Thursday, November 23, 2006

The Minds of Our Youth

It gets to you after awhile. You spend time discussing these skeptical issues with folks on the jblogosphere and frumskeptics group and you start to think that there really are a lot of thoughtful Jews out there who know there are significant issues with Orthodoxy. Many of them aren't as skeptical as you are, sure, but they at least know there are problems and can rationally appraise the situation.

You can actually have a conversation with people and you can be speaking the same language.

So I decided to spend some time on a different kind of discussion board online and I've been there for about a month or so. This discussion board is made up predominantly of young (college age mostly) straight-up Orthodox Jews. There are a couple with some interesting histories, but I was nearly alone in my skeptical views amongst a sea of unqualified full believers.

It's like talking to a wall. Not only do they not understand where you're coming from, they believe that your intent is sabotage and for the most part do not even attempt to defend their beliefs. And when they do try to defend themselves they don't even know how to think. You make an argument and they don't understand. You actually have to walk them through it one 'if-then' step at a time. They are so sure they are correct even though it is fully apparent that they are fully ignorant on so many key concepts. It's like they don't want to think - they don't care! They are dead-set in their ways at the ripe old age of 20 years old.

It's maddening.

They make piss-poor arguments that folks on the jblogosphere would tear apart in minutes, while there they all nod their dittoheads in solemn agreement. It is incredible seeing how these youth's minds are in such subservience to the thinking patterns forced onto them as yeshiva students. They don't think for themselves and they can't even conceive of thinking outside the box.

These people are the future of Orthodox Judaism. And these were the MO type no less!

As long as I could almost fool myself that Orthodoxy could be composed of all the thoughtful people we find on the jblogosphere I am comfortable with my place in life and the path I've chosen. Traditional is good when thought is free. But when I see the real company of the future and the type of thinking I am externally associating myself with I think to myself, "What am I doing here? These are people whom I want to be identified with?"

Oy.

78 comments:

B. Spinoza said...

can you give an example of the type of discussion you were having?

Baal Habos said...

Daniel, that is exactly why Orthodox Judaism will survive. If someone is in a trusting frame of mind, no amount of argument will sway them. Unless, I contend, the information comes to them Meseeach Lfi Toomo, in a nonchalant fashion. Once you put forth any sort of argument, they will shift into antibiotic mode. I'm not sure what your goal is. Do you really want to be responsible for putting doubt into peoples minds? (I know it sounds tempting, but only if we could get thousands on board and that won't happen). Others may not come to the same Orthoprax conclusion as you do.

Rabban Gamliel said...

Let them remain Orthodox. You aren't one of them. You are Orthoprax and still a developing kid yourself. Don't influence them in ways you could live to regret twenty years from now. Especially yet this is the twenty first century and science is developing so fast and you are basing some of your arguments on ideas from now. Just ten years ago ideas in science were different so much how much more so in the future. Why do you think Dawkins has fought so hard against anyone doubting his version of Evolution which others point out is too slow? Because science is changing faster than him. I don’t tell my Chassidic relatives to abandon their ways or beliefs. I’m happy they continue a line that was started by some ancestors of mine.

Anonymous said...

I on the other hand find myself agreeing with orthoprax.There are too few thoughtful and knowledgeable people in the orthodox/yeshivish community. I found that the Dati Leumi people in EY were much more thoughtful and in the last few years their Torah knowledge has caught up with the yeshivish olam. Here in America there are YU graduates that have those abilities but they are ignored by the yeshivah world and they are too few to make an impact.

I am generalizing as I have been surprised by a few outwardly Yeshivishe guys who were very thoughtful but they shy away from showing it in public.

Rabban Gamliel said...

I'm not disagreeing that there should be openness taught but not at the expense of making them Orthoprax or of thrusting it on communities which don't want this.

Rabban Gamliel said...

I'm not disagreeing that there should be openness taught but not at the expense of making them Orthoprax or of thrusting it on communities which don't want this.

Rabban Gamliel said...

I'm not disagreeing that there should be openness taught but not at the expense of making them Orthoprax or of thrusting it on communities which don't want this.

Anonymous said...

Welcome to the world. The majority of people don't really think and just repeat what they see and hear around them. This is true of the average Joe on the 'goyishe' street just as it is of many frum people.

Rabban Gamliel said...

True and this is the cause of trouble on all sides.

Jewish Atheist said...

Orthoprax:

I think you're finding the same thing the Reconstructionists have found -- Orthopraxy simply doesn't keep butts in the chairs. Only a small fraction of people who are as open to the truth as you are will choose to remain (outwardly) Orthodox, so by definition, almost all Orthodox people will be less open than you. I'm not sure there can be an open religious community that can compare with (closed) Orthodox Judaism. It seems we have to choose. Do we want to retain members or do we want to be honest?

Personally, I'm no good at being dishonest so I had to leave. Now I'm completely honest with all friends I have, but I don't have the community Orthodox Jews do.

Orthoprax said...

Spinoza,

I was having conversation among verious topics. One in specific was regarding the order of creation as supposed in Genesis and the order understood by science. Virtually anyone on the jblogosphere, I think, would be able to comprehend that the Sun comes before plants according to science and that the opposite is claimed in Genesis.

These guys on this forum were comfortable just making stuff up to correlate the two in absurd ways. One given possible solution was that the incident light from the proto-solar system when the Earth was still a molten planetoid was sufficient to kick start evolution and lay seeds of plants that wouldn't sprout until the Devonian period four billion years in the future. This is the type of thinking that went completely uncriticized except by me.


Baal,

"I'm not sure what your goal is. Do you really want to be responsible for putting doubt into peoples minds?"

I just wanted to open people's minds. Let them see that there are actually issues that they should be knowledgeable about. I don't necessarily want them to come to my conclusions - but at least they should know what's out there.

It is positively frightening to me when I see young people who I know did not and cannot have thought the issues through who have the strongest and surest opinions about things. It is nothing short of reckless.


RG,

"Let them remain Orthodox. You aren't one of them."

I didn't say they couldn't! When I see reasonable, rational Orthodox people out there - and there are a few - I am happy. Their theological conclusions don't bother me. What bothers me is their ideology of irrationality and dogma which overshadows all of their fundamental thinking processes.


JA,

"I think you're finding the same thing the Reconstructionists have found -- Orthopraxy simply doesn't keep butts in the chairs."

Well, that's more of a separate issue. I think it comes down to education. It is probably easier to teach dogma than it is to produce questioning minds but I do think it can be done. If we can do that while encouraging a deeper and fuller appreciation for our heritage I do think that many will choose to continue being associated with Judaism.

Though, will it be my type of Orthopraxy? Perhaps not.

Anonymous said...

In fairness to these kids, that's what they are-- kids. At age 20 (although I wasn't Orthodox), I was very close to knowing pretty much everything. It takes several more years for somebody (well, for me, at least) to realize how dumb he actually is.

Rabban Gamliel said...

Orthoprax when I was your age I had and still do throughout my evolutions on thought a positive attitude concerning religion and science. The fact that I have been raised frum allowed me to have fresh perspectives on science by thinking if I so choose outside the box. Didn't you have any reading material on science and Judaism in your day on a healthy positive relationship between Orthodox Judaism and science? If not that could explain why certain things are problems for you and XGH. To put it bluntly your science can be your science and your spiritual religious realm can be separate if you really see it that way. This was considered a perfectly legitimate viewpoint within Orthodoxy. Am I getting old or were you missing out on hearing of such harmonistic thinking.

Orthoprax said...

RG,

"Didn't you have any reading material on science and Judaism in your day on a healthy positive relationship between Orthodox Judaism and science?"

As a child I found science and Judaism to be more or less harmonious with no significant problems. However, as I thought more about it and looked at the details I found the entire religious approach to be basically foundless.

To put it simply, to keep science and religion on two separate legitimacy scales is a bogus way of approaching the issue. Torah has to mean something in the secular world and the secular world has to exist within the Torah world. They cannot be separate things.

In the end, it wass not that the facts of science won out compared to the asserted facts of Torah, it was that the intellectually honest evidential approach of science won out compared to the dogmatic faith-based approach of Judaism (and religion in general).

That is the fundamental conflict. It is not one of fact or even theory. It is one of approach. Faith vs Reason.

Orthoprax said...

Anon,

"In fairness to these kids, that's what they are-- kids. At age 20 (although I wasn't Orthodox), I was very close to knowing pretty much everything. It takes several more years for somebody (well, for me, at least) to realize how dumb he actually is."

To be honest, I'm not that old myself. I know that I am ignorant of a great deal but at least I know what I don't know. But I do think that I know a good deal on this specific subject matter enough to make an educated judgement call.

Hence the blog.

happywithhislot said...

ortho
is in my humble jewish opinion (the bais yaakov girl blog) an example of unthinking jewish orthodox youth?

this girl thinks she is being cool about her bais yaakov background, but she comes across as narrowminded and brainwashed as the best of them.

Orthoprax said...

Happy,

I don't like insulting people in specific unless they really annoy me. Michelle, the blogger behind "My Humble Jewish Opinion" clearly comes from a restrictive background but she's nice about it.

It seems to me that she wants to break out of that bais yakov mold so she brings up issues that bais yakov may have wanted to ignore, but even so, her "issues" are often of virtually no consequence. I've tried hinting at some bigger issues on her blog before, but I just got the cold shoulder.

In short, she may not want to consider matters which I consider fundamentally important to Judaism and focus merely on the incident superficial stuff, but even that is more than you see with most. But yes, she definitely would fit in with the folks I described in that other forum.

Rabban Gamliel said...

>To put it simply, to keep science and religion on two separate legitimacy scales is a bogus way of approaching the issue. Torah has to mean something in the secular world and the secular world has to exist within the Torah world. They cannot be separate things.

Orthoprax all is belief. I am not saying that Torah doesn't have to mean something in the modern world. Further there is one grand reality underlying a grand edifice of realities. So it's not like out of some strange reason we have religion. On the contrary if it is a true reality it is a necessary part. This though is not to say though that we approach the belief in it the way we approach a belief in science. There are different levels to reality and science is only one level. It is only one realm. All realms taken together make up a unity. Truthfully even in science there are levels where we don't ever experience something. But altogether if all there is science then love and good and evil and hate and feelings altogether have no objective reality certainly none of any worth. Dawkins doesn’t believe there is a good and evil for that very reason. All this being said what we could use today is a true religious and moral revival. We have modern Jews who just want to show how modern they are. We have people in general just wanting to show how they fit into the shallow and fake moralizing of political correctness. In the rightwing world we have people being more concerned with the externals of religion then its essence. Look at what is the main topic of conversation on the skeptical blogs though are about even. Is it how to use Judaism for the betterment of the world? No. It is whether there was a flood. It is whether the Universe is six thousand years old or several billion (either way it is a baby still). As for you you are still in all probability going to go through many evolutions. A day will come when Dawkins will be history for all practical purposes and you will be left with greater thinkers to think about then he ever could be. He is the past. It's others who are the future. In the world of the Torah though we could use more of the past. But let's face it the Old Country is no longer away. It is here. It's all up to us.

Orthoprax said...

RG,

"There are different levels to reality and science is only one level. It is only one realm. All realms taken together make up a unity. Truthfully even in science there are levels where we don't ever experience something. But altogether if all there is science then love and good and evil and hate and feelings altogether have no objective reality certainly none of any worth."

I don't think you understood what I was saying. Or maybe I just wasn't clear. I am not saying that science is the only reality, it surely is not since what science can be said to know is very limited.

But the methodology of science, of doing experiments, using reason, checking results, looking at the world - these are methods that are conducive to accruing real, reliable, accurate data about existence.

On the other side we have the methodologies of religion. Faith, tradition, intuition, mysticism - all unreliable. To be clear, the proposals of religions are unreliable.

So is there "something else" out there that is of fundamental importance to human existence and a full understanding of reality and our place in it? I believe there is. But I don't believe that the methodologies of religions - and their various dogmatic conclusions - are the right track towards apprehension of that ultimate reality.

"Look at what is the main topic of conversation on the skeptical blogs though are about even. Is it how to use Judaism for the betterment of the world? No. It is whether there was a flood. It is whether the Universe is six thousand years old or several billion (either way it is a baby still)."

Well, what do you expect? They are called skeptical blogs specifically because they write about skeptical issues. If they wrote about other stuff and just incidentally were skeptical Jews then you wouldn't call them "skeptical blogs."

I think I have passed beyond the "whether Judaism is true or not" stage and have gone onto the "what about Judaism can I use from a modern perspective" stage. As I see it, Orthodoxy - as a system of belief - is no more true than other religious belief systems, but there is still value in it if you manage to sift through the chaff and get to the gold.

How can we use Judaism to help the world? I don't think I'm up to that. I'm still figuring out how to get Judaism to work for me.

Rabban Gamliel said...

Intuition has been the foremost driving key to scientific advancement. Science isn't true because of the data. First our intuition tells us there is something to science then based on that axiom we then accept the conclusions of science.

Orthoprax said...

RG,

Intuition is what drives science, not what it rests on. Einstein may have convinced himself about Relativity through his own genius intuition, but it is the experimental results which do it for me.

Rabban Gamliel said...

Technically you are right. In actual fact though without intuition all you have is a pile of data. Scientists use their intuition to make the pile of data make sense to them and if something doesn't fit in they hope and typically believe that it is only apparent or only will mean some minor tweaking. In any event you are making my point for me. The experiments if they yielded a nonsense universe would explain nothing. You are by acknowledging a greater realm admitting there has to be more. If all there is by definition is science then you lack the belief in order in the universe as necessary as science is just a tool and it always has to be retested. If scientists really only went according to the strict letter of science they couldn't say they believe anything. On one hand I notice you acknowledge other realms on the other you seem to only have science. Science is a wonderful tool to reflect on other realms with too.

Rabban Gamliel said...

Technically you are right. In actual fact though without intuition all you have is a pile of data. Scientists use their intuition to make the pile of data make sense to them and if something doesn't fit in they hope and typically believe that it is only apparent or only will mean some minor tweaking. In any event you are making my point for me. The experiments if they yielded a nonsense universe would explain nothing. You are by acknowledging a greater realm admitting there has to be more. If all there is by definition is science then you lack the belief in order in the universe as necessary as science is just a tool and it always has to be retested. If scientists really only went according to the strict letter of science they couldn't say they believe anything. On one hand I notice you acknowledge other realms on the other you seem to only have science. Science is a wonderful tool to reflect on other realms with too.

Orthoprax said...

RG,

"Scientists use their intuition to make the pile of data make sense to them and if something doesn't fit in they hope and typically believe that it is only apparent or only will mean some minor tweaking."

Right. That intuition is called a hypothesis or a theory that still later will undergo independent confirmation (assuming it is correct) and later tests. Science doesn't just end when one guy comes to an intuitive conclusion. Most intuitive conclusions end up being wrong. So many are dropped into the dustbin of flawed ideas.

However, with religious beliefs there are no tests to be had or mechanisms for confirmation. Intuition is the end of the line. It's a very unreliable system.

"On one hand I notice you acknowledge other realms on the other you seem to only have science. Science is a wonderful tool to reflect on other realms with too."

I acknowledge that there is a greater realm than what science has yet uncovered and that which it may even not be possible for science to uncover. However, as a tool for uncovering this realm, only science has shown true reliable efficacy.

jewish philosopher said...

"It's like talking to a wall. Not only do they not understand where you're coming from, they believe that your intent is sabotage and for the most part do not even attempt to defend their beliefs."

Funny, but that's the same experience I have trying to talk to atheists about religion.

Jewish Atheist, for example, has told me that he doesn't read creationist literature because it is "too deceptive".

Rabban Gamliel said...

"Right. That intuition is called a hypothesis or a theory that still later will undergo independent confirmation (assuming it is correct) and later tests. Science doesn't just end when one guy comes to an intuitive conclusion. Most intuitive conclusions end up being wrong. So many are dropped into the dustbin of flawed ideas."

Ideally that's how science works. But in actual fact you have to be skeptical and ask why you should accept this or that from scientists.

"I acknowledge that there is a greater realm than what science has yet uncovered and that which it may even not be possible for science to uncover. However, as a tool for uncovering this realm, only science has shown true reliable efficacy."

Science is only reliable if you accept it by your intuition. Further if something such as realms beyond science exist then you should be able to come up with ideas concerning that too. All you have to do is try to extend your logic into the reaches beyond science. For instance our universe is random to an extent. Namely we can't say for sure there is life beyond our planet. I then deduce that it means then that there are other universes as well. This removes randomness. Take a stand. I notice you also seem to take things for granted. Lets say with the documentary hypothesis. If I'm not mistaken you believe in that. DH doesn't really concern me as I consider it to be a Christian created issue but I'll use it as an example. Granted if you deny the prognostication powers of the author then parts of the Torah land up being written later. But the Documentary Hypothesis is so unbelievable that it would require extraordinary evidence. For one thing it would be convincing more if there was one blasted shred of a part of it written and found somewhere even at least some hint of it written about. You are able to presumably believe in variants that may be wrong and yet a whole unsubstantiated claim of Biblical variants you believe in.

Orthoprax said...

RG,

"But in actual fact you have to be skeptical and ask why you should accept this or that from scientists."

Sure, that's why you can check the facts yourself.

"Science is only reliable if you accept it by your intuition."

No, it proves itself reliable when through the scientific approach we can do things like tailor drugs and fly to the Moon. It just works.

"Further if something such as realms beyond science exist then you should be able to come up with ideas concerning that too."

Sure, I have my own ideas. But I don't give them much credit beyond personal speculation.

"But the Documentary Hypothesis is so unbelievable that it would require extraordinary evidence."

I don't necessarily believe the particulars of this or that facet of the DH, but that men over time wrote what is today's Torah, that I do believe. I believe it, not so much on the evidence - of which there is rather little (and virtually zero independent evidence) - but because of its parsimoniousness.

Further, if you put at odds the view that the text was written by men at a later date compared to supernatural assumptions like the reality of prophecy and miracles - the supernatural and inexplicable answer is much more unbelievable without truly extraordinary evidence.

Orthoprax said...

JP,

There's a very different reason for the apparent similar behavior. Folks like JA have spent so much time on this subject matter that they don't bother defending themselves to every yokel that comes along.

These other young guys, in contrast, never really thought it through in the first place and have misplaced confidence in their beliefs.

Rabban Gamliel said...

""Science is only reliable if you accept it by your intuition."

No, it proves itself reliable when through the scientific approach we can do things like tailor drugs and fly to the Moon. It just works."

I mean to say that if you accept by your intuition the scientific approach then you can accept it as true. All intuition should be based on experience in the sense of putting yourself in a situation mentally. Einstein came up with his Theory of Relativity because it made sense to him intuitively. Truthfully if the results would have been off from him I do not really know how he would react. Lihavdil, Dawkins never lets the facts get in the way of his slow evolution theory continuing. Science has to lead to a universe that makes sense enough that philosophy can pick up the slack elsewhere. If science would produces nonsense then the data must be miraculous. One other thing needs to be said. In science a fact is a working fact. Nothing is to prevent challenges. A scientist takes his gamble and with or without the evidence will defend it often no matter what. As for DH it is so incredible that comparing it to Divine intervention in incredibility is meaningless. DH is bunk.

Orthoprax said...

RG,

"I mean to say that if you accept by your intuition the scientific approach then you can accept it as true."

And like I said, even if you don't accept it intuitively, you can still tell it works by its fruits.

"Science has to lead to a universe that makes sense enough that philosophy can pick up the slack elsewhere."

In science it is a necessary presumption to believe that what you are studying is ultimately comprehensible.

"A scientist takes his gamble and with or without the evidence will defend it often no matter what."

That wouldn't be a very good scientist.

"As for DH it is so incredible that comparing it to Divine intervention in incredibility is meaningless. DH is bunk."

I do not believe the DH is bunk, nor do I believe it is as incredible as you make it out to be. What makes it so incredible? Even if it had no evidence whatsoever, it is still a more likely scenario than one which literally requires miracles to happen.

Rabban Gamliel said...

>These other young guys, in contrast, never really thought it through in the first place and have misplaced confidence in their beliefs.

Wrong and right they have arguments that Evolutionists ignore and when Evolutionists do answer, it becomes a labeling attack or else arguments that evade the challenges or are weak. Talk about ignoring other viewpoints:Amongst Evolutionists it is the way of life to simply assume it and not bring up any contrary evidence or even to say the words “contrary evidence” but rather if anything, “seemingly contrary evidence.” They wouldn't dare to say the words “scientific challenges” to Evolution but again if anything “seeming challenges.” If Evolution were a preprogrammed thing where one living creature is programmed to turn into another the Creationists wouldn't have any leg to stand on. I'll show you examples of how each side though presses too hard:

Typical Evolutionist response to the challenge that it violates the laws of thermodynamics to have increasing complexity through randomness:“It applies to closed systems. Earth is an open system.”

My comment:To a Biologist that makes perfect sense. To a physicist its at the very least a nice answer saying nothing. A closed system in Physics is any system you arbitrarily take as closed. The entire universe is the largest closed system we know of and the most enigmatic.

Here's a funny one from the Creationist side that doesn't attack Evolution really but the Big Bang Theory:”If the Big Bang happened we would have expected its radiation to come from its source and instead we find the microwave background radiation all over.”

My comment:That's good because the Explosion took place all over. Picture the universe as an expanding four dimensional ball. Every place on the ball is where the explosion took place.

The Creationist weak point is in trying to have everything fit into a literal account of the Bible’s Creation account. That being said if they raise good arguments then it would be a learning experience to take up the challenge and advance science further. But the Evolutionists feel threatened by it so they label all of its arguments as AntiScience. Dawkins meanwhile does a disservice to science by claiming that whether
G-d exists is a scientific question. Dawkins now opens up an unused flank that the Creationists could use with this nonsense of Dawkins that would change the nature of modern science.

Evolutionists get weak in saying well we all agree it happened. We just disagree on the details so it's no use attacking Evolution because of the details. Well in all other parts of science except in the new Orthodoxy of Global Warming the way you can kill or confirm a theory is through a detail.

Rabban Gamliel said...

>In science it is a necessary presumption to believe that what you are studying is ultimately comprehensible.

Bingo! Intuition tells you so.

As for DH. It makes a complicated patchwork of the Bible too intricate to be believable.

Rabban Gamliel said...

""A scientist takes his gamble and with or without the evidence will defend it often no matter what."

That wouldn't be a very good scientist."

Albert Einstein, Sir Arthur Edington... Not good scientists?
My G-d you are still a learner.

Rabban Gamliel said...

It's a good time to be a learner. It's the 21st century. You remind me of a thinking probing me when I was your age. If that's the case have a fun ride. Twenty years from now who knows what you'll come up with. You studying to be a doctor and are now with cadavers? I don't mean as classmates I mean as bodies to work with?

Orthoprax said...

RG,

"Wrong and right they have arguments that Evolutionists ignore and..."

Who exactly do you think I was talking about? I wasn't talking about Creationists in general, but those ignorant guys that I spoke with on that other forum.

"A closed system in Physics is any system you arbitrarily take as closed."

Um...no. It has a real non-arbitrary definition.

"Bingo! Intuition tells you so."

Not necessarily. It's just an assumption. It doesn't have to be intuitively founded. But even if it was, so what? Does that mean I can intuit my way through all of metaphysics and science? How reliable is that?

"As for DH. It makes a complicated patchwork of the Bible too intricate to be believable."

Sounds like your thinking of the most extreme forms of the DH. There are others that don't pretend you can make a chiddush on every strange turn of phrase and are more general in approach.

"Albert Einstein, Sir Arthur Edington... Not good scientists?"

If they defended their ideas "no matter what" then no, they wouldn't have been very good scientists. I know Einstein fairly well and he did change his mind about things when a good argument or significant piece of evidence required it.

"You studying to be a doctor and are now with cadavers?"

You got it.

"Twenty years from now who knows what you'll come up with."

I guess we'll see.

Rabban Gamliel said...

""Wrong and right they have arguments that Evolutionists ignore and..."

Who exactly do you think I was talking about? I wasn't talking about Creationists in general, but those ignorant guys that I spoke with on that other forum."

Ok. What is\are those sites? I always like different points of view. If I didn’t I wouldn’t be debating a formidable young opponent, you. I can understand your feeling somewhat like an outsider looking in. My parents experienced a Chareidi Jewish world (mostly) but it was a different world. Now we moved to the city (not New York). My parents see a Chareidi world different from what they remembered. Boro Park in the 1950s: Hold on to your seat kid. People had to worry about wearing yarmulkas or shreimals many women did not cover their heads and still Boro Park was for its day very Jewish.

""A closed system in Physics is any system you arbitrarily take as closed."

Um...no. It has a real non-arbitrary definition."

You don't understand what I mean. I mean in physics a system is closed in that nothing gets in or out of the system and so nothing outside influences the system. But then if you say that you are studying the influencing system plus the system it is influencing as a wider system then together they become the closed system. This is why you are able to treat a collection of objects such as yourself as a single object. Now you have outside sources affecting you like the food you eat, the air you breath etc. Then you say well how about the Earth as a closed system being affected by the outside. Fine, now you are merely a part of the closed system called the Earth. Ah but sunlight pours into the Earth fine but now you can take the Solar System as a closed system and so it continues.

“"Bingo! Intuition tells you so."

"Not necessarily. It's just an assumption. It doesn't have to be intuitively founded."

True but you believe it because of your intuition. I believe in science because I accept it's basic axiom and then it follows by logic that I accept it. That's called my intuition.

"But even if it was, so what? Does that mean I can intuit my way through all of metaphysics and science? How reliable is that?"

If in theory you can't say about science that it makes intuitive sense then we live in a nonsensical universe. With Metaphysics it is the same. Science can show us how we have overlooked something but it should still make sense.

“"As for DH. It makes a complicated patchwork of the Bible too intricate to be believable."

"Sounds like your thinking of the most extreme forms of the DH. There are others that don't pretend you can make a chiddush on every strange turn of phrase and are more general in approach."

Even the most general seems just to be based on a broad outline of the extreme. DH was made to show a gradual evolution from primitive idolatry to Christianity. Fine let the Christians have it for their Bible's Old Testament. Interesting but bunky variants. More impressive is textual criticism. It needn't disprove a Bible written under Divine influence but at least it's there. We didn't have to wait thousands of years for someone to come up with it. It's concrete. They dug up Dead Sea Scrolls. Whoever dug up DH? No one I ever read about.

""Albert Einstein, Sir Arthur Edington... Not good scientists?"

If they defended their ideas "no matter what" then no, they wouldn't have been very good scientists. I know Einstein fairly well and he did change his mind about things when a good argument or significant piece of evidence required it."

I know Einstein extremely well. Yet he couldn't accept that Black Holes are predicted by his own theory. It was prejudice. Scientists are human. As someone said the advance of science is when older scientists die.

We have objectively data and useful working facts that are always being attacked as perhaps incomplete at least. The exceptions to this rule is when for some reason a theory becomes so emotionally supported that to question or even to say it is being tested becomes heresy. This seems to happen when a theory becomes politicized.

""You studying to be a doctor and are now with cadavers?"

You got it."

Good G-d! If you are a Kohen only become a Baal Teshuvah after you are already a doctor so you can continue your work (lol).

""Twenty years from now who knows what you'll come up with."

I guess we'll see."

You'll see. You have the confidence of youth. That's ok. I did and I still do. I'm always right except when I say I'm wrong.

Orthoprax said...

RG,

"You don't understand what I mean. I mean in physics a system is closed in that nothing gets in or out of the system and so nothing outside influences the system....Ah but sunlight pours into the Earth fine but now you can take the Solar System as a closed system and so it continues."

I understand what you're saying, but I don't see how it's relevant. The Creationist canard about entropy is based on a misunderstanding of thermodynamics. The only truly closed system is the universe entire and while entopy is increasing overall there is ample opportunity for it to go in the opposite way in some privileged locations.

For practical purposes we can look at systems that are mostly closed. Life would in all likelihood never have had the energy to exist if the only power source was incident light from distant stars so we can, in large part, dismiss them in factoring our biological models. The Sun, though, is a primary actor in biological evolution and it cannot be considered as outside our thermodynamic system.

"True but you believe it because of your intuition. I believe in science because I accept it's basic axiom and then it follows by logic that I accept it. That's called my intuition."

No, that's called logic. Intuition gave you the axiom - that's it. But intuition here doesn't have some claim to fame. When I look down the street I intuit that the Earth is flat. Intuition can be deceiving. It certainly can be right sometimes - maybe even often - but it's unreliable by itself.

"If in theory you can't say about science that it makes intuitive sense then we live in a nonsensical universe."

No, it just means that we don't live in a universe that makes _intuitive sense_. You ever read about flying a ship in orbital mechanics? Very unintuitive - yet it works. Know about Relativity? What about Relativity is intuitive? Nothing.

"I know Einstein extremely well. Yet he couldn't accept that Black Holes are predicted by his own theory. It was prejudice."

You are correct. And in that instance he clearly made a poor scientist, didn't he? In other cases where he took down his cosmological constant, for instance, in response to Hubble's observations - he was being a good scientist. (Although, ironically enough, modern observations may yet bring it back again.)

Rabban Gamliel said...

“I understand what you're saying, but I don't see how it's relevant. The Creationist canard about entropy is based on a misunderstanding of thermodynamics. The only truly closed system is the universe entire and while entopy is increasing overall there is ample opportunity for it to go in the opposite way in some privileged locations.”

If anything the universe taken as a whole system is more iffy. Asking entropy to arise massively just like that goes against the very basis of the laws of conservation. A system left to itself will just increase in entropy. It seems the real culprit in the origin of life involves some physics Darwin or no one in his generation could conceive. The sun simply pouring energy into our planet still doesn’t increase entropy.

“No, that's called logic. Intuition gave you the axiom - that's it. But intuition here doesn't have some claim to fame. When I look down the street I intuit that the Earth is flat. Intuition can be deceiving. It certainly can be right sometimes - maybe even often - but it's unreliable by itself.”

When I say intuition I don’t mean common sense. I mean it in the same way Einstein and Newton meant it.

“No, it just means that we don't live in a universe that makes _intuitive sense. You ever read about flying a ship in orbital mechanics? Very unintuitive - yet it works. Know about Relativity? What about Relativity is intuitive? Nothing.”

I know the theory of Relativity extremely well. It doesn’t make common sense but it is totally intuitive and makes total sense.

“You are correct. And in that instance he clearly made a poor scientist, didn't he?”

Yes and that is how scientists are. That is why just like with a doctor you have to think why you should believe or if you should believe it is the same with a theory.

Rabban Gamliel said...

I can see we were using different meanings for the word intuition. When used synonymously with common sense you are right. But common sense is often nonsense. In the sense of common sense Relativity is counterintuitive but really it makes all the sense in the world. The absence of Relativity being true would be nonsense.

Rabban Gamliel said...

"The Creationist canard about entropy is based on a misunderstanding of thermodynamics."

They don't have a canard here. The Biologists don't understand Thermodynamics as well as physicists. Just like physicists don't understand Biology as well as Biologists. There is a common problem you will see also among doctors my young combatant:namely people from one field not quite at least understanding what others from another field are saying. You’re a good thinker. But I was thinking when you were still only a baby. I've got a head start but you'll catch up.

Orthoprax said...

RG,

"If anything the universe taken as a whole system is more iffy. Asking entropy to arise massively just like that goes against the very basis of the laws of conservation. A system left to itself will just increase in entropy."

What? That's what entropy does. It goes up. Second Law of Thermodynamics. Any time stuff happens entropy increases as heat is produced.

"It seems the real culprit in the origin of life involves some physics Darwin or no one in his generation could conceive. The sun simply pouring energy into our planet still doesn’t increase entropy."

Yes...it does. The Sun in converting nuclear energy into light and heat increases total entropy of the system.

"When I say intuition I don’t mean common sense. I mean it in the same way Einstein and Newton meant it."

Either way. It's still unreliable by itself. Even Einstein's intuitive abilities were wrong now and again.

"I know the theory of Relativity extremely well. It doesn’t make common sense but it is totally intuitive and makes total sense."

Ok fine if you are using 'intuition' as if it means 'makes sense.' So what about Quantum Theory?

"Yes and that is how scientists are."

That's fine. It's a good reason why science doesn't care much for authorities. Science progresses best when people don't stick to their views 'no matter what.'

"I can see we were using different meanings for the word intuition. When used synonymously with common sense you are right."

So how exactly are you using the term? It seems like you are using it in terms of "it makes sense."

Maybe you could see it in terms of seeing an answer even if you don't know the logical steps by which it came to you. I personally didn't intuit Relativity. I had to read up on the logical assumptions and deductions in sequential order and go through the deductive thought experiments before it made sense to me. And even then, I still will need to think through a theoretical problem if it is posed to me. It is not intuitive.

"The absence of Relativity being true would be nonsense."

And yet for thousands of years, the ideas of static space and universal time was the intuitively correct view of the universe. It is even still so today!

"They don't have a canard here. The Biologists don't understand Thermodynamics as well as physicists."

So how come the physicists aren't leading the charge against evolution if it's so physically impossible?

"But I was thinking when you were still only a baby. I've got a head start but you'll catch up."

Listen, I don't want to offend you, but thinking longer doesn't necessarily mean thinking better.

Orthoprax said...

It just occurred to me that the term I meant to use this whole time was "isolated system" not "closed system." A closed system can transfer heat and energy to outside the system while an isolated one cannot.

Rabban Gamliel said...

“"If anything the universe taken as a whole system is more iffy. Asking entropy to arise massively just like that goes against the very basis of the laws of conservation. A system left to itself will just increase in entropy."

What? That's what entropy does. It goes up. Second Law of Thermodynamics. Any time stuff happens entropy increases as heat is produced.”

I meant the following: “"If anything the universe taken as a whole system is more iffy. Asking entropy to decrease massively just like that goes against the very basis of the laws of conservation. A system left to itself will just increase in entropy."

““The sun simply pouring energy into our planet still doesn’t increase entropy."

Yes...it does. The Sun in converting nuclear energy into light and heat increases total entropy of the system.”

I meant to say:“The sun simply pouring energy into our planet still doesn’t decrease entropy."

“”When I say intuition I don’t mean common sense. I mean it in the same way Einstein and Newton meant it."

Either way. It's still unreliable by itself. Even Einstein's intuitive abilities were wrong now and again.”

Then why believe in science? Maybe your intuition is wrong and G-d planted some dinosaur bones minus any dinosaurs? All science is is one part of Natural Philosophy and an excellent model for philosophy. Science is not a computer and there is no guarantee that what the scientific community is teaching is going to be true except that you have working theories. You have it as a tool and to that extent you will have some pretty good objectivity. This is no different then in daily life where I can speculate about what the moon is made of but if I bump into a wall, no one needs to tell me that. Science may not even be able to back up my story but I would know it. Since science is a tool that is theoretically at least (although it does get stretched) based on the model of brute experimentation to back up your claims it can approximate the ideal you are speaking of but it is only a human institution. If it worked in practice as well as in theory Einstein and his generation would not have been prejudiced against Black holes and as Einstein was at first, to a beginning of the Universe.

”Ok fine if you are using 'intuition' as if it means 'makes sense.' So what about Quantum Theory?”

Makes sense to a degree. My problem with it is I wonder whether matter and energy really reach a limit of divisibility. And indeed my intuition worked in pinpointing the heart of the problem because this turns out to be the heart of the fact that in the strictest sense of the word Relativity and Quantum theory predict that each other is wrong. I side with Relativity and say that while Quantum Mechanics is a very successful and good approximation of the truth it needs some tweaking.

“So how exactly are you using the term? It seems like you are using it in terms of "it makes sense."”

Exactly as in the sentence:”I came up with this using my intuition.”

“Maybe you could see it in terms of seeing an answer even if you don't know the logical steps by which it came to you.”

Not quite. Intuition and logic come to me as one entity. If something is not logical to believe in then it should not be a part of your intuition.

“I had to read up on the logical assumptions and deductions in sequential order and go through the deductive thought experiments before it made sense to me.”

But you see it made sense to you. If science leads to sense you have an advancement. If it would lead to nonsense then you are right back with the ignorance you start from.

“And yet for thousands of years, the ideas of static space and universal time was the intuitively correct view of the universe. It is even still so today!”

Yet Relativity and Quantum Mechanics by examining closely the superficial but beneficial naïve starting points of thought in minute detail show that common sense ideas can lead to nonsense when believed in too closely.

“"They don't have a canard here. The Biologists don't understand Thermodynamics as well as physicists."

So how come the physicists aren't leading the charge against evolution if it's so physically impossible?”

For one thing not all physicists have to understand Thermodynamics in intricate detail. Second a physicist will assume if he believes in Evolution from the fact that he was told it’s true that somehow it must be and so it must fit in somehow. Thirdly it is asking them to commit themselves to possible career suicide especially if young to do this. Third don’t tell your Biology teacher “The Sun in converting nuclear energy into light and heat increases total entropy of the system.” as you did to me. This is a known fact. For every loss in entropy somewhere the price has to be an increase in entropy elsewhere. But Biology teachers are entitled to think Earth is some sort of exception and if you tell your Biology teacher the truth you may be suspected of being AntiEvolution so don’t say anything and get your diploma. I suppose as a doctor you can say what you want about entropy but wait for that diploma first.

“"But I was thinking when you were still only a baby. I've got a head start but you'll catch up."

Listen, I don't want to offend you, but thinking longer doesn't necessarily mean thinking better.”

I wasn’t saying otherwise and I agree. My point is that if you have a shorter amount of time to think it’s harder to arrive at the truth. If I was putting it in terms of me thinking it’s because I have been thinking of these topics for longer than you and have evolved my thought so much. It would be remarkable if you didn’t advance much in your views given yet that this is the 21st century and so much of what is believed in today will be revised. It is stunning how fast it takes for an idea to become politically correct nowadays. Think how fast it took to become so Orthodox to believe in Global Warming so fast that you can forget about having a contrary paper published in Scientific American. It either makes the opposition look like eccentric opponents to be ignored on this or worse perhaps by now it’s like saying Evolution isn’t true. Meanwhile Evolution is going through major hurdles that have only just started. Dawkins requires time and time and time. This would mean that if we see a galaxy filled with stars only a Billion light years as it was after the dawn of creation (the Big Bang) we would have to rule out life there for sure. Suppose we discover life there? Whether Entropy for the universe taken as one system always goes up is somewhat iffy. There must be some at least apparent looking loophole to the law of entropy to allow for the origin of life. Also we don’t know enough altogether about time and space on the grandest scales yet.

“It just occurred to me that the term I meant to use this whole time was "isolated system" not "closed system." A closed system can transfer heat and energy to outside the system while an isolated one cannot.”

In physics the same term is used. Look a Biologist thinks organically so closed and open mean something physical to a Biologist. To a Physicist Closed and Open Systems are mathematical abstractions with consequences.

Anonymous said...

I haven't read through all the comments, so I'm sorry if I'm being repetitive. 2 things;
1) I wouldn't let these kids worry you. every generation thinks their generation iis stupider than the last and that this is reason for concern for the future. I'm fairly well convinced that each generation is more or less as dumb as the previous one. my point - these kids aren't bringing a new face to Orthodox Judaism, they're simply maintaining the face it's already got. the Jewish community thirty years from now will probably look pretty similar to the Jewish community today - at least in terms of the thinking-Jew demographic.
2)I'd like to clarify - your problem with orthodox Judaism is that it's a faith-based system? I mean, boiled down to its essence, that is your main issue with it?

Orthoprax said...

RG,

"I meant the following: “"If anything the universe taken as a whole system is more iffy. Asking entropy to decrease massively just like that goes against the very basis of the laws of conservation. A system left to itself will just increase in entropy.""

It's not "just like that." Virtually every aspect of living systems is to hook a process which raises entropy to one that reduces it. You end up with a net increase in entropy overall but a localized decrease in entropy.

“The sun simply pouring energy into our planet still doesn’t decrease entropy."

Not in itself. But if it gets hooked to a productive reaction then you will see a localized reduction in entropy.

"Then why believe in science? Maybe your intuition is wrong and G-d planted some dinosaur bones minus any dinosaurs?"

I don't rely on my intuition to show that science works! It can do that all on its own. It wasn't a mystic who figured out how to land a man on the moon.

"Exactly as in the sentence:”I came up with this using my intuition.”"

That is not a definition. In fact, that explains absolutely nothing about what you think intuition is.

"Not quite. Intuition and logic come to me as one entity. If something is not logical to believe in then it should not be a part of your intuition."

It really seems to me that you have a definition of intuition unique to yourself.

"If it would lead to nonsense then you are right back with the ignorance you start from."

Quantum Theory makes no sense. But the mechanics works and we can use it to make very accurate physical predictions.

"For one thing not all physicists have to understand Thermodynamics in intricate detail. Second a physicist will assume if he believes in Evolution from the fact that he was told it’s true that somehow it must be and so it must fit in somehow. Thirdly it is asking them to commit themselves to possible career suicide especially if young to do this."

These are interesting explanation. They basically all insist that physicists either don't know what their talking about or are scared to speak out against it. You think all these experts are ignorant and you know the truth?

"Third don’t tell your Biology teacher “The Sun in converting nuclear energy into light and heat increases total entropy of the system.” as you did to me. This is a known fact. For every loss in entropy somewhere the price has to be an increase in entropy elsewhere. But Biology teachers are entitled to think Earth is some sort of exception and if you tell your Biology teacher the truth you may be suspected of being AntiEvolution so don’t say anything and get your diploma."

Um...yeah. I really don't think so.

"My point is that if you have a shorter amount of time to think it’s harder to arrive at the truth."

I didn't just start yesterday.

"In physics the same term is used. Look a Biologist thinks organically so closed and open mean something physical to a Biologist. To a Physicist Closed and Open Systems are mathematical abstractions with consequences."

Biologists are familiar with the same thermodynamic ideas as physicists.



Miri,

"my point - these kids aren't bringing a new face to Orthodox Judaism, they're simply maintaining the face it's already got. the Jewish community thirty years from now will probably look pretty similar to the Jewish community today - at least in terms of the thinking-Jew demographic."

You may very well be correct. I was hoping this wouldn't be the case.

"I'd like to clarify - your problem with orthodox Judaism is that it's a faith-based system? I mean, boiled down to its essence, that is your main issue with it?"

Ultimately, yes. That doesn't mean there aren't other issues that are also important, but if OJ was evidentially sound then I could recognize it as true while dealing with those other issues.

Rabban Gamliel said...

Orthoprax I'll read your reply and answer you tomorrow. After having enlightening discussions with you I landed up this evening with B.T.W. http://www.haloscan.com/comments/xgh/6357370147916171246/

I need to calm down more to reply to you on issues as elevated as ours are here. You don't make me upset. Maybe you should try being nasty then I would have replied now.

Rabban Gamliel said...

“It's not "just like that." Virtually every aspect of living systems is to hook a process which raises entropy to one that reduces it. You end up with a net increase in entropy overall but a localized decrease in entropy.

“The sun simply pouring energy into our planet still doesn’t decrease entropy."

Not in itself. But if it gets hooked to a productive reaction then you will see a localized reduction in entropy.”

Your telling me things I know. What happens is that you can only decrease entropy by having an even greater amount of an increase in entropy. Left to itself even the area of decrease will degrade into an increase. I was meaning that in order to have life start to begin with you need to have some special way to get around or maybe even overrule the law of entropy. The law as stated should mean that the universe should end in a heat death. The problem is we don’t know enough about time and space to be able to know for sure on that grand of a scale and perhaps even lesser ones. Evolution though claims that it operates on even ordinary scales of time and space where we know for sure that the law of entropy applies with full force.

“I don't rely on my intuition to show that science works!”

My point was that you believe in science while someone else may not because you think one way while another may think another way. Each of you has our own intuition. Science says if something is physical and repeatable explain it in ways that will show other physical and repeatable phenomena and assume that this is for the future and the past. The only thing totally objective is the data.

“Quantum Theory makes no sense. But the mechanics works and we can use it to make very accurate physical predictions.”

Quantum Theory makes sense. That’s why it works. If it wouldn’t make sense it would be no explanation for the data. I don’t mean to say that I don’t feel it needs some improvement but it is impressive enough as even you admit.

“"For one thing not all physicists have to understand Thermodynamics in intricate detail. Second a physicist will assume if he believes in Evolution from the fact that he was told it’s true that somehow it must be and so it must fit in somehow. Thirdly it is asking them to commit themselves to possible career suicide especially if young to do this."

These are interesting explanation. They basically all insist that physicists either don't know what their talking about or are scared to speak out against it. You think all these experts are ignorant and you know the truth?”

Yes minus calling someone ignorant just because they disagree with me. Also some physicists are not afraid to voice their criticism of Evolution. Haven’t you ever heard of scientists not publishing something because of fear of ridicule? As a doctor if you do research you may encounter a problem like it. The difference is that usually there isn’t as much of a charged atmosphere as when a challenge is made that affects the beliefs of society in general. Ridiculing Relativity may get you academic shrugging but you still may be tolerated, Evolution and Global Warming Theory are already involving emotional societal issues.

“"Third don’t tell your Biology teacher “The Sun in converting nuclear energy into light and heat increases total entropy of the system.” as you did to me. This is a known fact. For every loss in entropy somewhere the price has to be an increase in entropy elsewhere. But Biology teachers are entitled to think Earth is some sort of exception and if you tell your Biology teacher the truth you may be suspected of being AntiEvolution so don’t say anything and get your diploma."

Um...yeah. I really don't think so.”

The standard answer of a Biologist to the challenge of Entropy to Evolution is “Earth is not a closed system it is an open system.” In Physics it is noted that Earth with all of its Bioactivity yet is a place in which Entropy increases. Both the statement closed and open are true. It means in Physics this. Suppose for example you see smoke from a car go out. It still will continue travelling taken as a whole system at the same speed, in the same direction as the car it ejected from. You may see interactions of parts of the smoke with each other change their direction form these interactions but taken as one system a closed system the smoke still behaves as one with the center of mass not budging an inch from anything within the system. Anything from within that system will not change the properties of the system taken as a whole. You can divide up the universe into more and more inclusive or less and less inclusive inertial frames of reference and each one will have this property of not being able to have any part of itself change the overall properties of it. This condemns whatever enters into each closed system to the law of entropy increase. Energy can enter from outside but once it becomes a part of the system. it degrades. You can use degraded energy for creating order but at the price of even more disorder and all order created left to itself degrades into higher entropy. Living things don’t violate the laws of entropy. What makes for wonderment is how to get the living processes of a species started in the first place whether it involves the law of entropy or involves some exception to the rule. We just don’t know enough to say. If Evolution is going on now then we are forced to somehow deal with the law of entropy as is with it. That’s the problem.

“"My point is that if you have a shorter amount of time to think it’s harder to arrive at the truth."

I didn't just start yesterday.”

True but look how much you changed your ideas in only a few years. Now think forward.

“"In physics the same term is used. Look a Biologist thinks organically so closed and open mean something physical to a Biologist. To a Physicist Closed and Open Systems are mathematical abstractions with consequences."

Biologists are familiar with the same thermodynamic ideas as physicists.”

Not as well. They don’t specialize in it. Astrophysicists depending on their line of research also don’t necessarily have a specialty with it. Carl Sagan did not specialize in Relativity Theory and so had to contact Kip Thorne to help him out for his novel.

Orthoprax said...

RG,

"I was meaning that in order to have life start to begin with you need to have some special way to get around or maybe even overrule the law of entropy."

All you need is that second reaction. And they are not uncommon even in non-biological systems. I won't get into a debate about what exactly the types of reactions it was that got life started, I don't know, but there is no thermodynamic issue with it happening.

"My point was that you believe in science while someone else may not because you think one way while another may think another way. Each of you has our own intuition."

Indeed. Intuition can lead people to opposite beliefs. How reliable can it be then, hmm?

"Quantum Theory makes sense. That’s why it works. If it wouldn’t make sense it would be no explanation for the data."

As Feyman once famously said, if you think you understand Quantum Theory you don't understand Quantum Theory. It often demands that you understand an object as having internally incompatible characteristics and of things existing in many places and states at the same time. It makes no conceptual sense and is only really useful to us as a mathematical model. It may all work on some fundamentally logical principles, but we certainly don't know what those could be.

"Yes minus calling someone ignorant just because they disagree with me."

Listen, I just think you're wrong. I have a pretty good understanding of thermodynamics myself and I see no contradiction between it and evolution - and neither do those experts in the field.

"Also some physicists are not afraid to voice their criticism of Evolution. Haven’t you ever heard of scientists not publishing something because of fear of ridicule?"

If there was such a wide consensus in the physics community that thermodynamics forbade evolution then I don't think they would have any fear at all. It would be obvious.

"Not as well. They don’t specialize in it. Astrophysicists depending on their line of research also don’t necessarily have a specialty with it."

It's thermodynamics. It is a widely understood series of ideas. I do not believe that you understand it better than all these people you think are just pretending to understand it or are too afraid to speak out about it.

Rabban Gamliel said...

“I won't get into a debate about what exactly the types of reactions it was that got life started, I don't know, but there is no thermodynamic issue with it happening.”

Then what do you base your idea on that there is no thermodynamic issue? Life in order to have started needed to have a decrease in entropy. After that it is like a timer.

“Indeed. Intuition can lead people to opposite beliefs. How reliable can it be then, hmm?”

You’re using it even to debate me. Scientists use it to arrive at their ideas which may be then shown to be wrong or incomplete.

“As Fey[n]man once famously said, if you think you understand Quantum Theory you don't understand Quantum Theory. It often demands that you understand an object as having internally incompatible characteristics and of things existing in many places and states at the same time. It makes no conceptual sense and is only really useful to us as a mathematical model. It may all work on some fundamentally logical principles, but we certainly don't know what those could be.”

Then we have to find out. The mystery is pointed out and it is not just a mathematical model. Science always means something for reality. Clearly there's something missing in the picture but it's there. Quantum Theory isn't said to be a nonsense theory. It is accepted because it is internally consistent even if counterintuitive (as the term is mostly meant). Your way means then that’s the end of the road.

“Listen, I just think you're wrong. I have a pretty good understanding of thermodynamics myself and I see no contradiction between it and evolution - and neither do those experts in the field.”

The physicists are so silent about the thermodynamic challenge. My Biology textbook says that the law of increasing disorder doesn’t apply to Earth and its organisms saying that it only applies to closed systems and Earth and her organisms are open systems and therefore it says the spontaneous origin of life it says doesn’t violate the principle either. My Physical Science textbook says otherwise. Biologists have their own picture of things. In this case the Biology textbook is missing a piece of information. This happens amongst scientists even in their own fields. Remember Einstein denied the Expansion of the universe at first despite the fact his own theory of Relativity predicted a universe either expanding or contracting but never static and remember how he denied Black holes also a prediction of his theory.

“"Also some physicists are not afraid to voice their criticism of Evolution. Haven’t you ever heard of scientists not publishing something because of fear of ridicule?"

If there was such a wide consensus in the physics community that thermodynamics forbade evolution then I don't think they would have any fear at all. It would be obvious.”

Is this how you decide if a scientific idea is true by how many say it is? You will be a doctor and sometimes perhaps your opinion may have no supporters or may violate everyone’s opinion. So what? Hmm as you say? Haven't you ever heard of people fearing to publish their scientific ideas and also having it rejected for publication because the majority disagree?

The correct approach is to see what a theory is supposed to be saying and then see how it applies and if a scientist doesn’t see it applying somewhere he may flatly be wrong and others will point out the error if they see it. A whole generation of scientists refused to see Black Holes as flowing out of Relativity. Why? Because there was a prejudice against belief in a start or finish to the universe or any part of it. You really are being naïve about how things work in the scientific community.

The Thermodynamic issue is simple. We all know that something left to itself will wear down. You need order to make it go otherwise. Fact: Life demands order that of course then converts to greater disorder but it demands order. Fact: Thermodynamics applies in daily life. Fact: Evolutionary theory is supposed to operate in daily life. That’s a problem.

You talk about the other 20s guys and gals but you also go for the herd mentality but with science.

Orthoprax said...

RG,

"Then what do you base your idea on that there is no thermodynamic issue? Life in order to have started needed to have a decrease in entropy. After that it is like a timer."

As we've already established those types of reactions are not uncommon even outside of biological systems. If they happen then there is no problem with thermodynamics. My statement was only that I don't know the specific reactions that brought about that first decreasing entropic locality from which life arose.

"You're using it even to debate me. Scientists use it to arrive at their ideas which may be then shown to be wrong or incomplete."

Intuition is a tool. But to depend on intuition alone as religious ideas do then you cannot get very far. You need the rest of the scientific process to show reliable results.

"Quantum Theory isn't said to be a nonsense theory. It is accepted because it is internally consistent even if counterintuitive (as the term is mostly meant). Your way means then that's the end of the road."

I didn't say it was nonsense. I said it doesn't make conceptual sense - and it does not. It is internally consistent but that is not subject to intuition. I am not making a statement about how to go about understanding the mysteries of Quantum Theory - my only point is that intuition is not very useful to do so.

"My Physical Science textbook says otherwise."

It says that evolution is in conflict with thermodynamics? I highly doubt that. What kind of textbook is it?

"Is this how you decide if a scientific idea is true by how many say it is?"

No, but I understand each of the ideas and I see no conflict between them. Furthermore there is no sign of conflict coming from any scientist of worth. You must insist that not only am I wrong but that every scientist is either ignorant on these topics, biased against it or are scared to speak out against it. And they have been so for 150 years. Not very likely I say.

"The Thermodynamic issue is simple. We all know that something left to itself will wear down. You need order to make it go otherwise. Fact: Life demands order that of course then converts to greater disorder but it demands order. Fact: Thermodynamics applies in daily life. Fact: Evolutionary theory is supposed to operate in daily life. That's a problem."

No, it's not a problem. You don't need pre-existing order to have a localized decrease in entropy. That can happen spontaneously. When a puddle dries up, the salt previously floating in it may form ordered crystals. How does this happen? Spontaneously we see a localized decrease of entropy.

"You talk about the other 20s guys and gals but you also go for the herd mentality but with science."

Sure I do. Or maybe I just understand science and all those extra years of thinking haven't helped you all that much.

Rabban Gamliel said...

“As we've already established those types of reactions are not uncommon even outside of biological systems. If they happen then there is no problem with thermodynamics. My statement was only that I don't know the specific reactions that brought about that first decreasing entropic locality from which life arose.”

Ok now I need a lesson. What type of reactions are you referring to? I must have missed what you meant on that one.

“"You're using it even to debate me. Scientists use it to arrive at their ideas which may be then shown to be wrong or incomplete."

Intuition is a tool. But to depend on intuition alone as religious ideas do then you cannot get very far. You need the rest of the scientific process to show reliable results.”

Science is like a calculator. It can show you must have missed something. In principle your intuition should be good enough and so should even science but all of us are human. The objectivity is actually the data. Theories are predictions. Facts are predictions that are holding up still. In science we never prove anything. We are always in the state of proving. A scientist takes a philosophical stand and feels that a theory has been proven enough for him but the testing will continue. To the extent that you are expressing the objective data or to the extent that a theory won’t harm your results you begin to see it reach the level rightly mostly, wrongly sometimes of a scientific fact for the general community. A true scientific fact is always ready to be overthrown at a moments notice no matter how successful in the past. Of course skepticism about an overthrow is always to be firstly expressed and is indeed the standard attitude.

“"Quantum Theory isn't said to be a nonsense theory. It is accepted because it is internally consistent even if counterintuitive (as the term is mostly meant). Your way means then that's the end of the road."

I didn't say it was nonsense. I said it doesn't make conceptual sense - and it does not.”

It does make conceptual sense. Just because something is outside of our experience doesn’t mean it doesn’t make conceptual sense. Even things we think we know we can’t picture really. What is space? What is time? What is reality? What is something? What is nothing?

“"My Physical Science textbook says otherwise."

It says that evolution is in conflict with thermodynamics? I highly doubt that. What kind of textbook is it?”

It says nothing about Evolution as far as I know.

“You must insist that not only am I wrong but that every scientist is either ignorant on these topics, biased against it or are scared to speak out against it. And they have been so for 150 years. Not very likely I say.”

You don’t know enough to say. It also hasn’t been 150 years exactly. NeoDarwinism is the Orthodox Theory of Evolution so it is more like a half a century. Haven’t you read any books on the topic of Judaism and science? There is nothing wrong with an Orthodox Jew believing in Evolution. Chief Rabbi Hertz did. But haven’t you read any books on the topic of science and Judaism that deals with critiques of scientific ideas of the day? Did they stop being sold when you grew up? This is not a rhetorical question.

“No, it's not a problem. You don't need pre-existing order to have a localized decrease in entropy. That can happen spontaneously. When a puddle dries up, the salt previously floating in it may form ordered crystals. How does this happen? Spontaneously we see a localized decrease of entropy.”

I didn’t say it can’t. When two things combine from forces you get less entropy that is less spreadoutness and yet overall the system increases in entropy. The very act of combining increases it. We can clean up a room but immediately afterwards it returns to entropy and also while we clean it we produce entropy from the work we use to clean it and we ourselves who have started the whole process of spontaneous order are subject to entropy to start with. Heat is disordered energy that can be used to produce localized order that soon decays and the process of producing order itself increases disorder in the larger system.
.
The closer you get to the level of an atom the more you will get things that don’t conform to macrolevel results but at the price of making the macrosystem look normal according to its normal laws. First the puddle dries then we have as a result of entropy increasing even more, crystals forming from forces involving the molecules within the larger system which is as a result of the energy exchange producing even greater entropy within the larger system. The crystal now becomes a closed system ready for decay not reproduction and is still part of the larger system of decay all along. DNA and RNA and life altogether is infinitely more complex than a salt crystal.

Orthoprax said...

RG,

"Ok now I need a lesson. What type of reactions are you referring to? I must have missed what you meant on that one."

Any type of reaction that links an increasing entropic step with one that decreases local entropy. Photosynthesis is a perfect example, but things like crystal formation or gravity-caused mass stratifications are also examples.

"In principle your intuition should be good enough and so should even science but all of us are human."

You still haven't defined what you mean by intuition.

"It does make conceptual sense. Just because something is outside of our experience doesn’t mean it doesn’t make conceptual sense."

The concepts we can and try to use to understand QT are contradictory and cannot be accurate if one is to believe that QT has internal logical validity. Hence it does not make conceptual sense.

"It says nothing about Evolution as far as I know."

So really it's just your interpretation of these two ideas which you believe to be in contradiction.

"You don’t know enough to say."

I think I do, thanks.

"It also hasn’t been 150 years exactly. NeoDarwinism is the Orthodox Theory of Evolution so it is more like a half a century."

It doesn't matter. In either form of evolutionary theory thermodynamics would have likewise been at issue had it been an issue.

"Haven’t you read any books on the topic of Judaism and science? There is nothing wrong with an Orthodox Jew believing in Evolution. Chief Rabbi Hertz did."

I really don't care what an OJ is allowed to believe in. I am not bounded by supposedly forbidden ideas.

"But haven’t you read any books on the topic of science and Judaism that deals with critiques of scientific ideas of the day? Did they stop being sold when you grew up? This is not a rhetorical question."

I have read several, no they have not stopped being sold as far as I know.

"I didn’t say it can’t."

Then how is thermodynamics an issue for evolution if it can happen?

"The crystal now becomes a closed system ready for decay not reproduction and is still part of the larger system of decay all along. DNA and RNA and life altogether is infinitely more complex than a salt crystal."

So what's your point? It's more complex and therefore thermodynamics cannot accomodate it? It's just a matter of having the right kinds of reactions to continuously decrease local entropy in order for complex things to develop. You might argue that this is _unlikely_ but there is no contradiction in principle as you have been saying.

RebPRopagandist said...

Was this Hashkafah.com ?

Orthoprax said...

Reb,

Nope but I suspect they might respond similarly.

Rabban Gamliel said...

RG,

“"Ok now I need a lesson. What type of reactions are you referring to? I must have missed what you meant on that one."

Any type of reaction that links an increasing entropic step with one that decreases local entropy. Photosynthesis is a perfect example, but things like crystal formation or gravity-caused mass stratifications are also examples.”

Living organisms organize things in ways that are impossible for nonliving things. All you are doing with your nonliving examples are talking about the forces of nature binding things in ways that are blindly not headed anywhere. The forces of nature just push and pull blindly. You can build a house. Gravity can build a star but not a house because a star is not going to be built with anything but blind force. It binds up molecules together which causes them not to be evenly spread outside anymore and so was caused by a local decrease in entropy that is internally subject though to entropy. To the extent you are not at the microlevel to that extent you’re not going to have spontaneous complexity because the more you are at the macrolevel as opposed to the micro the more things are supposed to be according to the ordinary laws. How far this applies in time and space is a question as we don’t know enough about space and time. Using the law of entropy we should have the universe end in a heat death. Spacetime though is expanding faster all the time.

“"In principle your intuition should be good enough and so should even science but all of us are human."

You still haven't defined what you mean by intuition.”

Picturing reality. Using thought experiments like Einstein. Experiencing by reproducing reality in your mind.

“"It does make conceptual sense. Just because something is outside of our experience doesn’t mean it doesn’t make conceptual sense."

The concepts we can and try to use to understand QT are contradictory and cannot be accurate if one is to believe that QT has internal logical validity. Hence it does not make conceptual sense.”

Wrong just because they are contradictory to experience doesn’t mean it does not yield a conceptual model. Further each level of reality has a level of validity. We do experience things as waves and particles. QT is incomplete and not entirely correct but correct enough as we see things as particles and we see things as waves and so QT has a high level of accuracy.

“"It says nothing about Evolution as far as I know."

So really it's just your interpretation of these two ideas which you believe to be in contradiction.”

You misread what I wrote.:” My Biology textbook says that the law of increasing disorder doesn’t apply to Earth and its organisms saying that it only applies to closed systems and Earth and her organisms are open systems and therefore it says the spontaneous origin of life it says doesn’t violate the principle either. My Physical Science textbook says otherwise.”

My Physical Science Textbook says that the law of entropy applies to Earth and its organisms and to outer space. The Physical Science Textbook is from the same school as the Biology one.

“"You don’t know enough to say."

I think I do, thanks.”

No you don’t.

“"It also hasn’t been 150 years exactly. NeoDarwinism is the Orthodox Theory of Evolution so it is more like a half a century."

It doesn't matter. In either form of evolutionary theory thermodynamics would have likewise been at issue had it been an issue.”

I know but the theory had to be changed in order to survive.

“"Haven’t you read any books on the topic of Judaism and science? There is nothing wrong with an Orthodox Jew believing in Evolution. Chief Rabbi Hertz did."

I really don't care what an OJ is allowed to believe in. I am not bounded by supposedly forbidden ideas.”

I know that since you are Orthoprax.

"But haven’t you read any books on the topic of science and Judaism that deals with critiques of scientific ideas of the day? Did they stop being sold when you grew up? This is not a rhetorical question."

I have read several, no they have not stopped being sold as far as I know.

“"I didn’t say it can’t."

Then how is thermodynamics an issue for evolution if it can happen?”

Remember what I wrote above about a house not being able to be spontaneously made. A living organism also includes information yet too. Making a crystal or a star is just using blind forces acting to bind things in different ways. It doesn’t make a whole machine with encoded instructions.

“"The crystal now becomes a closed system ready for decay not reproduction and is still part of the larger system of decay all along. DNA and RNA and life altogether is infinitely more complex than a salt crystal."

So what's your point? It's more complex and therefore thermodynamics cannot accommodate it? It's just a matter of having the right kinds of reactions to continuously decrease local entropy in order for complex things to develop. You might argue that this is _unlikely_ but there is no contradiction in principle as you have been saying.”

As I said it would not really create enough complexity. A star and a crystal both are just dead matter pulled by blind forces. If it were really that simple than why not have species develop immediately without Evolution and why should there be any kind of gradualism even of Gould's faster paced Evolution?

alex said...

"When I see reasonable, rational Orthodox people out there - and there are a few - I am happy. ... What bothers me is their ideology of irrationality and dogma which overshadows all of their fundamental thinking processes."

Mind clarifying? You assert there are a few rational Orthodox people out there, but yet assert they have an ideology of irrationality that overshadows their thinking process. Also, would you care to name any Orthodox Jew who is "rational" if, among his beliefs, he believes in "religious" things which you consider irrational.

Orthoprax said...

RG,

"All you are doing with your nonliving examples are talking about the forces of nature binding things in ways that are blindly not headed anywhere."

First, that is not necessarily true. Second, I don't know what you mean by "headed" somewhere. Is life necessarily headed somewhere? And third, why does that matter in any case? Since it is the function of a continuity of reactions which is the only difference at hand, there is no reason why thermodynamics cannot be satisfied by it.

"Picturing reality. Using thought experiments like Einstein. Experiencing by reproducing reality in your mind."

That's not intuition. That's just a matter of conceptualizing phenomena. The intuitive part of Einstein was making use of these conceptualizations and leaping to theoretical conclusions that no one had ever even considered before.

If for you intuition is just a matter of thinking about reality in your head then it is fully dependent on having an accurate conception of reality in the first place. Something that mere conceptualization will hardly ever get you - as we learn very well from folks like Aristotle.

"Wrong just because they are contradictory to experience doesn’t mean it does not yield a conceptual model."

Either the concepts are flawed or the theory is flawed. I suspect both. At best, you only have a partial conceptual model.

"The Physical Science Textbook is from the same school as the Biology one."

It seems to me that you are either misreading the bio textbook or you went to a crappy school.

"No you don’t."

Oh ok. If you say so.

"I know but the theory had to be changed in order to survive."

And that matters? No.

"Remember what I wrote above about a house not being able to be spontaneously made. A living organism also includes information yet too. Making a crystal or a star is just using blind forces acting to bind things in different ways. It doesn’t make a whole machine with encoded instructions."

Again, what's your point? Is this still about entropy? It doesn't sound like it.

"As I said it would not really create enough complexity."

Why not? Just because you say so?

"A star and a crystal both are just dead matter pulled by blind forces. If it were really that simple than why not have species develop immediately without Evolution and why should there be any kind of gradualism even of Gould's faster paced Evolution?"

Because it is a matter of climbing mount improbable. Each incremental step that led to an organized biological system was in itself of moderate probability, but if taken as a leap from point A to Z then it would appear highly unlikely indeed.

But the point I was making is that the issue of likelihood has no relevance to the ability of thermodynamics to make room for such a possibility. Hence, throwing around entropy as in contradiction with evolution is a canard, nothing more.

Orthoprax said...

Alex,

"Mind clarifying? You assert there are a few rational Orthodox people out there, but yet assert they have an ideology of irrationality that overshadows their thinking process. Also, would you care to name any Orthodox Jew who is "rational" if, among his beliefs, he believes in "religious" things which you consider irrational."

I think, for example, that R' Soloveitchik had a rather rational philosophy. It is one thing to pretend that there are not profound discrepencies between typical Orthodox beliefs and modern scholarship in terms of Biblical criticism and natural science - or to be wholly ignorant of them (both are typical Orthodox approaches) but yet another to look these issues squarely in the jaw, acknowledge their existence as issues but for other reasons still resolve oneself to committed Orthodoxy.

I may not agree with such individuals but at least they know what's out there and ultimately, I think they would agree that my way of thinking has some validity on its own. Ironically, by simply acknowledging that their choice has some rational issues their whole standing as rational thinkers is established.

Rabban Gamliel said...

"All you are doing with your nonliving examples are talking about the forces of nature binding things in ways that are blindly not headed anywhere."

First, that is not necessarily true.”

Yes it is. These are not improbable events at all.

“Second, I don't know what you mean by "headed" somewhere. Is life necessarily headed somewhere? And third, why does that matter in any case? Since it is the function of a continuity of reactions which is the only difference at hand, there is no reason why thermodynamics cannot be satisfied by it.”

It’s starting the whole process to begin with that is the issue. Headed here means having something not be dead but alive. Thermodynamics stands in the way.

“"Picturing reality. Using thought experiments like Einstein. Experiencing by reproducing reality in your mind."

That's not intuition. That's just a matter of conceptualizing phenomena. The intuitive part of Einstein was making use of these conceptualizations and leaping to theoretical conclusions that no one had ever even considered before.”

That’s what I mean. He did it by picturing them further you are picturing the word picturing too narrowly. I mean a full experience not just sight. Stephen Hawking uses it.

“If for you intuition is just a matter of thinking about reality in your head then it is fully dependent on having an accurate conception of reality in the first place.”

True and then you if you are intuitive enough can be very successful.
.
As a doctor you will have use your intuition a lot.

“"Wrong just because they are contradictory to experience doesn’t mean it does not yield a conceptual model."

Either the concepts are flawed or the theory is flawed. I suspect both. At best, you only have a partial conceptual model.”

I thought you trust data. Now you say use conceptualization to judge the theory?

“"The Physical Science Textbook is from the same school as the Biology one."

It seems to me that you are either misreading the bio textbook or you went to a crappy school.”

I’ll give you the exact quote tomorrow. It’s dark now and I just want to go to bed. It’s not so nice to say crappy school.

"I know but the theory had to be changed in order to survive."

And that matters? No.”

It means the issue of thermodynamics had to be dealt with or death for the theory would ensue.

“"Remember what I wrote above about a house not being able to be spontaneously made. A living organism also includes information yet too. Making a crystal or a star is just using blind forces acting to bind things in different ways. It doesn’t make a whole machine with encoded instructions."

Again, what's your point? Is this still about entropy? It doesn't sound like it.”

Yes it does you have the hurdle of taking randomized spread out energy in other words entropy and seeing how it can decrease to make things.

“"As I said it would not really create enough complexity."

Why not? Just because you say so?”

Because the more macroreality you get the more simple the complexities procedures have to be. You cannot rely on Quantum Mechanics. The only loophole may possibly be on some grand scale of time and space or extreme conditions of them as we don’t know enough about time and space yet. But Evolution claims to operate under the Second Law of Thermodynamics under ordinary conditions of it.

“"A star and a crystal both are just dead matter pulled by blind forces. If it were really that simple than why not have species develop immediately without Evolution and why should there be any kind of gradualism even of Gould's faster paced Evolution?"

Because it is a matter of climbing mount improbable. Each incremental step that led to an organized biological system was in itself of moderate probability, but if taken as a leap from point A to Z then it would appear highly unlikely indeed.”

You can’t climb Mount improbable using crystals as they are probable. You can’t use QT as we are talking about macroevents. So now we have random mutations from what? We have to contend with the first law of thermodynamics that mass\energy can neither be created nor destroyed and the second law that states that entropy increases.

“But the point I was making is that the issue of likelihood has no relevance to the ability of thermodynamics to make room for such a possibility. Hence, throwing around entropy as in contradiction with evolution is a canard, nothing more.”

From what I said we see no canard.

Orthoprax said...

RG,

"Yes it is. These are not improbable events at all."

Do you seriously not get how just because an event is not probable that doesn't mean that thermodynamics forbids it? They are two different things

"That’s what I mean. He did it by picturing them further you are picturing the word picturing too narrowly. I mean a full experience not just sight. Stephen Hawking uses it."

It doesn't matter what you meant by picturing. Picturing alone is not intuition.

"I thought you trust data. Now you say use conceptualization to judge the theory?"

The data is the data. A theory explains the data. I think the explanation given for QM is flawed. The equations will work no matter what explanation we apply to them.

"Yes it does you have the hurdle of taking randomized spread out energy in other words entropy and seeing how it can decrease to make things."

But you already acknowledged that this happens!

"Because the more macroreality you get the more simple the complexities procedures have to be."

That is a matter of probability - not thermodynamics!

"From what I said we see no canard."

I think I've explained this to you what?, five or six times already. Just because something is unlikely does not mean it is thermodynamically forbidden. These are different ideas which you seem incapable of separating.

Or maybe you just used your intuition to conflate the two ideas.

Rabban Gamliel said...

“"Yes it is. These are not improbable events at all."

Do you seriously not get how just because an event is not probable that doesn't mean that thermodynamics forbids it? They are two different things”

Do you not understand that Thermodynamics causes events to be called improbable? QT produces in the microworld improbabilities all the time. What makes the laws of nature exist is that on enough particles, say on the size of anything we can see you then have predictable happenings. There is in QT a slight probability you will walk through a wall. If all improbable events were possible even one step at a time you wouldn’t have the universe being predictable. Even without knowing the age of the universe or when typewriters were made or when anything was made you would never think that maybe the Encyclopedia Britannica you would be reading was typed by monkeys blindly and so that what you are reading in it is nonsense.

““That’s what I mean. He did it by picturing them further you are picturing the word picturing too narrowly. I mean a full experience not just sight. Stephen Hawking uses it."

It doesn't matter what you meant by picturing. Picturing alone is not intuition.”

You ever heard of thought experiments? That’s what I am speaking about.

“"I thought you trust data. Now you say use conceptualization to judge the theory?"

The data is the data. A theory explains the data. I think the explanation given for QM is flawed. The equations will work no matter what explanation we apply to them.”

But you are then judging against all those experts something you refused to do with Evolution. It’s now you against the scientific consensus. What about the explanation for QM do you feel makes it flawed?

“The equations will work no matter what explanation we apply to them.”

Equations don’t make scientific theories.

“"Yes it does you have the hurdle of taking randomized spread out energy in other words entropy and seeing how it can decrease to make things."

But you already acknowledged that this happens!”

Not by itself. It happens through physical processes. You yourself require Evolution for it. Why not just then have it happen? Is your room going to be cleaned by itself? A wind can come and blow all in it to one corner. That’s less entropy though still not as complexly clean as you could make it.

“"Because the more macroreality you get the more simple the complexities procedures have to be."

That is a matter of probability - not thermodynamics!”

Entropy involves probability. Nothing within a closed system can change the overall system despite the statistical random interactions within the system. Why? because QT says the more you are on a macrolevel the more the ordinary rules of common sense apply statistically. On the head of a pin you have so may particles that statistically it behaves according to macrorules within the margin allowed for the head of a pin which is overwhelming enough that we don’t expect strange events to be occurring with it anymore than with a building.

“"From what I said we see no canard."

I think I've explained this to you what?, five or six times already. Just because something is unlikely does not mean it is thermodynamically forbidden. These are different ideas which you seem incapable of separating.

Or maybe you just used your intuition to conflate the two ideas.”

I didn’t say just because something is unlikely means it is thermodynamically forbidden. These phenomena though must follow the laws of thermodynamics These are laws not simple probabilities.

Orthoprax said...

RG,

"Do you not understand that Thermodynamics causes events to be called improbable?"

So what is your point? It's a numbers game. Can it happen according to thermodynamics - even without appealing to QT? Sure it can. Therefore the ideas are not in contradiction. End of debate.

If you want to start a _new_ debate about how likely such an event or a series of events is then we have a different discussion.

"You ever heard of thought experiments? That’s what I am speaking about."

Great. That's still not intuition by anyone's definition except your own.

"But you are then judging against all those experts something you refused to do with Evolution. It’s now you against the scientific consensus. What about the explanation for QM do you feel makes it flawed?"

Relativity is incompatible with QT, therefore at least one of them is wrong to some degree. I believe Relativity to be far better understood and far more understandable than is QT - even for the best theoreticians QT is still a mystery.

"Not by itself. It happens through physical processes."

Everything requires physical processes. Salt forming a crystal is something that happens all by itself via chemical interactions. There is no difference between that and a biological system except in the precise reactions by which the entropy is reduced. Thermodynamics gives the thumbs up to each.

"That’s less entropy though still not as complexly clean as you could make it."

You are creating distinctions in thermodynamics that do not exist in the equations. You are discussing some super-theoretical question, asking how biological systems are capable of such complexity while all I am trying to establish is that complexity is perfectly able to be accounted for in thermodynamics without contradiction.

"Entropy involves probability."

Good, but what is probable does not determine what is possible.

"These phenomena though must follow the laws of thermodynamics These are laws not simple probabilities."

So is it possible or not? You are saying it is impossible. That is not a statement that thermodynamics would allow you to say.

alex said...

"I think, for example, that R' Soloveitchik had a rather rational philosophy. It is one thing to pretend that there are not profound discrepencies between typical Orthodox beliefs and modern scholarship in terms of Biblical criticism and natural science - or to be wholly ignorant of them (both are typical Orthodox approaches) but yet another to look these issues squarely in the jaw, acknowledge their existence as issues but for other reasons still resolve oneself to committed Orthodoxy."

For 'other' reasons? I don't see what other reasons you might impute to R' Soloveitchik other than that he looked these issues in the jaw and yet still, like a fundamentalist closing the shades on what his eyes see, maintained his belief in Torah m'Sinai, men living for hundreds of years, Olam Haba, and a whole slew of other "irrational" beliefs.

Rabban Gamliel said...

“So what is your point? It's a numbers game. Can it happen according to thermodynamics - even without appealing to QT? Sure it can. Therefore the ideas are not in contradiction. End of debate.”

Remember a moving object traveling at a constant velocity will stay in it except to the extent an outside force changes its state of motion and an object at rest will stay at rest except to the extent an outside force affects it. The classical laws call for inaction in the absence of forces. True randomness comes from Quantum Mechanics. You just can’t build order with the whole system eventually ordered. You have to pay the price of higher disorder elsewhere in the larger system and disorder that affects the newly created order. You don’t have salt crystals reproducing. Even with Quantum Mechanics you have to have payback time. Quantum Mechanics has to make the macroworld look approximately normal. If we lived in a purely Quantum World we would have literally no classical laws. Interestingly we don’t have as Heinz Pagels pointed out a perfect definition of randomness either. Suppose we had monkeys type out a whole encyclopedia worth of a random collections of letters. It will come out to be nonsense. Now have it happen again letter for letter. Using classical laws all you have are deterministic laws not genuine randomness. Nothing happens by itself is a true statement for the classical world. We are not made out of classical material underneath. We have shortranged forces that cause interactions and cause also spontaneous decay called radioactivity. All crystals are just caused by the same blind forces as any other dead objects but they are smaller and their insides experience more Quantum affects. Molecules are collections of atoms that may exchange atoms. If there’s any complexity of design it’s just from molecular interactions and if there is any truly spontaneous complexity in it it would be Quantum Mechanical. Without Quantum Mechanics the shortranged forces wouldn’t work.

“"Not by itself. It happens through physical processes."

Everything requires physical processes. Salt forming a crystal is something that happens all by itself via chemical interactions. There is no difference between that and a biological system except in the precise reactions by which the entropy is reduced. Thermodynamics gives the thumbs up to each.”

Life requires new information to be created encoded to be set up as a system that runs in a cycle. In order to have a closed system you have to have a general spreading out of matter and or energy. It’s like a collection of gas in a box. You can the gas particles as balls that bump into each other apparently randomly eerily so. A defect in classical mechanics? I wonder. Where they collide you can say you have order and then where they fling from each other you have an open system. All these interactions have the affect of making for an eventual settling down of these balls. A bland temperature. There’s no new information created. You need to have an origin to any life processes. With Quantum Mechanics only you would have anything appearing. A refrigerator would appear or you would find yourself walking through a wall.

“"Entropy involves probability."

Good, but what is probable does not determine what is possible.”

Yes it does. All DNA tests are given in probabilities. Somethings are so improbable that we have scientific laws as a result. Quantum Mechanics says that that is why you have the laws of nature to begin with. On the Quantum level anything is possible but as the number of particles increase these possibilities which are arranged in probabilities lead to the stable laws of nature that give us the illusion of a totally deterministic universe. If it were as simple to make a life system even a system of a part of an organism, as a salt crystal you wouldn’t have some Biologists referring to the Earth and her life forms as open systems or making the mistake of saying that the Second Law of Thermodynamics doesn’t apply to them. All this being said we are arguing over Orthodox Evolution. The truth is Evolution now has many different forms and if this keeps up I may find myself placed on the other side of the border.

“"But you are then judging against all those experts something you refused to do with Evolution. It’s now you against the scientific consensus. What about the explanation for QM do you feel makes it flawed?"

Relativity is incompatible with QT, therefore at least one of them is wrong to some degree. I believe Relativity to be far better understood and far more understandable than is QT - even for the best theoreticians QT is still a mystery.”

This doesn’t mean that QT is wrong. If we can’t understand it it’s our problem. That being said as I said also Relativity and QT contradict one another. I believe totally in Relativity and consider QT an approximation. That being said we can’t return to the deterministic universe of Newton and Einstein. I see an interesting thing though. One time Einstein proposed a challenge to Neils Bohr over Quantum Mechanics and Bohr emerged victorious by showing that Einstein forgot a piece of his Theory of Relativity in coming up with his challenge. I think this shows though a weakness even perhaps an inconsistency in QT because Bohr had to rely on Einstein’s theory to answer back Einstein’s challenge. QT says once a measurement is made the probability becomes a reality. No longer do you have contradictory states at once. The problem is we can’t say what a measurement is from the Theory. It seems to me that when you have the statement “if measured you have this result” it is referring to what you would experience by definition. There is no “real” collapse of the wave function. We experience a universe we measure. There are different levels to realty then. I know the theory of Relativity pictorially fully though not entirely mathematically. I think mainly in pictures and sensations. So my intuition is different. It’s easier than in words. Every time I had a question about how Relativity works it always got resolved. Quantum Mechanics is one of those topics I shelve often because it is very big deal to try to figure out the exact consequences. Also like Relativity Theory that uses the same vocabulary as Newtonian Mechanics but gives it a different meaning this may be the same with Quantum Mechanics and Relativity. Now that I had emailed you the quote from the Biology book having been unable to post it here because of the web posting problems and you said you wish rather for me to email from the Physical science book I will but it will have to wait for tomorrow in the light of day as it is late now.

Orthoprax said...

RG,

We've been at this for too long and have made zero progress in the last 20 posts. I've said what I've said several times already. The higher order found in biological systems is not qualitatively different from the order found in non-biological systems as far as thermodynamics is concerned. That is the long and short of the issue.

You may think that biological systems contradict thermodynamics, but I assure you that if you took out a pen and paper, used the equations and actually did the math it would all work out.

You have strange ideas about thermodynamics that are not found in normal science and are not proposed by any serious scientists.

Orthoprax said...

Alex,

"For 'other' reasons? I don't see what other reasons you might impute to R' Soloveitchik other than that he looked these issues in the jaw and yet still, like a fundamentalist closing the shades on what his eyes see, maintained his belief in Torah m'Sinai, men living for hundreds of years, Olam Haba, and a whole slew of other "irrational" beliefs."

One can have rational reasons for holding irrational beliefs. I do not believe that R' Soloveitchik's internal logic was that those stories were true, period, in a fundamentalist way. But that we have to accept them as true in some way in order to ensure the integrity of the Orthodox system in the face of the secular onslaught.

Rabban Gamliel said...

"You may think that biological systems contradict thermodynamics, but I assure you that if you took out a pen and paper, used the equations and actually did the math it would all work out."

Of course they don't. I was speaking of origins of their parts.

"You have strange ideas about thermodynamics that are not found in normal science and are not proposed by any serious scientists."

Where can I find yours?

Orthoprax said...

RG,

"Of course they don't. I was speaking of origins of their parts."

We don't know exactly how that happened so you can't do the equations, but there is no reason why theoretically it could not pass thermodynamic muster.

"Where can I find yours?"

In the normal, standard understanding of thermodynamics.

Rabban Gamliel said...

You talked about climbing mount improbable. This concept whether applied on the largest scales or smaller scales says that each possibility has a certain probability of happening that can only happen if at all after a particular amount of time. Possibility is proportional to time. The higher the possibility the less time something needs to happen. The lower the possibility the more time you need to expect it to happen. People use probability to even say what the universe on the macroscale is like. If the possibility of something happening by accident in the universe is too low it is said by scientists to be an indication that it is not an accident. DNA uses probability to clear and convict people. If probability doesn’t have physical implications than what is it?

""Where can I find yours?"

In the normal, standard understanding of thermodynamics."

You have your own definition of Thermodynamics. Quantum Mechanics according to you is to be replaced by what a return to Determinism only punctuated? If so in what way?
Where have you read your Thermodynamics?

Orthoprax said...

RG,

"If probability doesn’t have physical implications than what is it?"

It does have implications but the entropic requirements for life - while unlikely - are not so unlikely that you can discount the possibility and say that thermodynamics is in conflict with evolution.

Furthermore, you are not just dealing with time - but with space as well. Lots of similar trials could have been going on in a lot of different places all over the universe.

If you look at the universe, every structure that you see that is not a cloud of random dust is evidence of localized decrease in entropy. If this were not possible then not only would life be in conflict with thermodynamics, but virtually everything that exists within the universe would likewise be in such conflict.

"You have your own definition of Thermodynamics."

I think not.

"Quantum Mechanics according to you is to be replaced by what a return to Determinism only punctuated?"

I haven't replaced it with anything.

"Where have you read your Thermodynamics?"

Chemistry and Physics classes from high school through graduate school, my personal readings on the web and related science books and articles.

Rabban Gamliel said...

From the Physical Science Book I promised.

"The Second Law and Natural Processes

Energy can be viewed from two considerations of scale, (1) the observable external energy of an object, and (2) the internal en-ergy of the molecules, or particles that make up an object. A ball, for example, has kinetic energy after it is thrown through the air and the entire system of particles making up the ball acts like a single massive particle as the ball moves. The motion and energy of the single system can be calculated from the laws of motion and from the equations representing the concepts of work and energy. All of the particles are moving together, in coherent mo-tion when the external kinetic energy is considered.
But the particles making up the ball have another kind of kinetic energy, with the movements and vibrations of internal kinetic energy. In this case the particles are not moving uni-formly together, but are vibrating with motions in many differ-ent directions. Since there is a lack of net motion and a lack of correlation, the particles have a jumbled incoherent motion, which is often described as chaotic. This random, chaotic mo-tion is sometimes called thermal motion.
Thus there are two kinds of motion that the particles of an object can have, (1) a coherent motion where they move together, in step, and (2) an incoherent, chaotic motion of individual par-ticles. These two types of motion are related to the two modes of energy transfer, working and heating. The relationship is that work on an object is associated with its coherent motion while heating an object is associated with its internal incoherent motion.
The second law of thermodynamics implies a direction to the relationship between work (coherent motion) and heat (in-coherent motion) and this direction becomes apparent as you analyze what happens to the motions during energy conversions. Some forms of energy, such as electrical and mechanical, have a greater amount of order since they involve particles moving to-gether in a coherent motion. The term quality of energy is used to identify the amount of coherent motion. Energy with high order and coherence is called a high-quality energy. Energy with less order and less coherence, on the other hand, is called low-quality energy. In general, high-quality energy can be easily converted to work, but low-quality energy is less able to do work.
High-quality electrical and mechanical energy can be used to do work, but then become dispersed as heat through energy- form conversions and friction. The resulting heat can be con-verted to do more work only if there is a sufficient temperature difference. The temperature differences do not last long, how-ever, as conduction, convection, and radiation quickly disperse the energy even more. Thus the transformation of high-quality energy into lower-quality energy is a natural process. Energy tends to disperse, both from the conversion of an energy form to heat and from the heat flow processes of conduction, convec-tion, and radiation. Both processes flow in one direction only and cannot be reversed. This is called the degradation of en-ergy, which is the transformation of high-quality energy to lower-quality energy. In every known example it is a natural process of energy to degrade, becoming less and less available to do work. The process is irreversible even though it is possible to temporarily transform heat to mechanical energy through a heat engine or to upgrade the temperature through the use of a heat pump. Eventually the upgraded mechanical energy will de-grade to heat and the increased heat will disperse through the processes of heat flow.
The apparent upgrading of energy by a heat pump or heat engine is always accompanied by a greater degrading of energy someplace else. The electrical energy used to run the heat pump for example, was produced by the downgrading of chemical or nuclear energy at an electrical power plant. The overall result is that the total energy was degraded toward a more disorderly state.
A thermodynamic measure of disorder is called entropy. Order means patterns and coherent arrangements. Disorder means dispersion, no patterns, and a randomized, or spread-out arrangement. Entropy is therefore a measure of chaos, and this leads to another statement about the second law of thermodynamics and the direction of natural change, that

the total entropy of the universe continually increases.

Note the use of the words total and universe in this statement of the second law. The entropy of a system can decrease (more order), for example when a heat pump cools and condenses the random, chaotically moving water vapor molecules into more ordered state of liquid water. When the energy source for the production, transmission, and use of electrical energy is considered, however, the total entropy will be seen as increasing. Likewise, the total entropy increases during the growth of a plant or animal. When all the food, waste products, and products of metabolism are considered, there is again an increase in total entropy.
Thus the natural process is for a state of order to degrade into a state of disorder with a corresponding increase in entropy. This means that all the available energy of the universe is gradually diminishing, and over time, the universe should therefore approach a limit of maximum disorder called the heat the universe. The heat death of the universe is the theoretical limit of disorder, with all molecules spread far, far apart, vibrat-ing slowly with a uniform low temperature.
The heat death of the universe seems to be a logical conse-quence of the second law of thermodynamics, but scientists are not certain if the second law should apply to the whole universe. What do you think? Will the universe with all its complexities of organi-zation end with the simplicity of spread-out and slowly vibrating molecules? As has been said, nature is full of symmetry—so why should the universe begin with a bang and end with a whisper?”

Orthoprax said...

RG,

Yeah, I don't see anything about abiogenesis or evolution in that excerpt.

Furthermore, it also states this:

"Note the use of the words total and universe in this statement of the second law. The entropy of a system can decrease (more order)..." - which is exactly the distinction that Creationists do not recognize or often even understand.

Rabban Gamliel said...

"RG,

Yeah, I don't see anything about abiogenesis or evolution in that excerpt.

Furthermore, it also states this:

"Note the use of the words total and universe in this statement of the second law. The entropy of a system can decrease (more order)..." - which is exactly the distinction that Creationists do not recognize or often even understand."

The Biology Book said the Second Law of Thermodynamics doesn't apply to the Earth and life. This book says otherwise. Abiogenesis may be something that occurs perhaps in violation of the Second Law.

Rabban Gamliel said...

QT says there can be random gains in energy as long as it is paid back immediately. The checks and balances demanded by the laws of conservation have to be seen holding when a measurement is made.

You are a doctor have you read about Epigenetics? It will become more important to medicine as time goes by and is already important to medical research.
http://www.discover.com/issues/nov-06/cover/?page=2

Orthoprax said...

RG,

"The Biology Book said the Second Law of Thermodynamics doesn't apply to the Earth and life. This book says otherwise."

No, they're both right. It depends what each meant in context. The bio book was referring to the idea that thermodynamics precludes the possibility of complexity arising spontaneously - which is not true - while the physics book is speaking in a more general sense.

The only conflict between the two is semantic, not in scientific understanding.

"QT says there can be random gains in energy as long as it is paid back immediately. The checks and balances demanded by the laws of conservation have to be seen holding when a measurement is made.
You are a doctor have you read about Epigenetics? It will become more important to medicine as time goes by and is already important to medical research.
http://www.discover.com/issues/nov-06/cover/?page=2"

That's all great but I fail to see the relevance.

Rabban Gamliel said...

“No, they're both right. It depends what each meant in context. The bio book was referring to the idea that thermodynamics precludes the possibility of complexity arising spontaneously - which is not true - while the physics book is speaking in a more general sense.”

The Book is excellent but naturally it doesn’t speak as deeply as a higher level text. It is an excellent book as far as getting your feet wet in Physical science. My feet were already wet before reading it but it’s still an excellent book.

QT makes approximately the same predictions on the macrolevel as Classical Mechanics but does introduce even there a level of chance. As for Epigenenes they are the software and the genes are the hardware. Our life experiences (environment) affect what level of expression our genes will have and it can be passed down. http://www.discover.com/issues/nov-06/cover/?page=2

Orthoprax said...

RG,

"QT makes approximately the same predictions on the macrolevel as Classical Mechanics but does introduce even there a level of chance. As for Epigenenes they are the software and the genes are the hardware. Our life experiences (environment) affect what level of expression our genes will have and it can be passed down. http://www.discover.com/issues/nov-06/cover/?page=2"

I know what they are, though I wouldn't use your description of epigenetics, but I do not see how they are related to our discussion about thermodynamics or abiogenesis.

Rabban Gamliel said...

How would you describe epigenetics? As far as abiogenesis that already is dealing perhaps outside of at least the simple realm of Thermodynamics. QT may be needed for that.

I noticed the below:

“Scientists most often use the word "fact" to describe an observation. But scientists can also use fact to mean something that has been tested or observed so many times that there is no longer a compelling reason to keep testing or looking for examples. The occurrence of evolution in this sense is a fact. Scientists no longer question whether descent with modification occurred because the evidence supporting the idea is so strong.”
http://fermat.nap.edu/books/0309064066/html/28.html

Something is wrong when you can have a misunderstanding of science like that. When we were on the moon we tested the laws of motion there to. We’ve seen things fall so many times before.