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PostPosted: Thu Oct 14, 2010 9:19 am 
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David Frydman wrote:
There are many types of infinity.
Regards, David.


Thanks - now it is all clear and I understand how my simplistic view is inadequate.

Ian


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 14, 2010 9:29 am 
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brian livesey wrote:
If we regard Infinity as a continuum, why should there be a problem? It's the same with Zeno's paradox of the moving arrow.
Zeno reasoned that, if the arrow is at a particular point in its trajectory, how can it be moving?
The error Zeno made was to assume that motion occurs in "bits", but, if we regard motion as an unbroken continuum, the paradox is resolved. :D


I don't see how regarding an infinite time ago (existing forever) as a continuum helps - because there will always be a yesterday.

Using an arrow analogy and the distance analogy, if you fire your arrow and it has to travel an infinite distance will it ever arrive at its destination (regarding it's movement as a continuum or not) ?

Ian


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 14, 2010 10:02 am 
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How can there be a "destination" in infinity? All that we experience are endless transmutations of matter. Infinity as a continuum doesn't rule out change. Why should it?

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PostPosted: Thu Oct 14, 2010 5:49 pm 
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Dear al(L)
Irrespective of what Hawkings and Dawking might think, as far as I'm concerned, if "god" is allowed, it solves any amount of cosmological problems, at a stroke.
Interesting though cosmology is (and I do find cosmology interesting) I am neither intelligent enough nor seriously bothered enough to provide the answers myself. However, there are many other things of interest to me ( both astronomical and non-astronomical) and I don't see the point of wasting time trying to solve problems beyond me - and possibly\probably beyond anyone anyway.
Best of luck from Cliff


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 14, 2010 8:09 pm 
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As far many people on this planet is concerned struggling with their day to day problems of survival in an even more difficult time, there are no cosmological problems - there are practical problems of getting by! It just does not matter to them that theoreticians keep trying to solve the insoluble problems that they have build themselves in the first place because their sums do not seem to add up. Billions of years in the past and billions in the future...these are interesting concepts but really "out of reach".
When I look back to my childhood, 50 years ago, even that is all lost, nearlly all the people who were older then are now gone, buildings, places, ideas, dreams...all gone and out of reach...sorry...I have just been watching the classic film "The Time Machine" again!!!!
The"Time Traveller" may have had "all the time in the world" but we do not........and time for us only runs one way and really the past does not still exist...even if the light from events broadcasted into space could be seen as it was intercepted by an outer civilisation, it would be no more than like watching the images on films of the past, just shadows and unchangeable.
maf


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 14, 2010 8:53 pm 
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Cliff wrote:
Dear al(L)
I don't see the point of wasting time trying to solve problems beyond me - and possibly\probably beyond anyone anyway.
Best of luck from Cliff


aw come on, these things are great to ponder over. never say never in science, its only a few hundred years ago we thought we lived inside a black sphere with the heavenly bodies stuck to it.

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PostPosted: Thu Oct 14, 2010 9:40 pm 
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Cliff wrote:
Dear al(L)
Irrespective of what Hawkings and Dawking might think, as far as I'm concerned, if "god" is allowed, it solves any amount of cosmological problems, at a stroke.


I see it differently in that whilst God might answer one of two of the issues it raises a whole lot of new ones and I think as a concept it probably makes everything harder. But then one is adding a "layer" of "explanation" based on no evidence and without getting any closer to an explanation.

(As I see it)
Ian


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 14, 2010 9:58 pm 
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At the risk of sparking an undesirable off topic debate, if a subject or problem is too complicated, difficult or unknowable for our feeble minds, why is it "solved" by introducing something (God) which is possibly even more complicated, difficult or unknowable. God as an explanation of everything explains nothing. You might as well introduce another type of cosmological constant! :wink:

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PostPosted: Fri Oct 15, 2010 9:09 am 
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Well said, Joe. :wink: Just because there are gaps in knowledge, doesn't mean that we have to fill them with make-belief substitutes. This used to be the way in pre-scientific times and was understandable, as people tried to cope with what seemed to be unassailable numinous ( natural to us ) forces - but ours is an age of enquiry and, despite its short-comings, who can deny that it gets results? This is not a denial of a god/gods, but how can we accept something that can neither be proved nor disproved?
I think that Mike is mistaken in saying that the past is gone and irrelevant. Our present way of life is the result of the collective labour of centuries. Looked at in this way, the past is always with us. How many words in this post, for example, are of Greek and Latin origin?
Cosmology is as relevant as any other branch of science and should be given the resources it needs. We shouldn't compare cosmologists with theologians.

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PostPosted: Fri Oct 15, 2010 5:33 pm 
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The past is gone indeed but of course the present is "built on and of the past" . I was not suggesting that the past was irrelevant and recorded history teaches us much (and astronomical recorded history is most interesting to me) but when you try to go back or forwards by billions of years you are not "on solid ground" at all. (pun intended).
Indeed if the past is irrelevant, then so will be the future! maf


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 15, 2010 6:41 pm 
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Dear al(L)
Joe and the rest of you lot.
I think you are missing a point and talking ............ (I just editted out a over strong comment).
Firstly I used the term "god" deliberately as opposed to "God" or "GOD".
Secondly, I don't necessarily believe in "god" myself, but I think the concept quite feasible.
Hawking and Dawkings have every right to their opinions but they niggle me because they (maybe)seem to think they are on a pedestal with understanding superior to anyone else. As far as they go god is nonsense.
Yet their explanations for there being no god leave me cold, to the extent
they make me think there might be god after all.
However, in my book we (humans) will never understand everything.
I'll suggest (my possible) god may understand everything - or at least very nearly.
Yes, I accept there might not be god. However, if there is god it solves all my problems about the cosmos.
No need for mathematics - possibly very clever stuff but possibly only producing decent approximations.
As for the Horizon programme, I enjoyed watching it to a point.
I've actually watched it three times (though still not desperately scrutinised it).
I'll try to give the expert cosmologist participants who contributed to the programme some lee way with regards their explanations (arguably because of them not seriously explaining their maths (and viewers like me generally not understanding the maths satisfactorily anyway).
However that said, taking my more extremely critical hat - I thought the cosmologists understanding (or at least their ability to put things over on the Horizon programme) pathetic.
The cosmologists put forward several alternative cosmologies non of which were very palatable to me. They currently seem possibly even further away from understanding cosmology than ever.
As for Brian's apparent suggestion critical of past scientist filling in the gaps with ........ I'm sorry to say that I think some of the concepts are simply playing with words.
I've largely given up on properly understanding Einstein's Relativity mysel ( amongst many things I haven't got the mathematical nowse).
However, I am a BIG admirer of Relativity, and believe it works.
Many of the wild concepts outlined on Horizon might be based on mathematics (and most if not all the maths used might be right) but there was a lot that seemed little more to me than many weird ideas I've heard of expressed by totally non-astronomically minded people.
I was a little taken aback by Roger Penrose who it seems has turned volt face (I hope I put that right) and to my surprise he seemed to say it was nice to take a different look at things). I actually bought a very thick book written by Roger a few years ago. To be honest I've never spent much time trying to understand it. Ther's no way now I'll take the book very seriously, I'd rather think up a ludicrous concept of cosmology myself.
Many years ago the concept of what I call "determinism" came under critiscism. I'll put it simply by saying a more flexible approach seemed need. Unfortunately I think we (or rather cosmologists) may be falling in much the same trap.
Amongst other things they generally seem to rule out god (although funnily enough I think some cosmologists are religious). I'm not religious but I do not rule out god ( I tend to classify god as utterly beyond my comprehension - a million miles beyond my worst understanding of mathematics).
god may be my last gasp excuse why we will never understand everything. Irrespective of there being god or not, I reitterate I do'nt think humans will ever understand everything. I'm inclined to go even further by saying if cosmologists don't get their acts together they might do science more harm than the bankers recently did to the World Economy.
Best of luck from Cliff


Last edited by Cliff on Fri Oct 15, 2010 7:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Fri Oct 15, 2010 7:05 pm 
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Cliff wrote:
Joe and the rest of you lot.
I think you are missing a point and talking ............ (I just editted out a over strong comment).

I'm glad you did edit it but I think we get the drift anyway.

Personally, I'm not referring to a belief or non-belief in a god but simply suggesting that positing a god as an explanation for some property of the universe gives us no information at all. It's nothing to do with Dawkins, Hawking, Polkinghorne or any other atheist, agnostic, believer, etc.

If we missed the point then what is it?

I should add, rather hypocritically, that emotive discussions about the existence or non-existence of God will result in a locked thread.

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Last edited by joe on Fri Oct 15, 2010 7:09 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Fri Oct 15, 2010 7:06 pm 
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Cliff wrote:
However, if there is god it solves all my problems about the cosmos.


I cannot see how or why a god can solve all the problems of cosmology. Current cosmological questions might no longer be relevant but a whole load more questions replace them e.g. where did this god come from, what created him/her/it, how long has this god existed, etc., etc.

Trouble is that whilst we can measure e.g cosmic background radiation, red shifts, etc., we cannot measure of investigate anything related to a god theory because everybody that proposes it states that there is no proof but that you just need "faith". So it basically just stops all investigation replacing it with nothing tangible.

Ian


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 15, 2010 8:48 pm 
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Dear Ian
Does it matter where "god" comes\came from.
Arguably wanting to know that is falling into the same trap as cosmologists who think it might be possible to know everything.
One of my possible concepts is that god may not even know itself where it came from.
A rather crude expression I often use that an old lady I know used to say comes to mind :-
"They want to know what's at the far end of a fart !"
Yes, I know it can be said to be a get out, much in the same way that when asked why he (George Mallory) wanted to climb Mount Everest, Mallory replied :-
"Because it's there!"
Mallory died on Everest back about 1924. His body was found only a few years ago. Ironically no one knows for certain whether Mallory and his companion Irving got to Everest's summit and died when descending, or died whilst attempting the ascent.
I think it a fascinating story - much more so than Schroedingers fictional cat whereby opening the box reveals an answer.
In the real Mallory\Irving case arguably their box was opened, sure enough they were both dead but the mystery of whether they got to the to of Everest continues unsettled. Fact can be stranger than fiction as some say.
Suppose god came into being much like humans do. However, then there was a catastrophe everything was wiped out, his parents everyone, only god survived. chances are god (itself) wouldn't know why it was there, or how he came into being.
As I said before, god might know a lot but not quite everything.
Of course I don't expect everyone or anyone else to accept my suggested scenario. I don't necessarily believe it myself. But I don't completely rule it out. Furthermore I don't totally rule out some of the ideas put forward in the "Horizon" programme. But considering how exceptionally tallented the participating cosmologists are (or I assume are thought to be) I wasn't convinced by anything they said.
To be honest I cannot understand why anyone can think of totally ruling out the possibility of god.
If sometime humans solve all the problems of cosmology (satisfactorily without any need of god (eg some form of devine-ish intervention) then I might accept there is no god. Although feeling argumentative, even then god might have been there and helped but being modest, might stroll away casually without wanting any of the credit or fame.
Celebrity seekers would be disappointed, god not wanting fame, no one to acclaim.
Best wishes from Cliff


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 15, 2010 9:20 pm 
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What is wrong with accepting that we don't know and that we will probably never know the answers to all the questions posed in this topic.
We should ask questions, I have asked questions all my life. But some questions cannot be answered. We can theorise, we can have beliefs or no beliefs, but I accept that we can never know the answers to some of these very complex questions.

I have only met three geniuses in my life, and it is quite clear they did not have the answers, and I would not expect them to.

David.


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