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Are God's powers infinite?
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besson3c
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Oct 26, 2010, 02:52 PM
 
There is a reason that this is not in the PWL, so don't blow a gasket. This is not a religion thread, more of a philosophy thread...

Consider "God" in this context to be whatever started the events that led to life as we know it. It doesn't matter who or what that was for the purpose of this discussion. After all, AFAIK, evolutionists don't attempt to explain how the big bang theory came to be, so no matter what your beliefs let's go far beyond this with this subject matter, mmkay?


Have you ever thought that maybe there is only so much that we will ever understand, whether by design or purely random? Whatever invoked the series of events that led to life and all that we know (again, I'll use "God" as shorthand), is it possible that its powers are limited to our universe, and that there are other universes and other Gods, and our God's powers (whatever they are) were/are limited to our universe? If you believe the Bible and other religious texts that say that God created the universe, I don't know whether it is specific about his creation of *everything* including the possibility of other universes, but again, perhaps these were intended to be only true for us, and that we'll never comprehend another universe even if it were to exist?

As a kid I was always told that God's powers were unlimited, I think. Is there really such a thing as unlimited power when thought of this way? If God created our universe or all universes, who created God? Who created that thing which created God? If God only created our universe, is there something which has power over all universes?

Somebody please answer this, godamnit, I know somebody here on MacNN has all of this figured out...
     
olePigeon
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Oct 26, 2010, 02:55 PM
 
His power is infinite and unlimited, apparently so is His apathy.
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Uncle Skeleton
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Oct 26, 2010, 03:10 PM
 
Originally Posted by besson3c View Post
I know somebody here on MacNN has all of this figured out...
I have

God is the programmer, who can literally do anything (that we can perceive), and we are a part of his program. He might or might not choose to tell us what the purpose of the program is, and that message might or might not be honest. But what really messes us up is that there are also users of the program, God's colleagues, who we mistake for God because from our perspective they seem equally powerful/magical, yet they are not all-powerful, in the same way I have less power over my Mac than teh Steve does. Does it all make sense now?
     
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Oct 26, 2010, 03:11 PM
 
If there is a universal power, then I suspect its powers, if that is indeed the right word, are way above our comprehension.
     
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Oct 26, 2010, 03:12 PM
 
God? LOL
     
The Final Dakar
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Oct 26, 2010, 03:13 PM
 
Originally Posted by Atheist View Post
God? LOL
Gonna give you an "Atta boy" after I busted your balls in some other thread.
     
olePigeon
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Oct 26, 2010, 03:20 PM
 
Originally Posted by Uncle Skeleton View Post
God is the programmer ... Does it all make sense now?
Yes, He used Visual Basic linked to an Access database.
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besson3c  (op)
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Oct 26, 2010, 03:35 PM
 
Originally Posted by Atheist View Post
God? LOL

God or whatever started the events that led to life as we know it, whichever you prefer.

Sorry, just want to make this clear so I don't get people calling me a troll and stuff.
     
Laminar
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Oct 26, 2010, 03:37 PM
 
     
besson3c  (op)
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Oct 26, 2010, 03:40 PM
 
How do we know that Arsenio Hall isn't a God that has just kept his powers concealed?
     
SpaceMonkey
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Oct 26, 2010, 04:07 PM
 
You are overthinking this.

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reader50
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Oct 26, 2010, 04:25 PM
 
To have unlimited power (omnipotence) one would have to know the consequences of any/all actions in advance, or they wouldn't have the power to control outcomes. So to have omnipotence, you must also have omniscience, or your powers are limited.

Omniscience would make our free will an illusion, and violates the uncertainty principle in our universe. We might be wrong on both though, so this doesn't solve the question. No comments on other universes until you show me one.

Since most of the religions involve God(s) being surprised/fooled at least once, that rules out omniscience. Therefore, the God(s) in question are not omnipotent.

So the philosophical answer is: presumed to be 'No', but depends on which God you are talking about.
     
besson3c  (op)
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Oct 26, 2010, 05:42 PM
 
Originally Posted by reader50 View Post
To have unlimited power (omnipotence) one would have to know the consequences of any/all actions in advance, or they wouldn't have the power to control outcomes. So to have omnipotence, you must also have omniscience, or your powers are limited.

Omniscience would make our free will an illusion, and violates the uncertainty principle in our universe. We might be wrong on both though, so this doesn't solve the question. No comments on other universes until you show me one.

Since most of the religions involve God(s) being surprised/fooled at least once, that rules out omniscience. Therefore, the God(s) in question are not omnipotent.

So the philosophical answer is: presumed to be 'No', but depends on which God you are talking about.

Great response!

This conversation sounds like one to pass a joint around to, although that wasn't my intention.
     
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Oct 26, 2010, 05:42 PM
 
Originally Posted by besson3c View Post
As a kid I was always told that God's powers were unlimited, I think. Is there really such a thing as unlimited power when thought of this way? If God created our universe or all universes, who created God? Who created that thing which created God? If God only created our universe, is there something which has power over all universes?

Somebody please answer this, godamnit, I know somebody here on MacNN has all of this figured out...
Well as with most things it all depends on the fundamental premises that you start out with. What you've outlined here is the common Western depiction of an anthropomorphized "God". A concept where the Creator and the Creation are separate and distinct entities. And that leads to the inevitable questions which you raised. Consider, however, a concept of "God" where the Creation is a mere manifestation of the Creator. That they are two sides of the same coin. That the Creator is infinite potential while the Creation is infinite actualization. If that is the case then many of these types of question fade away.

Having said that, I would contend that the power of "God" is infinite but not contradictory. For instance, "God" can't be both omnipresent and non-existent at the same time. "God" can't be eternal and yet have the power to cease its existence. So with respect to the power of "God" ....

infinite - adj.

- lacking limits or bounds; extending beyond measure or comprehension: without beginning or end; endless
... I would say that a proper understanding of the term "infinite" is more on what I have highlighted above as opposed to "unlimited" in absolute terms. Just my 2 cents ....

OAW
     
hyteckit
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Oct 26, 2010, 08:18 PM
 
God's creator has infinitely more powers than God.

It's a proven fact.
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Oct 26, 2010, 09:13 PM
 
Originally Posted by hyteckit View Post
God's creator has infinitely more powers than God.
It only seems that way because I know how to use a computer and He doesn't. God thinks serial ports are for breakfast. Newb.
     
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Oct 26, 2010, 10:30 PM
 
Originally Posted by olePigeon View Post
Yes, He used Visual Basic linked to an Access database.
Uhm... no. God uses LISP:
Article:Musical Geek Friday #5: God Wrote in Lisp (The Eternal Flame) - good coders code, great reuse

Song: http://www.catonmat.net/download/the...te_in_lisp.mp3
     
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Oct 27, 2010, 12:02 AM
 
"God is all in your head, you just have no idea how big your head is." - Lon Milo DuQuette
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Oct 27, 2010, 02:37 AM
 
Bush Tax Cuts == Job Killer
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June 2003: 129,839,000 employed
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Oct 27, 2010, 08:54 AM
 
Originally Posted by hyteckit View Post
God uses Prolog.
God uses a Universal Turing Machine.
     
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Oct 27, 2010, 08:59 AM
 
Originally Posted by reader50 View Post
Omniscience would make our free will an illusion
Incorrect.

Let us suppose that I place you driving a car in my hometown, with me as a passenger. At each junction, you have the choice to turn whichever way you choose.
Whichever choice you make at each junction, I will know exactly where you're heading and where that road leads, at the same time knowing where the junctions further up the road lead. Whatever choice you make, I'll know the outcome. I'd also know the outcome of where you'd have arrived at had you made different choices.
Your free will would still exist, even though I would know every outcome of every choice you made.
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osiris
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Oct 27, 2010, 09:12 AM
 
Originally Posted by Doofy View Post
Incorrect.

Let us suppose that I place you driving a car in my hometown, with me as a passenger. At each junction, you have the choice to turn whichever way you choose.
Whichever choice you make at each junction, I will know exactly where you're heading and where that road leads, at the same time knowing where the junctions further up the road lead. Whatever choice you make, I'll know the outcome. I'd also know the outcome of where you'd have arrived at had you made different choices.
Your free will would still exist, even though I would know every outcome of every choice you made.
But what if a kid on a bicycle pops out of a junction and into the path of your car?
Did you know that would happen?

edit: our free will means the kid dies because you didn't do anything to stop it.

I am reminded of a quote by the great swordsman/murderer/artist Miyamoto Musashi:
Respect and pray to Buddha and the gods, but do not count on them.
( Last edited by osiris; Oct 27, 2010 at 09:19 AM. )
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Oct 27, 2010, 09:16 AM
 
Originally Posted by besson3c View Post
Have you ever thought that maybe there is only so much that we will ever understand, whether by design or purely random?
Yes. Much is hidden.

Originally Posted by besson3c View Post
Whatever invoked the series of events that led to life and all that we know (again, I'll use "God" as shorthand), is it possible that its powers are limited to our universe, and that there are other universes and other Gods, and our God's powers (whatever they are) were/are limited to our universe?
You've been watching too much sci-fi. The "universe", by definition, is everything. There are no other universes.
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Oct 27, 2010, 09:17 AM
 
@Doofy
Omniscience in this context means that you know all of history, i. e. which path you take in the car. The moment you were born, you could already tell that on this particular day with this particular person sitting next to you, you would take this particular road. You don't have a choice at each turn, because history has already been recorded, all you have is the illusion of freedom of choice.

This stuff is a very old topic among clerical scholars.
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Oct 27, 2010, 09:19 AM
 
Originally Posted by osiris View Post
But what if a kid on a bicycle pops out of a junction and into the path of your car?
Did you know that would happen?
No, because I'm just a bloke sitting in the passenger seat of a metaphor.

Originally Posted by osiris View Post
edit: our free will means the kid dies because you didn't do anything to stop it.
No, the kid would have died because you weren't driving properly.
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osiris
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Oct 27, 2010, 09:21 AM
 
Originally Posted by Doofy View Post
No, the kid would have died because you weren't driving properly.
Maybe I didn't know I was driving.
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Doofy
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Oct 27, 2010, 09:34 AM
 
Originally Posted by OreoCookie View Post
@Doofy
Omniscience in this context means that you know all of history, i. e. which path you take in the car. The moment you were born, you could already tell that on this particular day with this particular person sitting next to you, you would take this particular road. You don't have a choice at each turn, because history has already been recorded, all you have is the illusion of freedom of choice.

This stuff is a very old topic among clerical scholars.
Observation can't really be correlated with choice, can it? If you're outside time, then you can look anywhere along the timeline and know what's going to happen. The players still have free choice in deciding how events unfold... ...it's simply that you know what the outcomes of those choices will be.
Been inclined to wander... off the beaten track.
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Oct 27, 2010, 09:52 AM
 
Originally Posted by Doofy View Post
Observation can't really be correlated with choice, can it? If you're outside time, then you can look anywhere along the timeline and know what's going to happen. The players still have free choice in deciding how events unfold... ...it's simply that you know what the outcomes of those choices will be.
No, not really: if God created the universe,* he created the world in such a way that you'd end up driving along the particular route that you'd eventually take. You have no choice but to follow the path the way it was initially set in motion. Basically, in this viewpoint, the universe is mechanical and you're just a tiny spring or cogwheel of the machine that is the universe. After setting the machine in motion, it just runs along, like a movie. An omniscient being would of course know the whole movie beforehand and if it wanted you to take a different path, it would have had to tweak the primordial soup/machine/universe so you'd end up taking a different path.

* Even if he didn't create the universe, your actions would still be predetermined: everything you'd ever do is determined from the moment of the creation of the universe.
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Oct 27, 2010, 10:04 AM
 
Originally Posted by OreoCookie View Post
No, not really: if God created the universe,* he created the world in such a way that you'd end up driving along the particular route that you'd eventually take. You have no choice but to follow the path the way it was initially set in motion. Basically, in this viewpoint, the universe is mechanical and you're just a tiny spring or cogwheel of the machine that is the universe. If God wanted you to take a different path, he would have had to tweak the primordial soup (or whatever) differently so you'd end up taking a different path.

* Even if he didn't create the universe, your actions would still be predetermined: everything you'd ever do is determined from the moment of the creation of the universe.
This assumes only one path and only one destination.
In the car-riding metaphor above, the car would be a tram.
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Oct 27, 2010, 10:23 AM
 
Originally Posted by Doofy View Post
This assumes only one path and only one destination.
In the car-riding metaphor above, the car would be a tram.
That's because there is only one destination: just fast-forward the movie and you'll see which one it is.
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Oct 27, 2010, 10:31 AM
 
Originally Posted by OreoCookie View Post
No, not really: if God created the universe,* he created the world in such a way that you'd end up driving along the particular route that you'd eventually take. You have no choice but to follow the path the way it was initially set in motion. Basically, in this viewpoint, the universe is mechanical and you're just a tiny spring or cogwheel of the machine that is the universe. After setting the machine in motion, it just runs along, like a movie. An omniscient being would of course know the whole movie beforehand and if it wanted you to take a different path, it would have had to tweak the primordial soup/machine/universe so you'd end up taking a different path.

* Even if he didn't create the universe, your actions would still be predetermined: everything you'd ever do is determined from the moment of the creation of the universe.
The whole notion of "predetermined" is based on time flowing into the future.

If time doesn't pass, and only our perceptions make it seem so*, the notion of predetermined is meaningless. It's already all out there, there is no "pre" or "post".


* In this scenario, we have adapted the ability to perceive time as passing due to its evolutionary advantage. Note that less developed animals don't really perceive time in the same way we do.
     
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Oct 27, 2010, 10:41 AM
 
Originally Posted by subego View Post
The whole notion of "predetermined" is based on time flowing into the future.

If time doesn't pass, and only our perceptions make it seem so*, the notion of predetermined is meaningless. It's already all out there, there is no "pre" or "post".
That's incorrect: even if you perceive everything at once, you can full well make sense of things like `before' and `after,' i. e. a succession of events. Just in the same way you can distinguish two points in space, you can distinguish points in space-time.

The movie analogy is just for us humans who perceive time the way we do, it breaks down space-time into slices. Not that a being outside of time is constricted to that or necessarily perceives time the way we do, it wouldn't change a bit about the lack of free will.

A rather easily accessible book on this topic is About Time by Paul Davies.
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subego
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Oct 27, 2010, 10:51 AM
 
Originally Posted by OreoCookie View Post
That's incorrect: even if you perceive everything at once, you can full well make sense of things like `before' and `after,' i. e. a succession of events. Just in the same way you can distinguish two points in space, you can distinguish points in space-time.

The movie analogy is just for us humans who perceive time the way we do, it breaks down space-time into slices. Not that a being outside of time is constricted to that or necessarily perceives time the way we do, it wouldn't change a bit about the lack of free will.
How? There is no succession of events.

It would be just like trying to say this point is space comes before this other one. You can do it, but it's completely meaningless outside one person's frame of reference.
     
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Oct 27, 2010, 11:07 AM
 
Originally Posted by subego View Post
How? There is no succession of events.

It would be just like trying to say this point is space comes before this other one. You can do it, but it's completely meaningless outside one person's frame of reference.
"before" and "after" are as meaningful as "north" and "south," and we have no trouble communicating "north" and "south" between different people's frames of reference
     
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Oct 27, 2010, 11:14 AM
 
Originally Posted by subego View Post
How? There is no succession of events.
You can do it by choosing coordinates in space-time. Depending on your world view (relativistic, non-relativistic, general relativity, etc.), you can introduce notions such as past and present with ease. If you know about these theories (which I'm aware most people here can't), then learn how to consistently assign notions such as past and present even if you don't order space-time in successive time slices the way us humans do.

I know that this explanation isn't convincing without seeing how, but seeing how means you have to assume what kind of world we live in.
Originally Posted by subego View Post
It would be just like trying to say this point is space comes before this other one. You can do it, but it's completely meaningless outside one person's frame of reference.
This is where you're wrong (emphasis mine): first of all, according to all we know, time appears to us as one-dimensional, so the correct analogy is something one-dimensional like a line (which doesn't have to be straight). Think of a spaghetti. Choose a unit length that you like and an origin which you mark with 0. Now you have something like a crooked ruler. Now pick any two points x and y. According to your units, x < y or y < x. Let's assume x < y. If I move the origin, this property is preserved and you will still have x < y (this is one kind of change of the frame of reference). If I choose different units in such a way that the orientation is preserved, I will still have x < y, even though I now measure distances in mm rather than m. If you want to be fancy, you don't have to choose linear coordinates, but even then, if the coordinates you choose are strictly increasing (which makes sense since every point on the spaghetti has only one coordinate), x < y is still preserved. If you reverse the orientation of the spaghetti, then you change the sign, i. e. x < y becomes x > y, but even that has a consistent interpretation: you interchange the meaning of before and after if you change the arrow of time.

Depending on the physical theory you choose, there are special frames of reference (e. g. inertial frames in Gallilean, non-relativistic theory or in Special Relativity) or there are none (General Relativity). In all of this theory, you can consistently track the meaning of before and after even if you change frames of reference. To explain you how to do it requires knowledge of the particular theory, though.
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Oct 27, 2010, 11:37 AM
 
Originally Posted by OreoCookie View Post
That's because there is only one destination: just fast-forward the movie and you'll see which one it is.
The movie is the result of a combination of choices by the actors (and, in an actual movie, those involved in the production).

Back To The Future is what it is because Michael J Fox decided to take the role. It would have been different had Eric Stoltz stayed on.
Full Metal Jacket may not have been as awesome as it is had R. Lee Ermey not ad-libbed his lines.

We make decisions and the universe unfolds. Someone with access to the final print (because they're sitting outside conventional time) can know how it unfolds before it does. It doesn't mean that they've influenced the outcome - only that they can observe and know it.

Of course, it's also entirely possible that the many-worlds interpretation is correct and there's a whole bunch of "cuts" of the film which can be observed by an entity capable of observing them. I'm not even sure that the many-minds interpretation isn't correct, which brings a whole bunch of solipsistic fun with it.
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Oct 27, 2010, 11:58 AM
 
Originally Posted by Doofy View Post
You've been watching too much sci-fi. The "universe", by definition, is everything. There are no other universes.
It is everything within our space time, but there are most likely multiple universes (multiverse) that don't necessarily interact with each other. Current mathematics support the theory of multiverses, some possibly linked via singularity such as a black hole.

The LHC will eventually be attempting to create a micro white hole, which if directly observed, would help establish support for existence of a multiple universes.

Since they aren't linked except by a singularity, space-time could be completely different in the other universe.
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Oct 27, 2010, 12:08 PM
 
One of the leading theories regarding time travel (and the way the universe protects itself from paradoxes) is that the moment you leave any point in time, an infinite number of universes are created, distinctly separate from the one you just left. Also, the moment you leave, you can never get back because there is an infinite number of universes between the point you left and your destination. That's why you'll never see a time traveler.

You can go back in time and kill your grandfather, but it doesn't make a bit of difference; it only matters in that time line, and only from the standpoint that you killed a guy that has no relevance to your existence, you simply prevented an alternate You from being born, but not yourself. In the original time line, everything proceeds like normal because it's completely unaffected by the other time line; your grandfather was born, your dad, then you. Then one day you disappear and they chalk it up as another missing persons report.
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Oct 27, 2010, 12:15 PM
 
Originally Posted by olePigeon View Post
It is everything within our space time, but there are most likely multiple universes (multiverse) that don't necessarily interact with each other. Current mathematics support the theory of multiverses, some possibly linked via singularity such as a black hole.
While I support the existence of the multiverse, I don't support your definition of "universe". By my definition, everything everywhere is within our universe.

universe |ˈyoōnəˌvərs|
noun ( the universe)
all existing matter and space considered as a whole
Note that the definition states "all existing matter and space", not "all matter and space in our spacetime/dimension*" (* etc., etc..)
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olePigeon
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Oct 27, 2010, 12:29 PM
 
Originally Posted by Doofy View Post
While I support the existence of the multiverse, I don't support your definition of "universe". By my definition, everything everywhere is within our universe.
Except we're talking about physics. The definition of the word changes with the context of the discussion. A universe is all matter and energy within an area of space-time. There can be multiple universes. That's why division means the same thing as multiplication when talking about cell biology.
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Doofy
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Oct 27, 2010, 12:35 PM
 
Originally Posted by olePigeon View Post
Except we're talking about physics.
Damn. I thought we were talking about metaphysics. If it's only boring regular physics, I'll bow out.
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subego
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Oct 27, 2010, 12:37 PM
 
Originally Posted by OreoCookie View Post
You can do it...
I will ponder.
     
besson3c  (op)
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Oct 27, 2010, 01:24 PM
 
Originally Posted by Doofy View Post
Yes. Much is hidden.



You've been watching too much sci-fi. The "universe", by definition, is everything. There are no other universes.

What if there is something beyond what we'll ever know? Perhaps this might be an alternate dimension?
     
SpaceMonkey
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Oct 27, 2010, 01:29 PM
 
Originally Posted by olePigeon View Post
You can go back in time and kill your grandfather, but it doesn't make a bit of difference; it only matters in that time line, and only from the standpoint that you killed a guy that has no relevance to your existence, you simply prevented an alternate You from being born, but not yourself. In the original time line, everything proceeds like normal because it's completely unaffected by the other time line; your grandfather was born, your dad, then you. Then one day you disappear and they chalk it up as another missing persons report.
Maybe I'm not getting it. Why would you disappear in the original timeline if it's unaffected?

This was all so much easier when all you needed was a sufficient number of jiggawatts.

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Doofy
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Oct 27, 2010, 01:38 PM
 
Originally Posted by besson3c View Post
What if there is something beyond what we'll ever know?
I'm sure there is. The further you try and unravel this dimension, the more complicated it becomes. I get the feeling that there's stuff out there that we were never meant to know about.
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That's where there's thunder... and the wind shouts back.
     
olePigeon
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Oct 27, 2010, 01:38 PM
 
Originally Posted by SpaceMonkey View Post
Maybe I'm not getting it. Why would you disappear in the original timeline if it's unaffected?
It's not affected by the paradox of killing your own grandfather so you won't be born to kill your grandfather. You'd still be missing from the original time line at the point you left. It'd be no different than if you took off on a sailing boat and disappeared never to be seen again.
"…I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than
you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods,
you will understand why I dismiss yours." - Stephen F. Roberts
     
besson3c  (op)
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Oct 27, 2010, 01:42 PM
 
Originally Posted by Doofy View Post
I'm sure there is. The further you try and unravel this dimension, the more complicated it becomes. I get the feeling that there's stuff out there that we were never meant to know about.

Maybe we are all trapped inside this existence but there have been one or two people with the capability to break us of this, one of them being Keanu Reeves?
     
SpaceMonkey
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Oct 27, 2010, 01:51 PM
 
Originally Posted by olePigeon View Post
It's not affected by the paradox of killing your own grandfather so you won't be born to kill your grandfather. You'd still be missing from the original time line at the point you left. It'd be no different than if you took off on a sailing boat and disappeared never to be seen again.
Oh, okay. Your missing persons report reference threw me. Presumably someone could go on a time traveling expedition with a lot of fanfare, so they wouldn't be missing, per se.

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Doofy
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Oct 27, 2010, 02:05 PM
 
Originally Posted by besson3c View Post
Maybe we are all trapped inside this existence but there have been one or two people with the capability to break us of this, one of them being Keanu Reeves?
I concur. There is no spoon.
Been inclined to wander... off the beaten track.
That's where there's thunder... and the wind shouts back.
     
 
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