Predictability Problems in Physics

I think we are saying the same thing. Newtonian mechanics is deterministic. We don’t know if nature is deterministic. Thus we are also saying that we don’t know if nature follows Newtonian mechanics exactly. (This is even without bringing QM into the picture.)

Can you explain that a little more?

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I’ll disagree with that. We do know that there are non-trivial macro-level consequences.

There are numerous research papers on quantum indeterminacy. A published research paper is a non-trivial macro-level consequence.

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That’s an interesting way to look at it. But that macro-level consequences involves human agents. And human agents, with free will and all the uncertainty and unpredictability that comes with that, are difficult to incorporate into physics as part of the theory itself. So I guess what I’m saying is that we don’t know if there are entirely natural, mechanistic macro-level consequences.

Let me add a quick comment on this:
Norton’s dome is indeed not an issue, because it requires very specific configurations. However, space invaders are problematic because one does not know when/whether the invader appears prior to it appearing. In other words, in a world with only classical mechanics without SR, there is no way to know that we are in a daily life situation that are in principle deterministic.

As I mentioned in a previous post, if one gives up locality, it is possible to have a deterministic QM. One can also have a (in my opinion nonelegant) deterministic Relativistic QM. I believe the jury is still out on whether there is a field theory extension to deterministic QM. However, giving up locality might run afoul on how one would evaluate Eric’s P(X)'s in practice. I am not sure on this point.

Chaos is an example where predictability can fail in the following sense: given any computational resolution, for a chaotic system I can come up with a configuration that a computer with said resolution will get the time evolution wrong.

I agree with @dga471 that we should separate determinism and predictability. However, I believe that if either determinism or predictability fails, Eric’s P(X) program is not tenable. If determinism fails, P(X) is never 1, while if predictability fails, it is not possible to evaluate P(X) to test the theory.

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Yes, it does. But they chop down a bunch of trees to make paper for printing those research papers. And that’s a macro-level consequence that physics can observe, though it still involves human agents.

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Yes. Besides non-locality, one could ensure determinism with QM via the superdeterministic loophole. Basically, our choices are not truly free, even when conducting scientific experiments. Sort of like the quantum version of the Omphalos hypothesis. While this is extremely unpalatable from a purely scientific perspective (as it is unfalsifiable), it occurred to me that it is possible that from God’s POV something like this is the case.

If predictability fails for some cases but not others (while determinism still holds), one could just say that we can prove teleology exists for some systems but not others. I think that would be good enough for a lot of people.

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I’ll try to get to this tomorrow.

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Sure, the printing of the paper could be analyzed using physics. But physics can’t show that the printing of the paper was caused by certain people understanding things about quantum mechanics. (“Understanding” is not a rigorous physics concept.) For that you need sociology (or common sense :sweat_smile:). Because it can’t analyze the causal link that is crucial to macro-level consequences, it can’t prove that there are macro-level consequences.

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Hmm, this is an interesting thought on superdeterminism. I have to give it more thought.

I think I agree with this.

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Yes that is correct. It is one of many challenges to ASC (@EricMH). Even if we had all the natural laws, we do not expect the will allow us to compute P. Moreover, there is always a possibility that it is an unknown law creating an unaccounted for pattern.

In the case of DNA I can present examples of DNA patterns that we do not how they were produced. We can imagine what might cause these patterns but we have not yet proven it. So I’d add that we don’t have all the laws in view either in biology.

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This ignores the elephant in the room, free will.

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Superdeterminism is an interesting idea to consider more generally when you think about the scientific studies on miracles or intercessory prayer that has been done and found negative results. Or why it is generally not fruitful to consider God as a “scientific hypothesis.” From a theological perspective, it could be the case that “Do not put the Lord your God to the test” (Luke 4:12) means that for certain things (such as miracles, prayer, or interaction with God in general), we do not have true freedom of choice as God does not intend us to do scientific experiments for those things.

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I think in general, Eric’s definition of teleology is meant to be applied to either non-living things or things without a clear sense of free will (such as lower-level animals and organisms)?

@EricMH is putting forward a version of vitalism that inlcludes all life. I don’t think we can make any assumptions on his view. It is not clear how his version of vitalism interacts with all this. We are far afield.

He claims if something certain, he has proven teleology. He does not specify if he means certain from a human or divine point of view. He is not clear.

Moreover teleology refers to purpose, not inevitability. I am 100% sure I will eventually die. This does not meant it is my purpose to die. I’m certain we will all sin, but that does mean our purpose is to sin. The fact that some things are in principle deterministic does not at all imply teleology. If such a definition were sensible, purposes could never be frustrated, and therefore could never in conflict. I submit that @EricMH’s notion of teleology is not coherent.

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Yes, from this and trying to follow your conversation with @EricMH, I think there is something fishy with this whole ID information theory project to mathematically prove or formulate teleology (or design). It seems to be mixing a mechanistic picture of the world (or at least mechanistic methods) - the things that @Eddie likes to complain about, for example - with Aristotelian goals. This is why it ends up with awkward conclusions or mathematical proofs with questionable applicability to the real world. The two paradigms seem to be fundamentally in tension, so it is hard for them to work together.

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I think I agree with this too.

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This could actually be elucidating in another way.

At first, it seems he is confusing what “is” for what is purposed. Maybe instead of confusing the two, we can better understand him as positing that what “is” is what was purposed. From that axiom, he can conclude there is purpose.

This is a self consistent metaphysics but lacks an epistemology. All the math is just window dressing. His point is much clearer this way. It honestly starts to look alot like Thomism too, which has a strong ontology without much epistemology.

Does that make any sense of him? Perhaps he’d be getting farther as a Thomist philosopher, and has no real need for the math.

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It is my view, and I suppose of most Christians, that we have free will but God still works his purposes in society. How? We know not the details.

However this is not a deterministic system, and some how this does not trouble us. It is far more salient and important than our distant past. I’m not sure why we should be concerned about non deterministism in origins when we are confronted every day with it in society. It seems to be a very selective concern.

Theological language is helpful here. We know God providentially governs all things, we do not know how. This is enough for the workings of society and I’m not sure why it’s not enough for the workings of origins. Somehow @Eddie and @jongarvey seem to want more, but what if we can’t say more with confidence?

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I’m finding it difficult to understand this paragraph…:sweat_smile:

I think you are hitting the nail on the head. As I mentioned before, I watched Fr. Nicanor Austriaco lecture in the Thomistic Institute this summer on evolution and Thomism. He defended evolution against ID (against other Thomists such as Fr. Chaberek). But he also deployed arguments which were similar to ID, only that they are conducted purely at the level of metaphysics - thus philosophy, not science. It was very eye-opening for me. An example: evolution of lizards from snakes requires a change in substantial form. A Thomist can argue that this is not possible without the intervention of God or some other external agent causing that change.

Thomists also regularly argue that teleology obviously exists in the world (this is implicit in the A/T understanding of the 4 causes). They don’t need to use information theory to prove this. From this you can put forward an argument for the existence of God (which, in my understanding is what Aquinas’ Fifth Way is all about - it has nothing to do with Intelligent Design or Paley!). See this Feser blogpost.

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In my reading of Bacon, the whole rationale of the scientific revolution is to move away from this approach to understanding of nature (@rcohlers). Aristotle is a foil, not a model, even though Thomism is a recovery of Aristotle. I’m pretty sure that Bacon would call Thomism an idol of the marketplace and of the theatre.

Yet @EricMH considers it a good thing for ID to be compatible with Thomism. Why would that be a good thing? This seems to be claiming ID is doing science with a pre-Bacon mindset. This seems accurate to me, but hardly flattering to ID. Why would he go this direction? It seems to be self defeating.

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