Dear Brent,


[] On Behalf Of Brent Meeker
Sent: Saturday, September 04, 2010 7:39 PM
Subject: Re: What's wrong with this?


On 9/4/2010 12:45 AM, Rex Allen wrote: 

On Sat, Sep 4, 2010 at 2:58 AM, Brent Meeker
<> <> wrote:

You've made up some just-so stories about how some other quasi-physical
explanation *might* be adopted.

In what way are my proposed explanations "quasi-physical" instead of
just physical?

Brain-in-vat and the-universe-as-a-computer-simulation are not really
physical theories since they assume that everything we consider physical
just exists at the whim of some mad scientist.

                    I disagree strongly! Is the "mad scientist" not
constrained by its equivalent to physical laws? AFAIK, the brain-in-vat and
universe-as-a-computer-simulation are related thought experiments that allow
us to think more deeply about our tacit assumptions about our world and
ourselves. Maybe you might help us to better understand your thoughts by
explaining what "physical" means to you.

 You haven't show that they *would* be
preferred to supernatural ones.

I don't need to show that they would be preferred.  I just need to
show that physicalism is still a live option, and thus not
And honestly I find my proposed explanations more plausible than
supernatural ones.  While God would explain the Sikhs prayer thing,
that also runs into the problem of evil.

Who said God is omnibeneficient?


                Who said that the term even applied? I think that any
anthropomorphic notions of deity would be subject to a thorough examination.
The mere idea that we can adjoin the term "omni" with some other
anthropomorphic term seems to be oxymoronic from the start. This gets to
John Mikes discomfort with the indiscriminate use to the term "all", a
discomfort that I share.


The simulation argument alone is enough to see off any God-based

No, it's just a another conception of God - the world is still created and
formed by a supernatural agent.


                How so? Is a computational system with sufficient resources
unable to generate a simulation of the universe that we experience? We are
not talking about the actual construction or specification of such, only the
mere possibility that such a system could exist.


Anyone who already leans in that direction would
probably take this option over God in the event of an outbreak of
Initially I'm sure the vast majority of people would be convinced of a
supernatural explanation for OBEs or healing prayer...*but* the vast
majority of people are already religiously inclined.  So I'm not sure
that a popularity contest counts.
I'd bet that the majority of atheists would choose one of my
proposals, or maybe come up with an even better physicalist

You can always speculate that any
regularity we note is just a false positive  that in inevitable in an
infinite universe - but that will convince no one.

"No one" is way too strong.  It would convince some.
Also you could conclude that we'd wondered into a low-probability
branch of the universal wave function a-la the many worlds
I think all "many worlders" would take this interpretation of events
if there were an outbreak of miracles.  Do you disagree?
And the many world interpretation isn't that different than the
infinite universe option.

That's one of the criticisms of many-worlds.  If the theory can't derive the
Born rules then it's not falsifiable, even in a probabilistic sense.


Hold on just a moment, Brent. The derivation of the Born rules is still not
a settled issue in the sense that we don't have a single theory that would
explain how the Born rule is even a necessary condition. I would love to be
wrong on this latter claim. J

I think this argument though is ill defined.  "Physicalism" or "naturalism"
isn't a particular theory anymore that "supernaturalism" or "everythingism"
or "Platonism" is.  It's kind of metaphysics which says some things exist
and some don't, and things that exist are ones we can in some sense interact
with (If you kick it, it kicks back. is the slogan).  But generally
metatheories aren't testable in the same sense that theories are.  If you
want to test whether God exists, you first need to make your definition of
"God" sufficiently precise to make some inferences about what would or
wouldn't be the case if God did or didn't exist.




                We can judge a metatheory by examination of its logical
consequences, the good 'ol GIGO rule still applies. J




Stephen P. King



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