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Why science cannot explain why...

popculturepooka
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10/24/2014 12:38:33 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
...anything at all exists.

"I"m going to jump back on one of my favourite high horses. I"ve previously blogged about Lawrence Krauss and his views on the question "why is there something rather than nothing?". I"ve just finished his book, and he appeared last night on an Australian TV show called Q&A. It was a good panel discussion, but as usual the show invites too many people and tries to discuss too much so there is always too little time. Krauss" discussions with John Dickson were quite interesting.

I"ll be discussing the book in more detail in future, but listening to Krauss crystallised in my mind why I believe that science in principle cannot explain why anything exists.

Let me clear about one thing before I start. I say all of this as a professional scientist, as a cosmologist. I am in the same field as Krauss. This is not an antiscience rant. I am commenting on my own field.

Firstly, the question "why is there something rather than nothing?" is equivalent to the question "why does anything at all exist?". However, Krauss et al have decided to creatively redefine nothing (with no mandate from science " more on that in a later post) so that the question becomes more like "why is there a universe rather than a quantum space time foam?". So I"ll focus on the second formulation, since it is immune to such equivocations.

Here is my argument.
A: The state of physics at any time can be (roughly) summarised by three things.

1. A statement about what the fundamental constituents of physical reality are and what their properties are.
2. A set of mathematical equations describing how these entities change, move, interact and rearrange.
3. A compilation of experimental and observational data.

In short, the stuff, the laws and the data.

B: None of these, and no combination of these, can answer the question "why does anything at all exist?".

C: Thus physics cannot answer the question "why does anything at all exist?".

Let"s have a closer look at the premises. I"m echoing here the argument of David Albert in his review of Krauss" book, which I thoroughly recommend. Albert says,

[W]hat the fundamental laws of nature are about, and all the fundamental laws of nature are about, and all there is for the fundamental laws of nature to be about, insofar as physics has ever been able to imagine, is how that elementary stuff is arranged.

For example, in Newtonian physics the fundamental constituents are particles, absolute space and absolute time, the laws are Newton"s laws of motion and equations that describe the forces at work in the universe e.g. gravity, and the data are things like the motion of the planets, rolling down an inclined plane etc. After James Clerk Maxwell, we add to the basic stuff electromagnetic fields, and add his equations to the laws, and to the data add observations of electromagnetic phenomena. The standard model of particle physics has quantum fields and Einsteinian space time as the basic stuff, the laws are standard model Lagrangian and general relativity, and throw in all the data of particle accelerators and such. (I"m glossing over a lot here, obviously, but you get the idea.) Various theories beyond the standard model postulate different stuff and laws e.g. String theory, loop quantum gravity. In some of these theories, there is an attempt or at least the hope that the theory will be able to treat spacetime itself as a derived thing, that there will be something in the theory even more fundamental than space and time, out of which space and time can be made (so-called background independent theories).

Now, why think that neither the stuff, the laws or the data or a combination can answer the question of why anything exists?

1 can"t do it: A statement of the basic constituents of reality, in and of itself, obviously cannot explain why such things exist, any more than the statement "the sky is blue" can explain why the sky is blue. So 1 is out.

2 can"t do it: Mathematical equations describe properties, and existence is not a property. 5 dollars plus 5 dollars equals 10 dollars, but that fact will not tell you how much money is actually in my account. The same is true for all mathematical equations, even the more sophisticated ones used by modern physics. Write down any equation you like " you will not be able to deduce from that equation that the thing it describes really exists. Mathematical equations are abstract entities, they have no causal powers. They can"t do anything, least of all jump off the blackboard and pull entities into existence. So the answer cannot be found in 2.

1 and 2 can"t do it: 1 and 2 together give a theoretical description of reality as we know it, so succumb to the same problems as 2 alone.

3 can"t do it: for the same reason that 1 can"t. The statement "I observed an electron strike a screen" cannot explain why there are electrons at all, and thus (a fortiori) cannot explain why anything exists at all.

1, 2 and 3 can"t do it: Sitting and staring at 1+2 on one hand, and 3 on the other, will tell you why we think that 1+2 really describes our universe. They account for the data, which is what science does. But once again we see no resources to attack the question of why anything at all exists. We"ve successfully described our universe. But that is all.

Thus, physics cannot answer the question "why does anything at all exist?".

It is important to realise that no amount of progress in physics will change this situation. Imagine the final equation, the law of nature, written on a blackboard to thunderous applause. After the adoration dies down, we will still be faced with the question "why does a universe described by that equation actually exist?". The answer cannot be found in the equation. Stephen Hawking said it well:

Even if there is only one possible unified theory, it is just a set of rules and equations. What is it that breathes fire into the equations and makes a universe for them to describe? (from A Brief History of Time)

Krauss" new "scientific" "nothing" consists of yet more hypothesised fundamental entities and laws which govern their behaviour. In Q&A, Krauss appeared to deny that there were such laws, but his book makes it clear that by "no laws" what he really means is laws that are "stochastic and random", admitting that "Although to be fair, to make any scientific progress in calculating possibilities, we generally assume that certain properties, like quantum mechanics, permeate all possibilities." The novelty of Krauss" particular stuff is that it is (hypothesised to be) more fundamental even than space and time. But it is still stuff. And the mathematical laws that describe its properties and behaviour still cannot explain why it exists at all.

If you are a philosophical materialist " if you believe that everything that exists is ultimately the stuff of physics " then this question is unanswerable. Not just unanswered " I have no problem with questions that science cannot currently answer. It"s because of such questions that I have a job. But materialism simply doesn"t have the resources to answer that question. To be a materialist, one must convince oneself that the question is somehow meaningless, that it is nonsense masquerading as one of the deepest and oldest philosophical questions mankind has ever asked."

Pt. 1

http://letterstonature.wordpress.com...
At 10/3/2016 11:49:13 PM, thett3 wrote:
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popculturepooka
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10/24/2014 12:40:20 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
"Is theism"s answer any better? The attempt is as follows: if everything that exists does so contingently, that is, if it is possible that it could not exist, then the question of why anything at all exists is unanswerable. Given anything that exists, we would still be left with the question as to why it exists. To answer this question, we must postulate the existence of a necessary being, that is, one who can"t fail to exist, the reason for whom"s existence is found within itself, rather than externally. This is not creating an arbitrary exception for God. It is asking what kind of thing must exist in order to explain the existence of contingent things. It is the search for a sufficient explanation for existence that leads us to a metaphysically necessary being.

A plague of questions spring to mind. Does that even make sense? What kind of thing is a metaphysically necessary being? Why think that the necessary being is a person? Why couldn"t it be the universe? We get rather quickly into deep philosophical waters here. But that is my point. Physics simply cannot inform these questions, one way or the other. It cannot speak to ultimate existence, it cannot observe or model necessity. If the necessary being turns out to be the universe (a view that almost no modern philosophers defend), then this will not be a scientific conclusion " no observation could establish that fact. I agree with Martin Rees, who said

[P]hysics can never explain what "breathes fire" into the equations, and actualised them into a real cosmos. The fundamental question of "Why is there something rather than nothing?" remains the province of philosophers. And even they may be wiser to respond, with Ludwig Wittgenstein, what "whereof one cannot speak, one must be silent"."

Pt 2

http://letterstonature.wordpress.com...

I have a hard time seeing what exactly is wrong with his reasoning. Any suggestions?
At 10/3/2016 11:49:13 PM, thett3 wrote:
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mortsdor
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10/24/2014 12:54:41 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
Is there some supposed issue/problem with science not being able to answer metaphysical questions about why existence (in the broadest sense) exists?

because I agree, but I doubt that anyone (sensible) would really disagree if they considered what you're saying.

Putting for supposed reasons not relying upon a scientific framework would be more interesting.
(though probably silly)
mortsdor
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10/24/2014 12:55:26 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 10/24/2014 12:54:41 PM, mortsdor wrote:
Putting *forth supposed reasons not relying upon a scientific framework would be more interesting.
(though probably silly)
Envisage
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10/24/2014 1:19:04 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
I will write a more complete rebuttal when I get back home on Monday (I am on my phone at the moment), it's more against the further implications you make from the statement 'Science cannot explain existence'.

I am leaning towards agreeing that science can not address existence, and. Hawking is another in the camp that a theory of everything is impossible because of "what breathes fire into the equations".

However, Science, or Scientism =/= philosophical materialism or naturalism, and you should know this so I have absolutely no idea why you are extending this conclusion to theism and atheism.

More to follow but I imagine others will post fully before I get the chance...
dylancatlow
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10/24/2014 1:22:55 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
In order to answer the question "why does anything exist", physics must explain where physics itself came from. Physics is not itself a physical observable, so physics can't do that.
popculturepooka
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10/24/2014 1:25:28 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 10/24/2014 12:54:41 PM, mortsdor wrote:
Is there some supposed issue/problem with science not being able to answer metaphysical questions about why existence (in the broadest sense) exists?

because I agree, but I doubt that anyone (sensible) would really disagree if they considered what you're saying.

Putting for supposed reasons not relying upon a scientific framework would be more interesting.
(though probably silly)

Because there are many who think science can answer the "why" to "why there is anything at all?" (See: Lawrence Krauss.) Matter of fact, I've seen several people of this variety on this website.

That doesn't necessarily count against science - after all it just may be an unanswerable question or ill conceived in some sense - but I think the point remains.
At 10/3/2016 11:49:13 PM, thett3 wrote:
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Dazz
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10/24/2014 2:27:20 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 10/24/2014 1:25:28 PM, popculturepooka wrote:
At 10/24/2014 12:54:41 PM, mortsdor wrote:
Is there some supposed issue/problem with science not being able to answer metaphysical questions about why existence (in the broadest sense) exists?

because I agree, but I doubt that anyone (sensible) would really disagree if they considered what you're saying.

Putting for supposed reasons not relying upon a scientific framework would be more interesting.
(though probably silly)

Because there are many who think science can answer the "why" to "why there is anything at all?" (See: Lawrence Krauss.) Matter of fact, I've seen several people of this variety on this website.

That doesn't necessarily count against science - after all it just may be an unanswerable question or ill conceived in some sense - but I think the point remains.

So that's a limitation of science. Isn't it?
Remove the "I want", remainder is the "peace". ~Al-Ghazali~
"This time will also pass", a dose to cure both; the excitement & the grievance. ~Ayaz~
popculturepooka
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10/24/2014 3:22:42 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 10/24/2014 2:27:20 PM, Dazz wrote:
At 10/24/2014 1:25:28 PM, popculturepooka wrote:
At 10/24/2014 12:54:41 PM, mortsdor wrote:
Is there some supposed issue/problem with science not being able to answer metaphysical questions about why existence (in the broadest sense) exists?

because I agree, but I doubt that anyone (sensible) would really disagree if they considered what you're saying.

Putting for supposed reasons not relying upon a scientific framework would be more interesting.
(though probably silly)

Because there are many who think science can answer the "why" to "why there is anything at all?" (See: Lawrence Krauss.) Matter of fact, I've seen several people of this variety on this website.

That doesn't necessarily count against science - after all it just may be an unanswerable question or ill conceived in some sense - but I think the point remains.

So that's a limitation of science. Isn't it?

Yup.
At 10/3/2016 11:49:13 PM, thett3 wrote:
BLACK LIVES MATTER!
Dazz
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10/24/2014 3:27:31 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 10/24/2014 3:22:42 PM, popculturepooka wrote:
At 10/24/2014 2:27:20 PM, Dazz wrote:
At 10/24/2014 1:25:28 PM, popculturepooka wrote:
At 10/24/2014 12:54:41 PM, mortsdor wrote:
Is there some supposed issue/problem with science not being able to answer metaphysical questions about why existence (in the broadest sense) exists?

because I agree, but I doubt that anyone (sensible) would really disagree if they considered what you're saying.

Putting for supposed reasons not relying upon a scientific framework would be more interesting.
(though probably silly)

Because there are many who think science can answer the "why" to "why there is anything at all?" (See: Lawrence Krauss.) Matter of fact, I've seen several people of this variety on this website.

That doesn't necessarily count against science - after all it just may be an unanswerable question or ill conceived in some sense - but I think the point remains.

So that's a limitation of science. Isn't it?

Yup.

Cool.
Remove the "I want", remainder is the "peace". ~Al-Ghazali~
"This time will also pass", a dose to cure both; the excitement & the grievance. ~Ayaz~
mortsdor
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10/24/2014 3:47:09 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
ah, didn't see that the guy you were referring to made such claims... (pretty much just skimmed your post after realizing what you were arguing against)

At 10/24/2014 12:40:20 PM, popculturepooka wrote:
"Is theism"s answer any better?
The attempt is as follows: if everything that exists does so contingently, that is, if it is possible that it could not exist, then the question of why anything at all exists is unanswerable. Given anything that exists, we would still be left with the question as to why it exists. To answer this question, we must postulate the existence of a necessary being, that is, one who can"t fail to exist, the reason for whom"s existence is found within itself, rather than externally. This is not creating an arbitrary exception for God. It is asking what kind of thing must exist in order to explain the existence of contingent things. It is the search for a sufficient explanation for existence that leads us to a metaphysically necessary being.

A plague of questions spring to mind. Does that even make sense? What kind of thing is a metaphysically necessary being? Why think that the necessary being is a person? Why couldn"t it be the universe? We get rather quickly into deep philosophical waters here.

Indeed, whose murky waters fail to support theism.

Other than that, yeah... I wouldn't think there's all too many people who would claim that science makes, or can make, metaphysical claims.
Karmanator
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10/24/2014 6:02:12 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
Correct, nothing really explains why without knowing the motives of whatever consciousness did an action that needs explaining. Science explains the mechanics so if your interested in how god does things thats where you would go. You want to answer why, without knowing motives, you need philosophy which would be educated guessing at best.

The best I can figure why something would exist rather than not exist would be because it was wanted tp. That is if something even had any control over existing. If it wasn't wanted then nothing would exist or there would be know beings to know of existence.
mortsdor
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10/24/2014 6:25:31 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
"Is theism"s answer any better?
The attempt is as follows: if everything that exists does so contingently, that is, if it is possible that it could not exist, then the question of why anything at all exists is unanswerable. Given anything that exists, we would still be left with the question as to why it exists. To answer this question, we must postulate the existence of a necessary being, that is, one who can"t fail to exist, the reason for whom"s existence is found within itself, rather than externally. This is not creating an arbitrary exception for God. It is asking what kind of thing must exist in order to explain the existence of contingent things. It is the search for a sufficient explanation for existence that leads us to a metaphysically necessary being.

A plague of questions spring to mind. Does that even make sense? What kind of thing is a metaphysically necessary being? Why think that the necessary being is a person? Why couldn"t it be the universe? We get rather quickly into deep philosophical waters here.

Indeed, whose murky waters fail to support theism.


Other than that, yeah... I wouldn't think there's all too many people who would claim that science makes, or can make, metaphysical claims.

Actually the deep philosophical problems referred to already begin before the point he brings them into it.

"Is theism"s answer any better?
The attempt is as follows: if everything that exists does so contingently, that is, if it is possible that it could not exist,

Possible by what standard? our conceptions of what is and isn't possible? or is it possible that these very ideas of ours are themselves contingent upon our given nature, and the given reality that exists showing them to be of limited/no use in discussing what's supposedly metaphysically the case, or metaphyscially possible.

then the question of why anything at all exists is unanswerable. Given anything that exists, we would still be left with the question as to why it exists. To answer this question, we must postulate the existence of a necessary being, that is, one who can"t fail to exist, the reason for whom"s existence is found within itself, rather than externally.

We don't really have to answer the question, we know something DOES exist. The question of Why existence exists is thoroughly beyond us.

Saying it's necessary is right next to meaningless if you can't say Why it's necessary.

"whereof one cannot speak, one must be silent"

Better to leave it at Existence Exists.

This is not creating an arbitrary exception for God.
As he later points out, as of yet the thing that exists is far from any "God", but still speaking on why it exists (that it's 'necessary') is without support.

It is asking what kind of thing must exist in order to explain the existence of contingent things.

supposedly Metaphysically contingent things.. which relies applying your natural reasoning beyond it's legitimate scope.

It is the search for a sufficient explanation for existence that leads us to a metaphysically necessary being.

an unnecessary search using inadequate tools/methods (not that there are any potentially adequate tools available)
Sargon
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10/25/2014 5:11:46 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
I'm inclined to agree with the thesis, but for more Heideggerian reasons, in that science can only tell us about the ontic properties of entities rather than what it means to be an entity in the first place.
socialpinko
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10/25/2014 9:14:32 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 10/24/2014 12:40:20 PM, popculturepooka wrote:
"Is theism"s answer any better? The attempt is as follows: if everything that exists does so contingently, that is, if it is possible that it could not exist, then the question of why anything at all exists is unanswerable. Given anything that exists, we would still be left with the question as to why it exists. To answer this question, we must postulate the existence of a necessary being, that is, one who can"t fail to exist, the reason for whom"s existence is found within itself, rather than externally. This is not creating an arbitrary exception for God. It is asking what kind of thing must exist in order to explain the existence of contingent things. It is the search for a sufficient explanation for existence that leads us to a metaphysically necessary being.

A plague of questions spring to mind. Does that even make sense? What kind of thing is a metaphysically necessary being? Why think that the necessary being is a person? Why couldn"t it be the universe? We get rather quickly into deep philosophical waters here. But that is my point. Physics simply cannot inform these questions, one way or the other. It cannot speak to ultimate existence, it cannot observe or model necessity. If the necessary being turns out to be the universe (a view that almost no modern philosophers defend), then this will not be a scientific conclusion " no observation could establish that fact. I agree with Martin Rees, who said

[P]hysics can never explain what "breathes fire" into the equations, and actualised them into a real cosmos. The fundamental question of "Why is there something rather than nothing?" remains the province of philosophers. And even they may be wiser to respond, with Ludwig Wittgenstein, what "whereof one cannot speak, one must be silent"."

Pt 2

http://letterstonature.wordpress.com...

I have a hard time seeing what exactly is wrong with his reasoning. Any suggestions?

I don't take particular issue with the assessment that science fails to offer a reasonable explanation as to why anything exists. On the other hand, the modal-cosmological argument has a variety of issues. But yer articles treatment of some of these problems (arguing that it is purely concerned with the failings of scientific materialism) and that doesn't seem to be on point so meh.
: At 9/29/2014 10:55:59 AM, imabench wrote:
: : At 9/29/2014 9:43:46 AM, kbub wrote:
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dylancatlow
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10/26/2014 11:33:23 AM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 10/25/2014 5:11:46 PM, Sargon wrote:
I'm inclined to agree with the thesis, but for more Heideggerian reasons, in that science can only tell us about the ontic properties of entities rather than what it means to be an entity in the first place.

Assuming that we had a good grasp of the fundamental nature of "entity", do you think science would then be able to explain why anything at all exists?

The problem is that science only deals with observables, and is thus logically inadequate to explain where observation itself came from i.e., the supporting framework which makes science possible. Since anything relevant to science owes its existence to reality, science cannot explain where reality came from merely by determining correlations between its components.
dylancatlow
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10/26/2014 11:35:53 AM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 10/25/2014 9:14:32 PM, socialpinko wrote:
At 10/24/2014 12:40:20 PM, popculturepooka wrote:
"Is theism"s answer any better? The attempt is as follows: if everything that exists does so contingently, that is, if it is possible that it could not exist, then the question of why anything at all exists is unanswerable. Given anything that exists, we would still be left with the question as to why it exists. To answer this question, we must postulate the existence of a necessary being, that is, one who can"t fail to exist, the reason for whom"s existence is found within itself, rather than externally. This is not creating an arbitrary exception for God. It is asking what kind of thing must exist in order to explain the existence of contingent things. It is the search for a sufficient explanation for existence that leads us to a metaphysically necessary being.

A plague of questions spring to mind. Does that even make sense? What kind of thing is a metaphysically necessary being? Why think that the necessary being is a person? Why couldn"t it be the universe? We get rather quickly into deep philosophical waters here. But that is my point. Physics simply cannot inform these questions, one way or the other. It cannot speak to ultimate existence, it cannot observe or model necessity. If the necessary being turns out to be the universe (a view that almost no modern philosophers defend), then this will not be a scientific conclusion " no observation could establish that fact. I agree with Martin Rees, who said

[P]hysics can never explain what "breathes fire" into the equations, and actualised them into a real cosmos. The fundamental question of "Why is there something rather than nothing?" remains the province of philosophers. And even they may be wiser to respond, with Ludwig Wittgenstein, what "whereof one cannot speak, one must be silent"."

Pt 2

http://letterstonature.wordpress.com...

I have a hard time seeing what exactly is wrong with his reasoning. Any suggestions?

I don't take particular issue with the assessment that science fails to offer a reasonable explanation as to why anything exists. On the other hand, the modal-cosmological argument has a variety of issues. But yer articles treatment of some of these problems (arguing that it is purely concerned with the failings of scientific materialism) and that doesn't seem to be on point so meh.

I'm not saying there aren't any, but what issues do you see in the modal-cosmological argument?
socialpinko
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10/26/2014 7:23:19 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 10/26/2014 11:35:53 AM, dylancatlow wrote:
At 10/25/2014 9:14:32 PM, socialpinko wrote:
At 10/24/2014 12:40:20 PM, popculturepooka wrote:
"Is theism"s answer any better? The attempt is as follows: if everything that exists does so contingently, that is, if it is possible that it could not exist, then the question of why anything at all exists is unanswerable. Given anything that exists, we would still be left with the question as to why it exists. To answer this question, we must postulate the existence of a necessary being, that is, one who can"t fail to exist, the reason for whom"s existence is found within itself, rather than externally. This is not creating an arbitrary exception for God. It is asking what kind of thing must exist in order to explain the existence of contingent things. It is the search for a sufficient explanation for existence that leads us to a metaphysically necessary being.

A plague of questions spring to mind. Does that even make sense? What kind of thing is a metaphysically necessary being? Why think that the necessary being is a person? Why couldn"t it be the universe? We get rather quickly into deep philosophical waters here. But that is my point. Physics simply cannot inform these questions, one way or the other. It cannot speak to ultimate existence, it cannot observe or model necessity. If the necessary being turns out to be the universe (a view that almost no modern philosophers defend), then this will not be a scientific conclusion " no observation could establish that fact. I agree with Martin Rees, who said

[P]hysics can never explain what "breathes fire" into the equations, and actualised them into a real cosmos. The fundamental question of "Why is there something rather than nothing?" remains the province of philosophers. And even they may be wiser to respond, with Ludwig Wittgenstein, what "whereof one cannot speak, one must be silent"."

Pt 2

http://letterstonature.wordpress.com...

I have a hard time seeing what exactly is wrong with his reasoning. Any suggestions?

I don't take particular issue with the assessment that science fails to offer a reasonable explanation as to why anything exists. On the other hand, the modal-cosmological argument has a variety of issues. But yer articles treatment of some of these problems (arguing that it is purely concerned with the failings of scientific materialism) and that doesn't seem to be on point so meh.

I'm not saying there aren't any, but what issues do you see in the modal-cosmological argument?

At best, it grounds a very vaguely defined ontological "thing". The pretense to theism is grounded in such a roundabout that there ends up not even being much to 'refute'. There's just nothing there. I also have problems with applying old-school ('tweaked') philosophical concepts from Antiquity to analyzing modern physics (the introduction of modality seems like a way of attempting to salvage a line of argumentation that's outdated). Like yeah physics (and scientific materialism) aren't the place to look for metaphysical truths but I think the concepts employed in the argument (surrounding causality especially) need to be reevaluated and not passed off as evident or obvious before making a case. But this isn't the area of philosophy which I'm really that familiar with so I won't argue further than I can properly account for.
: At 9/29/2014 10:55:59 AM, imabench wrote:
: : At 9/29/2014 9:43:46 AM, kbub wrote:
: :
: : DDO should discredit support of sexual violence at any time and in every way.
:
: I disagree.
Sargon
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10/26/2014 11:47:20 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 10/26/2014 11:33:23 AM, dylancatlow wrote:
Assuming that we had a good grasp of the fundamental nature of "entity", do you think science would then be able to explain why anything at all exists?

No.

The problem is that science only deals with observables, and is thus logically inadequate to explain where observation itself came from i.e., the supporting framework which makes science possible. Since anything relevant to science owes its existence to reality, science cannot explain where reality came from merely by determining correlations between its components.

I'm not inclined to disagree.
dylancatlow
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10/27/2014 10:45:19 AM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 10/27/2014 3:25:17 AM, intellectuallyprimitive wrote:
Not why, perhaps, but how.

In order to explain how reality came to be, science must explain why it did, otherwise the "how" ultimately reduces to "it just did", which is an incomplete explanation. "Why" addresses the cause of reality itself. If reality has no cause, then obviously any explanation for its existence is out of the question, and how it came to be is inexplicable.
popculturepooka
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10/27/2014 11:44:33 AM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 10/26/2014 7:23:19 PM, socialpinko wrote:
At 10/26/2014 11:35:53 AM, dylancatlow wrote:
At 10/25/2014 9:14:32 PM, socialpinko wrote:
At 10/24/2014 12:40:20 PM, popculturepooka wrote:
"Is theism"s answer any better? The attempt is as follows: if everything that exists does so contingently, that is, if it is possible that it could not exist, then the question of why anything at all exists is unanswerable. Given anything that exists, we would still be left with the question as to why it exists. To answer this question, we must postulate the existence of a necessary being, that is, one who can"t fail to exist, the reason for whom"s existence is found within itself, rather than externally. This is not creating an arbitrary exception for God. It is asking what kind of thing must exist in order to explain the existence of contingent things. It is the search for a sufficient explanation for existence that leads us to a metaphysically necessary being.

A plague of questions spring to mind. Does that even make sense? What kind of thing is a metaphysically necessary being? Why think that the necessary being is a person? Why couldn"t it be the universe? We get rather quickly into deep philosophical waters here. But that is my point. Physics simply cannot inform these questions, one way or the other. It cannot speak to ultimate existence, it cannot observe or model necessity. If the necessary being turns out to be the universe (a view that almost no modern philosophers defend), then this will not be a scientific conclusion " no observation could establish that fact. I agree with Martin Rees, who said

[P]hysics can never explain what "breathes fire" into the equations, and actualised them into a real cosmos. The fundamental question of "Why is there something rather than nothing?" remains the province of philosophers. And even they may be wiser to respond, with Ludwig Wittgenstein, what "whereof one cannot speak, one must be silent"."

Pt 2

http://letterstonature.wordpress.com...

I have a hard time seeing what exactly is wrong with his reasoning. Any suggestions?

I don't take particular issue with the assessment that science fails to offer a reasonable explanation as to why anything exists. On the other hand, the modal-cosmological argument has a variety of issues. But yer articles treatment of some of these problems (arguing that it is purely concerned with the failings of scientific materialism) and that doesn't seem to be on point so meh.

I'm not saying there aren't any, but what issues do you see in the modal-cosmological argument?

At best, it grounds a very vaguely defined ontological "thing". The pretense to theism is grounded in such a roundabout that there ends up not even being much to 'refute'. There's just nothing there. I also have problems with applying old-school ('tweaked') philosophical concepts from Antiquity to analyzing modern physics (the introduction of modality seems like a way of attempting to salvage a line of argumentation that's outdated). Like yeah physics (and scientific materialism) aren't the place to look for metaphysical truths but I think the concepts employed in the argument (surrounding causality especially) need to be reevaluated and not passed off as evident or obvious before making a case. But this isn't the area of philosophy which I'm really that familiar with so I won't argue further than I can properly account for.

But the modal cosmological argumetn isn't really even concerned with causality. It's motivated by the PSR and more has to deal with reasons and explanations.
At 10/3/2016 11:49:13 PM, thett3 wrote:
BLACK LIVES MATTER!
socialpinko
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10/27/2014 1:23:51 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 10/27/2014 11:44:33 AM, popculturepooka wrote:
At 10/26/2014 7:23:19 PM, socialpinko wrote:
At 10/26/2014 11:35:53 AM, dylancatlow wrote:
At 10/25/2014 9:14:32 PM, socialpinko wrote:
At 10/24/2014 12:40:20 PM, popculturepooka wrote:
"Is theism"s answer any better? The attempt is as follows: if everything that exists does so contingently, that is, if it is possible that it could not exist, then the question of why anything at all exists is unanswerable. Given anything that exists, we would still be left with the question as to why it exists. To answer this question, we must postulate the existence of a necessary being, that is, one who can"t fail to exist, the reason for whom"s existence is found within itself, rather than externally. This is not creating an arbitrary exception for God. It is asking what kind of thing must exist in order to explain the existence of contingent things. It is the search for a sufficient explanation for existence that leads us to a metaphysically necessary being.

A plague of questions spring to mind. Does that even make sense? What kind of thing is a metaphysically necessary being? Why think that the necessary being is a person? Why couldn"t it be the universe? We get rather quickly into deep philosophical waters here. But that is my point. Physics simply cannot inform these questions, one way or the other. It cannot speak to ultimate existence, it cannot observe or model necessity. If the necessary being turns out to be the universe (a view that almost no modern philosophers defend), then this will not be a scientific conclusion " no observation could establish that fact. I agree with Martin Rees, who said

[P]hysics can never explain what "breathes fire" into the equations, and actualised them into a real cosmos. The fundamental question of "Why is there something rather than nothing?" remains the province of philosophers. And even they may be wiser to respond, with Ludwig Wittgenstein, what "whereof one cannot speak, one must be silent"."

Pt 2

http://letterstonature.wordpress.com...

I have a hard time seeing what exactly is wrong with his reasoning. Any suggestions?

I don't take particular issue with the assessment that science fails to offer a reasonable explanation as to why anything exists. On the other hand, the modal-cosmological argument has a variety of issues. But yer articles treatment of some of these problems (arguing that it is purely concerned with the failings of scientific materialism) and that doesn't seem to be on point so meh.

I'm not saying there aren't any, but what issues do you see in the modal-cosmological argument?

At best, it grounds a very vaguely defined ontological "thing". The pretense to theism is grounded in such a roundabout that there ends up not even being much to 'refute'. There's just nothing there. I also have problems with applying old-school ('tweaked') philosophical concepts from Antiquity to analyzing modern physics (the introduction of modality seems like a way of attempting to salvage a line of argumentation that's outdated). Like yeah physics (and scientific materialism) aren't the place to look for metaphysical truths but I think the concepts employed in the argument (surrounding causality especially) need to be reevaluated and not passed off as evident or obvious before making a case. But this isn't the area of philosophy which I'm really that familiar with so I won't argue further than I can properly account for.

But the modal cosmological argumetn isn't really even concerned with causality. It's motivated by the PSR and more has to deal with reasons and explanations.

I think it's just a way of sneaking in causality.
: At 9/29/2014 10:55:59 AM, imabench wrote:
: : At 9/29/2014 9:43:46 AM, kbub wrote:
: :
: : DDO should discredit support of sexual violence at any time and in every way.
:
: I disagree.
slo1
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10/28/2014 7:53:42 AM
Posted: 2 years ago
"C: Thus physics cannot answer the question "why does anything at all exist?"."

- So what exactly can explain why anything exists with any sort of degree of accuracy? I enjoy a philosophical view point, but the metaphysical such as philosophy or religion can not either answer the question because it is all speculation and has no method to validate a conclusion.

Not to mention, if everything had a cause, science maybe suited to uncover that cause. We just can't see it today because we don't know what we don't know.
popculturepooka
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10/28/2014 9:32:28 AM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 10/27/2014 1:23:51 PM, socialpinko wrote:

I think it's just a way of sneaking in causality.

How? If he wanted to do that he could've just mentioned the Kalam Cosmological Argument.
At 10/3/2016 11:49:13 PM, thett3 wrote:
BLACK LIVES MATTER!
dylancatlow
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10/28/2014 2:21:41 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 10/27/2014 11:44:33 AM, popculturepooka wrote:
At 10/26/2014 7:23:19 PM, socialpinko wrote:
At 10/26/2014 11:35:53 AM, dylancatlow wrote:
At 10/25/2014 9:14:32 PM, socialpinko wrote:
At 10/24/2014 12:40:20 PM, popculturepooka wrote:
"Is theism"s answer any better? The attempt is as follows: if everything that exists does so contingently, that is, if it is possible that it could not exist, then the question of why anything at all exists is unanswerable. Given anything that exists, we would still be left with the question as to why it exists. To answer this question, we must postulate the existence of a necessary being, that is, one who can"t fail to exist, the reason for whom"s existence is found within itself, rather than externally. This is not creating an arbitrary exception for God. It is asking what kind of thing must exist in order to explain the existence of contingent things. It is the search for a sufficient explanation for existence that leads us to a metaphysically necessary being.

A plague of questions spring to mind. Does that even make sense? What kind of thing is a metaphysically necessary being? Why think that the necessary being is a person? Why couldn"t it be the universe? We get rather quickly into deep philosophical waters here. But that is my point. Physics simply cannot inform these questions, one way or the other. It cannot speak to ultimate existence, it cannot observe or model necessity. If the necessary being turns out to be the universe (a view that almost no modern philosophers defend), then this will not be a scientific conclusion " no observation could establish that fact. I agree with Martin Rees, who said

[P]hysics can never explain what "breathes fire" into the equations, and actualised them into a real cosmos. The fundamental question of "Why is there something rather than nothing?" remains the province of philosophers. And even they may be wiser to respond, with Ludwig Wittgenstein, what "whereof one cannot speak, one must be silent"."

Pt 2

http://letterstonature.wordpress.com...

I have a hard time seeing what exactly is wrong with his reasoning. Any suggestions?

I don't take particular issue with the assessment that science fails to offer a reasonable explanation as to why anything exists. On the other hand, the modal-cosmological argument has a variety of issues. But yer articles treatment of some of these problems (arguing that it is purely concerned with the failings of scientific materialism) and that doesn't seem to be on point so meh.

I'm not saying there aren't any, but what issues do you see in the modal-cosmological argument?

At best, it grounds a very vaguely defined ontological "thing". The pretense to theism is grounded in such a roundabout that there ends up not even being much to 'refute'. There's just nothing there. I also have problems with applying old-school ('tweaked') philosophical concepts from Antiquity to analyzing modern physics (the introduction of modality seems like a way of attempting to salvage a line of argumentation that's outdated). Like yeah physics (and scientific materialism) aren't the place to look for metaphysical truths but I think the concepts employed in the argument (surrounding causality especially) need to be reevaluated and not passed off as evident or obvious before making a case. But this isn't the area of philosophy which I'm really that familiar with so I won't argue further than I can properly account for.

But the modal cosmological argumetn isn't really even concerned with causality. It's motivated by the PSR and more has to deal with reasons and explanations.

Say what? Cause is basically synonymous with explanation. Indeed, "cause" = "because", and explanation is all about identifying "becauses".
Double_R
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10/28/2014 9:46:17 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 10/24/2014 12:38:33 PM, popculturepooka wrote:

First of all, I take issue with your question. Asking why anything exists presumes purpose which is the very thing you are eventually arguing for, so in a way you are begging the question before you even finished asking it.

Second, I have no idea why you talk about science as something we are supposed to chuck to the side in an attempt to answer questions about reality. As you should be fully aware, when determining what is real, the limits of science are the limits on humanity. If we as human beings, had a better more expansive way to understand what is real then it would be incorporated into the scientific method.

Which brings me to your attempts to contemplate answering your question. Sure you provided (perhaps) a logically consistent answer, but that tells us nothing about whether your answer is consistent with reality (that's where science comes in). And without an means of substantiating an answer to be consistent with reality you have no justification of accepting that it is. In other words belief about reality here is unjustified, so lack of belief is the only acceptable position.

Assuming science can't answer it of course...
socialpinko
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10/28/2014 10:44:59 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 10/28/2014 9:32:28 AM, popculturepooka wrote:
At 10/27/2014 1:23:51 PM, socialpinko wrote:

I think it's just a way of sneaking in causality.

How? If he wanted to do that he could've just mentioned the Kalam Cosmological Argument.

I'm of the opinion that the modal cosmological arg is, in a sense, a way of keeping with the intuitions of the Kalam while operating under a different set of conceptual assumptions.
: At 9/29/2014 10:55:59 AM, imabench wrote:
: : At 9/29/2014 9:43:46 AM, kbub wrote:
: :
: : DDO should discredit support of sexual violence at any time and in every way.
:
: I disagree.
popculturepooka
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10/29/2014 12:15:21 AM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 10/28/2014 9:46:17 PM, Double_R wrote:
At 10/24/2014 12:38:33 PM, popculturepooka wrote:

First of all, I take issue with your question. Asking why anything exists presumes purpose which is the very thing you are eventually arguing for, so in a way you are begging the question before you even finished asking it.


No, it's an instance of a general set of "why?" questions that is very natural to ask. Showing why this "why?" question is illegitimate is your job.

Second, I have no idea why you talk about science as something we are supposed to chuck to the side in an attempt to answer questions about reality.

Perhaps you should re-read the argument. It clearly details why we should "chuck science to the side" - because it simply shows the limit of science in a matter in where reality seems to outstrip.

As you should be fully aware, when determining what is real, the limits of science are the limits on humanity.

I'm not aware of that at all. I don't adhere to scientism like you seem to do.

If we as human beings, had a better more expansive way to understand what is real then it would be incorporated into the scientific method.


There other ways of understanding than the scientific method.

Which brings me to your attempts to contemplate answering your question. Sure you provided (perhaps) a logically consistent answer, but that tells us nothing about whether your answer is consistent with reality (that's where science comes in).

No. Because the argument clearly shows that this is a matter where science can't adjucate.

And without an means of substantiating an answer to be consistent with reality you have no justification of accepting that it is. In other words belief about reality here is unjustified, so lack of belief is the only acceptable position.


False.

Assuming science can't answer it of course...

It's not an assumption, it's an argument for that conclusion.
At 10/3/2016 11:49:13 PM, thett3 wrote:
BLACK LIVES MATTER!
popculturepooka
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10/29/2014 12:17:13 AM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 10/28/2014 10:44:59 PM, socialpinko wrote:
At 10/28/2014 9:32:28 AM, popculturepooka wrote:
At 10/27/2014 1:23:51 PM, socialpinko wrote:

I think it's just a way of sneaking in causality.

How? If he wanted to do that he could've just mentioned the Kalam Cosmological Argument.

I'm of the opinion that the modal cosmological arg is, in a sense, a way of keeping with the intuitions of the Kalam while operating under a different set of conceptual assumptions.

I don't think that at all. Take a thomistic cosmolgical wherein which Thomas Aquinas famously argued that one could not show that the universe had a beginning by reason alone. Even if the universe were eternal his argument is still compatible with that because he formulated it in terms of dependency.
At 10/3/2016 11:49:13 PM, thett3 wrote:
BLACK LIVES MATTER!