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Is There origin of Everything?

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2/16/2016 7:43:06 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 2/16/2016 8:27:48 AM, TREssspa wrote:
Is there a source or origin of everything? Or there are exceptions?
That's not really a valid scientific question, TREssspa. You're not wrong to ask it, but it's important to explain why science can't entertain it.

Philosophers like to ask that question, but philosophers ground their logic in language and intuition. In that frame, there's a word called 'cause' attached to the history of an object, and our intuitions are based on our experience -- that every object has history -- an object is viewed as part of a shared notion of time. So the word 'cause' connects time to an object via its history, and you want to know whether that cause attaches universally. If all we use are language and intuitions, it's a fair question.

But science doesn't work like that. Science is built on systematically correlating observation, and time is not observed but inferred, so the things like cause which derive from time are inferred too...

How is time inferred? Here's how we can infer it.

Imagine you have no body, no physical sensation of yourself, like being anesthetised and floating in some salty water like the Dead Sea. It's dark; you can't feel a heartbeat or hear yourself breathe... Your thoughts meander, and you have no sense of time.

Now, suppose you hear 'plink' 'plink' 'plink' and become aware that you can see something -- it's a pipe, and marbles are rolling down the pipe, dropping out the end into a big bowl, one after another. Without breath or heartbeat you can't tell whether they're dropping at a regular rate or whether the rate is varying, but at least you can count them: one, two, three... You have a sequence, creating for you a sense of change.

Now suppose you also hear 'drip' 'drip' 'drip' and become aware that you can see something else... It's another pipe, and water is dripping from the pipe into a bowl, one drop after another. Now, since you can count drips and plinks, you might discover whether the rate of drips somehow relates to the rate of plinks; or the rate of drips and plinks are independent.

Let's suppose that they're independent, so there might be one drip between plinks during some observations, no drips between plinks in other observations, and many drips between plinks in yet other observations.

To make your life easier, let's say that you decide to call the plinks 'regular', so for you, they act like a clock. Then you could say the drips are happening randomly: you can't predict the drips from the plinks. But your plinks now create a regular sense of time against which you can record the drips.

But alternatively, suppose you decided to call the drips 'regular', so for you, they act like a clock. Then you could say that the plinks are happening randomly -- you can't predict them from the drips.

So which is it? Are the drips regular and the plinks random, the plinks regular and the drips random, or are they both random?

You can't say.

Now, suppose you hear 'whir, whir, whir', and become aware of a child's pinwheel turning lazily before you, so you can count the blades as they turn. Now, you notice that the pinwheel turns exactly three times between plinks, but there's no relation between the rotation of the pinwheel and the drips.

So you now have more reason to call the plinks regular, and the drips random, than vice-versa, yes?

Congratulations! Using observation you've just inferred a standard for time. But it's only an organisational standard: it makes it easier to keep track of things, but there's no guarantee that you won't want to change it later.

But now you have a standard for time, you can start to infer cause. For example, with this standard, you can now tell whether two events are close together in time, or far apart. If they're close together in time, then one event might cause another. Yet if they're far apart in time, we may consider them independent.

As an example, suppose you see a line of dominoes, all standing on end. As the marbles 'plink' into the bowl, you see one domino toppling -- plink! -- it hits another -- plink! -- the second topples -- plink! -- it hits a third -- plink! -- and so on. You might infer that one domino knocked another over -- because predictable outcomes close in time suggest causation.

But for contrast, suppose you see a line of house-bricks, all standing on end. As the marbles drop 'plink!' into the bowl, one brick topples -- plink! -- it hits another and stops -- plink! plink! plink! plink! -- the other brick is unmoving -- plink! plink! plink! plink! plink! -- then suddenly, the second brick suddenly starts to topple...

Did the first brick cause the second to fall, or did something else cause it to fall? It's harder to say, isn't it, because the events are further apart in time. Yet if the first brick didn't cause the second to fall, what did?

I hope you see how your notion of causation depends on your notion of time.

But how reliable is the sense of time we created?

Recall that we got our sense of regular time from correlating marbles falling into a bowl with the rotation of a child's pinwheel. The marbles falling gave us our notion of sequence, while the correlation gave us a standard for regularity.

Yet what if those are wrong?

If they're wrong, then our whole notion of causality may be wrong.

How wrong could they be?

Well, consider... suppose you finishing observing the dominoes falling into one another, and turn around to check your marbles, only to find that:

1) the pinwheel no longer synchronises with the marbles falling, but now synchronises with the water dripping; or
2) you expected to see thirty marbles in a bowl because that's how many you counted falling -- however there are only five; or
3) the marbles are now falling up out of the bowl, and into the pipe.

You cannot ignore these observations -- and they affect how you interpret the dominoes and the bricks and hence causation.

So my point here is:

1) Causation is inferred from time, and time is inferred from correlated observation. There's no certainty that time exists at all outside our minds.
2) Causation is inferred from time, and time is inferred from correlated obervation, and observation can be ignorant and imprecise. So there's no certainty that the time we're using is the right kind of time -- and hence that our sense of causation is accurate or complete.
3) Causation is inferred from both time and repeatable events, and certain events cannot be repeated. So there's no certainty that every event we observe has a cause -- even an imprecise one such as we produce from our imprecise notions of time...

Thus, the question of whether everything has a cause is a vexed one in science, because our notions of time are contestable; because cause requires observation, and is only meaningful with repetition; and because too much in our notions of time and cause depend on how we think, rather than what we observe. :)

I hope that may help... if only in a terrifying sort of way. :D
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2/17/2016 6:09:01 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 2/16/2016 8:27:48 AM, TREssspa wrote:
Is there a source or origin of everything? Or there are exceptions?

No one knows the answer to that question or even how to approach it intelligibly.
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2/18/2016 12:12:48 AM
Posted: 2 years ago
Nature (or God to save argument) has given us brains good enough to make sure most of us live long enough to make babies -comprehending the nature of reality is a bit beyond us. I'm not being anti-intellectual here - our mental inadequacy is easily demonstrated.

If you know the 'two-slit' experiment you'll know that reality defies human intuition and understanding. If such a simple set-up as the 2-slit experiment defeats our intellect, perhaps we should be a little cautious about what is and what is not possible in regards to the origins of everything!

'Nothing comes from nothing' is an excellent principle for people to remember in their day-to-day lives, but so is the idea that something can't be in two places at once. Well, we now know one thing can be in two places at once, and cats can be alive and dead at the same time. So why not something from nothing?

I'm not saying that the universe did come from nothing. I am saying that appeals to intuition are next to useless. The origin of the universe was, well, whatever it was.

When (not if) we have cracked it I expect it will be like the 2-slit experiment writ large - incomprehensible to intuition but we will be forced to accept its truth by its logic.

I think we can narrow it down to two possibilities:
a) the universe came from nothing
b) the universe came from something.

I wouldn't like to commit to either option at this stage.