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Is the existence of "God" possible?

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If one chooses harmonic coordinates with respect to which the universe is spatially homogeneous and if we assume that the early universe is radiation-dominated, then the time coordinate will approach negative infinity as we approach the Big Bang (when everything is at the same place).  Thus the Universe would have existed eternally i.e. for an infinite period of time (towards the past; I am not speaking of the future) and have been expanding always.  In this case, it would not have any beginning to explain.

Excuse me for injecting this comment, jrs, but it sounds like you subscribe to the notion that the universe is expanding. As far as I know, the only evidence of such expansion is the red-shift data -- and Stephen Speicher pointed out several inconsistencies in this data.

For instance, there are celestial objects in close proximity to one another -- and thus roughly equidistant from earth -- that show significantly different red-shift values. Stephen had five or six such examples, which taken together really puts doubt on the expanding universe theory.

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jrs,

No. The time scale is essential -- it is the difference between "always" and "at some point".

Suppose as you say the Universe is eternal, that is, it has existed, does exist, and will exist at every time t.

What does "every time" mean? t ε Reals.

Let t' = t/sqrt(1+t*t); then t' ε (-1,+1).

So relative to the new time coordinate t', the Universe has

both a beginning at t' = -1 and an end at t' = +1.

Strictly speaking, t=1, -1 are not points of the range of this new set. Therefore, it's an abuse to say that t=1 is the "beginning" and t = -1 is the "end" since they are not properly in the set you're describing.

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That the universe is eternal isn't changed by whether we use different units to measure time. Perhaps I misunderstood your meaning of "proper time scale"; I took it to mean what reference of elapsed time do we use as our fundamental measure of time.

First, "proper time" is a technical term -- it does NOT mean "proper" as in the right way to do something. "Proper time" is time measured by a clock along the orbit that an object follows without making corrections for relativistic effects nor trying to convert it to some external time coordinate.

When we are talking about the Universe as a whole, it is usual to smooth (average) over local variations. And it is also usual to describe the Universe in a way that treats all locations and directions the same, i.e. to assume that the Universe is spatially homogeneous and isotropic. If we do this, then the orbits of dust motes can be regarded as stationary. But the price for doing this is that we must regard the Universe as expanding, i.e. the distances between the dust motes are increasing due to a gravitational effect on space itself. The proper time coordinate would be measured along the orbits of those dust motes.

But there are other possible ways of defining a time coordinate. These do not merely vary by a change of the unit -- they are not limited to linear functions of proper time. For example, t' might be defined by t' = -1/t (where t is the proper time since the Big Bang). The choice of such a time coordinate t' would definitely affect whether the Universe is eternal or not.

On energy, I don't think the conservation of energy principle is not applied to "two events which balance each other," but to each particular event. That one part of the universe "creates" positive energy while another part "creates" negative in equal amount, at the same time, doesn't somehow "conserve" energy. The non-creation of energy means that energy in any single process is not destroyed nor created, but changed in form.
You are correct. But when the Big Bang, everything is at the same place at the same time. So there is no taking energy from one place and giving it at another place -- there is no other place. And energy would be changing form -- from gravitational potential energy to all other forms.

It is known that an electron can be "created" if a positron also pops into existence at the same time. They are perfect opposites and balance each other out: COE is not violated.

I hate to disagree with someone who is taking my side, but real (not virtual) positrons have positive energy just like real electrons. So creating a real electron-positron pair requires some energy input.

The Hawking radiation from a black hole is supposed to be caused by the creation of a pair of particles where the real particle escapes carrying positive energy and its VIRTUAL anti-particle falls into the black hole carrying negative energy. This is only possible because the virtual particle would be annihilated very quickly when it hits the central singularity of the black hole. It is an example of quantum mechanical tunneling (like radioactive decay).

As far as I know, the only evidence of such expansion is the red-shift data ...

..........

For instance, there are celestial objects in close proximity to one another -- and thus roughly equidistant from earth -- that show significantly different red-shift values.

I am not a cosmologist nor an astronomer. So I do not know the evidence myself. But I can tell you that virtually all scientists believe in the expansion of the Universe.

And why not? It is practically required by the General Theory of Relativity.

Since we are looking at three dimensions of space projected onto the two dimensions of the celestial sphere, some things which are not close to each other in fact will appear to be close together. And there may be other causes of a disparity in red shifts.

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I hate to disagree with someone who is taking my side, but real (not virtual) positrons have positive energy just like real electrons.  So creating a real electron-positron pair requires some energy input.

You're not disagreeing with me, just pointing out where I got lazy in my typing :dough: . Thanks for pointing that out, though. I really didn't mean to mislead anyone.

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I suggest you go here and read posts 150 through 159.

AisA was referring to the "The Unbounded, Finite Universe" thread in the "Metaphysics and Epistemology" subforum. Here are my responses to some selected items from that thread.

...  philosophic principles trump any scientific assertions.

I have seen this idea repeated many times by Objectivists. And I think that it is fundamentally mistaken.

1. It is very easy to make a mistake when one is using verbal reasoning which is necessarily quite vague. That is why scientists try so hard to make their theories mathematical rather than using verbal arguments. Philosophical arguments are all verbal (at least in Objectivism).

2. Objectivists insist that one must use induction to arrive at the truth -- purely deductive arguments from arbitrary postulates are floating abstractions having no connection to reality. And yet when one tries to actually induct something from physics, mathematics, or some other science to philosophy, we are told that this is invalid and that we must rely on the AXIOMS as formulated by Objectivist philosophers, i.e. on deduction from postulates produced by people who understand less than the scientists do about how the world works.

I categorically, unequivocally, irrevocably reject the notion of an expanding universe, i.e., the notion that space between matter is being created out of nothing on a cosmological scale. That is creation ex nihilo, and that is the province of religion, not science.

Why? This is not a logical argument. The gravitational field is the repository of distance and duration and it is changing itself according to its nature. Where is the problem?

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AisA was referring to the "The Unbounded, Finite Universe" thread in the "Metaphysics and Epistemology" subforum.  Here are my responses to some selected items from that thread.

(stephen_speicher @ Post #150 of "The Unbounded, Finite Universe")

...  philosophic principles trump any scientific assertions.

I have seen this idea repeated many times by Objectivists.  And I think that it is fundamentally mistaken.

Philosophic principles trump scientific assertions in the following sense. The law of identity, summarized by Aristotle's formulation "A is A", is an axiom that is implicit in -- and presupposed by -- any claim to knowledge. Any claim to knowledge presupposes that the claim is what it is -- a claim to knowledge -- and not something different -- such as a claim to falsehood.

Therefore, we may reject as false any assertion, including scientific assertions, that contradict this axiom. Any theory or science, including quantum physics, that claims that something is both what it is and something different, at the same time and in the same respect, is false.

1. It is very easy to make a mistake when one is using verbal reasoning which is necessarily quite vague.
But if this statement were true, it would have to include itself, meaning that the assertion that “verbal reasoning is necessarily quite vague” is itself quite vague. What, then, does this statement mean?

That is why scientists try so hard to make their theories mathematical rather than using verbal arguments.  Philosophical arguments are all verbal (at least in Objectivism).
I think you are setting up a false dichotomy here between the special sciences (such as physics) and philosophy. Both must employ reason and follow the rules of logic to arrive at the truth.

2. Objectivists insist that one must use induction to arrive at the truth -- purely deductive arguments from arbitrary postulates are floating abstractions having no connection to reality.  And yet when one tries to actually induct something from physics, mathematics, or some other science to philosophy, we are told that this is invalid and that we must rely on the AXIOMS as formulated by Objectivist philosophers, i.e. on deduction from postulates produced by people who understand less than the scientists do about how the world works.
There are three basic axiomatic concepts in Objectivism: Existence, Identity and Consciousness. They are formed by the most basic of all inductive processes: they are perceptually self-evident.

If you are under the impression that the axioms of Objectivism are formed by “purely deductive arguments from arbitrary postulates”, then you need to study Objectivism further. May I ask, what have you read on Objectivism?

(stephen_speicher @ Post #154 of "The Unbounded, Finite Universe")

I categorically, unequivocally, irrevocably reject the notion of an expanding universe, i.e., the notion that space between matter is being created out of nothing on a cosmological scale. That is creation ex nihilo, and that is the province of religion, not science.

Why?  This is not a logical argument.  The gravitational field is the repository of distance and duration and it is changing itself according to its nature.  Where is the problem?

The problem is in postulating the creation of something from nothing. Are you saying that you regard such a postulate as within the realm of possibilities?
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The problem is in postulating the creation of something from nothing.  Are you saying that you regard such a postulate as within the realm of possibilities?

Given that space is a relation between entities rather than an existing 'substance', why does the increasing of space between entities necessitate creation ex nihlio? It's not like there is a thing called 'space' that is magically being created in the same way as (for example) apples being created out of nothing - space isnt a 'thing' (from the little physics I know)

Edited by Hal
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Therefore, we may reject as false any assertion, including scientific assertions, that contradict this axiom [the law of identity].

This is true, IF the law of identity is correctly formulated and applied.

My position is that the axioms are misunderstood by some people; and this leads them to reject things which are not actually inconsistent with them.

Any theory or science, including quantum physics, that claims that something is both what it is and something different, at the same time and in the same respect, is false.
Quantum mechanics makes no such claim. Popularizers and journalists like to say that it does, either because they misunderstand it or to get attention.

But if this statement were true, it would have to include itself, meaning that the assertion that “verbal reasoning is necessarily quite vague” is itself quite vague. What, then, does this statement mean?

If you do not know, then I cannot explain it to you, verbally.

Yours is a cute come-back, but it proves nothing. (Mine too.)

Philosophy is presupposed by all math -- there is no math without philosophy first. All math is built upon philosophic premise. Philosophy has primacy over all other sciences.

Your attempts at inducing or deducing philosophic truths (upon which math itself depends) through math are a failure to recognize this basic fact. It is similar to trying to deny one of the axioms and being forced to use it in the process.

I think you are setting up a false dichotomy here between the special sciences (such as physics) and philosophy. Both must employ reason and follow the rules of logic to arrive at the truth.

No. I am objecting to the dichotomy set up by Stephen Speicher and TomL.

If you are under the impression that the axioms of Objectivism are formed by “purely deductive arguments from arbitrary postulates”, then you need to study Objectivism further.

By postulates, I meant the axioms as frequently misunderstood. And the deduction from them was to the negation of scientific theories like the General Theory of Relativity.

The problem is in postulating the creation of something from nothing. Are you saying that you regard such a postulate as within the realm of possibilities?

Hal answered this. But let me ask -- if it did amount to creation ex-nihilo, which axiom would be violated by such creation and how does it violate the axiom?

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(AisA @ Post #57)

Therefore, we may reject as false any assertion, including scientific assertions, that contradict this axiom [the law of identity].

This is true, IF the law of identity is correctly formulated and applied.

My position is that the axioms are misunderstood by some people; and this leads them to reject things which are not actually inconsistent with them.

So the issue, then, is not whether philosophic axioms, correctly formulated and applied, trump claims to the contrary. You seem to agree that they do. The issue is that some people misunderstand them. Do you wish to discuss examples?

Any theory or science, including quantum physics, that claims that something is both what it is and something different, at the same time and in the same respect, is false.

Quantum mechanics makes no such claim. Popularizers and journalists like to say that it does, either because they misunderstand it or to get attention.

But do you agree that such a claim is false -- regardless of who makes it?

1. It is very easy to make a mistake when one is using verbal reasoning which is necessarily quite vague.

But if this statement were true, it would have to include itself, meaning that the assertion that “verbal reasoning is necessarily quite vague” is itself quite vague. What, then, does this statement mean?

If you do not know, then I cannot explain it to you, verbally.

Yours is a cute come-back, but it proves nothing. (Mine too.)

My comeback proves that a self-disqualifying statement winds up being a non-statement, that is, it winds up meaning nothing. The act of accepting it causes one to doubt it.

Why is verbal reasoning “necessarily quite vague”? Is the following verbal reasoning necessarily vague: “1+1 cannot equal 3 because it equals 2, and 2 does not equal 3.”

QUOTE(TomL @ Post #12 of "Quantification in Objectivism")

Philosophy is presupposed by all math -- there is no math without philosophy first. All math is built upon philosophic premise. Philosophy has primacy over all other sciences.

Your attempts at inducing or deducing philosophic truths (upon which math itself depends) through math are a failure to recognize this basic fact. It is similar to trying to deny one of the axioms and being forced to use it in the process.

QUOTE(AisA @ Post #57)

I think you are setting up a false dichotomy here between the special sciences (such as physics) and philosophy. Both must employ reason and follow the rules of logic to arrive at the truth.

No. I am objecting to the dichotomy set up by Stephen Speicher and TomL.

I am confused by this. What false dichotomy have they created?

And yet when one tries to actually induct something from physics, mathematics, or some other science to philosophy, we are told that this is invalid and that we must rely on the AXIOMS as formulated by Objectivist philosophers, i.e. on deduction from postulates produced by people who understand less than the scientists do about how the world works.

If you are under the impression that the axioms of Objectivism are formed by “purely deductive arguments from arbitrary postulates”, then you need to study Objectivism further.

By postulates, I meant the axioms as frequently misunderstood. And the deduction from them was to the negation of scientific theories like the General Theory of Relativity.

If some aspect of the General Theory of Relativity contradicts the law of identify, which will you go with? Will you say that "A is A" is not valid and continue to believe the Theory?

Please do not respond by merely saying, "But nothing in General Relativity contradicts any axiom." Tell us what you would do if it did. Please.

The gravitational field is the repository of distance and duration and it is changing itself according to its nature.  Where is the problem?

The problem is in postulating the creation of something from nothing. Are you saying that you regard such a postulate as within the realm of possibilities?

Hal answered this. But let me ask -- if it did amount to creation ex-nihilo, which axiom would be violated by such creation and how does it violate the axiom?

Creation ex nihilo -- meaning something from nothing -- would violate the law of causality, which states that the actions possible to any entity are determined by its identity, i.e. by the kind of entity it is. That which does not exist possesses no identity and hence is capable of no action. Non-existence is not capable of transforming itself into existence.

Given that space is a relation between entities rather than an existing 'substance', why does the increasing of space between entities necessitate creation ex nihlio?
Hal, I recommend you advance this question to Stephen Speicher in his forum.
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Quantum mechanics makes no such claim.  Popularizers and journalists like to say that it does, either because they misunderstand it or to get attention.

Doesn't the standard quantum mechanics explanation for the results of the double-slit experiment require that photons (or whatever is being discussed) travel as both a particle and a wave?

Edited by Cole
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So the issue, then, is not whether philosophic axioms, correctly formulated and applied, trump claims to the contrary.

No. There is no trumping. What I am saying is that a statement which contradicts a true statement is false. Since the law of identity (when correctly formulated) is true, anything which contradicts it is false. But equally, if the General Theory of Relativity is true (as I think it is; although being quite complex, I am less confident about it than about the law of identity), then anything which contradicts it is false.

But do you agree that such a claim [that something is both what it is and something different, at the same time and in the same respect]is false -- regardless of who makes it?

Yes.

Why is verbal reasoning “necessarily quite vague”? Is the following verbal reasoning necessarily vague: “1+1 cannot equal 3 because it equals 2, and 2 does not equal 3.”
Notice that in the attempt to produce a statement which is clear rather than vague, you have moved in the direction of mathematical formulas. There are variations along the clarity-vagueness axis. Perhaps my use of "necessarily" was inappropriate (another instance of vagueness). In your example, there might be a dispute over the use of the word "because". One person might argue that it means that you have to prove 2 is not equal to 3 as an intermediate step in proving that 1+1 is not 3. Someone else might say that that is not what you mean.

TomL:  ...  inducing ...  philosophic truths ...  through math are a failure ...

AisA:  What false dichotomy have they created?

Stephen Speicher and TomL are saying that it is OK to induct (to philosophy) from philosophic musings on everyday experience, but not to induct from one's experience doing mathematics or science.

If some aspect of the General Theory of Relativity contradicts the law of identify, which will you go with? Will you say that "A is A" is not valid and continue to believe the Theory?
If Moon rocks were made of green cheese, would you spread them on toast and eat them? Please do not answer by saying that they are not made of green cheese.

That which does not exist possesses no identity and hence is capable of no action.

Action without something participating in the action makes no sense. But you are assuming that action must have a subject (a cause or causes) as well as an object (an effect or effects). I am not sure that that is the case.

If the Big Bang occurred at a finite time and was the first event, then it was creation ex nihilo of the whole Universe. As I argued earlier, this would not violate any law of physics.

If I take the two ends of a rubber band and pull on them, it will become longer. The distance between the ends has increased. Is this creation ex nihilo? The gravitational field can change itself to change the distance between clusters of galaxies. That is not creation ex nihilo.

Hawking radiation is produced by the zero-point fluctuations of the vacuum around a black hole. I suppose that one could argue about whether such fluctuations exist or merely subsist. But they have an identity -- they are represented by Feynman diagrams and they have predictable effects which have been measured.

Doesn't the standard quantum mechanics explanation for the results of the double-slit experiment require that photons (or whatever is being discussed) travel as both a particle and a wave?

The way I usually describe it is that photons propagate (move) as waves, but interact as particles. But this is a simplification.

Actually, neither classical particles nor classical waves exist at all. Rather there is one kind of entity. Classical particles are an idealization of what entities act like in one kind of limiting case. Classical waves are an idealization of what entities act like in another kind of limiting case.

Particle-like actions are the result of a "collapse of the wave function", i.e. the breakdown of entanglement (interference) due to interactions with things outside the system being studied.

Wave-like actions occur when the system remains isolated or when so much of the system is participating in the motion that external interactions are insufficient to break the entanglement.

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No.  There is no trumping.  What I am saying is that a statement which contradicts a true statement is false.  Since the law of identity (when correctly formulated) is true, anything which contradicts it is false.  But equally, if the General Theory of Relativity is true (as I think it is; although being quite complex, I am less confident about it than about the law of identity), then anything which contradicts it is false.

I agree with you that anything that contradicts what we already know to be true is false. But look back at the statement to which you originally objected:

QUOTE(stephen_speicher @ Post #150 of "The Unbounded, Finite Universe")

... philosophic principles trump any scientific assertions.

This is a true statement. A philosophic principle is a statement of a fundamental truth, such as the law of identity. A scientific assertion is a statement that may be supported by some evidence but which has not been proven to be true. Surely, the former must trump the latter.

Granted, one could say with equal validity that a scientific truth trumps any philosophic assertion. For instance, the Theory of Evolution trumps religious creationism.

Notice that in the attempt to produce a statement which is clear rather than vague, you have moved in the direction of mathematical formulas.  There are variations along the clarity-vagueness axis.  Perhaps my use of "necessarily" was inappropriate (another instance of vagueness).  In your example, there might be a dispute over the use of the word "because".  One person might argue that it means that you have to prove 2 is not equal to 3 as an intermediate step in proving that 1+1 is not 3.  Someone else might say that that is not what you mean.
But the issue here is your apparent distrust of "verbal reasoning". Since words denote concepts, verbal reasoning is conceptual reasoning. What other kind of reasoning is there?

Stephen Speicher and TomL are saying that it is OK to induct (to philosophy) from philosophic musings on everyday experience, but not to induct from one's experience doing mathematics or science.
Really? Can you point me to an example of Stephen saying it is invalid use induction in mathematics or science?

If Moon rocks were made of green cheese, would you spread them on toast and eat them?  Please do not answer by saying that they are not made of green cheese.
I assume this is a sarcastic way of saying that you would not maintain the truth of General Relativity if it were shown to contradict the law of identity. If so, then we agree.

Action without something participating in the action makes no sense.  But you are assuming that action must have a subject (a cause or causes) as well as an object (an effect or effects).  I am not sure that that is the case.

If the Big Bang occurred at a finite time and was the first event, then it was creation ex nihilo of the whole Universe.  As I argued earlier, this would not violate any law of physics.

But it would most certainly violate the law of causality. As you said, "Action without something participating in the action makes no sense." All actions are actions of entities.

If I take the two ends of a rubber band and pull on them, it will become longer.  The distance between the ends has increased.  Is this creation ex nihilo?
No, it is not creation ex nihilo. It is an alteration of something that already existed.

The gravitational field can change itself to change the distance between clusters of galaxies.  That is not creation ex nihilo.

Hawking radiation is produced by the zero-point fluctuations of the vacuum around a black hole.  I suppose that one could argue about whether such fluctuations exist or merely subsist.  But they have an identity -- they are represented by Feynman diagrams and they have predictable effects which have been measured.

I don’t see how any of the above supports the notion of creation ex nihilo. I will simply leave it that I absolutely reject creation ex nihilo as a possibility on philosophic grounds, i.e. because it contradicts the law of causality.

By the way, what evidence is there that black holes exist?

The way I usually describe it is that photons propagate (move) as waves, but interact as particles.  But this is a simplification.

Actually, neither classical particles nor classical waves exist at all.  Rather there is one kind of entity.  Classical particles are an idealization of what entities act like in one kind of limiting case.  Classical waves are an idealization of what entities act like in another kind of limiting case.

Particle-like actions are the result of a "collapse of the wave function", i.e. the breakdown of entanglement (interference) due to interactions with things outside the system being studied.

Wave-like actions occur when the system remains isolated or when so much of the system is participating in the motion that external interactions are insufficient to break the entanglement.

Lewis Little’s Theory of Elemental Waves makes much more sense in explaining these phenomena. Are you familiar with his theory?
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A philosophic principle is a statement of a fundamental truth, such as the law of identity. A scientific assertion is a statement that may be supported by some evidence but which has not been proven to be true.

So you are also endorsing the dichotomy and giving second class status to science.

But the issue here is your apparent distrust of "verbal reasoning". Since words denote concepts, verbal reasoning is conceptual reasoning. What other kind of reasoning is there?
Mathematics and science use specialized languages. They are designed for greater clarity. The nature of reasoning is the same, but greater care is taken to be logical and avoid errors.

I assume this is a sarcastic way of saying that you would not maintain the truth of General Relativity if it were shown to contradict the law of identity.

No. You asked me to assume a contradiction between two truths (General Relativity and the law of identity). This is like asking -- what would you do if the axiom of consciousness were found to contradict the law of identity? Or what if A is not A?

I have a policy of not answering questions of that nature. That is why I was sarcastic. I was surprised that you did not see this yourself.

But it would most certainly violate the law of causality. As you said, "Action without something participating in the action makes no sense." All actions are actions of entities.

Perhaps. This is one of the reasons why I was trying to suggest an alternative -- that the Big Bang happened in the infinite past rather than merely 14 billion years ago. It is a question of which time coordinate is appropriate.

I don’t see how any of the above supports the notion of creation ex nihilo.
The two phenomena you mentioned were accused earlier in the argument of being creation ex nihilo. I was saying that they were not.

By the way, what evidence is there that black holes exist?

Once again, I am not an expert in astronomy. By the nature of black holes, the proof must be by a process of elimination.

1. The center of the Milky Way (our galaxy) is small and has a very large mass as indicated by the high velocities of the stars nearest to it. No other explanation seems to fit.

2. Quasars emit enormous amounts of power from a small region. Only conversion of a large fraction of the mass of matter falling into a black hole to radiation would seem to provide enough power.

3. Theories about the evolution of stars of large mass seem to require the formation of black holes.

Lewis Little’s Theory of Elemental Waves makes much more sense in explaining these phenomena. Are you familiar with his theory?

No. When I tried to get more information about it, Stephen Speicher cut me off.

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I think that the question "Can god exist?" is one of those questions which implies something false is true, no matter what one answers. Whatever I answer - yes or no - I am accepting this implication. The implication is that "god" is a term which is clearly defined, that it refers to an existent which man has recognized, studied and named properly.

This isn't true. God is purely fictional, and if it can exist, then it is as a figment of one's imagination, a product of fear, or as a character in a lousy book or movie. God is not clearly defined. Everyone can think of it what he will. I prefer not to.

Edited by source
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So you are also endorsing the dichotomy and giving second class status to science.

Did you not read the part where I said: "Granted, one could say with equal validity that a scientific truth trumps any philosophic assertion. For instance, the Theory of Evolution trumps religious creationism."

Mathematics and science use specialized languages.  They are designed for greater clarity.  The nature of reasoning is the same, but greater care is taken to be logical and avoid errors.
If you are saying that scientists are taking greater care to be logical and avoid errors than today's philosophers, I agree wholeheartedly! But that is not because science has a better designed language. It is because modern philosophy has explicitly abandoned the notion of conforming to reality -- they have denied that clarity is even possible -- whereas (most) scientists can't get away with deviating too far from reality.

The English language (along with many others) is capable of perfect clarity. All we need are more minds capable of thinking clearly.

No.  You asked me to assume a contradiction between two truths (General Relativity and the law of identity).  This is like asking -- what would you do if the axiom of consciousness were found to contradict the law of identity?  Or what if A is not A?

I have a policy of not answering questions of that nature.  That is why I was sarcastic.  I was surprised that you did not see this yourself.

My question was not of that form. I did not ask you to choose between two perceptually obvious truths (like the law of identity). I asked what you would do if a highly complex theory, resting on a great deal of specialized knowledge, were found to contradict a perceptually obvious truth.

Perhaps.  This is one of the reasons why I was trying to suggest an alternative -- that the Big Bang happened in the infinite past rather than merely 14 billion years ago.  It is a question of which time coordinate is appropriate.
What reason is there to believe that at some point in the distant past the law of causality was temporarily suspended so that the universe could spring into existence from non-existence?

Once again, I am not an expert in astronomy.  By the nature of black holes, the proof must be by a process of elimination.

1. The center of the Milky Way (our galaxy) is small and has a very large mass as indicated by the high velocities of the stars nearest to it.  No other explanation seems to fit.

2. Quasars emit enormous amounts of power from a small region.  Only conversion of a large fraction of the mass of matter falling into a black hole to radiation would seem to provide enough power.

3. Theories about the evolution of stars of large mass seem to require the formation of black holes.

Take a look at this link.

I don't know which of the explanations is correct, but I give more credibility to those scientists who refuse to ignore observational data that does not fit existing theories.

No.  When I tried to get more information about it, Stephen Speicher cut me off.
There is a great deal of information on the net about Little's theory. Try here. From that page you can also link to Little's page. It is a fascinating theory.
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"Can God exist?":

Forgive my lack of clarity. The question is entirely dependant on your definition of "God". If it is a being which created all that exists, then one would have to say that God must have created himself for the answer to be yes, since he created all that exists and the hypothesis is that he exists. Further, he would have had to create himself before he actually existed in the first place since to create in the sense of creating all that exists supposes that nothing existed before the initial creation. Obviously, the only way to conclude that God can exist in this sense would be to ignore reason. Therefore, the answer to the question is that God cannot exist and cannot be proven to exist by the use of reason.

Isn't this what theists argue - ie that God exists independent of reason and that the only way of saying that god exists is to accept the proposition by blind faith? To that extend all seem to be in agreement.

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I remember discovered the full epistemological reasoning for the answer to this question being an interesting exercise. So, I ask, can God exist? Please provide as much context as necessary in your answer. What underlying principle must one contradict in order to believe that God exists? Can one really live at all by consistently acting in contradiction to this principle?

Hmm. My initial thought is that a god (i.e. not necessarily the Christian god, but some "supernatural" being with "nigh-omnipotence") could exist.

Such a being would have to contradict the Objectivist principle of identity; however, that wouldn't have to necessarily mean that identity couldn't exist - it might mean that identity didn't apply to particular existents (e.g. supernaturals were excepted,) or that particular entities could only partially be identified (e.g. supernaturals had some limits, but weren't totally delimited.)

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Hmm. My initial thought is that a god (i.e. not necessarily the Christian god, but some "supernatural" being with "nigh-omnipotence") could exist.
Do you mean this in the same sense as the idea that a boggart could exist?
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Do you mean this in the same sense as the idea that a boggart could exist?

:alien: I had to google "boggart!"

Well, I meant it in the sense that the (theoretical) existence of a god wouldn't necessarily be contradictory. That is, if a god's existence and an altered principle of identity themselves didn't contradict anything else (and don't contradict each other), the concept of "god" wouldn't be blatantly contradictory.

As my sig might suggest, I don't endorse such a theory (it'd still have no evidence backing it,) but it seems questionable whether such a theory is contradictory and thus evasion.

As far as the boggart comparison goes, I'd say yes in the sense that both would be of questionable nature, but no in the sense that the god wouldn't necessarily be "dangerously undefinable!"

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Hmm. My initial thought is that a god (i.e. not necessarily the Christian god, but some "supernatural" being with "nigh-omnipotence") could exist.

Such a being would have to contradict the Objectivist principle of identity; however, that wouldn't have to necessarily mean that identity couldn't exist - it might mean that identity didn't apply to particular existents (e.g. supernaturals were excepted,) or that particular entities could only partially be identified (e.g. supernaturals had some limits, but weren't totally delimited.)

It doesn't work that way. Either identity exists absolutely or it doesn't exist at all. What you're saying is nonsense.

And a powerful being that doesn't at all contradict identity wouldn't be a "god" in any sense of the word.

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And a powerful being that doesn't at all contradict identity wouldn't be a "god" in any sense of the word.

Not necesarilly. A "god" can merely be some entity which claims control over some form of nature or existence, and who is superior to mere mortals.

For example, Thor is "a god" who is not all-powerful. Many ancient gods and pantheons were sometimes all-to-human in many respects.

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Even pagan gods fell under the heading of supernatural, however. The contradiction, in that case, is that there is and can be no such thing as a "super"-nature. Something's nature IS it's identity. Super-nature means that it exists "above" or in contradiction of identity.

The specific contradiction of each claimed instance of godhood need not be precisely the same; it is sufficient to say that all proposed concepts of god are demonstrably in contradiction with established metaphysics. It is not necessary to refute each and every one of them endlessly; religionists can imagine new gods at an incredible rate. The burden of proof lies with the man who asserts the existence of ANY kind of god. Let him demonstrate that such a thing DOES exist. Let him present EVIDENCE.

Only with EVIDENCE can any discussion of the possibility of a god proceed. All else is futile.

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