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Re: 2nd Law of Thermodynamics



In a message dated 95-11-14 22:04:11 EST, Dinogeorge@aol.com writes:

<<Are you sure you're not confusing the mathematical meaning of
transcendental (which is not "transfinite" like C and aleph-null, but means
"not the root of any polynomial with integral coefficients"--like pi and e)
with quasi-philosophical mumbo-jumbo?>>

I used the cardinal and imaginary numbers as an analogy for something not
simply representable in the empirical world which none the less has rational
basis and may in fact help to explain some observable phenomena.  On the
precision of my math vocabulary *mea culpa*!   It's not my area of expertise.
 I do not understand the term "quasi-philosophical" in this context since
speculation about ultimate questions is quite central to philosophy generally
and there is a large technical literature on the topic.  I assume this means
"stuff I don't think makes sense."  Fine.  On that issue we will just have to
disagree.

<< Is this universe a work of fiction? >>

Possibly.  At least I think that is a good analogy. The only other universes
I know anything about are the ones I've read about in fantasy/science fiction
or invented myself.   What evidence do you have to say it is not? 

<<Charles Dickens obeyed the physics of the real world--he was made up of
atoms, he bled when cut, he ate food and excreted waste, he evolved from
earlier hominids. What physics does God obey?>>

Meta-physics?  Another question to which I would defer to the specialty
literature.

<< When you put God into the equation, you have to be prepared to discuss the
nuts and bolts--the details--of His, Her, or Its existence, and there is no
handle on any of that.  There is no way to test any claims you might make
against skeptical counter-hypotheses.>>

I disagree.  Read "Cur Deus Homo?" and "Prosologion" (St Anselm); Summa
Theologiae (St. Thomas Aquinas); "The Meditations" (Rene Decartes).  You can
read Kant too if you are schizophrenic enough.  He must lose something in the
translation from German.

<< Until you can suggest--and carry out--some real, physical tests of God's
existence and abilities, there is no reason to accept God's existence--and
indeed, there is every reason to consider God as one's own personal work of
fiction. >>

I disagree.  Metaphysical entities (analogous to cardinal numbers) have no
physical representations and are not amenable to proof by experimentation in
the crude empirical sense you suggest.  While some empirical evidence in the
physical world points to singularities (eg. black holes,or the Big Bang),
there are logical reasons to assume a First Cause, a Prime Mover (55 prime
movers if you happen to be Aristotle), and that an infinite regress of causes
is not reasonable.  All of these make the theistic option rational but not
neccessarily compelling.  

The problem is that hard-headed atheists refuse to accept that their choice
not to believe in God is as much an act of faith as the choice of theists to
do so. This makes them no more rational than St Thomas or Decartes or Kant.
 The errror is in deceiving oneself into thinking that absolute truth can be
derived by methodologies (empirical, rational, scientific, emotive, mystical,
religious, or otherwise).  This was one of the implications of Kurt Goedel's
work mapping into artihmetic the "Liar paradox of Epimenides" (the famous
Second Incompleteness Theorem).  Somethings are true even though unprovable.
 To believe in an unproven assumption is only illogical if 1) There is no
good reason to think it it true and 2) There is a compelling reason to think
it is false.  Otherwise, we all have a right to our opinions with the
obligation to be self critical and honest in how and why we hold them.

We are really far afield of the dinosaur list here.  I don't mind continuing
the discussion here.  I just hope we are not overstaying our welcome.

Art