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Sunday, September 25, 2011

The Edge of 'The Universe'

The Edge of 'The Universe', or thoughts about "meta-verses" and "multi-verses" --

Aside from the fact that these silly concepts are dishonest equivocations -- for these and all similar concepts are but attempts to redefine the term 'universe' (*) without giving notice -- in seeking to demote the concept "the universe" from referring to *all* physical things to referring *some* physical things, the equivocators are also asserting that there is such a thing as "the edge of the universe". Yet, according to modern physics (and do not these persons *always* assert that their assertions are grounded in science?), the very idea of an edge of the universe is incoherent.

Let's explore these ideas ...
(*) The term, and the concept, 'the universe' has always referred to "all things existing in physical space-time". The specific material and physical entities and relationships to which the term and concept is applied have changed -- expanded -- over the centuries, as human understanding of the physical world has increased. But, all such change in application is wholly consistent with the unchanging content of the concept.

For example, in ancient times, when "the fixed stars" (and for that matter, also "the wandering stars", and the sun and moon) and the galaxy were thought to be lights and objects affixed to or embedded in crystal spheres of immense size surrounding the earth in concentric circles, the meaning of 'the universe' didn't stop with the earth or the moon; the "fixed stars", believed to be so distant that in relation the earth was as a mathematic point, were also included in 'the universe'.

Later, when it was understood that "the fixed stars" were like the sun (or, alternately, that the sun was another star), and that the galaxy was not one object, but was rather innumerable stars so distant that they appearto us as a mist, rather than as discrete points of light as "the fixed stars" do, 'the universe' was understood to refer to all that, too.

Later, when it was understood that certain nebulae were not simply gas-clouds or "fuzzy stars", but were actually masses of stars at vast distances from other masses of stars, 'the universe' was understood to refer to all that, too. For a time, these galaxies (as we now call them) were referred to as "island universes"; but that was a poetic or metaphorical usage, it was no more to be taken literally than referring to the Western Hemisphere as "the New World" was ever meant to be taken literally.

Many Worlds
Now, in these days, there are many persons asserting that the may be, or even that there are, "other universes", perhaps even infinitely many. Some of these persons even assert that their claims are scientific -- yet, definitionally, no such claim, nor argument for such a claim, can ever be scientific. For, definitionally, science deals with empirical evidence, and, definitionally, any empirical evidence asserted for any purported "other universe" shows simply that the so-called "other universe" is really just a previously unknown part of this universe. It's like "the Old World" and "the New World" in this regard.

So, What About This 'Edge' of 'The Universe'?
The Solar system has an 'edge', a limit-in-space; the Galaxy has an 'edge', a limit-in-space; the universe does not. Now, to be sure, the 'edge' of a solar system, or of a galaxy, is quite imprecise; setting exactly where it lies is wholly arbitrary. Nevertheless, one can in honesty say of *this* volume of space, "This is the Solar system" or "This is the Galaxy", and of the remaining volume of space, "but that is not". One cannot say the same about 'the universe': it has no 'edge'; there is no volume of space "out there" which is "outside" 'the universe'; there is no place one might theoretically go such that to one's back is 'the universe' and before one is 'not-the-universe'.

But, when one claims that there are, or simply claims that there may be, "other universes" or "a meta-universe" containing a multiplicity of "universes", then one is precisely claiming, or implying, that there is a physical "outside" of 'the universe' -- that is, that it has a limit-in-space, an edge (**). One is likening "the universe" to a specific raisin nestled in a raisin pudding.

Now, if one were to claim or argue that the present-day conception of 'the universe' is too small -- in the same way that previous conceptions were too small -- that would a very different thing from asserting that there are "other universes".

At one time, we thought that The Galaxy was the full extent of The Universe; then we discovered Other Galaxies and realized that the concept 'the universe' refers to far more than we had previously thought -- in effect, galaxies are like individual raisins in the raisin pudding (of which there is no "outside").

But, as that 'the universe' refers to "*all* things existing in physical space-time", to claim that there are "other universes" is exactly analogous to calling the other galaxies "Island Universes", or calling the Americas "the New World", and insisting upon meaning either literally, rather than as poetic metaphor. In asserting that there are "other universes", one is saying that "the universe" is a discrete raisin pudding contained within a pudding of other discrete puddings (which are not necessarily raisin puddings).

(**) This is quite a different thing from metaphorically speaking of God as being "outside" of time-and-space.

Edit (2011/09/28):
The reason I keep writing "the universe" in quotes is that there is no such entity. The term 'the universe' is a concept, and it is a meaningful and useful concept, at any rate, when it isn't muddled with equivocations; but the word and concept don't actually refer to a physically existing thing. The concept 'the universe' is analogous to the mathematical concept "the set of all sets".

Continue reading ...

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Vox Day will have a field day

Vox Day will have a field day with the reported study -- MailOnline: Is atheism linked to autism? Controversial study points to relationship between the two

From the article:
The study, from University of Boston, speculates that common autistic spectrum behaviours such as 'a preference for logical beliefs' and a distrust of metaphor and figures of speech, could be responsible [for the higher incidence of 'atheism' amongst "people with high-functioning autism".
The paper, 'investigates the proposal that individual differences in belief will reflect cognitive processing styles, with high functioning autism being an extreme style that will predispose towards nonbelief.'
Two points:
1) Not so as you'd notice 'a preference for logical beliefs' amongst 'atheists'.
2) What they're saying, by saying "could be responsible", is that such persons probably do not have reasons for their espousal of atheism, but rather that their atheism is likely caused by something non-rational. That is, that their 'atheism' is more likely the result not of their minds, than of their brains. Or their livers ... it's so hard to tell, sometimes.
2a) What they're saying, by proposing that the conclusions persons reach "reflect [their] cognitive processing styles", is that no one believes what he believes because he has reasoned soundly from true premise to true conclusion.

But, of course, they are also offering conclusions: they are false conclusions and the reasoning behind them, being merely a restatement of reductive materialism, is atrocious, but they are conclusions.

Here is Vox Day's discussion of the reported study, as reported: TIA: it is science (and it's well worth the read)

Continue reading ...

Monday, September 19, 2011


The accusation that ‘So-and-So is greedy!’ is almost always -- and when the accusation has political ramifications, always -- intended as an attempt to provide moral cover for, and sanctification of, the accuser’s own covetousness. That is, and to use his own terms, the accuser hopes to disguise his own greed as a righteous thing, and indeed as a just thing -- the accuser means "I want what you have", but he phrases it as "It is 'unfair' that you have what you have, but that someone else doesn't".

edit 2011/11/11:
VR, in 'Cafeteria conservatism and the New Testament ': "The treatment of wealth and poverty in the New Testament fail to rule out all conservative positions as unChristian, but some versions of it strike me as unacceptable. For example, the ethics of Ayn Rand and the ethics of Christ simply can't be reconciled. Greed is not good. ..."

How is someone else's alleged greed any of your damned business? [Do you not have enough to concern yourself with in your own shortcomings and sins?]

How does someone else's "greed" -- whether the term is used to refer to real greed, or whether it is used to refer to the false "liberal" redefinition of the term -- harm you or anyone else?

It wasn't "greed" -- it wasn't citizens wanting to keep for their own use as much as possible of the fruit of their own labor -- which rounded up, stole the wealth they had created, and deported to the wilds of "Indian Territory" a significant number of my ancestors; it was government which did that -- it was democracy (and, in fact, it was Democrats!) at the behest of actual greed who did this. [Fourthermore, it was not simple greed which motivated those Democrats all those years ago -- it was not *simply* an unbalanced desire to possess more than they already possessed; no, it was covetous greed which motivated them, for they coveted what others already possessed and desired to take it from them.] Yet, this [covetous] actual greed was itself powerless to harm my family, it required government guns to round them up and steal their farms and homes and wealth.

And, just as Democrats of 170-180 years ago (in the life-time of my great-grandfather) were actually greedy for the wealth of others, and used the force of the US government to dispossess those people, so too, today's Democrats are actually greedy for the wealth of others, and seek constantly to use the force of the US government to dispossess those persons. Those old Democrats used all sorts of false reasons and reasoning to justify their theft; but they were pikers compared to today's Democrats, for today's Democrats seek to turn reality on its head when they declare: "That you keep resisting our efforts to take from you what is your just proves how 'greedy' you are!"

Continue reading ...

Sunday, September 18, 2011

The primal source of liberalism?

Lawrence Auster: The primal source of liberalism?

Ed H. writes:
Your insights into Gnosticism as the origin of liberalism are stunning. Thank you for sharing these.

I would like to offer an even more primal source for liberalism. This would be the reasoning that Judas Iscariot gives when he decided to betray Christ. This act is the primal sin of the world and the reason Judas commits it is clearly stated and it is the reason behind every secular world view. When the woman with the jar of costly ointment pours it over Jesus' head, the other apostles say, "That ointment could have been sold and the money given to the poor." Jesus replies, "Leave her alone, she does this to commemorate my death. For you will have the poor always but me only a little while." But Judas is incensed and cannot be reconciled. His sense of "social justice" is outraged and he cannot understand the transcendental vision that Christ is unfolding. The two ways of valuing the world are brought into direct opposition, the transcendent and the secular. Judas chooses the secular, "social-justice" value scheme and goes to the chief priest to denounce Christ.
LA replies:
Isn't that amazing? The most famous single sin in the history of the world (other than Adam and Eve eating the forbidden fruit) was about a man valuing material equality and the sustenance of the poor over God,--was about placing secular liberalism over the transcendent--and this is never pointed out.
Ed H's insight is deep and meaningful, as is Auster's further thought from it, and thus I wish to share them with Gentle Reader.

However, it's not exactly true that this is never pointed by anyone. For example, when I say that "liberalism" is all about posing oneself as being holier and more moral that God Himself (even when said "liberal" is a so-called atheist), I am making the same point that Ed H draws to our attention.

Continue reading ...

Sengoku Release Trailer

I've bought and quite enjoyed (and have been simultaneously frustrated by) several games from Paradox. I think I'd like this one very much (*) ... but I also think I'll not think about buying it (at least, not for now).

(*) and, after all, 'Ilíocentrism' is "about things Ilíon likes".

Continue reading ...

Me no speak-ah Christianese-ah

Aunt Haley (Haley's Halo): Me no speak-ah Christianese-ah -- For once, miss Haley isn't writing from the anti-Christian, to say nothing of false-to-reality, perspective of "Game". And, she's making a criticism I often, with rolled eyes, think, but have never articulated.

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Thursday, September 15, 2011

DNC Chairman - 'Democrats are racists'

Bob Parks: Quote Of The Day
About a New York district that’s voted Democrat for 91 years…
In this district, there is a large number of people who went to the polls tonight who didn’t support the president to begin with and don’t support Democrats - and it’s nothing more than that.
-- Debbie Wasserman Schultz, chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee
You simply can’t make this stuff up.
OK: we all know that, at the present time, when Democrats and other leftists say that "So-and-So doesn't support the president", what they mean is that So-and-So is a racist. So, since this district is reliably Democrat, what this foolish and useless woman is *really* saying is that Democrats are racists.

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PSA Of The Day

Bob Parks: PSA Of The Day

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Sunday, September 4, 2011

Now, he's just incoherent

Vallicella (again, about 'Original Sin'): Two Opposite Mistakes Concerning Original Sin

Vallicella claims:
One mistake is to think that the doctrine of Original Sin is empirically verifiable. I have seen this thought attributed to Reinhold Niebuhr. (If someone can supply a reference for me with exact bibliographical data, I would be much obliged.) I could easily be mistaken, but I believe I have encountered the thought in Kierkegaard as well. (Anyone have a reference?) G. K. Chesterton says essentially the same thing. See my post, Is Sin a Fact? A Passage from Chesterton Examined. Chesterton thinks that sin, and indeed original sin, is a plain fact for all to see. That is simply not the case as I argue. ...
Simultaneously, Vallicella claims:
... So on the one hand we have those who maintain that the doctrine of Original Sin is true as a matter of empirical fact, and on the other we have those who maintain that it is false as a matter of empirical fact. On both sides we find very intelligent people. I take this disagreement as further evidence that we are indeed fallen beings, 'noetically wretched,' to coin a phrase, beings whose reason is so infirm and befouled that we can even argue about such a thing. And of course my own view, according to which OS is neither empirically true nor empirically false, is just another voice added to the cacophony of conflicting voices, though, as it seems to me, it has more merit than the other two.
And, he concludes:
So we are in deep caca, intellectually, morally, and in every which way -- which is why I believe in 'something like' Original Sin. Our condition is a fallen one, and indeed one that is (i) universal in that it applies to everyone, and (ii) unameliorable by anything we can do, individually or collectively. ...
In case Gentle Reader has not worked out for himself what the point of incoherency is, it is this: Mr Vallicella asserts:
1) the doctrine of Original Sin is not empirically verifiable (nor empirically falsifiable);
1a) yet, somehow, the fact that we even argue about whether the doctrine can at all have an empirical basis both is and is not an empirical basis for the doctrine;
2) the effects of Original Sin can be directly observed daily, everywhere, in all things we do or do not do;
2a) nevertheless, these observations do not count as empirical verification of the doctrine.

Continue reading ...

Thursday, September 1, 2011

He Does ... and Doesn't ... Get It

... but, mostly, he will actively decline to get it.

Original Sin and Eastern Orthodoxy
... But both 'events' are also 'states' in which post-Adamic, postlapsarian man finds himself. He is in the state or condition of original sinfulness and in the state or condition of fallenness. This fallen state is one of moral corruption and mortality. This belief is common to the Romans, the Protestants, and the Orthodox. But it could be maintained that while we inherit Adam's corruption and mortality, we don't inherit his guilt. And here is where there is an important difference between the Romans and the Protestants, on the one hand, and the Eastern Orthodox, on the other. The latter subscribe to Original Sin but not to Original Guilt. Timothy Ware: "Men (Orthodox usually teach) automatically inherit Adam's corruption and mortality, but not his guilt: they are only guilty in so far as by their own free choice they imitate Adam." (229)

I conclude that Farrell should have said, not that the Orthodox do not accept Original Sin, but that they do not accept Original Guilt. Or he could have said that the Orthodox do not accept the Roman Catholic doctrine of Original Sin which includes the fomer idea. Actually, given the context this is probably what he meant.

There is something repugnant to reason about the doctrine of Original Guilt. How can I be held morally responsible for what someone else has done? ...The more I think about it, the more appealing the Orthodox doctrine becomes.
Neither the Roman Catholic church, nor generic Protestantism, teach "Original Guilt" -- as though we are somehow guilty of/for Adam's specific act of sin -- though, certainly, there may be "liberal" schools within Catholicism and "liberal" Protestant denominations which may teach something very like it -- you know, something like "You are 'white' and some 'whites' enslaved some 'blacks' ... therefore, if you are not a "liberal", you are a vicious racist", or some similar bullshit.

Serendipitously, Michael Flynn, who is Catholic (as I am not), and who cares about/for the Roman Catholic denomination (as I do not), has a recent post touching upon, among other things, R.C. teaching about Original SIn and "Original Guilt".

Another thing Vallicella doesn't get (sorry, I'm not going to spend my time digging up his post that made it clear he does not understand) is this truth: we are not sinners because we commit sin(s); rather, we commit sin(s) because we are sinners.

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