Archives for posts with tag: reality

Simplistic, but valid: From nothing comes nothing.
Either something exists, or nothing exists.

We can side with the likes of Stephen Hawking and assert eternal existence of gravity and quantum vacuum and, also, assign it practical [and mindless] divinity. Then we can reasonably speculate that myriad minuscule fluctuations in the quantum foam converged to burst forth from the singularity. Inflation, then space-time, which is running down, back down to the nothing.

Or, we can assume transcendence. That is, we can assume an eternal something that is truly beyond nature. Eternal is the key, and transcendence is required, or it is just natural, and we are back to nothing. There are some significant hurdles to deal with in assuming the divine, but an eternal transcendent actor can only be referred to as god. (Peterson says as much, often.)

If we hold to the first, methodological materialism, or naturalism, or atranscendence, then we are stuck with nothing and there simply is no such thing as agency. No choice is any more significant than any event. It takes two things to do anything: Time and Energy. States and systems exhibiting disequilibria will tend to equilibrate, taking time and using energy. Disequilibrated systems do anything that takes time and uses up energy, as long as it lessens the disequilibration. Often, order arises, emergent phenomena. A simple example is a dust devil in a dirt field. The ground heats unevenly under the sun, and the air warms slower, disequilibria. A warm thermal begins to rise, often beginning to spin, and up arises a dancing, self-organizing, dust devil, chasing the warmest spot near it. It is a dissipative system, more efficient at increasing entropy than simple convection. Assuming atranscendence, the dust devil is the same as any choice I make, any idea I conceive, any action I take. It all, only, tends to use up time and energy bringing the universe back to closer to the absolute and eternal nothing of its beginning.

Given my definitions above, the options are god or not-god.

That is, god is that which is eternal and transcendent.

Not-god is that which is yet eternal but nothing, that which momentarily and currently is subject to unwinding the initial winding of the singularity, and the unwinding is simply the using up of time and energy. (It makes no difference in this assumption whether the big bang is a single freak occurrence, or if it is quasicyclical, repeating randomly for all eternity.)

If we accept the god assumption, we are faced with eternity. We exist in time, but we will exist in eternity (and perhaps have always existed in some sense). The questions religion and philosophy address boil down to this: In eternity, with-god or without-god? One choice with two options. We will enter eternity having chosen god or refused god.

In that assertion, I’m assuming the god condition of eternal and transcendent reality. Given that assumption, the choice, the ultimate choice, true agency, is between with-god and without-god.

There either is choice, or there is nothing.

I admit I am defining nothing as meaninglessness.

I’m defining eternal and transcendent as meaning, reason, and rationality. It is my assertion, my premise. It is fundamental within me. (It is fundamental within the universe.)

Choice, agency, is the only thing that matters. If not-god is the reality, then there is no choice, no meaning, no rationality, no reason, nothing. If god is the reality, and there is no choice, no agency, regarding eternity with god or eternity without god, then we are back to nothing, back to no choice, no meaning, no rationality, no reason.

Given any reality approximating that, truth has no meaning in any case where choice, true agency, isn’t foundational and intrinsic. Individual agency must be real or there is not even anything that can be called truth, not in the abstract, not in the concrete, not in the ideal, not even in the notional. If I have no choice in the matter, no agency, nothing matters and nothing is the only true reality. If there is such a thing as reality, choice is real; agency is real.

Obviously, I cannot get away from the notion of truth, and one might argue such persistence makes it deeper, more real, than choice. No. First, we must not conflate Truth with Reality. That which is real is not the same as that which is true, not even in the ideal. It goes to meaning. If the not-god reality is real, then all that we seem to know is simply a random confluence of quantum fluctuations that happen to have congealed into a mass hallucination. If my mind is merely matter and energy and chemical processes running in patterns dictated by quantum fluctuations, I have no mind, and I have nothing on which to base any assumption. I can have no reason to assume any of it will continue. I have no real reason to base any of it on.

In that case, I have no reason. There would really be no reason and no such thing as reason, only matter, only energy, only a persistent, sequential running down and unwinding.

Frankly, I find it unreasonable to assume there is no such thing as reason.

I find it irrational to assume there is no such thing as rationality.

It seems as certain as anything else that there must be an eternal transcendent actor. Being confined to time and nature, we cannot hope to know this super-nature directly. We can only hope to systematically and rationally investigate it and aim at truth, as we do with all of nature. The nature of nature, our reality, seems to include something transcendent that we typically call mind. There isn’t a significant difference between “mind” as we use it, and “spirit” as we use it. There is no quantifiable reason to suppose mind is any less real than matter. Consciousness is really a thing, a thing we do not understand. Our religions may be so far from truth as to be laughable, but so may our sciences.

Again, without choice, there is no truth.

If I am not really a free agent capable of making real choices with meaningful consequences, then there is simply nothing, at least nothing that has any meaning, nothing that matters.

Too long ago to try to imagine, we humans took our most important step of existence; we became human. It is mind boggling to consider all that had to fall into place to get us that far, and so far still.

Somewhere around 10,000 years ago, we turned a corner that had more to do with climate change than our accomplishment. We benefited from global warming to such extent that not every waking moment need be expended in exertion or contriving to provide for the bare necessities of life for self and family.

With only a modicum of leisure, we started accomplishing remarkable things. We built monuments. We organized. We developed society and governance. Somewhere in there, we gained consciousness and the knowledge of good and evil, we internalized our limitations, our finitude, and in inexplicable ways, God breathed into us.

Sadly, we ignored that divine infilling, rudely, knowing both good and evil, we spent more effort in selfishness and evil than most anything else.

Still, we built.

We innovated and developed.

Somehow, some, only a few, grew beyond selfish spite and malice, and we advanced, sometimes with the help of selfless individuals, sometimes without regard to them.

Tragically, the world simply was a world of haves, and have-nots. The haves had things primarily as a function of power, power and status managed by social structure and supported on the backs of slaves. The situation held for millennia through countless circumstances, cultures, and peoples, held together by what may, though usually with violence underpinning. There are very few exceptions to point out.

Violence was our way. Subjugation of the majority by the powerful was simply the way civilization grew. Prosperity meant toil and misery for most, and a life of ease for the few.

Nearly 3,000 years ago, a spark of truth ignited in more than just a few individuals. It made little difference, and grew in only the hearts of a very few here and there. Regardless, it was seeping into culture. About 2,000 years ago, history turned. Truth took hold, and individuals began to value each other as having the breath of God within, and having some potential spark of truth in all. Everyone was considered of worth, not just the nobles or powerful.

Still, little changed. Though slavery was technically abolished for a while in most of the known world, it was still a situation of the haves and the have-nots, and the have-nots were the essential, subservient support of the haves. Of course, slavery returned with a vengeance, to sufferings untold.

Not long ago, in the mid-1700s, something changed. We developed technology that would replace the slaves and allow all to be free, and this development would facilitate the possibility that all could at least aspire to join the ranks of the haves.

We call that change the industrial revolution, but really, what is was, we learned to burn fuel and harness the energy of the burning to replace the burning of food in the bodies of the subjugated.

Here is the most important fact since: Readily available energy, electrical energy now-a-days, and transportation fuels are the key to the have-nots having enough. Poverty and slavery can certainly be lain at the feet of dictatorial monsters, but for most, it is directly resultant from lack of electricity and transportation fuel.

To be clear, I am equating fossil fuels with freedom. Conversely, I’m equating opposition to fossil fuels with homicide and enslavement.

Though our technological prowess will likely keep fossil fuels dominant in our quest for freedom and prosperity for all, we are running out, and it is getting harder and more energy intensive to extract these resources. We are already seeing diminishing returns. We must develop more efficient energy systems.

We have an alternative that we must pursue immediately while grave suffering can be avoided. Nuclear fission.

Eventually, we will use nuclear fusion, but that is not in our lifetimes. We will be suffering from lack of energy before fusion can fill the gap. Fission is today, uranium, plutonium, and thorium.

We can. We will. It is not a prediction. It is unrelenting reality.

We will suffer in blood and slavery if we wait too long.

I don’t appeal to the pipe dream of renewables. Solar power simply is inadequate. Wind turbines are a grievous atrocity, causing harm in all.

Biomass burning, likewise, is harming far more than is admitted. Filth is the only word appropriate for most of it.

I cannot overemphasize how paramount is the importance of readily available energy, affordable to all and reliable.

While it is inarguable that Greco-Roman thought, and the life of Christ, changed the world to truth, one simply cannot argue that the associated culture and religion(s) are of critical importance. In less than four centuries, the Christian faith affected the lives of over half of the earth’s total population, but within a few more decades, the numbers that could be called Christian dropped to roughly one-third of all humans, and it has been between 20% and 40% for the several centuries since. The Greco-Roman culture cannot be attributed either. It mattered, but it was not essential, not the key.

Truth mattered. Truth was the key. Greece, Rome, and Christians had no monopoly. They simply managed to make it a priority of the powerful. Thus, truth prevailed, but Christian theology gave rise to what Nietzsche so astutely foresaw. We had killed God. We had forgotten our divine attribute, and we were adrift. The blood of hundreds of millions attests to it. Our suffering for it is greatly diminished, but not concluded.

So, what?

What next?

We must stay focused on truth. We must individually take responsibility and not lose sight of our connectedness. We must not overemphasize individuality and individualism. Yet, we are individuals. Our identities do not reside in any group. Each individual’s identity can never be distilled to any externally quantifiable characteristic. It is a hard thing, a hard balance.

Still, the important part for humanity is energy. We are eliminating abject poverty and slavery with energy. We must have reliable electricity and available transportation fuel. Pushing for unreliable, unpredictable sources based on wind and sunshine is no better than trusting unicorns.

We are what we are. We fall, we resort to selfishness and violence when we don’t have better options. Our better options are afforded by readily available energy. Energy is the basis of freedom and incentives that allow cooperation and respect to flourish.

Energy, and freedom. It is the only possible means of advancement. The alternative is suffering, and eventually extinction.

 

Get this: It is impossible for us and our universe to be some sort of computational simulation. Impossible.

Of course, we can throw caution to the wind and suppose anything we want. Reasonable people will ignore us when we do that.

Spooky when you think of it:

https://cosmosmagazine.com/physics/physicists-find-we-re-not-living-in-a-computer-simulation

Not only can we not investigate the supernatural from the natural standpoint, we seem to not be able to investigate all the natural, at least not at its extremities. Some problems are truly intractable.

Bonus: Quantum Hall Effect is Beautiful

In response to a video I happened across on social media:

I stopped subjecting myself to religious zealots long ago. I especially guard myself from preachers who take scriptures out of context and twist facts to beguile and to spin their lies.

I would start by saying that overall taxation keeps increasing on the wealthiest, yet the wealthiest stay the most wealthy. I would also note that few of the wealthiest (or their kin) 100 years ago are still among the wealthiest, and those from 50 years ago haven’t fared much better.

Quoting from the video, “All the way to socialism.” Ooo…that sounds so scary. The commentator admits it is bad and impossible, but the commentator doesn’t bother making his suggestion, but he implies something less draconian than killing over one-third of our population should suffice. (Of course, ask the Venezuelans what percentage of them are starving to death. I used one-third because that is approximately how many Stalin alone accounted for under his regime.)

Anyway, whatever anyone might suggest, how? How shall we do it? How will any plan be implemented? Are you going to increase taxes? What else might you try? Regardless, how are you going to get it? How will you enforce it? How will you take my money and give it to the poor? BTW, I sure don’t feel rich, but I’ve run the numbers. It only takes $17 per hour, full time, with typical benefits to be in the top 1% of us humans.

Get it? $17 per hour puts you in the top 1% when we include Asia and Africa and the whole world.

If Uncle Bill wants to help, why only dispense a few million a year through some inefficient foundation that seems to mostly want to convert the children of our nation into automatons suited for his and Google’s salt mines? Why might hypocrite, Oracle-of-Omaha, prefer tax increases rather than simply giving away his billions directly? (No, he pretends to give away unimaginable sums while mostly bilking the taxpayers via various government incentives for his various schemes, not the least of which includes windmills.)

Cronyism is certainly harmful to all but the elite. The more connected, the more it pays off, and the more the rest of us are shorted.

Protect the rights of the little guy, and the little guy will do just fine. Tax anyone, from the richest to the poorest, and they simply spend more of their time trying to avoid the taxes.

Many pretend they don’t understand, but everyone acts personally with full knowledge that it just ain’t right to take what I earned and give it to someone else, or use it for some purpose I neither want nor assent to.

“How much more of what I earned do you need to take before you think it is fair?”

Again, how do you enforce any of it? You send the guys with the guns. You hold a gun to my head, and people die because of it. You make us all participate in the senseless slaughter. Will Rogers implied the US tax code made more criminals than anything else. He didn’t know the half of it.

One cannot cure an ill by force. Coercion is evil.

Might time and locality not be fundamental to reality? 

Natalie Wolchover writes here: https://www.simonsfoundation.org/quanta/20130917-a-jewel-at-the-heart-of-quantum-physics/ describing some interesting mathematics with some interesting possible implications. Really cool. I found it fascinating, and it seems on the right track to my meager understanding. 

Luboš Motl, a crazy-smart physicist, who blogs from Pilsen, Czech Republic, writes here: http://motls.blogspot.com/2013/09/amplituhedron-wonderful-pr-on-new.html. He mainly says it looks cool. Given that he understands this stuff, it makes me think my excitement might be warranted. 

My take on the notions is that time might prove to be an emergent phenomenon, rather than fundamental. Take a thunderstorm for example. It is emergent from forces acting. There are thermodynamic drivers and mass transfer processes and state transformations involved, lightening, etc., but the thunderstorm isn’t fundamentally a thing. It is made of lots of interacting things. It is mind-boggling to think of time as emerging from “things”, perhaps simply from geometry. Hmm… More pondering required. Definitely more reading as more information is published. 

The article and the comments are worth reading and applicable to any debate. A commitment to truth is a commitment to all that is good–a commitment to life itself. ——————–

Readers may recall my original post, Nature’s ugly decision: ‘Deniers’ enters the scientific literature. followed by Dr. Paul Bain Responds to Critics of Use of “Denier” Term with thanks to Jo Nova, be sure to bookmark and visit her site Dr. Robert G. Brown of Duke University, commenting as rgbatduke, made a response that was commented on by several here in that thread. As commenter REP put it in the update: It is eloquent, insightful and worthy of consideration. I would say, it is likely the best response I’ve ever seen on the use of the “denier” term, not to mention the CAGW issue in general. Thus, I’ve elevated it a full post. Please share the link to this post widely. – Anthony

Dr. Robert G. Brown writes:The tragic thing about the thoughtless use of a stereotype denier is that it reveals that you really think of people in terms of its projected meaning. In particular, even in your response you seem to equate the term “skeptic” with “denier of AGW”.

via A response to Dr. Paul Bain’s use of ‘denier’ in the scientific literature | Watts Up With That?.

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