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Dawkins & Krauss Discussion from ASU 4 Feb - Comments

nurnord's Avatar Comment 1 by nurnord

Excellent ! I expressed the other day that I hoped this would appear on the site soon...and here it is. Ok, going to watch it now...

Sun, 12 Feb 2012 23:46:55 UTC | #917021

AtlanticCanuck's Avatar Comment 2 by AtlanticCanuck

Bravo! Brilliant discussion.

Mon, 13 Feb 2012 01:48:44 UTC | #917049

MilitantNonStampCollector's Avatar Comment 3 by MilitantNonStampCollector

What a wonderful talk.

Mon, 13 Feb 2012 01:51:00 UTC | #917050

Alternative Carpark's Avatar Comment 4 by Alternative Carpark

Oh, my Ghod. Two hours of Professors Dawkins and Krauss. What a fantastic start to my morning.

Mon, 13 Feb 2012 01:53:04 UTC | #917051

InYourFaceNewYorker's Avatar Comment 5 by InYourFaceNewYorker

Richard,

I totally agree that it's a disgrace that a doctor could not believe in evolution. In theory, I probably would walk out as well if I learned my doctor was a YEC. But then I hear about Ben Carson, brilliant and renowned neurosurgeon who performed one of the first successful hemispherectomies and separates twins joined at the brain-- who also happens to be a young-earth creationist. Well, if I needed complex brain surgery I would go to him.

How is this compartmentalization on his part even possible?? What do we make of it?

Julie

Mon, 13 Feb 2012 01:58:20 UTC | #917052

nurnord's Avatar Comment 6 by nurnord

Ok, I have watched it now. I have to say, a bit disappointed. It was mostly a mix of the material first discussed by RD & LK at Stanford and LK during 'A Universe From Nothing' lecture. Nonetheless a stimulating foray...

Mon, 13 Feb 2012 02:00:03 UTC | #917053

Border Collie's Avatar Comment 7 by Border Collie

Really, why would two entirely intelligent scientists need a moderator to have a conversation?

Mon, 13 Feb 2012 02:01:25 UTC | #917054

godsbuster's Avatar Comment 8 by godsbuster

One thing that makes this so good is what it lacks: a moderator. May they henceforth and forevermore be banished from such settings!

Mon, 13 Feb 2012 02:05:56 UTC | #917055

Richard Dawkins's Avatar Comment 9 by Richard Dawkins

Well, I can't remember what we discussed in Stanford, but why would you expect it to be diferent? Maybe there has been no good reason to change our minds. If politicians change their minds they are accused of flip-flopping (which I've always thought rather silly, by the way, because it is good to change your mind if new evidence warrants it).

Richard

Comment 6 by nurnord :

Ok, I have watched it now. I have to say, a bit disappointed. It was mostly a mix of the material first discussed by RD & LK at Stanford and LK during 'A Universe From Nothing' lecture. Nonetheless a stimulating foray...

Mon, 13 Feb 2012 02:34:49 UTC | #917061

Schrodinger's Cat's Avatar Comment 10 by Schrodinger's Cat

Excellent stuff......but there's a logical conundrum about half way through. I'm not the first to have noticed this paradox...in fact Prof Paul Davies and others raised it some time ago,,,,

Richard Dawkins concedes that there might exist highly advanced alien beings, so far advanced that we'd fall on our knees, etc. Amazingly advanced, but as Dawkins correctly argues....not God, and themselves the product of evolution.

However, if the substrata of the multiverse is infinitely old ( and that is the prevailing theory...eternal inflation ) then there's been an infinite time...in which every conceivable permutation of events, no matter how improbable, will already have occured. Which then raises the question.....just how advanced does our amazingly advanced alien have to be ? Over an infinite period of time, the fact that the most advanced beings themselves evolved would become indistinguishable.

The problem is, as Davies has pointed out, that an infinite multiverse may on the one hand resolve anthropic issues by making us nothing special.........but that is at the price of vastly extending the range of possibilities to a level where God gets back in via the back door !

That is one reason why I reject the multverse.

Mon, 13 Feb 2012 02:59:28 UTC | #917064

Steve Zara's Avatar Comment 11 by Steve Zara

comment 10 by Schrodinger's Cat

The problem is, as Davies has pointed out, that an infinite multiverse may on the one hand resolve anthropic issues by making us nothing special.........but that is at the price of vastly extending the range of possibilities to a level where God gets back in via the back door !

We have discussed this before. It doesn't. Exactly the same probabilistic arguments apply to the existence of god-like beings in a multiverse as in a single universe, because we the question we are dealing with is our experience of God in THIS universe. If the probability of God's existence is 1 in a zillion then God is just as improbable in THIS universe, whether or not there are parallel alternatives.

The multiverse also doesn't deal with God in the way God is thought of by almost everyone - a creator with moral force. No matter what turns up in parallel realities, this has nothing to do with the question of how it all got started, and where objective morality comes from, if one considers those sensible questions.

If anything, a multiverse makes a God less likely, because it means that 'creation' was not a special event, and it means that there is no longer an issue of fine tuning, at least according to some thinkers.

Mon, 13 Feb 2012 03:19:09 UTC | #917066

aroundtown's Avatar Comment 12 by aroundtown

I thoroughly enjoyed this presentation and the mind stimulating postulations. What was not a surprise is the idiot who proposed a question and wanted to quote from the ancient fable, i.e. bible, to make his point. Things got back on track after that little snag. Overall a very enjoyable stimulating conversation and the audience seemed to enjoy it as well.

I hope these seeds of sanity grow and expand. Comfortable venues like this provide a chance to reach people in an unthreatening manner and give them a opportunity to begin questioning the absolutes they hold onto in their lives.

Mon, 13 Feb 2012 03:22:25 UTC | #917068

nurnord's Avatar Comment 13 by nurnord

          [Comment 9](/videos/644930-krauss-and-dawkins-discuss-something-from-nothing/comments?page=1#comment_917061) by  [Richard Dawkins](/profiles/53)          :


                 Well, I can't remember what we discussed in Stanford, but why would you expect it to be diferent? Maybe there has been no good reason to change our minds. If politicians change their minds they are accused of flip-flopping (which I've always thought rather silly, by the way, because it is good to change your mind if new evidence warrants it).Richard> [Comment 6](/videos/644930-krauss-and-dawkins-discuss-something-from-nothing/comments?page=1#comment_917053) by   [nurnord](/profiles/174513) :> >   Ok, I have watched it now. I have to say, a bit disappointed. It was mostly a mix of the material first discussed by RD & LK at Stanford and LK  during 'A Universe From Nothing' lecture. Nonetheless a stimulating foray...> 

Richard, first may I say I feel a little humbled simply by having a reply from you, I have great respect for all your endeavours over the years and I thank you for enabling me to revel in that experience.

Ok, back to this little exchange - I might expect it to be different as there is an ocean of potential and pressing topics to be discussed within our sphere (our sphere meaning atheism, religion, politics, science etc.) of interest (read - concern ?). I don't think it is beyond reason to anticipate a discussion of these things, but not the very same material when the scope is so much wider. I guess that amounts to criticism, not my aim by any measure, I beg of you...

May I ask you something else ? There is an ad here on the site for the Global Atheist Convention that carries the message "The Sunday Age...are featuring the story that the ‘Four Horsemen’, Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, Sam Harris and Christopher Hitchens will be appearing together for the first time in public at the 2012 Global Atheist Convention" - Was this ad prepared before Hitch was too unwell to do public engagments and then simply uploaded as is, or does it in fact refer to some kind of reflection on his work or such other thing that is going to be showcased ?

P.S. tell the Archbishop of Canterbury to get those eyebrows trimmed...

Mon, 13 Feb 2012 03:33:04 UTC | #917072

Schrodinger's Cat's Avatar Comment 14 by Schrodinger's Cat

Comment 11 by Steve Zara

because we the question we are dealing with is our experience of God in THIS universe.

No you're missing the point. In terms of Davies argument, the 'advanced being' has moved beyond universes and exists at the level of the substrata of the multiverse iteself. What Michio Kaku would refer to as a 'level 4' civilisation. 'Q' in Star Trek is a hypothetical level 4 being.

If anything, a multiverse makes a God less likely, because it means that 'creation' was not a special event

But here we run into a problem. Our universe may have had a beginning, but most cosmologists ( including Krauss, from what I can recall ) support the theory of 'eternal inflation'......that the substrata of the multiverse has always existed. So there was no 'creation'......just a local patch of expansion.

Mon, 13 Feb 2012 03:37:35 UTC | #917074

AULhall's Avatar Comment 15 by AULhall

A highly enjoyable two hours, though I expected nothing less.

Mon, 13 Feb 2012 03:44:24 UTC | #917075

CdnMacAtheist's Avatar Comment 16 by CdnMacAtheist

I also much prefer a 'conversation' like this versus a 'debate' where styles and time-slots almost overpower the content - never mind 'Moderators' who are often just topic-choppers.

Mon, 13 Feb 2012 03:45:34 UTC | #917076

Ignorant Amos's Avatar Comment 17 by Ignorant Amos

Comment 13 by nurnord

Ok, back to this little exchange - I might expect it to be different as there is an ocean of potential and pressing topics to be discussed within our sphere (our sphere meaning atheism, religion, politics, science etc.) of interest (read - concern ?). I don't think it is beyond reason to anticipate a discussion of these things, but not the very same material when the scope is so much wider. I guess that amounts to criticism, not my aim by any measure, I beg of you...

But that's only because you watched both discussions, the two audiences wouldn't necessarily be privy to that. Would you expect to see a comedian on two dates of a tour present different material on each occasion..... how about a rock band?

Anyway, it was a thoroughly enjoyable 2 hours that flew by in a flash.

Mon, 13 Feb 2012 03:46:14 UTC | #917077

Steve Zara's Avatar Comment 18 by Steve Zara

comment 14 by Schrodinger's Cat

No you're missing the point. In terms of Davies argument, the 'advanced being' has moved beyond universes and exists at the level of the substrata of the multiverse iteself. What Michio Kaku would refer to as a 'level 4' civilisation. 'Q' in Star Trek is a hypothetical level 4 being.

I had suspected that this was the argument. In that case, the multiverse is an even better rejection of Gods, because if our experience of our universe samples the probability that a God-like being turns up anywhere, and we still don't see such a being, then we have shown that multiverse-striding God-like beings really don't exist anywhere. We are also left with a Fermi Paradox that spans the multiverse.

Also, this is irrelevant to the matter of a source-of-morality heaven-providing creator.

But here we run into a problem. Our universe may have had a beginning, but most cosmologists ( including Krauss, from what I can recall ) support the theory of 'eternal inflation'......that the substrata of the multiverse has always existed. So there was no 'creation'......just a local patch of expansion.

That's kind of what I was saying.

Mon, 13 Feb 2012 03:47:19 UTC | #917078

aroundtown's Avatar Comment 19 by aroundtown

Comment 14 by Schrodinger's Cat

But here we run into a problem. Our universe may have had a beginning, but most cosmologists ( including Krauss, from what I can recall ) support the theory of 'eternal inflation'......that the substrata of the multiverse has always existed. So there was no 'creation'......just a local patch of expansion.

I like the postulation you proposed in answering Steve Zara's question. I don't think the proposition has been ruled out conceptualizing a bumping of dimensions in string theory that could create the space we propose as our unique universal space, that the fabric possibly already existed but the created space is a mirage of sorts and we can't see behind the curtain so to speak? It also brings to my mind the permanence of the anomaly over time with expansion of that said dimension and it permanent stability.

Mon, 13 Feb 2012 03:58:34 UTC | #917080

Schrodinger's Cat's Avatar Comment 20 by Schrodinger's Cat

Comment 18 by Steve Zara

I had suspected that this was the argument. In that case, the multiverse is an even better rejection of Gods, because if our experience of our universe samples the probability that a God-like being turns up anywhere, and we still don't see such a being, then we have shown that multiverse-striding God-like beings really don't exist anywhere. We are also left with a Fermi Paradox that spans the multiverse.

But that's precisely why I reject the multiverse. In fact, it is also why most scientists reject Lee Smolin's 'Fecund universe' theory........the notion that somehow ( in some approximation to biological evolution ) universes 'propagate' via black holes. If Smolin's theory were true it has it's own Fermi Paradox......as one would expect more black holes to exist than actually do.

And when one considers that Smolin's theory is pretty much the base level for self-replicating anything at the level of the multiverse....let alone beings.....one would ( as Smolin argues ) expect it to be true if that eternal substrata were ( as Prof Brian Cox argues ) going through every possible permutation.

My whole point is that one can turn the possibilities that one would expect from a multiverse back on their head....just as with Fermi.....and argue that their non-existence proves the multiverse does not exist.

Mon, 13 Feb 2012 04:15:10 UTC | #917083

Steve Zara's Avatar Comment 21 by Steve Zara

Comment 20 by Schrodinger's Cat

But that's precisely why I reject the multiverse. In fact, it is also why most scientists reject Lee Smolin's 'Fecund universe' theory........the notion that somehow ( in some approximation to biological evolution ) universes 'propagate' via black holes. If Smolin's theory were true it has it's own Fermi Paradox......as one would expect more black holes to exist than actually do.

No. The reason why most scientists reject Smolin's theory is because in most models of black holes, the holes don't give rise to daughter universes. They reject Smolin's theory on grounds of physics.

My whole point is that one can turn the possibilities that one would expect from a multiverse back on their head....just as with Fermi.....and argue that their non-existence proves the multiverse does not exist.

It doesn't, any more than Fermi's Paradox shows that a large universe doesn't exist. You can't say that because we haven't seen aliens, therefore the universe can't be as large as we think it is. And in the same way, you can't say that because we haven't seen Godlike aliens, then the multiverse doesn't exist. All you get from a lack of observations of aliens is some likelihood that the aliens don't exist, nothing else.

A lack observation of Godlike multiverse aliens means that there isn't even the "aliens did it" excuse for reports of miracles. It says nothing at all about the multiverse.

Mon, 13 Feb 2012 04:24:16 UTC | #917084

nurnord's Avatar Comment 22 by nurnord

          [Comment 17](/videos/644930-krauss-and-dawkins-discuss-something-from-nothing/comments?page=1#comment_917077) by  [Ignorant Amos](/profiles/64713)          :


                 Comment 13 by nurnord> Ok, back to this little exchange - I might expect it to be different as there is an ocean of potential and pressing topics to be discussed within our sphere (our sphere meaning atheism, religion, politics, science etc.) of interest (read - concern ?). I don't think it is beyond reason to anticipate a discussion of these things, but not the very same material when the scope is so much wider. I guess that amounts to criticism, not my aim by any measure, I beg of you...> But that's only because you watched both discussions, the two audiences wouldn't necessarily be privy to that. Would you expect to see a comedian on two dates of a tour present different material on each occasion..... how about a rock band?Anyway, it was a thoroughly enjoyable 2 hours that flew by in a flash.

I don't accept either of those points, the former does not address it and the latter is not a valid comparison.

Mon, 13 Feb 2012 04:25:26 UTC | #917085

lmkrauss's Avatar Comment 23 by lmkrauss

I don't believe it is similar to our stanford discussion at all in fact.. I tried to stay away from the same issues as I remembered them.

Mon, 13 Feb 2012 04:52:50 UTC | #917089

Alternative Carpark's Avatar Comment 24 by Alternative Carpark

Thoroughly enjoyable, as expected.

Regarding free will, any discussion of the subject should begin with a brief definition of 'free will', otherwise it just confuses people further, particularly if they have never pondered the issue before. Of course, in this case there was no time to do so.

Mon, 13 Feb 2012 04:57:37 UTC | #917090

Alternative Carpark's Avatar Comment 25 by Alternative Carpark

Comment 23 by lmkrauss :

I don't believe it is similar to our stanford discussion at all in fact.. I tried to stay away from the same issues as I remembered them.

Professor Krauss.

My son turns five tomorrow, and this year we will be talking more about science to him. Do you have any plans to write a kids book - even a kid-friendl(ier) version of "a Universe from nothing"?

Mon, 13 Feb 2012 05:00:43 UTC | #917092

Steve Zara's Avatar Comment 26 by Steve Zara

I really do like this discussion format. It does allow for good and thorough discussions. For what it's worth, I'm not sure I agree with the various definitions of 'nothing' that Krauss uses, but yet again I'd like to add that his latest book is, in my view, a great read, with so many difficult ideas explained well and in a very easy style. Enjoyable.

Mon, 13 Feb 2012 05:02:25 UTC | #917093

Sample's Avatar Comment 27 by Sample

The proposal for a lame duck atheist campaign by Prof. Dawkins is a very compelling idea in my opinion. Despite being likened to rapists in trustworthiness, I think the American people would be quite forgiving if it was statistically shown that lame duck atheists accomplished more for their constituents in their final months in office than their theistic colleagues accomplished during entire terms.

Nice chairs.

Mike

Mon, 13 Feb 2012 05:21:59 UTC | #917094

Metamag's Avatar Comment 28 by Metamag

Comment 5 by InYourFaceNewYorker :

Richard,

I totally agree that it's a disgrace that a doctor could not believe in evolution. In theory, I probably would walk out as well if I learned my doctor was a YEC. But then I hear about Ben Carson, brilliant and renowned neurosurgeon who performed one of the first successful hemispherectomies and separates twins joined at the brain-- who also happens to be a young-earth creationist. Well, if I needed complex brain surgery I would go to him.

How is this compartmentalization on his part even possible?? What do we make of it?

Julie

Why would you think this is weird? Surgery is about manual skilled labor and memorization, and medical schools are known for not teaching evolution or pulling everything into a big picture, especially if he went to school 30 years ago.

Mon, 13 Feb 2012 05:25:50 UTC | #917095

Steve Zara's Avatar Comment 29 by Steve Zara

I'm kind of stuck on the business of the non-disprovability of deism. I'm trying to figure out why it is considered beyond disproof.

It seems to me that deism is a mind-first view of reality, that some sort of disembodied essence either created everything or is somehow embedded in the fabric of the universe.

This is surely an mistaken view of mind. It's like insisting that running software can exist without a computer. We would surely consider the idea of 'free floating' Windows 7 to be an absurd idea, not worthy of any consideration. So why isn't there the same simple and obvious rejection of deism?

I'd like to ask anyone who considers deism even a little bit feasible - what do you consider deism to be?

Mon, 13 Feb 2012 05:32:19 UTC | #917096

Cartomancer's Avatar Comment 30 by Cartomancer

The idea that two contradictory things can both be true at once, the one in the scientific, the other in the theological sphere, is not a new phenomenon by any means. In the Middle Ages it was known as the doctrine of the Double Truth (veritas duplex), and a number of prominent theologians of the thirteenth century appealed to it in order to paper over the cracks between what the (heavily neoplatonic) christian tradiiton held and what was being discovered in the newly translated Latin versions of Ptolemy, Galen, Euclid and above all Aristotle. It is thus a very venerable response indeed, going back to the very beginnings of serious christian engagement with scientific knowledge.

It makes sense, of a sort, given the propositions it stems from. The idea was that one thing is true according to observation (scientia), the other according to revelation (sapientia). If you genuinely believe that these are both valid sources of knowledge then an irreconcilable contradiction between them is a real problem. You can't throw out either conclusion, but you can't make them agree, so the only sensible option is to say that each is true in a different way and take the inquiry no further. Human fallibility in matters of perception furnishes a more than adequate justification. The most prominent champion of this doctrine was the ill-fated Siger of Brabant, a staunch supporter of Aristotle and his Arabic commentators and a critic of human (i.e. papal) infallibility in all things. Siger was killed in 1280. By his mad secretary, With a pencil sharpener.

Of course, there were other solutions to the issue. Some medieval thinkers, such as John Blund, stuck rigorously to only one field or another - theology or natural philosophy - and made it quite clear which they were doing at any one time. This was easier thanks to the fact that most masters who wrote on philosophy had not yet begun the study of theology, which you generally had to be 35 or over to do in a Medieval university, and have a string of lower degrees under your belt already. Or you could reject one or other source of authority and hold that, whatever the truth was, there was only one of it. Usually this meant rejecting Aristotle, especially on important matters like whether the universe was eternal or not. Though you could quite easily have your cake and still eat a good portion of it by saying that Aristotle's account is the best you can get through unaided reason, but you need revelation to go the whole way and understand how the universe behaves under the non-standard conditions of divine intervention. Aquinas was one of the most prominent who held this view, and it later became catholic orthodoxy, though until the time of the reformation there were still theologians who resorted to double truths to square the circle of believing the scriptures and keeping up with the science. There were even some at the time of Copernicus who proffered it as a way to keep biblical astronomy and still embrace a heliostatic model of the solar system. Eventually it became a heresy punishable by excommunication, but it had waned in popularity significantly by early modern times.

Such compartmental thinking was perhaps easier for a mind thoroughly steeped in medieval theological exegesis, where the same passage, symbol or event in scripture could be understood not only in at least four different ways (literal, allegorical, tropological and anagogical) but, crucially, in all of those ways at once. The casting of Adam out of Eden, for instance, could be understood as an historical event, the symbolic loss of innocence, a moral warning about the importance of obedience and an allusion to divine justice. When you believe that god communicates on all these different levels at once, the idea that two things are simultaneously true in different ways is easier to swallow, or so it would seem. Of course, Augustine was fairly adamant that this sort of communication had ceased with the incarnation, but that didn't stop people applying the same modes of thinking to contemporary matters.

I wonder if something like this isn't behind the people one occasionally hears of like Richard's astronomer and the medical doctor of the example. Is what we are witnessing merely a "hold off and see" approach to reconciling what these people believe are two equally valid but incompatible sources of knowledge? Such an approach has been little in evidence among serious thinkers in the West for over 500 years, so it seems surprising to find it cropping up today. But perhaps it is a symptom of the more open, less violently sectarian religious atmosphere in parts of the modern world. Although heresy and dissent was becoming an issue in the thirteenth century (it did see the Albigensian crusade among other things) academic discussion of theological matters was still not so sharply sectarian and dangerous as it would become when there were competing protestant and catholic factions after the reformation. Then a certainty that observed reality accords completely with your version of religion was a necessary thing to have, and encouraged, and there was little place for the much quainter and less adversarial solution that the two could both be right in their own way.

Mon, 13 Feb 2012 06:23:05 UTC | #917099