Sunday, December 19, 2021

GMS Talks Emergent Properties and Scientific Method

"Atheists can't answer these questions" ...or Can We?
2nd April 2021 | Genetically Modified Skeptic

2:38 "simple parts" vs "system"

All properties the system has will have some counterpart in the simple parts - I recall "the property of being round don't belong to points in a circle" ...

I come from Sweden, a country very much proning atheism, like the Soviet Union, even if the political systems are clearly distinct. I left Sweden for a reason.

  • 1) Points are not parts of a circle, points are actually if anything limits between parts. One of the best definitions of a point is, "the limit where this part of the line ceases in favour of that part of the line" and similarily line to surface, surface to body; so the parts would actually be larger than points if real parts. These are either curved or not.
  • 2) If they are curved, the property of roundness is simply the sum of the curvatures, it's curvature completed.
  • 3) If they are straight, the circle isn't perfectly round and isn't perfectly circular. But the approximate roundness or circularity arises from angles between the parts and these being too small to really stand out from the curve.

The straight answers about curvature in 2 and 3 are eluded by the points being, wrongly, elevated to "parts" of the circle. They are like parts in being in the circle, not outside it, and in not being all of the circle, but to be part, they would need to have being, which points don't have. Unlike for instance small dots (which are not geometric points, even if they usually represent points on diagrams).

2:50 "a simple cardiac cell can't pump blood, but when enough of them get together, they form a structure which can"

Hearts pump blood by contracting and decontracting. And the cells that make hearts work are muscle cells which also have this ability.

OK. But consider that the actin and myosin fibers within the muscle cell don't contract. They simply slide past each other without changing length (look up "sliding filament theory"). So you've just asserted that muscle cells have an ability, contraction, that their constituent parts , actin and myosin fibers, don't have.

Hans-Georg Lundahl
@matterhorn731 Contraction involves movement of extremes, and the myosin fibres as you say have movement.

@Hans-Georg Lundahl Actin and myosin fibers can move in space. The muscle cell as a whole can do that too. But the muscle cell can also shorten in length, which is how I would define "contraction". The fibers cannot shorten in length (unless you break them).

Therefore, while movement is a property of both the system and its component parts, contraction (shortening in length) is a property only of the system, i.e. an emergent property.

+ @Hans-Georg Lundahl Additionally, more on the level of the original analogy: a single muscle cell can contract. However, it cannot pressurize fluids in any meaningful way since it cannot attach to and pull on them. However, with many muscle cells in a particular arrangement, the pulling force exerted on each other creates a pushing force exerted on the fluid, pressurizing it.

Therefore, while contraction is a property of both muscle cells and hearts, pressurizing fluids is only a property of hearts (and is therefore emergent).

Hans-Georg Lundahl
@matterhorn731 But as contraction is a movement in space between extremes, the general idea is once again present in the smaller parts. Second one is already answered. Here too, what emerges is made up of what properties the parts have.

2:58 H2 and O2 both fuel combustion but H2O can be used to stop combustion ....

First, H2 and O2 are not on the same side of combustion.

Second, H2O is (among other things) a result of H2 and O2 already combining in combustion:

2H2 + O2 (Brown's gas) => 2H2O (water).

And neither the H2, nor the O2 are any longer there when there is H2O - the O has no double bind to another O, the H has no bind to an H.

Thank you for reminding of the chemical formulas, this means that the example even isn't one.

Third, water stops combustion by being cold. If you add hot enough steam, it won't stop the combustion. H2 and O2 are too volatile to be too cold to stop each other from combustion at a spark. If you freeze them to liquid hydrogen and oxygen, they too will stop combustion.

Again, a very bad example of "emergent property" as you need it. Both combustive and anti-combustive properties are parallalled in the other, "emerging" or "emerging from" side in the right conditions that parallel.

A better example of an emergent property involving water would be polarity. As atoms, neither hydrogen nor oxygen have polarity, and neither do their molecular forms (H2 or O2). But as water, H2O, they do have polarity; their V-shaped structure creates a positive end (the two hydrogens) and a negative end (the oxygen). And that polarity leads to all manner of interesting outcomes: hexagonal snowflakes, ice that floats, surface tension, capillary action, and of course the ability to act as an excellent solvent into which many diverse substances can dissolve (a fact essential for organic biochemistry and therefore life).

Hans-Georg Lundahl
@matterhorn731 Both atoms have, on this theory, polarity inside them, between nucleons and electrons.

@Hans-Georg Lundahl Potentially, though more for the hydrogen atoms than the oxygen. However, this is only the case when they're bound together. As independent atoms, their electron cloud is pretty much uniform. And as molecular O2 and H2, they're electrically symmetrical (i.e. nonpolar).

Additionally, even if you consider polarity to exist within the atoms of a polar molecule, it does not exist within the components of those atoms. Electrons and protons have charge, but an individual electron or proton cannot have polarity. Polarity is a property that can only exist in a system that includes both positive and negative, protons and electrons, arranged in such a way as to be asymmetrical (and preferably stable in that asymmetry). Therefore, it is an emergent property of such systems.

Hans-Georg Lundahl
@matterhorn731 Polarity is obviously concerned with opposite charges, again the general idea is in the smaller components.

When I spoke of polarity within an atom, I meant between nucleus and electrons.

3:03 No, the interaction actually involves the parts actually giving what they actually have, and not emergence of properties alien to their nature.

3:15 Fallacy of composition is about statements, not property types.

The statement on heart cells and that on hearts don't match, but they share the type of property which it is to contract and decontract.

4:44 Nope. Your analysis of "emergent properties" is a false solution and the Muslim is right.

5:09 No, it's not "we don't know how to explain something, therefore God must have done it", it is on the contrary "we do know such a part of the explanation is lacking, therefore sth which has this part of the explanation must be involved in the true explanation" and that part of the explanation being sth which matches classic attributes of God.

5:19 Having evidence for x, and observing y, for which you have no other explanation, is actually the same thing. Except when x itself is also observable.

5:32 Quinta essentia, also known as aether would be a somewhat valid explanation on some level ... depending on what attributes you credit it with.

However, why is this aether joined to this matter?

Here you start getting into questions which argue sth beyond both aether and normal matter.

I don't know the properties of "chaos emeralds" and emeralds being material would arguably hold also for these, and hence they would be observable.

8:56 It so happens, while it is admirable to make a causal statement and predict from it and it matches not yet made observations, this doesn't ultimately make for more certainty than making causal statements just about observations already known.

And theistic philosophy (on which Muslims have some kinship with Christians, even if they like to give only the grand lines) actually does this.

Refuting a theory that is wrong is not confirming a theory that is right - unless the wrong refuted is the obverse of the right confirmed, not always the case. Therefore, simply not refuting a theory is not confirming it, especially not if you avoid to take the measures of correct analysis which would refute for instance your version of "emergent properties" arguments.

9:04 "When a hypothesis is repeatedly confirmed by observation, it reveals a causal mechanism ...."

No. It confirms the hypothesis of the mechanism insofar as that hypothesis is really testable by the test implication. But the mechanisms are only revealed by good reasoning, and that is available also without arranging experiments.

The test implications of atoms getting will and senses and knowledge from somewhere other than atoms is repeatable as many times as there are men alive on earth - but the question is whether the test implication is one. It actually is, despite your "emergent properties" diversion.

And in some cases, those proposed by scientists who want to confirm atheism (not all do) or materialism (not all do) aren't, despite being repeatedly "tested".

9:54 the laws of halflives in radioactive isotopes:

  • are just about atoms, not about where will or knowledge comes from;
  • are only partly confirmed by historically testable observations.

I'll spell out the second. Uranium series is a prediction about how fast a certain isotope of uranium decays to a certain isotope of lead (there is also an actinium series where there are other isotopes of each and they go over an intermediate of an isotope of actinium). It can't be tested.

The Carbon 14 half life could be tested, is basically tested and is tested to being more than a century longer than Libby predicted (5568 years was his prediction, 5730 years is the presently accepted Cambridge halflife).

It can be tested, because, even if we may have some divergences on what objects are from 5730 years ago, we will fairly readily find objects that are from 100 years ago - giving a measurable difference in the ratio.

100 / 5730 = 10 / 573 = 0.017452

0.5 to the power of 0.017452 is 0.98798 and in fact you do expect a 100 years old mat of straw to contain 98.798 % of the original C14 content.

Obviously, where will and knowledge comes from is very relevant on whether planets move only by inertia and gravitation according to masses and distances involved or can be moved by knowledgeable wills.

11:30 First of all, the laws of nature very much do not explain why atoms could "combine" to make (with intermediates like abiogenesis and Tiktaalik and humanisation) men.

But second, he is right that the laws are not the mechanism.

They don't answer whether the mechanism is God, or matter or a God that expresses Himself to Himself as matter (Theism, Materialism, Pantheism). That can only be answered by asking the questions on a different level from that of observing the laws.

This is why my contrast with angelic movers of planets was "inertia and gravity according to masses and distances" and not law of gravity or law of inertia except when introducing according to.

Presumably, the correct way of stating materialism would be to say "masses are different in quantity and act according to that difference" and not (equivalent of "the laws act") "the differences in quantity of mass act".

But over and above this "emergent properties" isn't a law of nature in the sense that inverse square law is.

Once you admit there is a different causality than masses, and other vectors, you need also admit that other laws than those regulating vectors or chemical reactions could describe the causalities.

Other as in "angels move heavenly bodies" or even more other as in "God put angels over heavenly bodies and in charge of helping humans to live as correctly as possible" (given aberrations of their freewill abusing itself).

11:40 No, his question was rather double:

  • how do you explain that the laws of nature usually describe whatever works; and
  • what is it that usually works according to the laws of nature, and why?

Note, he did not go for "created things, because God created them that way" (mostly, daily turn of universe around earth still by God Himself in St. Thomas), he went for "God" (meaning : each time a flame sets fire on a paper, God uniquely decides for that occasion that the paper shall take fire, creatures don't cause, they only occasion).

This idea is called occasionalism. But whether you are a Thomist or an Occasionalist, pretending that the "laws of nature" cause anything is like pretending the laws of arithmetic fill your bank accounts.

You seem to have not grasped even that distinction.

I think the technical name of that fallacy is "reification" ... you reify the laws of nature.

12:09 Sorry, but the admission is hedged the wrong way.

"No one can give a verifiable answer" = "If the greatest physicists today can't, no one else can either." = "The greatest physicist today know better than anyone else historically or at present." = Blatant self aggrandisement on their part.

And "verifiable" poses the question of how you verify.

If only observed explanations are verified, quarks aren't verified.

If an explanation uniquely fitting a problem that is observed is verified because all alternative explanations are refuted, then it can extremely well be that God is verified as well. Not to mention on a somewhat lower level, the human soul as a real spirit and as really a distinct type of substance from matter.

This goes hand in hand with your earlier pretence that all that have built our knowledge over centuries and millennia have done so by the scientific method, but adds on top of it an unverifiable statement that only scientists claiming to abide by it are heirs to earlier "practitioners of the scientific method" - when earlier people who did add to our knowledge very typically neither bore the title scientist, nor pretended to follow the ideology of Popper.

12:30 "this question highlights a gap in our knowledge about the universe"

Scientists are sufficiently special to say what others know about it?

When did Lawrence Krauss or De Grasse Tyson bother to read C. S. Lewis' Miracles or St. Thomas Aquinas Summa Theologiae? How did they show to qualified readers of either Christian author that they understood what they read? If not, can you pretend they even bothered to check? No.

Btw, I think I can see where this is going ...

12:38 "This again is just a God of the gaps"

So? What exactly does "God of the gaps" mean? That the word "God" is so empty in content that it's just a rhetorical synonym for "we don't know"?

This is not the case. Take a Classic Theistic view of God, this is a concept with fairly specified content. And with fairly specified claims to explain things.

Sufficiently specified to be "testable" unless by that you insist we need "arranged experiment" and cannot use the ongoing experience of our daily existence.

Or that it is a gap in our observations? Well, so are quarks. The smallest "subatomic particle" ever observed, if I may give an Irish bull, is the atom. It is only observed in electronic microscopy and the electrons by which it is observed are not themselves observed. Atoms and electrons are, therefore, also a gap in our observations. But not necessarily in our concepts.

Hence, God need not be either. But if either is, I'd say the evidence for God is more direct and unambiguous

12:45 "[the argument that] because a verifiable answer hasn't been provided or justified, assuming God is the answer"

Again, you are not showing you define "verifiable" or "justification of an answer" in any objective way, as opposed to an atheistically biassed one.

13:09 "since that hypothesis explains the data hypothetically, the hypothesis is confirmed"

Yeah, so?

It is precisely the degree of confirmation Popper attributes to scientific theories.

Now, if on top of that the hypothesis is alone in explaining the data, the hypothesis is not just "confirmed" (in Popper's sense) but proven.

This happens if all other hypotheses suggested both duly divide the question (with each other and the one we consider as proven) and have insurmountable problems.

13:27 A hypothesis may be unfalsifiable because it is true and testable by logic about the existence we already have, rather than by arranged experiments (which are part of the existence we already have and only test hypotheses by precisely logic).

This is something different from a hypothesis being unfalsifiable by containing a specious explanation making sure what would otherwise falsify it can't.

13:43 The idea of an immaterial spirit is "testable" by the fact that we have a spirit also referred to as mind, with qualities other than our bodily ones.

And the idea that a spirit created matter is "testable" by the fact that this perfectly explains the interaction problem on substance dualism : mind rules over matter in the body insofar as a mightier spirit than the own human one has given the human mind rule over the human body's matter.

And "testable" is here taken, not as testable by arranged experiment, but as testable by our everyday experience through logic.

13:52 "the laws of nature just have to exist as they do"


Mind rules over matter in the body? If that was the case, my mind would make my 79 year old matter grow younger (I'd settle for 40), my mind would make the matter of my eyes change colour at will without contact lenses, my mind would make the matter of my arms grow feathers so I could fly! Beyond the placebo effect, where mental attitude can contribute to overcoming illness, the mind does not rule over matter in the body.

Hans-Georg Lundahl
@JEANNETTE HOPE "If that was the case,"

In man, it is only the case for so much and no more. I suppose you were able to move your fingers on a keyboard though, and doing that involves speaking your mind, not the gravity or inertia in your fingers as they respond to electric signals.

"Beyond the placebo effect, where mental attitude can contribute to overcoming illness, the mind does not rule over matter in the body."

I think it's the limbic system where mind doesn't rule matter. In willed movements while awake, it does.

Would have been somewhat more credible with an eternal steady state universe, and is somewhat less so when atheists resort to Big Bang.

13:56 "the great incorporeal turtle on whose back we rest"

Happens to be a self contradiction. Not just between turtle and incorporeal, but also between back and incorporeal.

And "on whose back we rest" happens to - unlike Theism - contradict data we have.

Geography and astronomy may not be perfect, but they do perfectly rule out the Discworld.

14:00 But "maintains these laws by the deep magic" actually starts getting philosophical again.

Magic being defined as direct control of mind over either body or other minds, this response again points to a ... mind.

14:24 Your diatribe against philosophy is just uneducated.

For a certain observation, two, four, eight contradictory hypotheses may be possible, hypothetically, but these do not cover the two, four, eight contradictory hypotheses for some other observation.

And there are precisely TWO ways of empirically verifying a hypothesis, namely this way or direct observation.

You don't have direct observation of ultimates and that even includes the laws of nature. If logic can actually cut between two hypothesis about an observation by another one, when it comes to establishing laws of nature, so it can about ultimates like God.

15:55 Popperism is not how most of our knowledge was discovered or verified, and eliminating human biasses seems to make sense only if human reason is somehow suspect of being inept at finding truth - if that were true, so would "the scientific method" be, since it depends (though not on the best fashion) on human reason.

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