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Unread April 15th, 2006, 03:16 PM
Fred H. Fred H. is offline
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 483
Default Re: Pinker's Blank Slate

Carey: Why was I putting the word "accidental" in quotation marks, for example?
It was my quote of your post in my post, knowmsaying? Anywho, “accidental,” as I recall, was the word we were using to describe a universe lacking a first cause, having no intrinsic meaning or purpose, that was a result of some random uncaused happening—the atheist’s universe—all there ever was, is, will be.

I think the bottom line, Carey, is that these arguments ultimately boil down to whether you believe there indeed is such a thing as “objective truth,” whether objective truth exists (and perhaps also whether we humans can know it); or whether you believe there is only subjective “truth,” whether there are only subjective, mental and/or social constructs.

To me the evidence is overwhelming that there is indeed timeless, objective mathematical truth, that objective mathematical truth does indeed exist, that it exists independent of the human mind, independent of any evolved sentient being’s mind, and independent of the physical world that we currently find ourselves in.

For example, the four-square theorem: In the 17th century Bachet, a mathematician, conjectured whether every positive integer could be expressed as the sum of four squares of integers; e.g.: 31 = 52 + 22 + 12 + 12. In 1770 another mathematician, Lagrange, discovered the unassailable proof for this “four-square theorem.” That every positive integer can be expressed as the sum of four squares of integers is a timeless objective truth—it was true when Lagrange discovered the proof, it’s true today, and it was true before conscious beings evolved.

Although we humans can know and “see” this particular objective truth, the four-square theorem doesn’t actually “exist” in the physical world. Additionally, it is only with objective mathematical truths (e.g., integers, pi, etc., etc., etc.) that we humans are able to begin to truly understand the reality of our physical world.

Once one see the reality of objective mathematical truth, and it’s necessity to do science, the leap to objective beauty, and perhaps even objective morality, is not so difficult; and b/f you know it you’ll find yourself quoting Einstein: “Everyone who is seriously involved in the pursuit of science becomes convinced that a spirit is manifest in the laws of the Universe—a spirit vastly superior to that of man....” Or Max Planck: “There is no matter as such! All matter originates and exists only by virtue of a force. We must assume behind this force the existence of a conscious and intelligent Mind. This Mind is the matrix of all matter.” Or Roger Penrose: "I would say the universe has a purpose. It's not there just somehow by chance."
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