The Relationship Between Math and Physics


(John Harshman) #81


(Neil Rickert) #82

Conscious evolved, in a reasonably natural way.

I wish I could explain in detail, but I have not yet found anyone interested enough to listen for such an explanation. The difficulty with explaining consciousness, is that almost everybody is deeply committed to mistaken ideas.

Rickert's Ideas on Consciousness
(Neil Rickert) #83

Yes, this is spot on.

Almost all of the research on consciousness has been in the direction of “how could we intelligent humans design consciousness”. And the clear answer appears to be that we could not. Consciousness cannot come from intelligent design. It can only arise through something like evolution.

(Neil Rickert) #84

The clear conclusion ought to be that evolutionary processes are more capable than mere human consciousness.

(Bill Cole) #85

We cannot explain it in detail either for those who believe it is the product of conscious intelligence but your claim is what the atheist philosopher Nagel rejected. I need to finish his book to understand his argument.

(Neil Rickert) #86

Actually, he didn’t even adequately consider it. Nagel has a poor understanding of evolution.

(Antoine Suarez) #87

These are very good objections that allow me to formulate things more accurately:

To Objection 1:

“Parts of reality that lie beyond the observable edge of the universe”, so that “we will never observe any information about what that reality actually is” cannot be considered physical reality in space-time . Paramount in this respect is “what might lie beyond the World’s End Boundary in a black hole”.

So questions about such “parts of reality” are necessarily questions about what is beyond space and time, that is, “beyond what is observable”. Such questions are analogous to the question whether or not there is a largest perfect number, and may lead us to better understanding what is going on in the visible world.

To Objection 2:

Physics is science based on observations . So you have to define who the observers are .
For the physics we know and do the observers are we humans .
Accordingly, “Physical reality” is by definition constrained by what humans can observe.

Questions about fictional realities like “unicorns” are questions whose answers are in the human imagination who created them.

In a previous post John brought a very good example:

The answer to this question existed in Tolkien’s mind.

Similarly, the answers to the unanswered answerable mathematical questions do exit in the omniscient mind.

This is not “Platonism” but rather “Fictionalism”:

Answers to mathematical questions do exist in God’s mind the same way as the answers to questions about fictional characters do exist in the author’s mind.

God is not the first cause but the first author!

(Bill Cole) #88

This is the “what else could it be hypothesis”. We don’t know or understand it and that is Nagel’s point. There is simply no way to assign a confidence factor to any of these claims. You don’t know consciousness cannot come from intelligent design as you have no way to validate this claim. It may simply be a more powerful intelligence that truly understands the interworking of the universe. The assumption that the material universe is all there is maybe false.

(Dr. Patrick Trischitta) #89

Where do you get this stuff? Do you make it up?

(Neil Rickert) #90

I do not make such an assumption.

(Retired Professor & Minister.) #91

God has been defined as the first cause by both theists and non-theists for many centuries. Now you tell us that God is not the first cause but is the “first author” instead. I have no idea what that means.

Have Christian, Judaic, and Islamic scholars truly been wrong about God being the first cause? How did you make that determination?


An author is a kind of cause. I don’t think there essential conflict. The term author just draws out new ways of thinking about causation. If information is more essential than matter, as @AntoineSuarez has suggested, then author seems to be a useful term.

(John Harshman) #93

It didn’t until he thought of it. And you have subverted my analogy by ignoring its point. It’s a proof that literature can’t be the product of a human mind. It’s a reductio ad absurdum of your “proof” of God, which you have never responded to. Can’t you see that?


You are bending cosmology beyond its breaking point.

The implication of the Hubble expansion is that there were, in the past, physical objects that were available for observation and inquiry because they were inside the “edge”, but are now outside the edge because the space around them is expanding so fast that we can receive no information from the objects (there is no constraint on the rate of expansion of space, only on objects comprised of mass-energy).

It is the expansion of space that creates the edge of the observable universe - you know, space, the stuff that makes up three-quarters of the dimensionality of “spacetime”. The stuff outside of the observable edge is still inside spacetime, and may have been inquired into by (presumably non-human) physicists in other places in the past.

So now you have to deal with a paradox. Part of the universe was once outside of human ken and available only to the mind of your deity (according to you). Then it was, for a period, within the reach of human enquiry because its radiation could reach us. Then it later disappeared from human reach because of the Hubble expansion (which is a verified cosmological observation), so knowledge about the objects is once again solely the preserve of your deity.

What happens at the last phase? What happens to the knowledge acquired during the objects’ accessible phase? Do we retain the knowledge acquired, or is it erased from our minds when your deity decides to place the objects forever “outside of spacetime”?

Sounds like your deity’s reality has to act like some sort of cosmic jack in the box.

Conflating the map of physics with the territory of reality seems to be a feature of your argument. You seem to be arguing that your deity is a repository for all unasked questions (and for asked but unanswered ones as well). Frankly, this sounds to me like a tarted-up god-of-the-gaps with a get-out clause tacked on the end such that if we ask a good question then your deity will deign to close that particular gap.

Hang about, I see what you just did (i had conjoined unicorns and deities in my previous contribution, but you deleted the latter category). So what you are saying is that imaginary entities like unicorns (about which we have no material evidence) are “fictional”, but you are tacitly implying that deities (about which we have no material evidence) are not fictional? Have I got it right?

“God is the First Author!” I could as easily claim that unicorns wrote the Lord of the Rings trilogy before Tolkien ever thought of it, and with equal justification - that is, none at all.

Please explain the apparent contradiction in your categories.

In any case:

  1. do all deities get to play this game of intellectual hide and seek, or only yours?
  2. isn’t it a little arrogant to assert that the only physicists in the universe are human ones?

(Antoine Suarez) #95

Honestly, I can’t see where the reduction ad absurdum is.

From my proof of God follows as a corollary, as you very well state, that:

(John Harshman) #96

That’s a big problem. Your “proof” of God is just assuming what you want to prove; that’s exactly what your Premise B does. The claim that “all novels must exist in an omniscient mind before we humans write them” would make that more obvious to most people than the claim that all mathematical truths must exist similarly.

(Antoine Suarez) #97

To these scholars you could also add Greek philosophers like Aristotle.

They have not been wrong, but the concept of “causality” they use can easily be misunderstood, especially after the arrival of modern classical physics with Galilei.

So their cosmological proof was demolished by Immanuel Kant in his Critique of Pure Reason .

The reason for this historic philosophical debacle is the following:

The “First Cause Proof” starts from usual material-causal events like for instance a flying stone that smashes a window.

To fly, the stone requires a cause that throws it, for instance my arm.

But my arm, to move, requires energy coming from the aliments I eat.

And this energy comes from the Sun, and so on.

Now this chain cannot regress infinitely in time since otherwise the event of the stone actually flying would never come to happen now.

So there must be a first cause and this cause is what all people call God.

Against this proof Kant argued that such a causal temporal chain cannot legitimately be applied beyond the realm of space and time to a transcendent cause. And the other way around, if you accept that a first link in such a chain is God, then you are reducing God to a material entity with temporal existence.

Now against Kant one could object that the impossibility of regress to infinite precisely proves that there must be a link in the chain whose cause is beyond space and time, and this is how authors like Thomas Aquinas did actually understand the proof.

However, this leap from a visible phenomenon to an invisible cause outside space and time is something so “phenomenal” that who argues this way:

  1. is obliged to indicate where in the chain such an “extraordinary” leap happens;

  2. is implicitly assuming that God is actually the only true cause: Indeed, if the “first immaterial cause” (God) moves from beyond space-time the first material cause C1 in the chain, then one can as well state that God moves the same way all the other causes in the chain (C2, C3…) till the stone.

Now in the scientific context of the classical deterministic physics framed by Galilei, Newton, Laplace etc. such a leap was unthinkable. In this context “causality” means “causality within space and time”. And this explains why Kant’s Criticism had such a demolishing power.

By contrast in the frame of quantum physics the following fundamental principle holds:

Not all what matters for the physical phenomena is contained in space-time.

Therefore, quantum physics strengthens the philosophical cosmological proof of the existence of God, very much the same way as the undecidability theorems strengthen Mendelssohn’s proof.

Note however that the term “causality” triggers in scientific brains today the “Pavlov’s reflex” of “causality in space-time”. So it is better to avoid defining God through “causality” and use the category of “authorship” instead.

A cause acting from beyond space-time is a spiritual cause after all, and therefore the term “first author” is more appropriate. The term fits also better to the omniscient mind who contains the answers to all unanswered answerable questions.


Where did you get such an idea? My guess is that it is some kind of misunderstanding of entanglement.


What being exists so that all questions are answered in a mind?
Answer: God
Hence God exists.

(Neil Rickert) #100

This is one of the places where the argument goes wrong.