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TFBW's Forum • View topic - Thoughts Related to The Universe Function Idea

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 Post subject: Thoughts Related to The Universe Function Idea
PostPosted: Sun Nov 09, 2008 9:02 am 
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As is probably obvious, this is based on the essay "The Universe as a Mathematical Function." I'll start with a few preliminaries:

First, I’m randomly curious: what brought about the idea of a universe function?

Second, I give notice now: what follows is rather unpolished. I tried to smooth things out a bit, but honestly it was enough of a challenge for me to rough-cut some of these ideas, let alone trying to work them into a more polished state and order.

And as a third preliminary (though getting closer to the point): I’ve got to admit that through much of this essay, I was rather out of my league. I think this could be traced in part (though I'm sure not fully) to the fact that it dealt with a math concept. Math was a longstanding nemesis of mine. We did finally come to something of a peace treaty, but there’s never been friendship between us. As you may be able to surmise from the personification there, literature has always been my more natural ally. Ironically in light of that, however, I did get through quite a bit of math in high school – up through calculus (at least the beginnings), so I can appreciate the idea of a function as an image (again with the literary-mindedness) if not as… well, a mathematical function.

But to begin working out what we’re actually dealing with in this image – since it has now been at least five years since I’ve had to do any serious work with functions – am I correct in remembering that the domain in a function F(x) would be “x”? It seems fairly straightforward, even to me, that “x” would be the input, but again, it’s been a while, and as stated, math is not one of my strengths.

Given all that, what I think (assuming there was no misunderstanding involved) I was able to take away was something of a help in understanding possible interactions between free will and time.

Basically… hmm. Some setting for the problem I see this relating to might help. It hails back to a college philosophy class that dealt with various arguments posed to either prove or disprove the existence of God. I think it was in a discussion with the professor that he suggested that foreknowledge on God’s part implied a deterministic universe (if it is knowable, then it must already be determined). And a deterministic universe would preclude free will. I would tend to ground God’s foreknowledge in His being outside of time, but I think the reply to this was somewhere along the lines of, “If there’s an ‘outside’ to time, then the timeline (so to speak) must already all be in existence from the start, which means everything is already determined.” (It occurs to me now that I could conceive of a sense in which “determined” and “deterministic” were not the same things… but just as "nondeterminism" and "ignorance of determinism," though different, would be indistinguishable from within time and the universe, so I think might these). The subject came up when we were discussing the problem of evil as an argument against God’s existence, since my answer to this argument depends in large part on free will.

So back around to the function, free will, and foreknowledge. I think the function, as an image, gives me slightly more ability to conceive of an “outside” to time that doesn’t necessarily imply determinism than does, say, the above-mentioned idea of a “timeline.” (Even if functions, now that I think about it, often did result in lines on a graph. Meh :P .) I think I can picture willful components within a function – components not entirely determined by the function, but rather by their own choice – while at the same time seeing that for one outside the function, the answer, so to speak, is still the answer and was all along. I’m not sure how much this image would aid me in a resumption of the above-mentioned discussion with my professor (which probably indicates the limits of how well I understand it), or what he might answer to it. I suppose he might respond that he was not sure what I meant by willful function components. And come to mention it, I’m not entirely sure I do. What, conceptually, would such a thing be?

On second thought, I’m going to have to put that question on hold, because in trying to work it out, I think I landed on something relevant, but entirely different. This would be the matter of cause and effect, which I believe you said you didn’t get into very deeply. I’m curious as to what part cause and effect play in the universe function. Because if I consider how a function works… you have one static or constant set of mathematical operations, in which a variable “x” plays at least one, and often several, roles. Of course in this case, “x” is time. But then what is functioning as the static or constant set of operations? I could, perhaps, guess the laws of physics, but I can’t think of any other possibilities. And if it’s just the laws of physics… I’m uncertain whether I could consider this complete or not. If I think of the creation of the universe (the creation of the function) as a combination of the setting-in-place of the laws of physics (the establishment of the constant operations) and the creation of “stuff” (matter, creatures, etc.) for those laws to work on, maybe I can begin to see it… if the relationship between the output for one given time and the output for the next moment in time were established. This is something on which I’m unclear where the universe function model is concerned. It sorta seems to leave each moment in time disconnected from and unrelated to the last… to the extent where I can’t see how the one could relate to the other in any sort of causal fashion. I believe you said you wanted to leave things open to people to conceive of a continuous or a discrete sequence where time was concerned. However… I don’t see how this could work in a universe where the “output” or “state of things” at any given moment is dependent in part on the output/state of things of the moment prior. I don’t see how any function, if it remains the same function, could also be partially influenced by the results of prior inputs in a progressing sequence. Is there/could there be any kind of operation that would, in essence, say, “insert the results from the last step in the sequence here”? Would something along the lines of f(x-1) as an operation within the function "f" represent that connection? Or does that work into something of a mathematical infinite regress, since if the function itself appears as an operation within the function, the same would happen each time? :?

See, I told you, I'm dealing with math that's out of my league. But in short, I’m not sure how a function with time as the variable could work as a reflection of the universe as a whole unless there was some way, within the function, of also expressing the impact of the point in time prior to whatever given time you're working with.

And after all that, I’m not sure I have enough steam left to try and return to the question that came before it – that of what a willful function component would be. Maybe I’ll have to either pose it as a question, or leave it for a later time.

*Looks at the above. Looks at the clock.* Yeah, I think that’s enough for the moment. There were other thoughts, but I’m sorta finding holes in them, and I should probably limit the amount of mental wandering I inflict with any one post, anyway. :P
I guess I’ll end with my two main questions:
Does any of that make sense?
Any thoughts?
:)

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“And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth. […] they were longing for a better country – a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.” Heb. 11: 13b, 16


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 Post subject: Re: Thoughts Related to The Universe Function Idea
PostPosted: Sun Nov 09, 2008 1:17 pm 
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 Post subject: Re: Thoughts Related to The Universe Function Idea
PostPosted: Mon Nov 10, 2008 6:01 pm 
i'm not lost and i agree.

What you're exploring is the paradox between free will and predestination (or foreknowledge) and you're postulating sort of another dimension, another degree of freedom, which allows them to be compatible.

There are a couple things i find fascinating here (and i haven't read ur essay, just this post, so maybe u address these). If what you're saying is true (or, let's say, a valid way of looking at creation) then god has, indeed, given up some control. Even considering that all things are foreknown by god, they are foreknown to be a certain way not due to his explicit will, but mine. Or sadam husseins. Or osama bin laden's. Now, in a weird, way, if he "chose to give up his control", he still, retains control. Since it was his will to give up that control.

Another thing that is interesting / troubling is that the passing of time sort of becomes an illusion. Or maybe better said, the unrolling of causality over time is an illusion. All the causes and effects are already "done". Like a movie that's already done on the DVD. the passing of time becomes just a way to view the movie. Just like that DVD, we have no way of "taking it in all at once." It has to unfold.

The other thing that bothers me here, is that people can't then "change". One can't be "bad" at the start of the movie, and turn "good". He would have had to be a "bad-turned-good" person for all time. But i feel myself wanting to give all men a chance to change.

And what of preaching the gospel? Everyone to whom one would preach would be already either "bad", "good" or "bad-turned-good". Or perhaps, even, "good-turned-bad". The bible says the "good" category doesnt exist, but even the "bad-turned-good" category it seems like just scenery to preach to them. They were "bad-turned-good" before you preached to the, and after their "conversion" they are still "bad-turned-good." Nothing really, "changed", it just "unfolded". And there would be nothing one could do for the "bad" people.

Another very interesting question to me is what happens to the omnipotence of god? What if some human creature somewhere along the timeline of mankind willed that they themselves be omnipotent? This reminds me of the man finding a genie and wishing for "infinite wishes."

An answer to that question may be that the world in which my free will is exercised is, in the end, my own mind. While my free will may have an effect on the universe, it is limited, and the only "place" i can have absolute, uninhibited control, is in the mini universe of my own experience. And so, even then, god is giving up his control--but in a very curious way.

God says, i give you yourself. You are now god. You may choose whatever you want, and do whatever you want in this 'space' called yourself. And if you choose to exclude me, you will find that you have omnipotence to do that. I will not resist. The catch is, if that person takes up that mantle of control, then that person will not have god anymore. And the other catch is that god is the very definition of meaning and love. And while there is, and will always be, a hint, a faint breese of the truth and love of god flowing thru that person's being, it is trivially resisted. And there is free will in that scope.

Alternatively, one may abandon that ominipotence, and choose to align themselves with god's will. In which case, by not opposing god's willfulness and omnipotence, they can participate in same, and in a sense join with him in being the definition of meaning and love.

What do you think?


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 Post subject: Re: Thoughts Related to The Universe Function Idea
PostPosted: Mon Nov 10, 2008 9:38 pm 
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 Post subject: Re: Thoughts Related to The Universe Function Idea
PostPosted: Mon Nov 17, 2008 1:16 am 
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 Post subject: Re: Thoughts Related to The Universe Function Idea
PostPosted: Mon Nov 17, 2008 8:34 am 
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 Post subject: Re: Thoughts Related to The Universe Function Idea
PostPosted: Mon Nov 24, 2008 8:18 pm 
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