Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Random Thoughts of the while.

In the vein of Descarte lets see what we can build from the ground up. Descartes said "I think therefore I am." He has some flaws in his logic, but in general it is sound, albeit somewhat circular. From this claim to the claim "I am thinking therefore regardless of what form or shape it is in, there is some thinking entity, and I will call that "me". We have now established that we exist. Albeit, we have no idea in what form we exist. There is one of me that is thinking. If I could not think there would be none of me. It is possible there could be others of me. The previous statements are open to debate, but the idea at least establishes the whole numbers and suggests the number line. Given this foundation an interested mathematician could probably develop what we know of mathematics, though the task is made immensely easier if I add a second claim.

Not only am I thinking, and therefore there must be some object that thinks, I also recieve information. Whether this information is true or not and what is its source I cannot say, but I can say there is information to be gathered. Therefore information exists. All available scrutiny has not yet yielded a contradiction to the claim that the information (my sensory perception of the world around us) is subject to the laws of science hereby dubbed "physics" and its associated subsets known as chemistry, biology, psychology, sociology etc.

The system of mathematics developed ex nihil (from nothing i.e. the sensory receptor that can think that I established exists in claim I.) holds consistant with informational observations. It therefore seems that whatever the source of information it too must be subject to the laws of mathematics. Having information available also extends the mathematics I am able to create. I can now venture into the realms of story problems. I also have objects to measure, cogitate, and calculate. Thought plus observation has made the development of shapes and geometries more meaningful. And the concept of an irrational number now has a connection to a measurement and not just an abstraction. Moreover, the laws of physics are cogent with the arguments of mathematics. If the information I am recieving about the world is a deception, it is an artful one that is for the most part self consistent, which at least merits further study. Self consistancy is a necessary but not sufficient condition for reality to be believed. We will come back to this assertion at an earlier date.

Now here's the unusual supposition: God. Within the confines of the information my brain recieves it is easy for me to state that there is a God. The fundamental tennents of science are repeatability and falsifiability. I can do the same experiment over and over and over and I get the same results. Not only that, but ANYONE else can do the same experiments and also get the same results. That is repeatability. Falsifiability is that if the experiment does not come true reinterpret your original claim. In scientific parlance my claim is that my null hypothesis, the hypothesis that plays the "Devil's Advocate", or the hypothesis that states that nothing is happening and that everything we are seeing is purely due to the events of random chance, is exactly that: a horrific mass pile-up of chance events. The alternative hypothesis, the hypothesis that says "Devil--you are crazy! what we are seeing is actually something important, and is actually happening", is that there really is a God and He/She/It actually does answer prayers.

Ah and now to follow the mnemonic learned in my statistics class: "Cool Dudes Have To Pee Constantly." Which of course stands for the steps for making a statistical claim. Step 1. State the Claim. Step 2. Define your terms. Step 3. State your Hypothesis. Step 4. Conduct your statistical Test. Step 5. Interpret the Probabilities. Step 6. Make your Conclusion. "Cool Dudes Have To Pee Constantly." Thank you Mrs. Wilkinson...

Claim: Based on the information given, a Deity of some sort exists and answers prayers with a frequency greater than to be expected based on sheer chance alone.

Defining Terms: Information-The stuff I get telling me about the world around me i.e. my senses--all of them. We will assume for this experiment that at least for now I can trust my senses. They are usually consistant within the world they recieve information from, whatever that world might be. Deity--Whatever aspect of the observed universe is responsible for answering prayers. Prayer--A well stated formalized request from the universe for a specific action or event.

Hypotheses: Stated above in text

Statistical Test: We will be using one of my favorite statistical tests--The binomial distribution. A prayer is either answered, or not answered. We will defined answered as a success with probability p. Not answered will be defined as a failure with probability 1-p. If there is a God He/She/It should be answering your prayers regardless of which number of prayer it is. If there is no God then He/She/It won't be answering your prayers. In both cases the outcome of individual prayers are independant. We will assume this to be the case. It will also be assumed that each prayer is asked correctly as is appropriate for your religion. I could give you hours and hours of annecdotal evidence of why I think there is a God and what prayers of mine have been answered. However, a sample size of 1 is insufficient. So my measure of the veracity of a religion will be the number of practicioners. If someone is turning to God repeatedly and not getting an answer to their prayers it seems that they would very quickly turn away from that religion. If on the other hand their prayers are being answered then it seems that person would stay with said religion. Therefore let us use the number of people who believe in a religion as a measurable proxy for the number of prayers answered.

Data: According to the World Almanac 2009, 5.4 billion people profess to be of one religion or another. Whereas, 930 million are atheist/agnostic/nonaffiliated. If prayers are answered purely by chance then the worst case/best case scenario would be a 50-50 probability. That is 50% likely that a prayer was answered and 50% that it wasn't. Using this model and the formulae that go with it, we would expect to have a mean of np or 50% of 6.33 billion=3.17 billion being either religious or not. We would also expect our distribution to have a standard deviation of +/-40k.

Test: Z=(mean-expected mean)/standard deviation = 56,000. Probability of happening 0%

Conclusion: Given a sample size of 6.33 billion and 85% of those sampled believe in some form of God or other, suggests there is something about the human condition that requires a belief in some form of God. It also seems to imply that a lot of people's prayers are being answered which means: Either there is a God answering prayers which is the safest bet, or we as a species are too afraid to believe there isn't one.

So what have we established...

Things that exist:
I exist. Math exists. Information exists. The information that is being transmitted to me is self consistent and seems to obey the laws of physics. Within this information layden system a God also seems to exist.

Things I am not certain of:
I am not certain what exactly "I" am. I do know that "I" has the ability to think though. I am not certain if the world is real or merely a set of information being relayed to me in what seems like real time--whatever that means. Though because of the inherent self consistencies there is a good probability that the world really does exist as we know it. Surprizingly, I am more certain that I exist than the claim "You" exist. For all I know "You" could just be one of the elements of my program designed to interact with me. Though it does seem like a lot of wasted computer space if all the people I will never meet nor interact with are merely computer programs and do not exist themselves. Besides if "I" exist, why shouldn't "You" exist. Surely "I" am not the only computer program out there. Within the information rich world in which I think I exist there is an axiom posed by Copernicus stating that, "nothing is unique." Therefore why should I think that I am the only existence. I think it is quite possible that "You" think too, therefore "You" too must be existing as well--that's at least what your Facebook page said.

2 comments:

emeraldeyes01 said...

Ok.... now that I am thoroughly confused....

Jarrett said...

Let me summarize my relationship with Descartes. Every day in philosophy class went like this: "Hm. That's cool, I guess. Now I want Ice Cream."

Apparently in Jarrett-esian philosophy, sensory experience is valid because ice cream is delicious.