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    God's Place In Fundamental Emergence
    By Sascha Vongehr | November 7th 2012 12:39 AM | 16 comments | Print | E-mail | Track Comments
    About Sascha

    Dr. Sascha Vongehr [风洒沙] studied phil/math/chem/phys in Germany, obtained a BSc in theoretical physics (electro-mag) & MSc (stringtheory)...

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    Emergence, for example emergent gravity, implies a lower stratum from which something emerges. “Fundamental emergence” is the idea that all can or must be described as emergent, without however there being a full explanation of lower layers. A lowest fundamental layer may be inconsistent almost by definition (certainly if there is any "ontological commitment") and never more than what the emergence-description must assume. This is non-reductive, since the reduction into a lowest foundation, the resting on the bottom, works only because the bottom "hangs from the top", or better, the whole "floats".

    Fundamental emergence is fundamental physics, namely that of a self-creating quantum mechanical (QM) universe. However, via QM-physics being indistinguishable from (~ the same as) "simulation" in QM-calculation (which uses QM physical systems), there is, and this should not surprise anybody, a sort of duality transformation (like between different string theories) into a dual description where the universe is simulated, and thus the issue of creation and creators, especially fundamental (self-creating) creators, is finally recognized as scientific and can be answered, regardless of how politically incorrect this is in the current climate of naive empirical scientism.


    Four short sections:

    1.      Emergent Creator Gods, Empirical Science

    2.      Quantum Issues and Empirical Science

    3.      The Idea of God is not God

    4.      “Next Level” and “Fundamental Emergence”


    1) Emergent Creator Gods, Empirical Science

    I am agnostic about emergent creators that may have created me or currently create my world. The fundamental “creation” (ultimately of everything) is by definition a self-creating structure (e.g.: quantum universe), because there is nothing else that can construct it. It is a system in some sense, but without environment. Calling it “nature” does not tell us how much of it can be meaningfully called “god” or “creator” (namely via ascribing "intention").


    There are gods. Take a brain and hook it up to a virtual reality, voila. This has been partially already done with animals like flies in order to investigate how they control their flight. One can amputate limbs, connect output nerves to computers, arrest eyes and permanently fix them on LCD screens, permanently attach loudspeakers to ears. You can let the involved brain thus be, for its whole life(!), inside a world with different physical laws, say a periodic and strongly curved universe, but also Jesus can come along and turn water into wine or open a worm hole. You can be the god of that brain’s person, the omnipotent lord of her world. Since this is already possible, do not trust those (scientists, skeptics, “new atheists”) who dogmatically ridicule all doubts about empirical science.


    All empirical science (say empirical non-locality in quantum correlations) falls to the brain in the vat argument. That argument is the same as the simulation hypothesis; they only differ in the degree of substitution of the body’s cells, and there is no good motivation for believing that such a step by step substitution ever crosses some “phenomenal consciousness ends” line. While the brain in the vat scenario does not replace most neurons, the simulation hypothesis can be reached by replacing them all.


    2) Quantum Issues and Empirical Science

    The quantum universe, if more than mere illusion by a self-creating simulation, must be described as creating itself, for example via cosmic inflation. In its totality, it includes time, and it is globally always the same, so fundamentally, it just is, kind of inside of itself, all much the same as a usual description of a fundamental god, yet without the creator’s (illusion of) will.


    Quantum mechanics (QM) allows for finding yourself in a ‘freak branch’ where the empirical records disfavor QM. Thus, via QM experiments, QM already tells us even empirically that empirical records cannot be relied upon to reflect the theory that allows those very empirical records. This has two consequences*:


    A) In QM, uncertainty about the past is strictly that all possible pasts, meaning pasts consistent with the present records, do contribute (constructively interfere) to “make” the present. If it is possible at all with any non-zero probability, then you are, at least to that small extend, a brain in a vat (I mean beside the fact that your head is your brain's vat anyway).


    B) QM must be logically derived and cannot be merely supported by empirical science. The constraints to empirical science do not destroy logic. There are for example logical constraints from that the whole must be fundamentally self-creating even if I am in somebody's laboratory in a vat (this may be also just another way of stating that quantum mechanics strongly constrains creating observers). Particularly, ‘fundamental emergence’ implies that it does not matter whether something is emergent or created.


    3) The Idea of God is not God

    The idea of god evolved through the emergence of a highly useful strategy in our cognitive apparatuses, our brains, namely the ascribing of intention to even just seemingly directed processes. “Will” usually refers to action that is perceived as free of some sort of directing determination, say physical, biological, or social. The freedom is relative to the interpreter of the action, residing in her uncertainty about the determinations that restrict the action. These are useful higher order descriptions, which is why we employ them all day long. Fundamentally, they fail in a certain sense, since totality is totally determined as all that is, period, but on any emergent level, descriptions employing "cause" and "effect" and "will" and "desire" and "creation" are as useful as a "selfish gene".


    Our connection to creator god(s) is the act of being created; it is not our idea of god(s), because the idea could be there without god(s). This is important, because many religious take the idea as the connection to and therefore proof of god, while atheists take the idea as all there is to god(s). Both are equally wrong: A) Even in case we would prove god to be necessary, say as an intermediate level between self-creating nature and us, god does not equal the idea of god! B) It is incorrect to call the merely constructed god much more than the idea of god, even if it becomes a very powerful construct. Only if the constructed god somehow creates something that is indistinguishable from this “original”, are the “origin” and the “copy” one and the same, and then, that god is not “merely” created, but it self-created via creating us.


    4) “Next Level” and “Fundamental Emergence”

    Usually, scientists and philosophers fall into one of two main camps, namely either holding X (gravity, time, god,values, …) to be fundamental or defending X as emergent. In my ‘next level’ thinking, these two can be valid simultaneously or are even indistinguishable on principle and therefore the same. For example, abstractness of fundamental space-time is compatible with emergent space-time [arxiv.org/abs/0912.3069], and this is a very similar kind of structure as next-level atheism: Refuse regress without definite termination, but do not refuse the possibility of multiple regress steps (like string membrane universes in bulk space-times, or emergent creators and their creations). Especially: fully or partially circular solutions are not refused, but are understood as ultimately the only meaningful, consistent fundamental description possible.


    A general strategy for ‘post modern’, ‘next level’ insights, regardless of topic, is the following:


    First: Seek the (likely present) regress (e.g.: ether-space in space, who created the creator, …). Second: Distinguish fundamental descriptions from emergent descriptions and accommodate  [e.g.: Ether crackpots accept that ether-substance could be inside space, dogmatic relativists accept that abstractness of the ultimate description of space-time allows substances in lower dimensional subspaces and that we cannot know which space-time (emergent or fundamental) we perceive]. Third: Realize that the fundamental level may be completely and on principle indistinguishable from an emergent one, i.e. that the most fundamental descriptions are self-emergent self-descriptions.


    -------------

    *Note: None of the conclusions here are based on empirical QM physics, because the vital aspects of QM that I need (say many worlds) are self-evident and QM is merely a consequence of those.

    Comments

    spinning off at a tangent, but ..

    > "fully or partially circular solutions are not refused, but are understood as ultimately the only meaningful, consistent fundamental description possible."

    Maybe "klein bottle solutions".

    Eg. in language, in a casual sense, we may be confident that we have a good definition to a word. Ie. the meaning has the sense of being objectively contained. But if we go for precision, then we get drawn into trying to discover the entire boundary to what's contained .. like trying to discover exactly what the klein bottle contains .. and find self-reference and subjectivity.

    Maybe our instinct for logic based on set theory should connect with reality by having the klein bottle surface as the standard set boundary.

    rholley
    Even devils (as Milton truly perceived) would discuss theology.

    From No Such Thing, by G.K.Chesterton.  And it is quite something for Chesterton, who was no fan of the Puritans, to agree with Milton.

    I tend to agree with the Russian who said that Winnie the Pooh was a better philosopher than Derrida:
    On Monday, when the sun is hot
    I wonder to myself a lot:
    “Now is it true, or is it not,
    “That is which and which is what?”
    Robert H. Olley / Quondam Physics Department / University of Reading / England
    Hank
    I read The Tao Of Pooh way back.  I agree completely.  Chesterton could endorse Hitler and vampire babies and I would probably still agree with him. He is that convincing. 
    rholley
    ... vampire babies ...
    Regarding Vlad III. Drăculea, the Romanians regard him as something of a hero, especially since he held up the Turkish intrusion into Europe by several decades.  The 19th century poet Eminescu wrote:
    Cum nu vii tu, Ţepeş doamne, ca punând mâna pe ei,
    Să-i împarţi în două cete: în smintiţi şi în mişei,
    Şi în două temniţi large cu de-a sila să-i aduni,
    Să dai foc la puşcărie şi la casa de nebuni!

    Come, Lord Impaler, put your hand on [our leaders],
    Divide them into two parts: the crazy and the corrupt,
    Lock the lot of them up in two large institutions,
    Then set fire to both, the prison and the madhouse!
    It was Bram Stoker who gave him the reputation for vampirism, perhaps conflating his reputation for cruelty with that of Countess Elizabeth Báthory.
    Robert H. Olley / Quondam Physics Department / University of Reading / England
    Thanks for that link, Robert. Some great stuff there.

    vongehr
    Deconstruction is not construction. Not sure what your beef is with Derrida, but it is not on topic anyway.
    scientists might usefully re-invent god as the mischievous being who is the error in their model of nature.

    "3) The Idea of God is not God"

    I take it here to mean the idea of god is more fundamental than god. Or maybe you could say that intention comes before (is more fundamental) than the god that intends.

    I have more assumptions about this post that I'm more comfortable with, but I was hoping to see a much livelier discussion here. You have either gone over their heads, or they think it's beneath them. But maybe they can't embrace your general strategy. I don't know, but I think it's a great post.

    vongehr
    You have either gone over their heads, or they think it's beneath them.
    Why "or"?
    rholley
    Interestingly, Sascha, your reply
              You have either gone over their heads, or they think it's beneath them.
    Why "or"?
    makes perfect sense to me.

    We are having a lovely autumn here.  Though a week ago it looked like it might turn to this:
    Und der Herbststurm treibt die Blätter,
    die ganz welk sind, vor sich her,
    und es ist so schlechtes Wetter —
    ach, wenns doch schon Winter wär!

                                                         link to poem
    But the wind has not been too strong, and brilliantly coloured leaves are still in place on most trees, though this one has dropped quite a lot:


    Robert H. Olley / Quondam Physics Department / University of Reading / England
    vongehr
    Interestingly, Sascha, your reply ... makes perfect sense to me.
    Blogging has taught me such also in emotionally involving, hands on ways, which is much better than dry theory. All communication, perception, and truth-construction is shaped by (social) selection processes. Three years ago, I was still partially under the illusion that truth is revealed (even to the masses) through time, with science crucial. But cognitive systems are evolved to function. Triggering the feeling of something being obviously ridiculous is an effective screening of truth. The consistency, which is often rejected as "conspiracy theory", is at first frustrating, but eventually deeply satisfying: Truth is through and through such utter self consistency. The one going down a certain path must be indifferent to the ridiculing, or her mind is not sick enough to find that path anyway!

    Another beautifully consistent fact that is kind of similar is the absence of anything that inherently realizes the pointlessness of communicating. While the information age establishment defends their beliefs about revelation2.0 (sure Chesterton said similar), via, for example, academic "philosophers" and science writers selling whatever sells by the thereby established names to wherever it sells, like the journals that nobody reads or the masses of consumers, the truth they pretend to be after has long been found and is well on mountaintops and in solitary confinement cells, isolated into single minds like corrosive acid is best kept in small, thick vials.
    Your ideas remind me a lot of the general view of "zero ontology" where 0 or nothing is perfectly equivalent to the totality of everything that is possible. Modal realism then is a consequence of the fact that the totality of things is adds up to, or is equivalent to, complete and utter nothingness. This is an advocate of such view: http://www.hedweb.com/witherall/zero.htm What do you think?

    vongehr
    If there is a summing of however defined measures that result in zero, fine, but "nothingness" is not a term that belongs to a description that explains anything in a satisfying way.  I am experienced enough with pseudo-science to not even look at the link but leave it with your description of it, and yet be confident betting that there is somebody who may be very smart and has partial answers, but he or she does not have her own mind under control when it comes to reign in certain emotions (mystical feelings) when it comes to certain concepts like infinity or zero or nothing.

    "Totality" is what a "fundamental description" ("theory of everything") must describe in order to be acceptable/satisfying as having such a label, period, no emotion attached.  That this "totality" does not "exist" in any ill-defined ways of "existence" is obvious.  That therefore "nothing exists", for example, is a further terminology fuck-up that results from ill-defined "exist", not something promising toward further satisfying illumination and certainly not "the answer".

    If this was extremely arrogant and totally wrong, please let me know.
    No, I agree with you. There should not be any emotion attached to the explanation per se, or be based on any mystical feeling or intuition. A fundamental description should not be emotional, so to speak, but it should account for the varieties of emotions we do experience. Is there a way to fundamentally account for emotions without including the every subjective experience in the explanation? Maybe a "fundamental description" does need to be emotive to the extent that it needs to include instances of the very thing it is trying to describe...

    However the explanation should by all means explain the incredibly rich varieties of emotions. We would hope that whatever may explain the fact that we are here also might allow us to rigorously derive the qualias we live by. I am still stuck, so to speak, in this step...

    vongehr
    Oh, I am stuck there, too.  But explaining emotions should not involve emotions, because, for example, "the incredibly rich varieties of emotions" is mainly based on that misleading "incredibly richness" emotion. Quantifying discovers the bitter truth about pretty much everything: Very little wrapped up in what triggers "this is great" emotions. Does anything profound remain to be explained apart from the nagging "something profound remains" feeling? Via this recursive way, perhaps emotions are central.

    The possibility of feelings only makes sense if distinguished from their conceivable impossibility (otherwise, what are we talking about, "possibility"?), which we have constructed via our models about mechanisms in a world that just "exists out there", which explain much partially.  They indirectly create the question how that blind stuff could ever feel.  Any description has to assume something described, which makes it immediately unsatisfying.  The description cannot consistently deny itself, so the fundamental description is best started describing itself (not a cosmos or emotions). There is no indescribable in that description, because there is no way to describe such, no way to meaningfully assume its existence in the description.  We may establish whether this is strictly the very part that makes us unsatisfied, namely "indescribable", i.e. not being able to describe "the indescribable".  If so, suspending that desire in Zen meditation is the scientifically correct fundamental answer to that there is no (other) "explanation" possible.  Not throwing in the towel claiming such.  If it belongs in, it should be neatly placed there, and I have not seen that done.
    “Consciousness is meaningless,” however, according to von Ludwig it is not so much consciousness that is meaningless, but rather the failure of consciousness. The main theme of any postdialectic narrative is usually a mythopoetical paradox that can be used to describe even your analysis of these problems, surrounding the amazing complexity of simply describing a description, that hypothetically includes every emotion. This theme could then in turn be interpolated into a textual theory that could include either all of reality and the totality of every emotion and everything that can tautologically ever be experienced or alternatively it could include nothing at all. I hope you both soon get unstuck.