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
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
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
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
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
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
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).
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
(With comp) we are necessarily humble and modest in front of very
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
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
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
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
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
Hopefully nowadays with regulative self-correcting procedure. Like
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
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
Not at all. You see them like that. Perhaps it is the way those things
There is not enough futuristic stuff in theology.
I cannot imagine something more futuristic. Forget the bible and the
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
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.
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
Theology has an unspoken brief to limit the field of ideas to what
the powerbrokers in organised religions long ago decided was
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
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
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
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
In that case they "religious" in the pejorative sense. They are
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
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
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
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
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
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.