On 14 Nov 2009, at 22:33, Brent Meeker wrote:

> Bruno Marchal wrote:
>> On 14 Nov 2009, at 01:33, Brent Meeker wrote:
>>>> Why should we use the term "God" in the sense of those who clearly
>>>> have confused science with temporal authoritative argument?
>>> Because that's what most people who use the term mean. And if we  
>>> tell
>>> them we're agnostic about God
>> Who them? Which Christians? There are many Christian theologians who
>> have reasonable (with respect to comp, or to the scientific attitude)
>> conception of God.
> Many being a few thousand? But there are billions of Christians who  
> are
> *not* theologians and a large fraction of them (at least in the U.S.)
> use their votes and money to make Christian dogma public policy.

Yes, but if you use science 'against" them, you make science a pseudo- 
religion, and you give them more braids. If we don't get back to  
'serious" (meaning hypothetical) theology, pseudo-religion will  

Even if you take the 'theology' of the universal machine as a toy  
theology, it is remarkable how it explains the difference between  
science and theology. Science is *the* tool of those whose faith is  
not based on rumors.

>> The difference between some american and european christians can be
>> bigger than the difference between european atheists.
>> But once we know some group does not argue, but use authoritatively
>> some dogma, anyone with a scientific attitude should use its usual
>> critical mind.
>>> we will be telling them that we have no
>>> good reason not to believe in their sky father and hence no good  
>>> reason
>>> to resist the revealed morality they want to impose through laws.
>> Then it is like rejecting the "object" of a theory, because we
>> disagree with a theory.
>> It is like concluding that earth does not exist, because some people
>> said it to be flat.
>> There are no reasons to do that (except bad habits).
> When we disagree with the Earth being flat it is because we have a
> better theory about the shape of the Earth.


> If I disagree with the theory that human events are controlled by
> immortal beings living on top of Mt. Olympus, should I still entertain
> the proposition that immortal beings live on Mt. Olympus as a  
> reasonable
> scientific hypothesis.

Of course not. I am not aware such theory explains anything new, or  
actually anything at all.

> Am I a dishonest atheist because I don't believe
> in Zeus?

No. But as an atheist, who *believes there is a no God", you may hurt  
the sensibility of someone who find the idea or concept deep and  
interesting and may be some theologies are less wrong than other ...

And most atheists are doubly believers. They believe in the  
inexistence of God, but many believe in the existence of Matter (some  
primitive matter "explaining everything").

A a scientist I am completely agonstic:

I don't believe in God
I don't believe in the inexistence of God
I don't believe in Matter (primary one)
I don't believe in the non existence of Matter.

I do find plausible that whatever I am, I may be Turing emulable, and  
all I say is that in that case the overall picture is No Matter  but  
some 'truth' about a universal "dreamer". This includes (by UDA) its  
physical realities.
Is it so astonishing that digital mechanism could make eventually  
physics a branch of Theoretical Computer science?

>>>> The word and concept God have been used in all culture and  
>>>> tradition,
>>>> and refer to to some projection of our ignorance, close to the  
>>>> idea of
>>>> infinite, or inconceivable, in-something.
>>>> May be this is due to the fact that many got a christian  
>>>> education. I
>>>> did not. For me "God" refer to the all transcendant and ineffable
>>>> things described by mystics and rationalized by the thinker who are
>>>> searching.
>>>> Like I said, atheists and christians defend the same concept of  
>>>> God,
>>>> the first to believe in its non-existence, the second to believe in
>>>> its existence. Why does atheist choose the definition of those in
>>>> which they does not believe the theory. It is like to say  
>>>> "genetics is
>>>> crap" because of Lyssenko.
>>>> The agnostic search without prejudice and with a critical eyes on  
>>>> any
>>>> theory.
>>> Does your eye ever become so critical as to reject a theory - not  
>>> reject
>>> for sure, but for all practical purposes you consider it false?
>> Yes. One refutation is enough (in principle). The refutation can be
>> internal, like when the theory is shown inconsistent, or external,
>> when the theory is contradicted by some experiment.
>> Or we can reject a theory because we don't like it, if we want. taste
>> and esthetic features can play a role.
>> Without contradiction, it is hard to conclude a theory is "false".
>> With comp "true" and "false" are by themselves very complex and
>> delicate notions, in need of theories.
> Then to say you uncertain about the existence of God when speaking to
> non-theologian Christians or Muslims or Mormons you are being a
> dishonest agnostic.

I don't understand. Be them Mormons, Muslims, Christians , ...  
atheists or Taoist, I told them, oh, look, if you say believe you can  
survive with a digital brain/body, then reality is described by the  
relation between Numbers, and the theology is of the type "Plotino- 
Pytagorean. Do you see why? If not read or that paper. I am pretty  
sure that those whose faith comes from inside may recognize feature.

> This can be a very convenient position for academics
> in the U.S. where the funding of research may depend on politicians  
> who
> are sensitive to the votes of believers.

You loss me.

>>>>> You say you are agnostic on (primitive) matter; but you usually  
>>>>> claim
>>>>> to have proven that matter doesn't exist, because to assume it  
>>>>> does
>>>>> leads to contradiction.
>>>> Not at all. I am entirely agnostic about Matter.
>>>> What I am pretty sure of is that Matter is incompatible with  
>>>> Digital
>>>> Mechanism. I do believe that Comp entails Matter makes no sense.
>>>> I am agnostic on Matter, because I am agnostic on Digital  
>>>> Mechanism.
>>>> And then diabolically enough, I have too, because none correct  
>>>> machine
>>>> can know for sure Digital Mechanism is true (even after surviving a
>>>> classical teleportation).
>>> If not knowing for sure makes one an agnostic then I'm an agnostic  
>>> on
>>> everything. But that definition implies science is no better than
>>> guessing and all opinions are equal.
>>> I think we need to keep a
>>> distinction between knowing for sure and knowing in the sense of  
>>> having
>>> good evidence for.
>> Well you right, and I just have insisted on this on the FOR list. But
>> yes, I do believe that a scientist never know for sure, and that he
>> does not commit *any* definitive ontological commitment. All theories
>> are hypothetical. But this does not mean that all theories are equal.
>> Some theories takes more time to be refuted. Some theories are more
>> fertile, and can be more interestingly false.
>> A scientist can judge a theory much better than another, without
>> saying "I believe it to be true". He will say "I believe it to be  
>> more
>> plausible than some other theories. We have to take our theory
>> seriously until we find a better theory.
>>> Scientific theories are never proved. That doesn't mean we're  
>>> agnostic
>>> about whether the Earth is flat or spheroidal.
>> We can judge that "spheroidal" is far more plausible, and useful,
>> given our current knowledge, but we can hardly say that science has
>> proved that the earth is spheroidal, or that earth really exists. In
>> science there are just no proof about anything concerning reality.
>> Only radical atheists (unlike atheists like Carolyn Porco) can  
>> pretend
>> that science has proved anything.
> Depends on what you mean by "proved". There is "proven in court",
> "proven by experiment", and "proven in mathematics" - remember the  
> base
> meaning of "proven" is "tested". I would say Porco is a radical  
> agnostic
> - one who doesn't want to reject popular religious ideas no matter how
> much the evidence is against them because we can always reinterpret  
> them
> in a way that they *might* be true.

  I meant "proved about reality". Science is neutral about reality.  
Now Gödel's and Lob's theorems illustrates that universal machine can  
study its own limitation, and bet some unprovable truth (sometimes  

But Brent, I am critical on all non serious theology. In the human and  
applied human science we are still nowhere.

I am not sure that Carolyn Porco does not reject popular religious  
ideas, like myself.
And I am not sure how she would react when understanding that  
Mechanism Digital entails everything emerge from the story, described  
in elementary arithmetic of a universal machine looking at itself.
Thanks to the Gödel-Löb-Solovay split, such a theory describes the  
provable and the unprovable part of the machines and this from its  
many different person points of view.

>> Certainty is not among the goal of science. The goal of science is  
>> the
>> "quest" of the truth, but it is a /quest/. I could say that religion
>> is the goal, and science the means.
> But every religion claims to have the truth - by tradition, by  
> visions,
> by revelation

I am afraid that with the comp assumption, "claiming to have the  
truth" is a blasphem.
It is human nature.
Lesson: if someone claims to have the truth, run away.

Science = doubt.
Fundamental science = fundamental doubt.

> - and makes a virtue of belief beyond or even contrary to
> evidence. I agree with what you say about science, but I think you are
> making up your own definition for religion.

Not really. It is the religion of the universal machine when she says  
"yes" to the doctor, at her risk and peril.  Or it is the religion  
(truth) she can deduce from just imagining surviving such an experience.

It is a branch of math, and it is axiomatized by the modal logics G  
and G*, and its intensional variants.

>> It is like opening our eyes and observing, and then trying to  
>> figure a
>> mental coherent picture of what we see. But no one can prove that we
>> have find the last correct picture. No one. neither the scientist,  
>> nor
>> the priest. Only politicians behave like that sometimes, and usually
>> for opportunist reasons. There is nothing more modest than science.
>> But by opposing science to (honest) religion, we tend to make science
>> into a pseudo (authoritative) religion.
> No, we emphasize the difference between provisional belief  
> proportioned
> to evidence and unquestionable belief in authoritarian revelations.

But the evidence are that after 1500 years of materialist theology,  
the human science have make only one progress (democracy) and continue  
to make the fundamental question out of the scientific method of  
investigation, like if only physics was, by definition, the  
fundamental science. "Matter" has been a fertile methodology, but it  
fails to explain its origin, its link with mathematics, and then it  
fails on the consciousness/reality problem.
Classical Mechanism, once taken seriously, shows that the 'rational,  
elegant, and conceptually simpler picture could be different. In the  
tiny Sigma_1 part of arithmetical truth lives an incredibly creative  
creature, which behaviors and discourses needs mathematics which  
extends far away arithmetical if not mathematical truth.

A universal machine is a bomb,yet a creative one.

>> I said in different forums that the divorce between science and
>> religion is a symptom of schizophrenia. A human temporary (I hope)
>> laps of insanity. Religion can only extends science. The Islamic
>> al-Ghazali (eleven century) did already explains this in great  
>> detail.
> The Abrahamic religions conflict with science because they teach that
> there are miracles (scientifically inexplicable events with are  
> answers
> to pious prayers). Science has tested this theory and found no  
> evidence
> for it and so scientists don't believe it; it is proven false to a
> standard higher than courtrooms but less than mathematical.

Give time to people to get the things less literally. If we come back  
to seriousness in theology, even you may agree on some non literal  
interpretation of some old text.

By its very nature, the "God intuition" is perverted by any use of  
that idea.
God or truth is the last thing which needs authoritative argument.  
Discussion in the evening, or silence, may convey something, but  
someone whose faith is grounded, I guess he will let God presents  
itself, or not, instead of any other argument.

Or he will build a theory, take some "theological" assumption  
seriously, like comp.

>> A religion which fear science can only be based on bad faith.
> All the religions I know of claim that science supports their beliefs
> (with "interpretation") - unfortunately their beliefs are mutually  
> contrary.

But this is due because some make science a religion. Science cannot  
support religion, science can only refute the wrong theologies. A  
theology which asserts that science support her, is deadly wrong at  
the start, unless the support is given through hypothesis and (new)  
predictions in the usual way.

We are not talking about some human superstitutions. We search a  
theory which explains the origin of the physical laws, and which does  
not eliminate the person, and explain consciousness, or explain why we  
cannot explain consciousness, ... what could happen when we die, and  
many fundamental things like that, by reasoning from hypotheses.

And not everything is necessarily wrong in the popular theologies  
Well except, probably (cf UDA), the popular belief (assuming  
mechanism) in Matter.

Now, it is a meta-theorem that if Mechanism is true, I will remain  
forever undecided about it.




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