Murray Gell-Mann on truth and beauty in physics

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Murray Gell-Mann on truth and beauty in physics

Post by QuantumTroll » Sun Jun 15, 2008 12:20 pm

http://www.ted.com/index.php/talks/view/id/194

I love this guy. In this presentation, Murray Gell-Mann explains what is meant by "beautiful equations", why beauty has been a great indicator of the success of a physical theory, and what we can learn from this phenomenon. In the process, he describes an atheist world-view that seems very similar to my own. The phrase of the hour is "You don't need something more to get something more". Emergent behavior of physical systems (like evolution) is enough to explain everything in the human experience.

The theists on this forum will probably disagree. You might say that "emergent behavior" doesn't explain transcendent phenomena, but I've explained before how phenomena seem transcendent to us because we live in a virtual world built up entirely by our limited brains. All I hope this video will show you is that it's perfectly possible to be an ancient genius and be an intellectually satisfied atheist. Gell-Mann and I don't think you need God to understand the world, and on that basis we reject it. One advantage of this physical approach to understanding the universe is that we neatly side-step a lot of hairy philosophy. I really think this "philosophy" (if we can call it that) requires a minimum of assumptions, mainly that there is a real universe that operates according to the natural laws.

There's an opening left for theism, of course. One could say that God laid down the natural laws, or God is the natural laws, or something similar. I have to tread carefully here, but I really think that God is more than this. Or rather, I think this is a weak formulation of God that fails to encompass most of His most important aspects.

Enjoy the TED talk, I'm curious to hear your reactions to Gell-Mann's words.

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Re: Murray Gell-Mann on truth and beauty in physics

Post by Metacrock » Sun Jun 15, 2008 1:12 pm

QuantumTroll wrote:http://www.ted.com/index.php/talks/view/id/194

I love this guy. In this presentation, Murray Gell-Mann explains what is meant by "beautiful equations", why beauty has been a great indicator of the success of a physical theory, and what we can learn from this phenomenon. In the process, he describes an atheist world-view that seems very similar to my own. The phrase of the hour is "You don't need something more to get something more". Emergent behavior of physical systems (like evolution) is enough to explain everything in the human experience.

except the human experience.
The theists on this forum will probably disagree. You might say that "emergent behavior" doesn't explain transcendent phenomena, but I've explained before how phenomena seem transcendent to us because we live in a virtual world built up entirely by our limited brains.

No it's clearly transcendent by definition. Just saying we live in a world of our own understanding (I guess that's what you mean by "virtual") doesn't expalin anything and it doesn't make anything go away. You are just trying to lose the phenomena. Rather than explain you seek to make it go away,.

All I hope this video will show you is that it's perfectly possible to be an ancient genius and be an intellectually satisfied atheist.
Of course it is. geniuses can live in denial. btw I don't have speakers so I can't hear it.

Gell-Mann and I don't think you need God to understand the world, and on that basis we reject it. One advantage of this physical approach to understanding the universe is that we neatly side-step a lot of hairy philosophy.
that's just crazy. Philosophy is what makes it fun.

I really think this "philosophy" (if we can call it that) requires a minimum of assumptions, mainly that there is a real universe that operates according to the natural laws.
I assume that. that has nothing to do with it. you are still trying to assume that the of bleief is to expalin things, and that alternate explanations are threats to belief. when will you get with the program and realize what's its really all about?



There's an opening left for theism, of course. One could say that God laid down the natural laws, or God is the natural laws, or something similar. I have to tread carefully here, but I really think that God is more than this. Or rather, I think this is a weak formulation of God that fails to encompass most of His most important aspects.
every theological concept with which you cannot cope you call "weak." Your reason for saying that is that it differs from the outlook you hate and want to battle. that's a reason to say it's weak.

That's just an excuse to avoid the fact that you can't deal with modern liberal theology.

Thomas Aquinas thought that God creates laws of physics. that's nothing new.

Enjoy the TED talk, I'm curious to hear your reactions to Gell-Mann's words.

I'll have to get speakers. But thanks man. I appreciate the thought. I'll try to get them hooked up.
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Re: Murray Gell-Mann on truth and beauty in physics

Post by Metacrock » Sun Jun 15, 2008 1:14 pm

btw is that Gell-mann guy really an atheist or are you reading that in. Please don't be offended by the question. I know you are not the average carm dope who can't tell the difference in a physicists and an atheist. I just thought maybe he seems atheist-like an is really a Pantehsit or something.
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Re: Murray Gell-Mann on truth and beauty in physics

Post by QuantumTroll » Sun Jun 15, 2008 4:09 pm

I really think you should watch the video before commenting on this thread. I'll just respond to a couple points you raised.
Metacrock wrote:No it's clearly transcendent by definition. Just saying we live in a world of our own understanding (I guess that's what you mean by "virtual") doesn't expalin anything and it doesn't make anything go away. You are just trying to lose the phenomena. Rather than explain you seek to make it go away,.
No, we don't want the phenomena to go away. We seek to explain the phenomena in a way that is consistent with the way the rest of the universe.
you are still trying to assume that the of bleief is to expalin things, and that alternate explanations are threats to belief. when will you get with the program and realize what's its really all about?
I'm not trying to destroy your belief with alternate explanations, I'm explaining the logic of the atheist point of view. When will you get with the program and realize you don't need to see everything online as a threat?

If I read you correctly, you've basically already agreed to the point I was trying to make, because the point is not very contentious. If one accepts Murray Gell-Mann's mantra "you don't need something more to get something more", by which he means that evolution and emergent behavior in general is enough to get the universe and us in it, and then atheism is a premise that makes sense. But for any of this to make sense, you must watch the video.

If you lack speakers, then I suggest donning a pair of headphones. They produce better sound anyway ;)

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Re: Murray Gell-Mann on truth and beauty in physics

Post by Metacrock » Sun Jun 15, 2008 4:15 pm

QuantumTroll wrote:I really think you should watch the video before commenting on this thread. I'll just respond to a couple points you raised.
Metacrock wrote:No it's clearly transcendent by definition. Just saying we live in a world of our own understanding (I guess that's what you mean by "virtual") doesn't expalin anything and it doesn't make anything go away. You are just trying to lose the phenomena. Rather than explain you seek to make it go away,.
No, we don't want the phenomena to go away. We seek to explain the phenomena in a way that is consistent with the way the rest of the universe.
you are still trying to assume that the of bleief is to expalin things, and that alternate explanations are threats to belief. when will you get with the program and realize what's its really all about?
I'm not trying to destroy your belief with alternate explanations, I'm explaining the logic of the atheist point of view. When will you get with the program and realize you don't need to see everything online as a threat?

Just what do you mean by that!??? I'm kidding. it's irony. :mrgreen:

you are sloughing it off. Ok I didn't mean you are actually trying to destroy it. But you are trying to tuck it away in the back room where it can't do any damage.
If I read you correctly, you've basically already agreed to the point I was trying to make, because the point is not very contentious. If one accepts Murray Gell-Mann's mantra "you don't need something more to get something more", by which he means that evolution and emergent behavior in general is enough to get the universe and us in it, and then atheism is a premise that makes sense. But for any of this to make sense, you must watch the video.
My belief is not about explaining facets of the universe that science has yet to cover. So explaining some facet through some knew scientific idea can't really replace, make useless, compete with, or harm in any way, my belief system.
If you lack speakers, then I suggest donning a pair of headphones. They produce better sound anyway ;)
I'd still have to buy them. But that's a good idea. I never thought of that.
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Re: Murray Gell-Mann on truth and beauty in physics

Post by Metacrock » Sun Jun 15, 2008 4:22 pm

evolution has nothing to do with it. It's not an alternative to believe in God. If belief was about explaining things, evolution sure wouldn't do it because it doesn't tons things it doesn't expailn.

emergent properties can happen even if God is real. Nothing you can point to on a physical level competes with belief in God in any way. Because whatever the case may be physically, if there is a God, that's just the way God did it. Now please don't have the usual barf reaction attack that atheists have to that phrase. I did not use it as an argument for God. I use to explain why no amount of physics can compete with belief.

The reasons for belief in God are as many and varied as there are believers. Its' a personal thing and each has his/her own set of reasons. But trying to explain things is not the point.

Besides no atheist explanation is valid all the way back. that's why there's a cosmological argument. Just like the child's question "why?" to everything, we can keep taking it back to the point of asking "what created the big bang?" beyond that to "why is there something rather than nothing at all?" There is no atheist answer there.

atheists try to coopt physics but it only suffices on a certain level, beyond that level is where the reasons for belief are found.
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Re: Murray Gell-Mann on truth and beauty in physics

Post by QuantumTroll » Sun Jun 15, 2008 5:23 pm

Metacrock wrote:evolution has nothing to do with it. It's not an alternative to believe in God. If belief was about explaining things, evolution sure wouldn't do it because it doesn't tons things it doesn't expailn.

emergent properties can happen even if God is real. Nothing you can point to on a physical level competes with belief in God in any way. Because whatever the case may be physically, if there is a God, that's just the way God did it. Now please don't have the usual barf reaction attack that atheists have to that phrase. I did not use it as an argument for God. I use to explain why no amount of physics can compete with belief.
*sigh* I just explained to you that I'm not attacking belief in God. Nothing Gell-Mann said makes God impossible. What Gell-Mann and I have been trying to say is that emergent behavior makes God unnecessary. Belief in God is made optional by the fact that wonderful complexity can arise by itself. Of course you can believe that God made things this way, and so forth.
The reasons for belief in God are as many and varied as there are believers. Its' a personal thing and each has his/her own set of reasons. But trying to explain things is not the point.

Besides no atheist explanation is valid all the way back. that's why there's a cosmological argument. Just like the child's question "why?" to everything, we can keep taking it back to the point of asking "what created the big bang?" beyond that to "why is there something rather than nothing at all?" There is no atheist answer there.
Well, I strongly disagree with you. There are several perfectly adequate atheist answers, which are at least as good as the theist's answer to "what created God?"
atheists try to coopt physics but it only suffices on a certain level, beyond that level is where the reasons for belief are found.
You are unfamiliar with physics and mathematics, and this is quite unfortunate. There are philosophical truths to be found in understanding fundamental physics and its mathematics. Why does nature obey mathematical rules, rules which we can learn or approximate with science? This is really quite an extraordinary question and it interests me to no end, but there is a corollary: if the universe obeys mathematical rules then we might be able to find solutions to the question of its existence in mathematics and theoretical physics. I think those solutions will eventually be found, and I think they'll point to a causal loop of some kind (or more likely something stranger and harder to understand). Like a photon, its existence directly causing its own existence along a straight line in 4-space, except a universe is not a line in 4-space but a Klein bottle. A Klein bottle is a bottle that contains itself, a novelty thought experiment for us but a distinct possibility in higher-dimensional space. Here's a question for you: If a universe contains its own cause, then why would it not exist?

And let me remind you that you can accept all that I have said and add "God did that" and still be a theist.

Now please watch the video!

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Re: Murray Gell-Mann on truth and beauty in physics

Post by KR Wordgazer » Sun Jun 15, 2008 7:53 pm

But the point is this. You say you don't believe in God because you find "God did it" unnecessary to explain the universe.

And Metacrock and I say that even if the universe were self-causing, and we didn't "need" God at all as an explanation, we would still believe in God, because the primary need/purpose in our lives for belief in God has nothing to do with explaining the universe. It doesn't even have anything to do with finding some explanation for why we have a sense of the transcendent. All of that stuff is just running around the outside of God, like water runs around a waterproof object-- without ever going inside.

The experience of God is not, "Oh, I have felt the presence of God! Now I have answers to my questions about why the universe exists!" In light of the presence of God, the why of the universe becomes wholly irrelevant and unimportant. It is God Himself who matters.

I can't come up with an adequate metaphor. The best I can do is say it's like going to an amusement park and riding the roller coaster, and thinking that the important thing about the ride is the explanation the person sitting next to you gives of how the ride works. No, when you're on that ride, all you want is to say to that loud-mouth next to you, "Shut up! Don't ruin it with all this talking!" :mrgreen: The explanation is not the ride, and is wholly inadequate to explain your experience. Nor do you even need or want an explanation.

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Re: Murray Gell-Mann on truth and beauty in physics

Post by QuantumTroll » Mon Jun 16, 2008 6:25 am

KR Wordgazer wrote:But the point is this. You say you don't believe in God because you find "God did it" unnecessary to explain the universe.

And Metacrock and I say that even if the universe were self-causing, and we didn't "need" God at all as an explanation, we would still believe in God, because the primary need/purpose in our lives for belief in God has nothing to do with explaining the universe. It doesn't even have anything to do with finding some explanation for why we have a sense of the transcendent. All of that stuff is just running around the outside of God, like water runs around a waterproof object-- without ever going inside.
Judging my Metacrocks arguments for God, I still think I'm correct to some extent. God is, to some extent, about explaining some things. It's one of the main ways people get hooked on God. A discussion must have some kind of focus, and I do not think this is a bad one because it addresses some common Christian talking points.
The experience of God is not, "Oh, I have felt the presence of God! Now I have answers to my questions about why the universe exists!" In light of the presence of God, the why of the universe becomes wholly irrelevant and unimportant. It is God Himself who matters.
Um, yeah, you lost me :oops: . For eons, mankind has asked itself how we got here. Typically, the answer has been God. Your personal experience may have been completely unrelated, but the "ultimate cause" is still an important question. When atheists ask "why believe in God", the answers we get are usually "God created us" and "love is so beautiful it can only come from God", etc etc. If these things are wholly irrelevant and unimportant, why do they show up all the time in support of God's existence?
I can't come up with an adequate metaphor. The best I can do is say it's like going to an amusement park and riding the roller coaster, and thinking that the important thing about the ride is the explanation the person sitting next to you gives of how the ride works. No, when you're on that ride, all you want is to say to that loud-mouth next to you, "Shut up! Don't ruin it with all this talking!" :mrgreen: The explanation is not the ride, and is wholly inadequate to explain your experience. Nor do you even need or want an explanation.
I feel like I'm sitting on a rollercoaster and the people around me insist that closing your eyes and ignoring the design of the steel struts and runners makes the experience more valuable. I guess I disagree about the adequacy of the explanation to explain the experience.
God is a Value in and of Himself, and not a means to any end.
Sure, God exists in and of Himself, but humans (at least my sort of human) need reasons to believe things. One of those reasons could be explaining the human condition. I find it hard to believe that you would believe in God if your belief did not affect your life at all. Whatever the effect God has on you, that is a reason to believe. This thread is an attempt to explain how an atheist sees just one of the common reasons given by Christians.

Did you watch the video? What do you think of the fascinating pattern of beauty and truth in physics? I think this is one of the most astonishing aspects of reality :)

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Re: Murray Gell-Mann on truth and beauty in physics

Post by tiro3 » Mon Jun 16, 2008 2:05 pm

What do you think of the fascinating pattern of beauty and truth in physics? I think this is one of the most astonishing aspects of reality
I didn't watch the video, but that fact is how I took the first step to coming to trust in God. It seems impossible to me, to look at the beauty and miraculous patterns of nature, and not know that God exists.

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