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Posted by Paul R. Martin on September 25, 2003 19:07:13 UTC

Hi Harv,

That was a great post. Thank you for putting the work into composing it. I can see that you have been paying attention.

You have described my beliefs very accurately. As you know, I am not very good with 'isms', so I can't argue too much with your classification of me, but I will take some minor exceptions.

I don't think you have described Dick's beliefs as well. Dick will have to grade you on that job, not me. I will just point out that you didn't mention his notion of G.O.D. which is part of his belief system but not what I call his "Theorem". You also mentioned the subconscious, but I'm not sure you captured the role it plays in Dick's belief system.

As for the relationship between Dick and me, you can be forgiven for not getting that exactly right because you don't have much to go on. But I'll give you credit for getting parts of it pretty close.

For the record, and for other readers, I'll correct some of what you said to bring it a little closer to the truth. I'll also do what I can to clear up what seems to be a little bewilderment on your part. But, on the whole, what you said about me is pretty accurate and I thank you for taking the time to write it up. Let me start with some of your bewilderment:

"I find it strange that Paul is a theist and that Dick is an atheist"

I find it strange that you find it strange, since it was you who assigned those 'isms' to us.

"yet they seem to agree on a fundamental view of the universe."

I think your suspicions are correct that even though we seem to agree, there may be some very fundamental issues on which we don't agree. Now I notice you said "a" fundamental view and I suppose that is correct. We agree that in a consistent universe, the laws of physics couldn't be different from what they are here. But when you go beyond that, we really haven't come to any agreement. I tried at length, as you might remember, to get him to agree with some fundamental ideas that would include physical reality as a subset of a larger system. We conducted that conversation in the General Interest (or some such name) forum on Astronomy.net. I don't feel that we reached a mutual understanding, much less an agreement.

"Dick puts up with Paul's views because Paul holds the power of the customer (i.e., Dick 'sold' to Paul his model of reality and he needs to keep Paul happy as a consumer of his 'product')"

This is not a very accurate characterization. Dick really doesn't put up with my views if they are contrary to his. I don't have any power as a consumer because no revenue flows from me to Dick. Dick did sell me on his model but he doesn't need to keep me happy with it.

"So, the question is, what is so harmonious about each other's views that a theist like Paul and an atheist like Dick can find harmony?"

That's a good question for you to ask, Harv. I think you might learn something from the answer. The harmony you can't understand is not based on our views. It is based on friendship. This is what I was trying to explain to you when I gave reasons for getting to know each other as persons rather than hiding behind anonymity. Since we have become friends, we have discovered that we both enjoy thinking about questions that the majority of people don't. That is probably the biggest single bond between the two of us. Even though our opinions on those questions might differ, we still respect each others points of view. But the friendship goes beyond that and we have each developed a genuine interest in the human aspects of the other's lives. If you have trouble understanding that, then I would suggest you open up to people more and develop friendships. It greatly enhances life.

"Paul, on the other hand, is an absolute idealist. He sees God as everything, even our thoughts are God thinking in us. He holds a slightly different interpretation to F=0 than Dick. Whereas Dick sees it as a sign that we can no nothing of reality because our subconscious prevents that from happening, Paul wants to say that F=0 somehow means that Thought is primary in the world, and this Thought is God who constructs a world of a multi-dimensional universe where he 'experiences' the universe.

I remember fondly when Paul first gave the brief side comment that he met Dick by coming across his webpage. His interest at the time was the necessity of mathematical law in determining the laws of physics. This jived with Paul's perspective since, in Paul's view, God created mathematics by doing math. A math statement became true after God had completed the theorem, and therefore it became part of a Platonic world where Thought created math."


Right on, Harv! Great job and thanks again. There is just one little thing to correct in this description:

F=0 does not mean that thought is primary. Thought IS primary so F=0 comes later. F=0 results from the following type of thought: What are the consequences of building patterns of thought that are consistent? It's sort of like the question of what would happen if you played a game of chess following the rules? The answer to the first question is what you call F=0. I.e., the consequences would be the laws of physics.

"In Paul's mind, Dick is offering a mathematical theorem. As a mathematical theorem, it exists because God thought of it. Hence, the truth of the world, F=0, meaning the laws of physics in completed form, is due to a mathematical theorem being true, which is true because God thought it."

There is only one little correction to make here also: By saying that a theorem is true because God thought it might be a little misleading. You wouldn't say that the Pythagorean Theorem is true because Pythagoras thought it, would you? If you would, then I guess that wording is okay. But I don't think everyone would agree. I think it would be more correct to say that the theorem is true because it is a necessary consequence of the rules (axioms, primitives, and definitions) of the system that one choses to accept. Choosing to accept that set of rules and developing the consequences is what the thought is all about.

"Paul - theist - who sees F=0 as true because God thought of it and therefore reality is solipsist not from our perspective, but from God's perspective: the absolute idealist perspective. God experiencing his own thoughts as 'us' in a solipsist reality that he creates."

To fix this, I would only change "God thought of it" to "God thought it". Minor, but it is the point I made above. Good job again, Harv.

"Hence, we see a fundamental and major conflict between the two interpretations. Dick - atheist - who sees F=0 as true because it is true of our subconscious, eliminating causal structure of hte world"

No, we don't see a fundamental or a major conflict here. You have overlooked Dick's views on the subconscious. I think that's because he doesn't talk about it much. But in my view, what he calls the subconscious is simply God having thoughts that don't get down into the limited subset of that consciousness that we call human consciousness. So in my view, our explanations of fundamental reality are the same. It's just that Dick doesn't talk much about that part of it outside of physical reality.

"Dick and Paul are like two politicians who join forces out of convenience with common interest"

Now that's an unwarranted slur that I don't like very much.

"Paul, to advance his views of absolute idealism (which is a kind of solipsism)"

I have always been reticent to express my views on these subjects until the past few years. I still have no desire or ambitions to "advance" my views. I have simply come to the conclusion that it might be okay to share my views with people who think about the same questions that I do. I am still somewhat ambivalent about sharing them so publicly on this forum and on my website, but again, I think it is probably okay. But as you well know, Harv, I am the last person who would want any kind of "Religious Organization" to arise or be formed because of these ideas.

"Idealists joining forces to fight the evil forces of scientific realism (e.g., Alexander), constructive empiricists (e.g., Richard), philosophical agnosticism (e.g., Luis), general relativist (e.g., Bruce), modal realism (e.g., myself), and extreme solipsism (e.g., Alan)."

No, I don't see any of those as "evil forces". As I have said to you many times over the years, it is not the ideas that are evil, nor the people who hold the ideas. The evil lies in the organizations that arise under the pretext of teaching, or spreading, or enforcing, or interpreting the ideas. (Gingerly hops back off the soapbox.)

"extreme solipsism (e.g., Alan)"

I thought that was my title, and you're giving it away to Alan? I guess I'll have to be the Remote Virtual Polytheist instead.

Good talking with you Harv and thanks again.

Warm regards (really, sincerely and heartfelt. We have the same soul, you know.)

Paul

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