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#1 CTD

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Posted 03 May 2008 - 06:38 AM

The story of Schrodinger's Cat is often told in building the bizarre argument that the observer is the cause of anything observed. There are a handful of other bogus arguments designed to confuse rather than enlighten.

It can be a pain dealing with this kind of philosophy, and a shortcut has occurred to me: a commonly accepted rule of logic is The Law of Excluded Middle. Surely those who argue that a cat can be half dead are violating this law.

This is my new timesaver. Not foolproof, because there are those who reject the Law of Excluded Middle. But in many cases it could save days of back & forth debate.

*For those not taking the link, it isn't commonly known that Schrödinger's story was hijacked by the opposition. He himself correctly claimed the cat had to be dead or alive. Actually, I haven't traced the roots of the disagreement. The original participants may well have been aware they were debating the Law of EM.

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Posted 06 May 2008 - 02:19 AM

it always sounds quite cruel to the cat if you ask me

#3 Job36:3

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Posted 06 May 2008 - 10:05 AM

The story of Schrodinger's Cat is often told in building the bizarre argument that the observer is the cause of anything observed.

I was interested in your choice of the word bizarre. Quantum mechanics is bizarre. Recall that Neils Bohr was fond of saying "If you think you understand it, that only shows you don't know the first thing about it." Therefore describing an argument derived from it as bizarre tends to add weight to that argument.
I am also puzzled as to what about the concept you find - I struggle for a word here - wrong/objectionable. Might one not consider God as the ultimate observer?

It can be a pain dealing with this kind of philosophy, and a shortcut has occurred to me: a commonly accepted rule of logic is The Law of Excluded Middle. Surely those who argue that a cat can be half dead are violating this law.

As noted in your link this Law is rejected by some logic systems. I have no problem accepting that the cat is in an indeterminate state. (Actually, since I believe the cat to be a perfectly competent observer it would know if it were dead or alive.) What is it that makes you uncomfortable about things being indeterminate until observed? [Uncomfortable may be the wrong word, but hopefully you get my drift.]

Curiously, I joined the forum to talk about religion, but your post and thoughts caught my eye, so this wound up being my first post. :lol:

#4 CTD

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Posted 06 May 2008 - 05:22 PM

I was interested in your choice of the word bizarre. Quantum mechanics is bizarre. Recall that Neils Bohr was fond of saying "If you think you understand it, that only shows you don't know the first thing about it." Therefore describing an argument derived from it as bizarre tends to add weight to that argument.
I am also puzzled as to what about the concept you find - I struggle for a word here - wrong/objectionable. Might one not consider God as the ultimate observer?

As noted in your link this Law is rejected by some logic systems. I have no problem accepting that the cat is in an indeterminate state. (Actually, since I believe the cat to be a perfectly competent observer it would know if it were dead or alive.) What is it that makes you uncomfortable about things being indeterminate until observed? [Uncomfortable may be the wrong word, but hopefully you get my drift.]

Curiously, I joined the forum to talk about religion, but your post and thoughts caught my eye, so this wound up being my first post.  :lol:

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I think it's more than obvious that nothing depends upon my observation for its existence. To claim it does might well be equivalent to claiming to be a god. And such claims are easily falsified. Even those who claim to hold them are usually just blowing smoke.

The evidence strongly suggests you existed before I read your post. And alarm clocks should fail to operate when one is asleep, but they usually don't.

There have been attempts to water down this doctrine, but it was groundless to begin with and there's no sense compromising with something known to be false. Your version sounds watered-down, and I'm curious how far you take things.

A couple of sample questions:
1.) Do you believe the Earth has anything below the crust, although it isn't observed?
2.) Do you believe unobserved things like the Öort cloud exist?

The whole fallacy rests entirely upon a silly trick: one cannot observe something until it is observed. But to claim things pop into and out of existence on the basis of having a sentient being present to be aware of them is clearly unscientific. It's contrary to the laws of nature, and therefore the burden of proof lies with those who support this imagined dependence.

Even so, the burden of disproof is fairly light in many cases. Exploration would be impossible if no world existed which had been unexplored. The proponents of non-existence must give ground continually, to the point where their doctrine is effectively meaningless. At least that's been my experience.

The cat example's a little more fun if you find a staunch advocate. Don't look in the box immediately. Wait some time & see if you find a maggot-ridden stinking corpse. If the cat can't die until observed, there should be no maggots and the body shouldn't be stiff.

#5 Job36:3

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Posted 07 May 2008 - 08:10 AM

I think it's more than obvious that nothing depends upon my observation for its existence.

The point about quantum mechanics I tried to make with my Neils Bohr quote is that it is not obvious. That the obvious often turns out to be false. Are you not amazed by the results of the two slit experiment? The results of it are certainly not expected or obvious.
You seem almost to be using an Argument from Incredulity here. Perhaps I am misinterpreting you.

To claim it does might well be equivalent to claiming to be a god.

I did make the point that perhaps God is the ultimate observer, and we are, by Christian texts, made in God's image.
I see the Genesis story can be understood as God bringing into being the world through observation. e.g. Let there be light. Is it not possible that he could have delegated later observation to those beings he had created in his own image?
I have no particular opinion either way on these matters, since we lack the data to reach a conclusion. I was simply puzzled by the vigour with which you denied the possibility.

The evidence strongly suggests you existed before I read your post.

I think my mother may have had something to do with that. :lol:

And alarm clocks should fail to operate when one is asleep, but they usually don't.

I never use them myself, but if I did I'm sure a good long stare at the face before nodding off should collapse its waveform till the morning. :lol:

A couple of sample questions:
1.) Do you believe the Earth has anything below the crust, although it isn't observed?
2.) Do you believe unobserved things like the Öort cloud exist?

As I pointed out above, I neither ascribe to, or reject the hypothesis. If I did accept it I would be perfectly happy with the observations of the Earth's interior made via seismic waves and of the Öort cloud via the occasional long range comet.

But to claim things pop into and out of existence on the basis of having a sentient being present to be aware of them is clearly unscientific. It's contrary to the laws of nature, and therefore the burden of proof lies with those who support this imagined dependence.

Demonstrate that it is unscientific.
Demonstrate that it is contrary to the laws of nature.
Of course the burden of proof is on those making the claim. That is how science operates.

Even so, the burden of disproof is fairly light in many cases. Exploration would be impossible if no world existed which had been unexplored. The proponents of non-existence must give ground continually, to the point where their doctrine is effectively meaningless.

There seems to be a misunderstanding here. The act of observation does not bring things into existence, but it collapses waveforms. The 'unobserved' world is there, but in an indeterminate form. (I have little trouble imagining the Trinity or cats that are neither dead or alive.)
Most scientists seem to take the view that 'observation' can be inanimate and unconscious, so that there is no difficulty in collapsing waveforms. This would be in close agreement with your own view, indeed probably identical with it. At the opposite end of the spectrum are a minority (which seems to include philosophers as much scientists) who contend that a conscious mind is necessary.

#6 de_skudd

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Posted 22 December 2008 - 05:32 PM

The story of Schrodinger's Cat is often told in building the bizarre argument that the observer is the cause of anything observed. There are a handful of other bogus arguments designed to confuse rather than enlighten.

It can be a pain dealing with this kind of philosophy, and a shortcut has occurred to me: a commonly accepted rule of logic is The Law of Excluded Middle. Surely those who argue that a cat can be half dead are violating this law.

This is my new timesaver. Not foolproof, because there are those who reject the Law of Excluded Middle. But in many cases it could save days of back & forth debate.

*For those not taking the link, it isn't commonly known that Schrödinger's story was hijacked by the opposition. He himself correctly claimed the cat had to be dead or alive. Actually, I haven't traced the roots of the disagreement. The original participants may well have been aware they were debating the Law of EM.

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This reminds me of two stories (actually one story, and a conundrum atheists and skeptics like to use in an attempt to logically confound theists).

First: Ravi Zazherias was having lunch with two college professors when one said to him, "Ravi, there are two kinds of logic," "One is the either/or logic. If you make a statement that is true, the opposite of it is false. It is called the Law of Non-Contradiction. The same question at the same time, meaning the same thing, cannot elicit two opposite answers. If you ask my wife, 'are you expecting a child?' and at the same time if she says yes, and I say no, what will you say?

"You'll probably say, that's the wrong question, they have a weird sense of humor, she's not his wife, or she hasn't talked to him. You wouldn't walk away saying 'thank you'." Why not? Because the same question at the same time, meaning the same thing, cannot elicit two opposite answers. That's the either/or logic - the Law of Non-Contradiction - you cannot contradict yourself."

(From this point forward I’ll refer to Ravi as “I”, and the professor as “He”)

He said, "Ravi, that is Western."

I said, "Scratch out that line."

He said, "No, I won't."

I said, "You're going to have to; you may as well scratch it out now."

He said, "No, I won't."

I said, "Keep going."

He said, "The other kind of logic is Both/And. Not either this OR that: both this AND that. If you ask one Hindu if God is personal, and he says 'yes', and you ask another Hindu if God is personal, and he says 'no', you ask a third Hindu which of these is right, and he says 'both of them', he is very much in keeping with his way of looking at 'Both/And'. Both personal AND non-personal - that is the Eastern way of thinking."

I said, "Scratch out that line."

He said, "No, I won't."

I said, "You're going to have to."

He said, "No, I won't."

I said, "Keep going."

So finally he established: Either/Or Logic, the Law of Non-Contradiction, is Western. Both/And logic, the Law of Dialectic, is Eastern. Karl Marx used it: take the employer and the employee, put them together, you get the classless society. Nobody ever shows you one, but at in theory they talk about it. So there it is: Either/Or logic is Western, and Both/And logic is Eastern.

I said, "Sir, have you finished?"

He said, "Yes."

I said, "What you are telling me is this: when I am studying Hinduism, I either use the Both/And system, or nothing else. Is that right?"

Do you know what he said? He put his knife and fork down and he said, "The
Either/Or does seem to emerge, doesn't it?"

Second: Is the paradoxical stone argument: There are variations of this argument that atheists claim proves the concept of God is incoherent… That there are, somehow, logical problems with the existence of such a being, and this argument shows those flaws. They then pose this question; “Can God create a stone so heavy that he cannot lift it?”... Either God can create such a stone or he can’t.

If he can’t, the argument goes, then there is something that he cannot do, (namely create the stone, and therefore he is not omnipotent).

If he can, it continues, then there is also something that he cannot do, (namely lift the stone, and therefore he is not omnipotent).

Either way, then, God is not omnipotent. A being that is not omnipotent, though, is not God. God, therefore, does not exist.

The problem with this argument is this: Although this simple argument may appear compelling at first glance, there are some fundamental problems with it. Before identifying these problems, however, it is necessary to make clear what is meant by “omnipotence”.

Christian philosophers have understood omnipotence in different ways. René Descartes though of omnipotence as the ability to do absolutely anything. According to Descartes, God can do the logically impossible; he can make square circles, and he can make
2 + 2 = 5.

Thomas Aquinas had a narrower conception of omnipotence. According to Aquinas, God is able to do anything possible; he can part the red sea, and he can restore the dead to life, but he cannot violate the laws of logic and mathematics in the way that Descartes thought that he could.

If Descartes’ conception of omnipotence is correct, then any attempt to disprove God’s existence using logic is hopeless. If God can do the logically impossible, then he can both create a stone so heavy that he cannot lift it, and lift it, and so can do all things. Yes, there’s a contradiction in this, but so what? God can, on this understanding of omnipotence, make contradictions true.

Descartes’ understanding of omnipotence therefore doesn’t seem to be vulnerable to the paradox of the stone. Descartes can answer the question "Yes" without compromising divine omnipotence.

Aquinas’ understanding of omnipotence, which is more popular than that of Descartes, also survives the paradox of the stone. For if God exists then he is a being that can lift all stones. A stone that is so heavy that God cannot lift it is therefore an impossible object. According to Aquinas’ understanding of omnipotence, remember, God is able to do anything possible, but not anything impossible, and creating a stone that God cannot lift is something impossible.

Aquinas can therefore answer the question "No" without compromising divine omnipotence.

The paradox of the stone, then, can be resolved; it fails to show that there is an incoherence in the theistic conception of God, and so fails to demonstrate that God does not exist.

Now, back to my original point… Many will attempt to change sound logical concepts to fit their philosophical needs. And this is done in many ways (as you’ve seen above). In the case of the excluded middle, they don’t like it, so they simply ignore it and say it doesn’t matter. Like a little child telling his father beets don’t exist because the child doesn’t like beets in his experience. Do Beets still exist? Of course!! Did that child convence his father they don't exist? Only if He isn't a loving father!!!

As philosophers, thinkers, reasoning and rational people, we must stick to our guns. Show the illogic of the false premises, twisted statements and outright omissions.

#7 de_skudd

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Posted 22 December 2008 - 05:43 PM

P.S. Excellent topic!!

#8 Adam Nagy

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Posted 22 December 2008 - 09:11 PM

P.S. Excellent topic!!

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This is a great topic, it's going to help me in another thread, thanks, CTD and, Dee!

#9 CTD

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Posted 10 February 2009 - 06:29 PM

For the benefit of those who may not have been paying attention (or have difficulty connecting dots, adding 2 + 2, etc.), I suppose I may as well respond to a couple of things.

Of course the burden of proof is on those making the claim. That is how science operates.

Very good.

There seems to be a misunderstanding here. The act of observation does not bring things into existence, but it collapses waveforms. The 'unobserved' world is there, but in an indeterminate form. (I have little trouble imagining the Trinity or cats that are neither dead or alive.)
Most scientists seem to take the view that 'observation' can be inanimate and unconscious, so that there is no difficulty in collapsing waveforms. This would be in close agreement with your own view, indeed probably identical with it. At the opposite end of the spectrum are a minority (which seems to include philosophers as much scientists) who contend that a conscious mind is necessary.

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This is not identical with my view. It is not close. It is an attempt to entice people like me onto the slippery slope. They try to make it look like it's all the same in the end. In that case, Occam's razor says skip the "it doesn't exist until x" nonsense, and assume it exists at all times.

There's a whale of a difference, and I don't intend to compromise with something I know to be untrue simply for the sake of.... um.... er... where is there even a motive?

#10 de_skudd

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Posted 20 March 2009 - 11:12 AM

This is my new timesaver. Not foolproof, because there are those who reject the Law of Excluded Middle. But in many cases it could save days of back & forth debate.

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People tend to reject:

1- What they don’t understand (and don’t want to understand).

2- Things that go against their worldview (when they are unwilling to learn).

3- What their hero’s reject.

The “The Law of Excluded Middle” is sound, foundational logic that it takes a lot of faith to reject. And yet, there are still those who reject it! Isn’t it amazing?

#11 CTD

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Posted 20 March 2009 - 11:35 AM

People tend to reject:

1- What they don’t understand (and don’t want to understand).

2- Things that go against their worldview (when they are unwilling to learn).

3- What their hero’s reject.

The “The Law of Excluded Middle” is sound, foundational logic that it takes a lot of faith to reject. And yet, there are still those who reject it! Isn’t it amazing?

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What'd really be amazing is if anyone could thoroughly reject it, as in all the time - not just for purposes of being an idiot in a discussion.

Nobody applies bogus philosophy to everyday life.

#12 Adam Nagy

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Posted 20 March 2009 - 11:45 AM

What'd really be amazing is if anyone could thoroughly reject it, as in all the time - not just for purposes of being an idiot in a discussion.

Nobody applies bogus philosophy to everyday life.

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The funny thing is that they'll apply it to deny it. They have to. You can't limit options without adhering to excluded middle in logical reasoning.

It's just like Hindus using the law of non contradiction to try and reject it simultaneously. :blink:

#13 de_skudd

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Posted 20 March 2009 - 12:11 PM

What'd really be amazing is if anyone could thoroughly reject it, as in all the time - not just for purposes of being an idiot in a discussion.

Nobody applies bogus philosophy to everyday life.

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:blink:

I think I posted that Ravi Zacharias story around here somewhere where another College Prof. attempted to argue against either/or logic…


Anytime someone attempts to posit faulty logic against a foundational logician, they fail miserably.


So you are correct, “Nobody applies bogus philosophy to everyday life.”!


I’m still waiting to see a solipsist cross a busy Interstate without cautiously looking both ways before attempting it.


I have yet to see a skeptic truly live up to his skeptical convictions.


I’m still waiting to see an atheist not use their mind! Although, they can’t prove (or explain) it using the empirical scientific model!


And I’m curious to see what it will be like when a relativist realizes their absolute belief in their dogmatism of intolerance to tolerance! :P




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