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To: TXnMA; Alamo-Girl; hosepipe; YHAOS; metmom
As far as we are able to measure, the behavior of the molecules in a volume of gas is predictably "random with a uniform distribution."

"As far as we are able to measure" is the operative clause here TXnMA. Alamo-Girl acknowledges this; you gloss right over it, seeming to suggest that the universe itself is somehow the product of Brownian motion. But this is the very point A-G gets to with her observation that we cannot know for certain what is "random" in a system if we don't know what the system "is."

The ability to "measure" is the ability to directly observe. This is the heart of "the observer problem": As spatio-temporally located parts of the system that we observe, we are never in a position to observe "all of it." We can only see from where we happen to stand. Thus we cannot know what the total system "is" on the basis of observation in principle. We therefore have no reason to conclude that "what is" can be reduced to what can be measured.

But if we assume that reduction, we foreclose the possibility that the randomness we perceive may be a physical process manifesting a higher-order cause that is not perceptible, detectable by sense perception.

Do we really want to reduce the universe (and human knowledge) to what sense perception can report? In effect, this is to say that Man, not God, is "the Measure" of all things. Or perhaps it's more correct to say that not Man, but his five sensory "windows" on the world, are the "measure" of reality.

It seems to me that the "randomness" that God uses as a tool in nature (so to speak) is indispensable to growth, change, development, evolution. Without it, the creation -- the universe -- would be wholly static. But this is not to say that randomness means "pure, blind chance," as Jacques Monod maintains (along with Dawkins, Pinker, Lewontin, Singer, et al.).

Ultimately, it seems to me that God's laws are guides to the system that operate on the random aspects of the system, in such a way as to constrain pure chance. Thus I think we need to see that the words "random" and "chance" are not synonyms, even though typically we speak of them as if they were.

Alamo-Girl is so right: We need to understand what "randomness" really means when we toss the word around in popular debates. In short, it seems to me before we start speaking about randomness and "chance," we ought to acknowledge that the observer problem is inextricably involved in whatever we say about the matter, and there is no single "privileged" human observer in the universe in a position to know the truth, because the sole observer of "all that there is" can only be God Himself.

In contrast, we humans see only partially, and "as if through a glass, darkly."

My two cents, FWIW.

41 posted on 03/15/2008 9:33:49 AM PDT by betty boop (This country was founded on religious principles. Without God, there is no America. -- Ben Stein)
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To: betty boop
"We ought to acknowledge that the observer problem is inextricably involved in whatever we say about the matter, and there is no single "privileged" human observer in the universe in a position to know the truth, because the sole observer of "all that there is" can only be God Himself."

Seemingly obvious, and yet it's the key to all these epistomological puzzles.

We think we are "aloof" as "observers," and yet we are always trying to mint coins out of imagined gold, or wondering why we can't stare into our own eyes.

45 posted on 03/15/2008 9:44:18 AM PDT by Mrs. Don-o (Whisper sweet words of epismetology in your ear and speak to you of the pompitous of love. S. Miller)
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To: betty boop
Thank you oh so very much for outstanding essay-post, dearest sister-in-Christ! And thank you for all of your encouragements!

Truly, it is important for everyone to understand the "observer problem" - but most especially, it is crucial for Christians to understand it. And convey it to others. As you said:

Do we really want to reduce the universe (and human knowledge) to what sense perception can report? In effect, this is to say that Man, not God, is "the Measure" of all things. Or perhaps it's more correct to say that not Man, but his five sensory "windows" on the world, are the "measure" of reality.

The consequence of acquiescing to this reduced worldview is the false supremacy of science as certain knowledge over all else - relegating Spiritual insight, philosophy, theology et al to footnotes.

We need to understand what "randomness" really means when we toss the word around in popular debates. In short, it seems to me before we start speaking about randomness and "chance," we ought to acknowledge that the observer problem is inextricably involved in whatever we say about the matter, and there is no single "privileged" human observer in the universe in a position to know the truth, because the sole observer of "all that there is" can only be God Himself.

In contrast, we humans see only partially, and "as if through a glass, darkly."

Indeed. As far as I can tell, at this moment in time, the most disturbing element in the crevo wars for Christians young and mature is "randomness." The more we can do to explicate the "observer problem" the better.

46 posted on 03/15/2008 9:58:37 AM PDT by Alamo-Girl
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