Thursday, October 05, 2006

Does God Exist?

Do I think that there was a creator of the universe? Yes, probably. Does that automatically mean that the creator of the universe gets involved in the everyday lives of individual people? No, I sincerely doubt it. If that is your definition of "God" then I have to say that I don't believe THAT kind of God exists.

Let's look at the facts as we know them:

We have traced back the origin of the universe to a big bang that occurred approximately 13 billion years ago. But what existed BEFORE the big bang? Physics is stumped. Physics suggests that time started at that moment and so there WAS no "before" for anything to exist "in". This does not throw me however, since "time" is a relative construct that is a rather abstract creation of ours anyway. But then where did the original matter come from that exploded into the current universe? Science doesn't know. More importantly - WHY did it explode into creation? Again, unknown by all the evidence and logical analysis that our current science can provide.
Also, from Stephen Hawking's calculations, we know that, as it was being created in the explosion, the rate of expansion was the EXACT right speed to create a universe. If it were slightly slower, it would have collapsed back in on itself and we would again have the singularity. If it exploded just slightly faster, then all the sub-atomic particles would have escaped the gravitational and nuclear attraction of each other, and we would again, not have "matter" as we do today. We would have a very fine "mist" of sub-atomic material shooting out across a void. No physical matter. No rocks, planets, stars, or people to wonder about where they came from.

All of these things tend to suggest the hand of an intelligent creator.

If you look at how the moon came to be where it is against absolutely incredible/impossible odds, then that strengthens the argument in favor of an intelligent creator with the power to move and influnce large amounts of matter in space. (this is another whole story I'd love to tell you sometime)

To me, the concept of 'faith' where you just simply believe in a set of stories and explanations because some religious organization tells you to, is, at best, illogical. At worst, it's a very dangerous cult-like behavior, and it leads to violence and intolerance of people that adhere to competing belief systems.

However, a belief system that is based upon one's own observations, analysis, and deductive or inductive reasoning, is perfectly fine. So, in my own case, the combination of observations and analyses that I have described above are what lead ME to believe in a creator for the universe. I welcome you to either agree with my analysis and conclusions, or I urge you to come to your own conclusions through your own means.

Now, as to a belief in a "God" being that gets involved in the everyday minutae of the lives of every person on Earth, and every animal, and tree and flower, and the course of every stream, and all the bacteria and higher lifeforms on every one of billions of planets in the universe - no. I don't see it.
Not merely because the sheer volume makes it impractical, but also because the various elements work against each other. To favor one, disfavors the other. In World War II, Germany was also a Christian country and felt that God was on their side and they prayed to God to help them win the war. So did we. So did France. So did England, and Canada. And Australia, etc. Same religious background. Same hopes and desires and prayers.
How could any God intervene on behalf of his believers without damaging his other believers. The needs of mankind in a diverse world like ours are almost ALL the time at cross purposes.

However - weird stuff DOES happen from time to time.
Look at that woman who a few weeks ago won a million dollars in the lottery - twice. Twice!! Does that mean that God intervened on her behalf? (thereby denying a few million OTHER people) I doubt it.
But the odds of winning once are 14 million to one. The odds of the same person winning twice are astronomical.

That actually tells me something. It does not tell me that there is a God who manipulates the lottery at will. But it does indicate to me that there is something going on beneath the surface of the universe. Remarkable coincidence like that is the visible hallmark of unknown, unseen things happening just outside our ability to detect and understand them. We do not know everything. This much is clear.

That is why a truly open mind is a wonderfully useful thing.

I should clarify something.
The oversimplified gist of the above is that God exists but he doesn't particularly care about all the moment to moment, day to day things that affect each of us. That's a rough way to put it, but essentially correct, I think.

However, a LOT of people believe in God because they grew up thinking that God is there to look after them personally. An omnipotent and omnicient personal guardian to help us when we need help, and to support us, and keep evil and misfortune at bay. And we are taught he does this because we are good and deserve it. If only we'll do as our minister/priest/Rabbi tells us to do, then God will see the gold star beside our name and will take care of us all our days and welcome us into permanent heaven in the afterlife when we die.

Well, I have noted before that we tend to believe anything that someone tells us when we are 6 years old. It becomes the unshakable foundation of our world view later and cannot be changed.
So those folks who have believed that since childhood, are not likely to give that up now. To imagine that they are abandoned to wild outrageous fortune is just unthinkable! And besides, what would happen to society if everyone thought there were no afterlife consequences to their actions in this life. Fear can be a useful guiding principle in keeping otherwise self-serving sociopaths on the straight and narrow.

So this belief system does have a useful purpose to society.

Yet look at the Muslim people who seek to unravel and destroy our society. Their strong belief is that God is on their side and that we are fundamentally inherently evil. Yet we seem to think that WE are the ones who are good, and if they are plotting to terrorize us then it must be THEY who are fundamentally evil. They think America is Satan's home on Earth and to destroy us is a stroke in favor of God's kingdom.

If God were to grant the wishes of some of his believers at the expense of the others, then he is not "God" anymore, is he? Because if he damages his devout followers regardless of whether they deserved that treatment, they could not actually 'earn' their respite. He has then become merely a concentration of capricious power acting unpredictably.
So, if God acts in any way to advance the position of some people over others, then he loses his status as divine arbiter of souls and judge of good and evil. Therefore, a divine super-being could NOT act in that capacity. It is a logical prerequisite.

Does this mean that we are abandoned to wild chance, and nothing we do matters or counts, and there is no reward for good behavior or punishment for bad behavior?

No. Not really.

Those who are sensitive to such things will see patterns in the chaos. They detect a plan underlying our existence. Many people extrapolate that to indicate God's hand in our lives. But I think it is something else.

If you study reincarnation you will read about the concept that we all get a chance to design our lives ahead of time just before we are born. There is a plan for us, but the architect of the plan for each of us - is ourself.

There are many people who have been regressed back into previous lives and into the bardo state between lives and this is what they discovered.

I have no proof for this except to say that this belief system suits me well. It fits all the observable facts and their logical implications. It works.

I would like to exercise another corner of the thinking I was showing above.

I implied that blind faith does not serve us well, and it could be argued that belief in God based on the Big Bang theory is just as faulty. Science has it's pet theories and it's blind adherents to those theories are somewhat akin to the religious people who adhere blindly to the doctrine of their theology. So I want to expand just slightly on my reasoning there to show that I have allowed for that theory to be wrong.

I said that I believed in a creator because it was the most logical explanation as to why the universe exploded into being in the Big Bang that started it all. Something had to cause it to happen, and physical science is at a loss to explain how or why.

But what if there was no Big Bang? After all, the reason scientists think there was a big bang is really because of a phenomenon called 'red-shift', which is simply a shift of the EM elemental signature toward the red end of the spectrum when examining the light coming from other galaxies. This is said to be caused by the fact that they are moving away from us at close to the speed of light.

It was deduced that since ALL galaxies seem to be moving away from each other, like dots on the surface of an expanding balloon, they must have started somewhere, this is the center of the metaphorical balloon. Based upon measurements assuming this underlying theory, it turned out that they did start in the same spot at the same time. That location is 15 billion lights years from here, and the time was 13 billion years ago. (The discrepancy is due to an acceleration in the expansion of the universe that started about 3 billion years ago, but that's another tangential topic for discussion).

So, if they all started at the same time in the same spot and are now shooting out from that spot still at tremendous speed, then that is an explosion of sorts, and hence the title "Big Bang".

But what if they are wrong? What if the red shift is caused by some radiation belt at the edge of our galaxy that distorts the EM signatures of light that passes through to our telescopes? Or what if there is some other atmospheric or gravitational cause for this effect? Then that might destroy the whole Big Bang theory which is now a central theme for much of cosmology as it exists today (for any physicists reading this: I am deliberately oversimplifying this to make a point. Hang with me here...)

If the Big Bang theory were found to be false, then the alternate implication is that the galaxies were NOT created in an explosion of matter from a central mathematical singularity, but rather ALWAYS existed in their current form and positions. This used to be called the "Steady State Theory" when I was first learning about this as a kid in school.

Well, even if the SST is true, then that also suggests that there was a creator, doesn't it? Science says that matter and energy cannot be created or destroyed, so that leaves out some 'natural' physical science explanation of how all this matter just bubbled into existance out of nothingness. And so we are again left with a divine being of supreme intelligence and massive power to create the universe as we see it today.

Let's take a third alternative. What if all we see is mere illusion? When you dream in your bed at night, you might dream of stars in the night sky. Does that mean that those stars were dreamed thousands of years ago in order for their light to reach your 'eyes' now? Of course not. You simply dreamed them into existance now just as they appear.
What if our stars in the night sky are no more than that? What if they and everything else we see are simply dreamed into existance right now for us to see and live and experience. Our scientific conclusions based on the lights we see at night seem silly and ridiculous now in this context. They are logical and reasonable but based upon faulty source information - because it's all just a dream created for us to live in and experience things.

Well, if THAT is the true nature of the world and universe around us, and if science is completely wrong on the subject of our beginnings, then still SOMEONE has to be creating this dream, correct? That creator is, by definition, God.

And so I say, whether the universe was created as it is now - billions of years ago, or whether it was created in a Big Bang explosion, or whether it is merely all a dream created to appear this way, in any of these cases, we arrive at a logical conclusion of a God to create it. There simply seems to be no other more reasonable explanation.

And so I believe in God. A creator for the universe.

But that does not mean I think he is interested in fixing the lottery for me to win this weekend. But I may buy a ticket anyway. Because you just never know...


At 10/06/2006 9:26 PM, Blogger Igor said...

if God were to grant the wishes of some of his believers at the expense of the others, then he is not "God" anymore, is he?
He has then become merely a concentration of capricious power acting unpredictably.
then he loses his status as divine arbiter of souls and judge of good and evil.
Therefore, a divine super-being could NOT act in that capacity. It is a logical prerequisite.

I don't see any problem here, Val. You did come to your "logical" conclusion only because you had started with common sense assumptions about how the God should behave. IMHO you have no reason to assume that. The God can easily be exactly that: a capricious power acting unpredictably (from your point of view).

Not that I believe in such a God, mind you.... it's just that your logic is flawed - you just cannot start with un-founded assumption about how a God "should" behave.

All you have proved is that mainstream religions (not mainstream Gods themselves, but just religion teachings!) are irrational (idiotic, in other words) - but, unfortunately, this doesn't help you to solve the "God Question" at all -

- for example, by your logic, the Quantum Mechanics is wrong as it's against human's common sense...


The God you don't believe in is called Anthropomorphic God : see here and Mr.Einstein didn't believe in such a god either. - so you are in a good company ;-)

At 10/06/2006 11:02 PM, Blogger Val Serrie said...

The point I was trying to make was that in order for God to be the anthropomorphic personal-God that most people think of as "God", he would have to act in a way that contradicts itself. In other words, the common understanding of "God" is that he is a judge of good and evil and that he rewards good and punishes evil. If you behave and do as you are supposed to do, you would be rewarded by God.
However, this form of God is also expected to respond to pleas for leniency and clemency. People pray for special dispensation.
I am merely pointing out that people cannot have it both ways. If God only delivered justice and due rewards, then he cannot also grant special favors to those who pray.
and in a war, if he lets one side win over another and the other is destroyed despite the fact that they acted in accordance with the rules and guidelines, then he would be considered unjust and unpredictable, and therefore capricious.
It is not MY judgement. It is a simple fact. You CANNOT please everyone all the time, because their needs are diametrically opposed. To please one side harms the other. That is patently unfair. And if a surpreme powerful being acts in that way then they disqualify themself from bveing considered "God" - as the concept of that role is understood by people.

Of course, we are unqualified to judge the actions of such a powerful being - but we are not unqualified to decide what we will call that being or what we will think of that being.

I am suggesting that the being I refer to as "God" is the one who created the cosmos and he is far above petty concerns of the daily lifes of us mere mortals.

By saying this I cannot possibly offend him, because I am not important enough. It would be like you being offended by a housefly by winking at your sister. LOL


At 10/07/2006 9:54 AM, Blogger Igor said...

The point I was trying to make was that in order for God to be the anthropomorphic personal-God that most people think of as "God", he would have to act in a way that contradicts itself.In other words, the common understanding of "God" is that he is a judge of good and evil and that he rewards good and punishes evil. If you behave and do as you are supposed to do, you would be rewarded by God. ...

Sorry, Val. It seems to me that you mix up 2 very different things:
a) what is God.
b) what folks think about God.

Please see how those 2 play out:

a) God is anthropomorphic - So s/he can easily pit one bunch of zealots against another, lie to both of them, and deliver rewards and punishment by flipping a heavenly coin. Why not? That's how some people can behave - (the meaning of the word "anthropomorphic" !). If God is anthropomorphic then s/he can be a sleazy lying bastard, right? Because if you think that anthropomorphic God must be a decent person - you'd better have some proof of that, and I cannot imagine how...

b) Now we got anthropomorphic bad-guy-God - does it mean that people would see him/her as such ? Absolutely not! Our history is rife with examples how folks loved bad dictators and saw no black spot in those who were evil. Folks are .... easily misled, especially when they want to be misled. They want to have a good-guy-God, so they convince themselves that s/he is the goodness itself, and a bad-guy-God would be only too happy to oblige - may be s/he got a karl rove as PR guy.


to repeat again - just in case - the above does NOT mean that I, myself, believe in an anthropomorphic God.

on the other hand, let me give you some thought fuel, if you believe in un-anthropomorphic "creator of universe", you may be fooling yourself - because the word "creator" is 100% anthropomorphic !!

At 10/07/2006 10:29 AM, Blogger Igor said...

eh, thinking again, Val, I hope you are not very mad at me for dismantling your logical constructions...

you may ignore my previous comment, if you want,


but I would really like to ask you the following question:

let me gather my thoughts.... ok, if you ask me: " Igor, how did the universe come into existance? Why was there the big bang? What were the circumstances of that act?", I would answer: "Well, I don't know.". And I won't be un-comfortable with that answer. Oh, I am curious about that, oh yes sir! Very curious. But if I don't know smthing, I am comfortable in being so - I would want and try to find out, yes, but if I don't know now - that's it: I just don't know.

You, on the other hand, seem to feel un-comfortable being unable to answer that question. So you say: "The God created universe". Technically, this answer of yours is equivavlent of "I don't know", because even as you gave a name to something ("god"), you still know nothing about that something you have just given name to. Naming != knowing.

So.... why do you do that?

At 10/07/2006 3:36 PM, Blogger Val Serrie said...

I agree that people tell themselves what they are comfortable with, and the anthropomorphic type of God is comforting because then they feel they will be taken care of by a wiser higher power that loves them.
They simply cannot face the prospect of being completely alone and eposed to the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.

I disagree that a creator is automatically anthropomorphic. An inanimate process can trigger some creation activities. In fact, that is the basic assumption of most scientists.

as to the last point of having to use God to explain the unknown.... well, you have a valid observation. It is a good question. Except, in this case, we are not substitution God for simply what is not know, but rather implicating an intelligence and power behind what seems IMPOSSIBLE. That is key. It is easier to leave something as unknown if is possible but simply not known.
I don't know how my brother managed to afford to buy his new car last week. But That doesn't mean I suspect God's hand in it. (Though maybe I should - he may have prayed for it... LOL)
Nevertheless, I am comfortable not knowing and leaving it at that because it is not impossible. It is simply a matter of finding out certain details.
But the beginning of time and the universe? That question needs an answer.
And because the only possible answers extend into the realm of supernatural, beyond science, then God - and intelligent force of power is easily implicated.

At 10/07/2006 6:22 PM, Blogger Igor said...

1) [people] simply cannot face the prospect of being completely alone and exposed to the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.

excellently said !

2) we are not substituti[ing] God for ... what is not know[n], but rather implicating an intelligence and power behind what seems IMPOSSIBLE [ie the big bang]

well,......... no! Because by resorting to a god-creator you only aggravate the perceived impossibility of the big bang. Why?
- Because you have to explain how that creator came into existance himself.
--- Some super-creator who had created the creator who created our universe?
--- --- And then what about who created that super-creator, and so on.

Anyway you either
(a) continue this creator chain into eternity,
or (b) settle with some other big bang in some other universe that created a creator who created a creator who created a creator .... who created our universe.

Does (a) or (b) sound more plausible to you than our own big bang without any creator??!!

3) But the beginning of time and the universe? That question needs an answer.

if I explain to you why this question cannot possibly be answered in way that a today's human would understand, ( "understand" like in "understanding how a steam engine works") - then - would you be able to accept such an ... outcome?

At 10/09/2006 1:54 PM, Blogger Val Serrie said...

To answer in your order:
1) William Shakespeare and I both thank you.

2) Not at all. The beauty of using God as the explanation is that we are then excused from any further explanation about how God would have done it. It's like cheating. Once you say, "Oh that's where the magic part happens..." then you no longer have to give logical answers and reasonable hypothesis. There doesn't have to be a creator who created God, because God is infinite by definition, and therefore no further research is planned (wink)

3) Sure. Tell me why the source of the universe cannot possibly be understood by a human. Even by humans with such massive intellects such as you and me. (smile) LOL


At 10/09/2006 7:07 PM, Blogger Igor said...


The beauty of using God as the explanation is that ... then you no longer have to give logical answers and reasonable hypothesis.

if I remember correctly you used God-creator as the most reasonable explanation of big bang, which you perceive impossible... then ... what the hell ?! either you do look for a reasonable explanation, or you don't. Please make your choice. If you go for a reasonable one - then you cannot just abruptly stop and say "I don't need reasoning any more, for the rest of it".


It was NOT a joke, Val. Niether it was an irony. You, probably, haven't thought about it, but your brain, my brain, as well as Mr.Einshtein's brain, and a brain of any human evolved (ie "was created") to deal with a specific subset of possible natural phenomena - specifically the ones that we(humans) deal with in our lives.

Beyond that subset brain's abilities are practically non-existant. Granted, humans (at least some) can use mental tools to extend the brain's abilities (mathematics, logic, etc) - but they only can get us so far.

For example: dimentions above 3: nobody can visualize a 4-dimentional event. Nobody. Period. Because human brain is technically unable to do it. Because that brain evolved in 3-dimentional perceived universe.

Another example: quantum mechanics: human brain evolved to deal with events on macro scale - where ther are NO quantum effects. That's why when physics presents us with what's going on at the level of elementary particles - we (our brain) cannot help but see "paradoxes".

The same goes for the Big Bang. When you say that the Big Bang is impossible - you are actually trying to catch your own tail, like a puppy does, - you can call smthing "impossible" only when that smthing is inside your (mine, human's, scientists') area of general experience. (Example: we know that "in our world" everything falls down on earth, unless it does specific efforts to fly - so if I tell you that some rock just floated up on it's own - you can say it's impossible).

Alas, Big Bang is grossly outside that area of human experience (including physicists') - so when you call it "just impossible" - you are already outside Reason.

and the last, but not least, - it seems to me that you just don't realize/understand what kind of questions science (physics !) do answer.

You think that the Physics answer the question: "How does universe work?". Alas..... no! The science doesn't answer that kind of questions....

At 10/09/2006 7:28 PM, Blogger Val Serrie said...

2) I was only kidding. Sort of. Truths said in jest..... again Shakespeare....
But it's true. "God" as an answer to a physically impossible or improbable beginning DOES answer it and require no further justification because it is the universal fits-all answer, by virture of our definition of "God" as a being of infinite power, infinite ability, and infinite time. It simply solves all the problems and answers all the questions - IF you decide to use it. Stephen Hawking did. And I agree with him.

3) As for multidimensionality, on this, my friend, you are mistaken. I can see, draw, and think in multiple dimensions. I worked in Express technology for 14 years and became well known internationally for my work in that technology. It is a multidimensional database and multidimensional programming language. I worked extensively and with some depth in that technology that most people cannot fathom. You are correct that multidimensionality is difficult for most people. They are so accustomed to a 3-D world, they cannot conceive of a non-euclidian world. But my brain is not like that. I seem to have a natural ability for visualizing in more dimensions than that. 4 is easy. 5, 6, 7 - these get progressively more difficult but still possible. I have tried to envision 13 dimensional objects in order to 'see' my multidimensional constructs, but by then I find it gets too confusing for me.

But 4 dimensions? Not a problem. In fact, I could teach you to envision in 5 dimensions, because not only can I do it, but I even developed a way to teach that visualization. It is a very cool trick and I used to do it for fun when out to lunch with a friend. Everyone is always amazed. Everyone thinks it is impossible until I show them. I wish we could go out to lunch and I would show you. You seem to have a very facile mind, so I think you would enjoy it!

But it is too difficult to describe here typing. I need to draw a picture and then change it as I add the dimensions. I can go up to 6 spatial dimensions easily, then another special twist to go beyond that.
For now, I'm afraid you will just have to trust me. I can do it.

At 10/09/2006 8:13 PM, Blogger Igor said...

I can see, draw, and think in multiple dimensions.

Really? Ok

1 - dimentional sphere is 2 dots on a line - easy to visualize,
2 - dimentional sphere is a circle
3 - dimentional sphere is .... ahm ... a sphere

now please tell me how you visualize 4-dimentional sphere.

At 10/09/2006 8:39 PM, Blogger Val Serrie said...

It's interesting you should mention a sphere, because I use that in my example. I told you it is a little difficult to explain in text without drawing the picture, but ok. I will try. But I only have a few minutes here.

Let's picture a 5-dimensional cube, okay?

1. Start with a square. It is a 2-dimensional construct because it has length and width. That is, you can give references to positions within the square by specifying it's spatial displacement in each of two directions. Across and down. Like locating a cell within a spreadsheet. okay? Good. now...

2. Add a 3rd dimension to turn this square into a cube. Now it has length, width, and depth. In other words, you can specify a location within the cube by specifying 3-coordinates of displacement. Along the length dimension, along the width dimension, and along the depth dimension (or x,y, and z, if you prefer). Good. Now we move into the next level of visualization...

3. Now picture in your mind that this cube is hinged on on vertical edge. In other words, imagine that it swings around as if mounted on a pole that goes up through the height corner of the cube. Now imagine swivelling the cube around this point slowly. Each position of rotation represents another spatial displacement point, and the total number of spatial displacement point describe a circle around that central pivot point.
This is important to imagine this because this creates a cylinder-shaped array or possible positions. It is non-euclidian, so the 4th dimension must overlay the first three. Imagine it is transparent - it makes it easier. So a specific location within this 4-dimensional structure could be found using 4 dimensional refernce points. Along the length. Along the width. Along the depth, and around the rotation dimensions. The cylinder-looking shape to the untrained eye then, is actually a 4-dimensional cube. Can you see it?

5. Now lets go one dimension further. Take one of the dimensions that stretches out from the center to the edge of the cylinder. The length dimension. Now make that also rotate so that the cube can now also swing up and over along that swivel point, just like it swivels around sideways on the first swivel point. What you end up with if you imagine the 3-dimensional cube swivelled to every position in the 4th and 5th dimensions is - a sphere! In this structure you have 5 spatial dimensional reference points, which means that a sphere can be viewed as a 5-dimensional cube.

This is hard to describe. It is much easier to show you if I am drawing it.
Sorry if it does not translate.

By the way, the typical physicist envisions nested or embedded extra dimensions instead of these non-euclidean dimensions as I have tried to describe here. Hawking thinks ther would be microscopic. It is a very solid, physical way of looking at things.
To really expand into the 5-dimensional world that current physicists are envisioning that our gravity is leaking out into, or especially the 10 dimensional space that Superstring theory demands, it is necessary to expand the mind into dimensions that can occupy the same space in different aspects.

Now I have to run to pick up my daughter. Chew on this and see what you think.


At 10/09/2006 10:37 PM, Blogger Igor said...


Val, any idiot can draw something which is called "4-dim. cube", etc, see here.

If you think that such drawing is a visualization - you are grossly mistaken. Visualization is NOT drawing meaningless scribbles.

Let me explain: let's say you are imagining a 3-dim. sphere. Now you can also imagine how this sphere is being cut in half by a 2-dim. plane, you also "see" both parts of the sphere, how they relate to each other, you "see" what the cross-section looks like, and so on.

You claim you can see in multiple dimensions?

Ok, imagine 2 intersecting 4-balls. Got it? Their intersection is a 4-dim figure, but it's projection on a 3-plane is a 3-dimensional object. Draw it as you see it! Can you?

You cannot. Neither can I, nor anybody. Because human brain is unable to "see" 4+ dimensional objects the way it "sees" 2- or 3-dimensional ones.

You may think whatever you want about your abilities. Some people are sure they can levitate. Or that their souls are souls of aliens (scientology). Whatever. Just don't expect me to "trust" you in matters that I know very well and I can easily see that you have no idea what you are talking about (mentioning multi-dimentional databases in this discussion is ridiculous...)


you constantly refer to 4+ dimensional things as "non-euclidian".

Val, you don't know what you are talking about - the difference between euclidian and non-euclidian spaces has nothing to do with number of dimensions. See here.

At 10/10/2006 5:07 AM, Blogger Val Serrie said...

There is no need to be insulting.

1) Strickly speaking, you are right about Euclidean space in that it can be extended into a fourth dimension, but the conventional understanding of it is the x,y,z properties for measuring 3-dimensional spaces. When I said 'non-Euclidean' I meant both that it extended beyond the normal 3-dimensional space in terms of it's spatial measurements, and more to the point - that the 4 dimensions are represented as being overlayed in the 3-dimensional space we see. Such that the 4-dimensional construct seems impossible in the physical space we see. Perhaps that 3-dimensional physical space that it resolves to is the limitation you are talking about.
I suppose a true non-euclidean space is like Stephen Hawking describes which is that a sphere (like a planet) is a 2-dimensional circle curved in the 3rd dimension, and the universe is a 3-dimensional space curved in a 4th dimension.

2) I disagree that 'any idiot' can draw 4-dimensional objects, because a lot of people cannot. But the fact that you pointed to a diagram in the Wikipedia that shows and describes the 4-dimensional object shows it is possible and it shows how. And it verifies that it is true. A Tesseract is a 4-dimensional cube. It is described as such and shown as such there. It is different from my own approach to a 4th dimensional cube, but both still work the same way. There is a 4th dimension to the cube which provides another spatial index for measurement and positioning.

3) As for a 4th dimensional sphere, the thing that comes to mind is ball being thrown. I picture a ball, a 3-D sphere, moving from point a to point b through the air and the mind's camera takes a time-exposure to see the extended extruded object this creates. Since time is the 4th dimension anyway, this relates to time since the object has length, width, depth, and now, duration through space. But consider it as a spatial construct of that same shape. To me, that would be a 4-D sphere, in very much the same way that the tesseract shown in the first (left) of the 3 drawings shown together on that Wikipedia article was two cubes connected together.

4) The reference to a multidimensional database/language is not ridiculous, since you are programming algorithms with explicit and implicit iterations simultaneously in several dimensions at once. There are implications to this that have to be properly envisioned and considered. The mental constructs for these processes are easier to imagine if you can imagine multidimensional cubes where the data elements (cells) are located. Not so many people could do that, I found. Most programmers could only think in terms of rows and columns. 2 dimensions. That is all I am saying. For most people, normal day-to-day life does not require us to think beyond 3 dimensions. But programming systems in 4, 5, 6 dimensions is one of the few things we do where thinking in those terms becomes useful.

Be nice now, Igor. There is no need for poor manners. This is just a polite discussion.

At 10/10/2006 1:05 PM, Blogger Igor said...

1) Good! We are getting closer!

you say: "4 dimensions are represented as being overlayed in the 3-dimensional space we see. ... 4-dimensional construct seems impossible in the physical space we see. Perhaps that 3-dimensional physical space ... is the limitation you are talking about.

Perhaps. The brain's limitation (I am trying to explain to you) is that it's unable to "see" 4+ -dimensional objects. Because this brain evolved in a 3-dim. phisical space, it's "hardwiring" allows it to visualize (ie "see" as a mental picture) only 1-, 2-, and 3- dimensional things.

When you are boasting that "you can see in 4+ dimensions", what you really can see are (at best) 3-dim. projections of 4-dim. objects. You brain's analytical part "understand" that, it "knows" how to use projections in order to think about the original 4-dim. object, but the "visual" part of your brain is unable to "see" the 4-dim. object as it is. All it (you) can imagine are 3-dim. projections.

Please confirm whether you understand what I am talking about or more explanations needed.


Now, the fun ! :

1a) Strickly speaking, you are right about Euclidean space...

In math (or in physics) there is only one way to speak: to speak stricktly. Any other speaking is bull-shitting.

2) about "idiots"

"idiot" is a relative thing. One's an idiot only in relation to some other people. And, within the group of people who know math enough to speak knowingly about "dimesions", "euclidian space", etc - within that group drawing a representation of 4-cube is the "idiot level".

3) To me, that would be a 4-D sphere...

And you would be wrong. You'd see nothing but a 3-d cylinder with spherical ends. Yes, your analytical self would know that this particular cylinder represents a 4-d sphere. (btw - very unorthodox representation!). But as to what you actually see - it's just a cylinder.

Pls, don't tell me that you don't realize the difference between a thing and its representation !

4) I agree with all you have said about multi-dim in databases/programming (and with all you have said about how programmers see it). The problem is that all this has nothing to do with the subject at hand.

We talk about physics (big bang, etc) and mathematical n-spaces. The only connection to programming is that the same words are being used: "dimesions", "spaces" (ie address space), etc.

If you want a math parallel for a multi-dim dbase - that would be a discrete scalar field, and NOT a physical n-space! The only (more or less) "real" space in a computer is the "address space" - which is 1-dimensional even when it's represented by n-space look-alike (x1,x2,x3,...,xN)!


Now about "insults". Do you feel insulted? Well, you speak with self-assurance about things you don't really know or understand (physics and math beyond 101), and when I point this to you, you feel ... insulted ??!!

The world I came from - physics - is absolutely intolerant to incorrectness. In physics/math, you won't get credits for just efforts, or for being nice, speaking eloquently, etc. You have to be correct. Scientifically.

You think that I insult you in this discussion? Ha, it only proves once more that math/physics is NOT your area. Have said things like "When I said 'non-Euclidean' I meant..." or "Science says that matter and energy cannot be created or destroyed, so that leaves out some 'natural' physical science explanation of how all this matter just bubbled into existance out of nothingness." - have you said that in a room full of physisists discussing big bang - then you'd know what real insult is ! ;-)

At 10/12/2006 10:30 AM, Blogger Val Serrie said...

on item 3) above, in my mind's eye, I do not see that 4-D sphere as a cylinder with rounded ends. That's a very simple surface representation.
I see it more like one of those wire-frame computer simulations in 3-D modeling applications. I see the original 3-D sphere as it moves through the arc, tracing it's duration as a spatial construct. Then I envision it in all the positions - like steps between point a and point b. It's difficult to describe. But anyway, that's how I see it.

Question for you, Igor: You say you come from the field of physics. What do you do for a living? Are you a physicist now?


At 10/12/2006 1:26 PM, Blogger Igor said...

- No, Val, unfortunately I left physics more than 15 years ago.
- as for what I do for a living - the same as all new immigrants do - anything.

3) " ... 3-D sphere as it moves through the arc, tracing it's duration as a spatial construct. Then I envision it in all the positions - like steps between point a and point b. ... "

Arc means the cylinder is curved. If I am to describe what a "curved cylinder with spherical ends" is - I would say exactly what you have said: "imagine a sphere that moves thru an arc from point A to pint B ... and so on ..."
=> it is a cylinder. curved. with sperical ends. 3D. sorry, Val.

3-sphere is the intersection of a 4-sphere and a 3-space. If diameter of your sphere doesn't change, then the 4-sphere moves in parallel to our 3-space. What you visualize is the movement of that intersection in 3-space. The intersection is, of course, a 3-dim. object.

I don't understand why you are soooo stubborn. Are you uncomfortable to admit you are mistaken because I am no-one in your eyes? Ok, then ask Mr.Hawking or anyone...


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