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Offline QED

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Supplemental Offering: Expertise vs Intelligence
« on: April 27, 2019, 06:38:43 PM »
This is in supplement to a discussion with Sandokhan in EMS trajectory. The purpose is to provide context for my claim:

Intelligence is insufficient to deduce correct conclusions in fields beyond one’s expertise.

In no way is this an insult against Sandokhan. Quite the contrary, I have become rather impressed with his devotion and obvious talent.

Below is a debate between Sean Carroll (physicist) and William Lane Craig (theologian and philosopher). The topic is God and Cosmology. What Craig attempts to do is use physics to establish an argument for god.

Now Craig is an incredibly bright scholar, and veteran debater. But he doesn’t know his physics.

Carroll just kicks his ass, and this is because Craig believes that his intelligence is sufficient to interpret physics he is not qualified to interpret. As a result, he makes continual mistakes which Carroll corrects. Enjoy.


The fact.that it's an old equation without good.demonstration of the underlying mechamism behind it makes.it more invalid, not more valid!

- Tom Bishop

We try to represent FET in a model-agnostic way

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Re: Supplemental Offering: Expertise vs Intelligence
« Reply #1 on: May 06, 2019, 09:12:15 AM »
Thanks for this recommendation.  As a theistic physicist (and a physical theist), I found the debate interesting but a little disappointing from both sides.  Craig clearly does not fully understand some of the theorems and other physics that he attempts to use, and Carol does a great job exposing his ignorance.  However, Carol is also speaking outside of his own expertise when he argues against theism as if it is a bad scientific theory.  In my opinion this is just a giant category error.  Of course theism does not make scientific predictions!  Theism, correctly understood, has not been undermined by science because it was never supported by science.  Implicitly Craig makes the same mistake that Carol make here, because he does not call Carol on it.  Basically, I agree with Le Maitre as his views were briefly described in the debate, so it is disappointing that no one here took that position seriously.

Another irritating thing that Carol does is present his own ideas as if they are settled science accepted by most other physicists.  Many of the arguments that he uses are highly controversial among professional cosmologists, including whether the universe is eternal or had a beginning time and whether a multiverse exists.

Here is a question that I wish someone had asked: "Dr. Carol, if you are so confident that the universe needs no explanation, then why are you inventing multiverse theories to explain our universe?  These multiverse theories have no more predictive power than theism because by changing the probability distribution of parameters describing the multiverses (which distribution is completely unobservable) you can predict anything you want about our universe.  Really, what is the difference between the multiverse and God?"   

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Offline QED

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Re: Supplemental Offering: Expertise vs Intelligence
« Reply #2 on: May 06, 2019, 11:28:23 AM »
That is a fair response to the debate, and I appreciate your comments.

Given a debate topic: “God and Cosmology” it is understandable that both debaters must take certain chances reaching into their opponent’s respective fields in order to establish a proper argument. In my view, Craig reaches into physics to make physical claims he is not qualified to do, and Carrol reaches into theism yet does not make theistic claims. Indeed, theism cannot supplant science despite Craig’s desire to posit so. Carrol makes no genuine error of category, because he is rebuking Craig’s attempt to use science to prove theistic claims. Carrol responds by re-delineating the boundary, and underlining the incompatibility when attempting to cross it.

Indeed Carrol discusses ideas which are not a consensus, but those are the theories raised during the debate by both debaters, and Carrol ensures they are discussed properly.

It is not clear the multiverse theory has no predictive power. Tuning parameters of an idea that is barely understood is not really used by physicists to explain whatever they want. As a physicist, you do understand that we do not simply tune parameters to our fancy in a reverse-engineeering anthropic fashion.

And certainly, as a physicist, you are aware of the difference between a multiverse and a God.
The fact.that it's an old equation without good.demonstration of the underlying mechamism behind it makes.it more invalid, not more valid!

- Tom Bishop

We try to represent FET in a model-agnostic way

- Pete Svarrior

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Offline Rama Set

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Re: Supplemental Offering: Expertise vs Intelligence
« Reply #3 on: May 07, 2019, 12:48:44 AM »
Carol was actually extremely careful to point out that he was almost positive that his ideas were not “correct” just that they were plausible and indeed that is all he needed since WLC thought the idea of an eternal universe to be preposterous. By offering that there are multiple plausible models for an eternal universe he undermined the Kalam Cosmological Argument that is a huge lynchpin on Craig’s apologetics. 
You don't get races of anything ... accept people.

Re: Supplemental Offering: Expertise vs Intelligence
« Reply #4 on: May 07, 2019, 07:20:56 AM »
@QED: Carol clearly claims that "the evidence is against theism", "science has undermined theism", "there is no longer any reason to take [theism] as your fundamental world view", and theists should "admit they were wrong" and adopt some kind of godless religion.  He says that a religious person has 3 options: 1. deny the evidence, 2. accept the science but deny the implications, 3. admit they were wrong.  All of these sounds like "theistic claims" to me, but maybe I am not clear on your distinction between reaching into theism and making theistic claims.  I think these claims ignore a lot of subtlety, complexity, and versatility in types of theistic beliefs.  Carol is not arguing against a sophisticated theist, and unfortunately Craig lets him get away with it.

I believe that the category error that Carol makes is that he categorizes theism as a scientific, predictive theory when it is not.  I totally agree with Carol when he argues that theism cannot make useful predictions about the natural world and therefore it is not a good scientific theory, but to me that is not a good argument for rejecting it as a religious belief.  At first I was tempted accuse Craig of making exactly the same category error (of classifying theism as a scientific theory), but I think there is a slight difference.  Carol is importing a religious idea (theism) into science and judging is to be bad science, but Craig is importing a scientific idea (the beginning of the universe) into religion and judging it to be good theology.  At least that is my most generous interpretation of what Craig is doing.  In my opinion, Craig's argument is not very convincing as theology, but I would not call it a category error because theists should use observation of God's creation to obtain information about God.  However, such arguments are not likely to be persuasive to non-theists.  On the other hand, because I am a theist, if the universe was shown to have a beginning, the strength of my belief in God might be slightly increased.

Yes, I know there is a difference between a multiverse and a God, but I think that there are parallels in the ways that they are invoked by Carol and Craig respectively in this debate.  Both are used as explanations for our universe by reference to things outside of it.  Both are sufficiently versatile to accommodate many different types of universes.  (Of course some multiverse theories are more constrained, but also some theisms are more constrained.)  Hopefully some day a multiverse theory will make some specific and surprising predictions that we can confirm by measurements, but I am not aware of any multiverse theory having done that yet.

@Rama Set: I agree; Craig was not able to sustain his argument that there is strong evidence for the beginning of the universe.  His argument that a beginning requires an explanation also failed under Carol's attack.

Offline Pinky

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Re: Supplemental Offering: Expertise vs Intelligence
« Reply #5 on: May 07, 2019, 11:06:32 AM »
This is in supplement to a discussion with Sandokhan in EMS trajectory. The purpose is to provide context for my claim:

Intelligence is insufficient to deduce correct conclusions in fields beyond one’s expertise.

This is actually a very old conflict. If you look at the way education and research was historically structured in Europe, you see that until the Renaissance the emphasis of education was memorizing facts.

That shifted during the Age of Enlightenment, when the concept of "laws of nature" spread. Fact-based learning gave way to structure-based learning. It was no longer about memorizing lists of facts, but about memorizing patterns, connections and formulas.



Sadly, the misconception that intelligence means memorizing lists still exists today.

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Offline QED

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Re: Supplemental Offering: Expertise vs Intelligence
« Reply #6 on: May 07, 2019, 01:04:03 PM »

I find your analysis to be thoughtful, accurate and compelling.

The multiverse is an odd example to use. It does not meet the standard of a scientific theory, and is a possibility suggested by physicists. Perhaps future accomplishments will permit multiverse falsifiability. Until then, it’s utility mirrors anthropic arguments, in my opinion, and really serve as a philosophical comment rather than a scientific inquiry.

You mention Carol uses too blunt an instrument to dissect and discard religion, and suggest value exists it. I am interested to hear more of your thoughts on this matter.

I am an atheist. I believe religion offers communal and society benefits, but also produces much harm. Presently, I cannot identify any benefit of religion that can be found elsewhere which justifies tolerating the harm.

Nevertheless, I am open to challenging my view, and would like to hear your input.
The fact.that it's an old equation without good.demonstration of the underlying mechamism behind it makes.it more invalid, not more valid!

- Tom Bishop

We try to represent FET in a model-agnostic way

- Pete Svarrior

Re: Supplemental Offering: Expertise vs Intelligence
« Reply #7 on: May 11, 2019, 09:30:52 AM »

I find your analysis to be thoughtful, accurate and compelling.


Wow, that is high praise for an internet form comment!  Thanks!

Quote
You mention Carol uses too blunt an instrument to dissect and discard religion, and suggest value exists it. I am interested to hear more of your thoughts on this matter.

I am an atheist. I believe religion offers communal and society benefits, but also produces much harm. Presently, I cannot identify any benefit of religion that can be found elsewhere which justifies tolerating the harm.

Nevertheless, I am open to challenging my view, and would like to hear your input.

I'm sorry that it took me so long to reply to this.  It deserved some thought.

Carol does a great job of discarding religion as a scientific theory, but that is too easy because it is not a scientific theory.  Craig is arguing that one's belief in God should be strengthened because God's existence would explain the existence of the universe.  (Unlike Craig and Carol, even if the universe had no beginning instant and is eternal, I might still want an explanation for why there is a universe rather than nothing.)  I have some sympathy with the argument that explanatory power is a reasonable cause for belief.  I often believe things for which I do not have scientific proof because of their explanatory power.  For example, I believe that my wife genuinely loves me, meaning that she experiences loving feelings similar to the feelings that I have for her.  To me this seems like a better explanation for her behavior than that she is engaged in a years-long deception or that she is a philosophical zombie.  I can't have direct access to her (or anyone else's) conscious experiences, so I can never prove scientifically that she experiences loving feelings.  I accept "on faith" that she does feel love for me.  I also believe that I am not stuck in computer simulation of reality, that I am not a Boltzmann brain, that people should not hurt each other, and that God exists.  All of these are extremely strong beliefs that I have without scientific evidence.

In my opinion, the idea that one should only believe things that are supported by science is absurd.  As far as I can tell all people have non-scientific beliefs.  They can give meaning to life, organize other beliefs, provide explanations, and serve other beneficial roles.  Of course, one must strive for consistency of one's beliefs.  For me the reliability of science is a very strong belief, and I allow no conflict between my religious beliefs and science.  God gave us brains capable of rational thought, and God expects us to use them.  My God is not squeezing little miracles into the gaps between known science.  I think creationists for example are confused about both God and science.

I believe in God because it gives me a feeling of purpose and meaning, it helps me to act ethically, it contributes to community, I like its explanatory power (not only for the existence of the universe but also for other things), and it is my habit, to give some examples.  I'm confident that my religion brings me more benefit than harm.  Also, I have no evidence that God does not exist.

Does religion cause more global benefit than harm?  I have no idea!  I wish we had a good randomized, controlled trial for that!  I would comment that I think that a large fraction of religious people, of all religions, are and have been doing it wrong.

So, QED, I hope that answers your curiosity.  At least I enjoyed thinking and writing about it.

Sorry, moderators, for straying off-topic.