in looking at the theological aspects of the neo-platonist tradition?

No. they continues the open minded questioning and reasoning. Of course "disciples" add mistakes ... until some proposes new theories. Slavery has a very long and complex history until recently. But please don't take any thinker so closely. Revised some of the old thought automatically and concentrates on what they have really discovered.

He claimed a form of reality for ideas that is based on "mathematical reality" - essentially a yes-no, right-wrong information system - at least in its everyday implementation. This was extrapolated as the search for "truth". According to Socrates (or Plato more likely as all we know of Socrates words comes via Plato's ) - all you had to do was get rid of all error and then you are left with the truth.

Very schematically that's the way.
After Godel we know the solidity of the roots of the doubts, and we know the path can be tortuous and can lead to some catastrop.

But this is nonsense.

Literally yes.

Life is not a mathematical problem.

That you can solve. But it could be a mathematical adventure, literally.

Usually the cause of all "error" is human nature. This is a very difficult cause to remove.

That is the impact of Godel's theorem. The casue of all "error" is already "machine nature". It is just impossible to remove the cause. Actually comp makes the prediction that most of the problem is enhanced by attempts to remove it.

Theology has an unspoken brief to limit the field of ideas to what
the powerbrokers in organised religions long ago decided was permissable

But organised religion, like organised academy, should be separate from the original intent.
The same is true for philosophy.

It's hard not to extrapolate to the world around here. Many religious scholars are standing up for their beliefs right now in a very public way. Islamic scholars have the direct ear of government. In this way, belief systems can quickly author actions if required.

But it has nothing to do with Islam per se. Christians, Atheist and many others have shown various form of deadly fanaticism. In moral or affective wounded states any fundamental non rigorous theory can be sum up by "it is the fault of the other". It is not theology, it is when "serious" theology failed. A rampant danger of our societies who forget to invest in our atemporal questioning and contemplation.

Science (and hopefully philosophy if it can keep up) will usually
seek to enlarge and populate the field of ideas with anything and
everything necessary to understand reality.

But by preventing seriousness in theology and its related questions, you make yourself an objective ally of those who want "theology" to be kept in the hand of social manipulators.

If by "seriousness in theology" you allow that everything in a belief system may be subject to a complete makeover or update to a more contemporary way of expressing and dealing with issues then I am not against it at all.

Nice! So we do agree on the fundamental. My "theology" is as vulnerable as it can be. I say precisely how to derive the precise physics from the comp hyp. If it gives statements contrary to empirically known fact or theories, it will be refuted.

Everything has to change in the universe, so why does belief remain stuck in Sunday school?

Forget Sunday school if your teacher was not quite up with the task of open your mind to unsolved fundamental questions. That happens in mathematics too.

Going back to the Bible to justify everything is how the social manipulators work because God spoke to man in a way that requires interpretation and that can be exploited

The Muslim and Jews and Christian should come back to their serious discussion from the middle age. Theology is motivated in great part by the fear of death, and most people just does not want to have doubt. But science is mainly systematics doubting and it is just a question of time we will again be more serious; In the meantime let us protect us from any authoritative arguments. Terrorism, small and large, is of that type.

And the worst is that this attitude encourages a wrong understanding of science, like if science was answering (or even tackling) those questions, which for methodological reasons only, it does not. It makes science a peculiar theology : one which pretend to reach the truth. Is that not a form of arrogance?

Like I said - scientists have their beliefs; they just don't talk about them.

I disagree. They does not make them explicit, but science gives collection of consistent (hopefully) set of beliefs. "H phi = E phi" is a belief.

Most don't talk about them even to themselves and that's the biggest worry.

In that case they "religious" in the pejorative sense. They are irrational.

It's impossible not to act out of belief because we know when we are doing something we do not believe in. You cannot lie to yourself.

Sorry but with comp you can. It makes suffering soon or later.

I do not think science pretends to be reaching the truth because if that happens we all have to shut up and go to bed because there is nothing left to talk about.

With comp you can be assure the adventure is without ends. Careful, you cannot be assure of comp.

Is not naturalism a religion? Is not the "primitive universe" or "Nature" just a "Modern God"?

Yes. But doesn't Occam's razor eliminate some things here? Or, doesn't Occam show up when God is around?

Sound machine cannot even give a name to truth.
I was just saying that with Occam, comp does not need to add the hypothesis of the existence of a physical universe. Like I said above I do an ontological commitment less than David. Matter is ether, phlogistic. Unrelated with our physical beliefs. That is not obvious. You can try to understand the argument with links in my url, or by reading this list where we discuss it and similar approaches.

After all, as I just recall in my preceding post, nobody has given a proof of the existence of Nature.

I think the Gaia hypothesis of Lovelock came closest.

We are not talking at the same level, or you are joking a little bit.

The Earth may yet convince us that she exists through repeated attempts to destroy the human plague with natural catastrophe and severe weather. We take a lot of convincing, don't we?

The earth is perhaps "sick" and we should act, but that does not prove anything existencial. No more that knocking a table. Nothing. It confirms some hardness to live together, but we are not talking ecology.

Even Aristotle, as I begin to suspect, has been much more cautious on the existence of Nature than most of its followers. I have no problem with scientists and theologians. I have problem with any dogma, both when used in science or in theology.

But today, dogmatic theologians are less annoying than dogmatic scientists,

Except where they provide intellectual justification for people to strap bombs on themselves etc.

Pseudo-intellectual of that sorts will always benefit from the incapacity of human to courageously confront themselves with a scientific (doubting, methodologically agnostic) attitude on the unsolved questions. Such unwillingness to put their theories in doubt (given that they do not solve nor really address the fundamental issues) makes larger the abyss between human and exact sciences; and this results in making the exact sciences less exacts and the human sciences less human, if not bloody.

because the dogmatic scientists pretend having no dogma, making dialog on fundamental open questions even more difficult I'm afraid.

Then it is a very silly situation then. We should dismiss all scientists' claims until we can be certain of their dogma. You can see why they try to avoid it

We must dismiss all statements of certainty, and all dogma, and concentrates on the consequences of our assumptions, and taking our theories seriously, in any field.

Assuming comp, theology is just the attempt to figure out what is *true* for machines, and we have a wonderful tools to dig toward a better and better picture: theoretical computer science. comp forces us to be modest, if only because it justify how much our ignorance grows with the development of our knowledge.



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