From: D. F. Siemens, Jr. <dfsiemensjr@juno.com>

Date: Wed Nov 09 2005 - 15:49:48 EST

Date: Wed Nov 09 2005 - 15:49:48 EST

While it is true that some matters that we can predict only in

probabilistic terms are the result of our inability to measure all the

parameters or formulate the interconnections, this does not necessarily

apply to all matters. As to random number generators, I recall that, many

years back, it was clearly stated that these produced pseudo-random

sequences. But strictly determined sequences can pass all known tests for

randomness. The decimal expansion of pi is an example. Are there truly

random sequences in the universe? I don't know of a rigorous proof, but

quantum physics seems likely to result in true randomness, which I'm

guessing would be preserved in string and M theories.

I may be demonstrating my ignorance here, but my understanding of

complexity theory, which applies to deterministic chaos in the world,

provides that however much one may know about initial conditions,

prediction can only be in terms of probability. Additionally, the

combination of a few linear equations can produce nonlinearity and chaos.

We did not notice this earlier because of our tendency to substitute an

approximation whenever things began to get complicated. The application

of complexity theory is a recent development.

Your reference to "truly ontologically random (even to omniscience),"

raises a variety of questions and problems. Underlying it seems to be a

confusion between knowing and causing, which produces a lot of the

nonsense written against divine omniscience. God can know fully even when

there is genuine freedom in creation. However, there is another

assumption in your qualification, that randomness precludes prediction,

and that this applies to the timeless deity. If God is in time and can

only fully know things up to the present moment, then he will have

problems with predicting the future without total simple determinism,

which seems impossible given chaos theory. However, Paul notes that

divine foreknowledge already involves glorification, though we haven't

seen it yet.

I believe that orthodox thought demands that God be outside of time and

space in order to be the Creator of the time-space universe--however many

dimensions may be involved. But a simple illustration derived from

Abbott's /Flatland/ shows that this is not necessary for total knowledge

of temporal events. Spacelander could see the entire "universe" of

Linelanders, as well as that of Flatlanders. Both Linelanders and

Flatlanders were restricted to seeing their own little piece of their

"universe." Similarly, any entity with more than a single temporal

dimension could see the entire sweep of our one-dimensional time.

All these matters were hashed and rehashed a while back.

Dave

On Tue, 08 Nov 2005 22:41:58 -0600 Mervin Bitikofer <mrb22667@kansas.net>

writes:

Aren’t terms like ‘randomness’ and ‘probability’ ultimately more a

statement of perspective than of reality? I may refer to a series of

computer generated numbers as random because they appear that way to me,

but when I become aware of the algorithms used to produce the numbers,

then I no longer view the sequence as random but as determined. In the

same way coin flips only appear ‘random’ to us because of the

overwhelming calculations that would be involved analyzing initial

velocity & spin vectors, air currents, micro-gravitational influences,

etc about the event. But if we had a ‘God’s eye’ perspective where are

computational capabilities weren’t limited, then each coin flip is

pre-determined, right? This, of course, assumes that the quantum

uncertainty principle is merely a measurement problem rather than an

ontological one. I.e. even though we won’t ever be able to

simultaneously measure velocity & location of a particle, it would still

have these definite properties (in principle) to be known by omniscience.

Apart from this humanly inescapable ignorance, what could the concept of

‘randomness’ possibly mean? If something (presumably many things – like

every electron movement) was truly ontologically random (even to

omniscience), wouldn’t this require each so called random event to be

divorced from the causality that underpins science? This would be

indistinguishable from what we call ‘miraculous’ or ‘supernatural’ –

except in that it would be common place, indeed always happening, at the

microscopic level.

<!--[if !supportEmptyParas]-->

Perhaps some of you can explain to me how it is that these quantum

uncertainties are supposed to have killed LaPlace’s demon. To my

thinking, declaring that we can’t know something is not the same as

concluding that it can’t (in principle) be knowable. It only states that

we won’t ever be able to play LaPlace’s demon ourselves. Just like the

Schrödinger’s cat example – which always has seemed ridiculous to me,

like some sort of philosophical solipsism disguised as science. Can

anybody enlighten me as to how it is that modern mathematicians or

scientists so neatly dismiss these century old quandaries? I’m either

missing something, or else everybody else just got tired of talking about

it & moved on to some new faddish mistress like string theory. Until

these questions are answered, I don’t see how any such thing as

‘randomness’ could be said to even exist.

I’m certainly not a Calvinist, and I do believe in freewill though I have

no idea how that could ever be explainable. But this whole discussion

does put Dave’s reference to Proverbs 16:33 in an interesting light.

(that all lots cast are decisions from the Lord). That was from a HPS

post – sorry I’m mixing subject headings, but some of this fits together

here.

<!--[if !supportEmptyParas]-->

--merv

Iain Strachan wrote:

While everyone has got interested in the point-picking-from-a-line

example, I don't believe that anyone has really addressed Bill's question

about low probability "eliminating chance". One can get lost in the

philosophy of picking a point from an infinite number of points, without

seeing the real point (which was to argue against Dembski's notion that

low probability can eliminate chance). I'd like to re-address this

point. This is not to say that low probability can detect "design",

which is a separate issue.

Low probability by itself cannot "eliminate chance", because if every

event is low probability, then one of them has to happen. Bill states

that the probability of picking any point is zero yet a point is picked.

To make it less abstract and in the realm of the real world, consider 200

coin tosses. You can say that the probability of any sequence occurring

is 6.6x10^(-61) ( = 2^(-200)), which is exceptionally unlikely. Yet you

toss a coin 200 times and lo and behold you've just witnessed an event

with probability 6.6e-61. Clearly the low probability cannot eliminate

chance by itself.

Something like this happens with a technique I work with, called "Hidden

Markov Models", which are used commonly in speech recognition (though I'm

using them in a medical application). When these models are used to

recognise speech, the speech signal is segmented into a number of frames,

say 10ms long, and each frame is signal processed to produce a vector of

numbers (usually some frequency domain analysis). Then in order to

recognise a word, one constructs a probabilistic model that evaluates a

probability for the entire sequence of these vectors. Now, the

probability for the whole lot is simply the product of the probabilities

for each individual one, so if there are many hundreds of samples, then

you get incredibly small probabilities. Now here lies a problem: you

would like to have a number of different models for different words that

you might want to recognise, eg "one" "two" "three" etc. But the length

of time people take to say "one" might vary a lot, and clearly it takes

longer to say "seven" than it does to say "one". So because there are

many more samples in the sequence when you say "seven", it will of

necessity have a much lower probability, just as a sequence of 200 coin

tosses has a lower probability than a sequence of 100. The raw

probability isn't sufficient to discriminate between the two. But what

you can compute is an expected value of the probability churned out by

the model. If you say "one" into a model that is designed to recognise

"seven", the probability will be many orders of magnitude lower than if

you said "seven" (because the probability assigned to each of the

vectors in the 10ms time frames will be much lower) so you can do the

discrimination, and the confidence you have in rejecting it could be

given by the ratio of the two probabilities.

Likewise, with a sequence of coins, Dembski uses the notion of

compressibility. Any arbitrary sequence of 200 coin tosses will on

average require 200 "bits" to describe it. But if you describe it as 50

reps of HTHH, then clearly you have a much shorter description. Say this

can be fitted into 25 bits in some specification language. Now the

number of 25 bit strings is 2^25 and the number of 200 coin toss

sequences is 2^200, so it follows that the probability of getting a 200

sequence of coin tosses describable in 25 bits is 2^(-175) =

2.08x10^(-53). This low probability can be used to "eliminate" chance -

you don't expect to get that kind of repetition in a sequence of coin

tosses.

All the above is not to say that this detects design as such. There may

be a naturalistic explanation of why you got 50 reps of HTHH. But it

does clearly detect non-randomness.

Hope this answers some of your question.

Iain

On 11/6/05, Bill Hamilton <williamehamiltonjr@yahoo.com> wrote:

I read Dembski's response to Henry Morris

(http://www.calvin.edu/archive/asa/200510/0514.html)

and noted that it raised an old issue I've harped on before: that you can

specify a probability below which chance is eliminated. There is a

counterexample given (among other places) in Davenport and Root's book

"Random

Signals and Noise" (McGraw Hill, probably sometime in the early 60's)

that goes

like this:

Draw a line 1 inch long. Randomly pick a single point on that line. The

probability of picking any point on the line is identically zero. Yet a

point

is picked. Am I missing something?

I will probably unsubscribe this evening, because I don't really have

time

during the week to read this list. However, I will watch the archive for

responses and either resubscribe or resspond offline as appropriate.

Bill Hamilton

William E. Hamilton, Jr., Ph.D.

586.986.1474 (work) 248.652.4148 (home) 248.303.8651 (mobile)

"...If God is for us, who is against us?" Rom 8:31

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-- ----------- There are 3 types of people in the world. Those who can count and those who can't. -----------Received on Wed Nov 9 15:54:38 2005

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