Insurmountable gap?
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19-04-2014, 12:10 PM
RE: Insurmountable gap?
L2L has been lurking but not posting Consider

Maybe he/she will resurrect tomorrow and annoint us with more bullshit.

“I am quite sure now that often, very often, in matters concerning religion and politics a man’s reasoning powers are not above the monkey’s.”~Mark Twain
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20-04-2014, 04:56 AM
RE: Insurmountable gap?
Hi all. Thanks again for all the numerous responses. Here’s what I think:

Mathilda: Please define uniformity

Response: A single example: the speed of light in a vacuum is consistent given any unit of light. We are confident that any photon we find will demonstrate the same behavior. More broadly, the Physical constants, the nature\behavior\interaction of subatomic particles as described by the Standard model, the arrangement of quantum fields as described by QFT are all examples of nature existing according to laws (ie uniformity in nature) on the most fundamental levels. The fact that the universe has uniformities/laws is what makes the scientific method a valid method of gaining knowledge. Your hypothesis can be objectively tested by me because we both know that the universe functions one particular way – so if you observe something happen, I should be able to as well under the same conditions.

My inquiry pertains to the question: what causes this uniformity? What’s the source of these laws?


Meremortal: I suppose it’s sound to be agnostic, but I don’t need anything other than nature to explain the universe as it exists.

Response: If that were true, then it would be possible to know what causes uniformity. The problem is that our thought is dependent on the uniformity itself. We “know” by first sensing things (via the 5 senses), and then forming beliefs about them. You need that initial sensation to formulate any type of belief. Any form of imagination, even abstract concepts like math are originally grounded in things we sensed (think about how you learned to add – by seeing a thing and putting it next to another thing). If a thing is subject to sensation, then it means that it exists according to some laws (it has a shape, maybe color, maybe smell, a mass or charge, etc) – there is some property to it, even if its existence is fleeting (like the weak bosons). If there were no property then we couldn't identify the thing – we couldn't know it exists. So we can only sense properties at exceedingly granular levels. My question is given these properties, in these particular instances, what causes them to be consistent? The scientific method gives you the properties and their circumstances and is able to do so because of consistency/uniformity – but to explain the source of uniformity, science is agnostic about.

Another point I was alluding to in a previous response was that given we only sense properties at exceedingly granular levels, regardless of the “level of micro” we’re currently at with our scientific understanding, there will always be only properties of reality that we’re aware of. Begging the question of what causes them will never go away. If you think it can, try to imagine what it is you would be looking for? Something property-less? Then we couldn't sense it.

An side: It amuses me when atheists suggest this line of reasoning implies an anti-science stance. Particle physics has brought immense benefit human beings. It should (and hopefully will) continue to get tons of funding. Pointing out an epistemic limitation that is intrinsic to the subject doesn't mean we should throw up our hands and walk away – we keep searching to the limits of human capacity. At any given time some might believe we’ve reached that limit (for example, I’ve linked this article before) but that doesn't and shouldn't restrict others from continuing to search.


Blackhand293 & Impulse: it’s not a permanent gap, it’s subject to the scientific method, hence it’s still a fallacy to posit an intangible cause

Response: Please see my response to Meremortal.


Kim: “uniformity of nature” is an obsolete concept

Response: How so? I suspect we might be talking about different concepts. To be sure, please see my above response to Mathilda. The scientific method we use today assumes uniformity as a basic premise.


Cjlr: Define senses. Our limits of knowledge don’t appear to be what can be sensed, for example we cannot see spin waves yet they exist. Your usage of God here is just a placeholder for “the unknowable” so what’s the point in using God? What’s the point of your idea if it leads only to a strict deist God and nothing about God may be known? If we don’t know the cause of uniformity, we remain at “we don’t know” but you’re jumping to “we know”.

Response: Sense are the 5 - seeing, smelling, touching, tasting, hearing. Regarding spin waves, I’ll freely admit I know nothing about. Glancing at the Wikipedia page though I saw: “Spin waves are observed through four experimental methods: inelastic neutron scattering, inelastic light scattering (Brillouin scattering, Raman scattering and inelastic X-rayscattering), inelastic electron scattering (spin-resolved electron energy loss spectroscopy), and spin-wave resonance (ferromagnetic resonance).” What little I gather from that (and feel free to correct me) is we can determine this phenomenon exists through experimentation with instruments. This is a form of indirect sensation, which is ultimately built on the senses – we sense the instrument which can detect things at more granular levels.

The lookup on Wikipedia was just out of curiosity by the way. I didn’t need to look it up because I can assume that if it’s a real phenomenon known to human beings (assuming well established, peer reviewed, etc), whatever it may be, it means we learned of it through our senses. Any scientific (or simply rational) mind can appreciate that.

Your point about God being a placeholder for the unknowable – it’s true. And yes, from this line of reasoning there is nothing more that can be known. And no, I’m not jumping from “we don’t know” to “we know”. I’m suggesting an agnostic position. The point of this entire thread is to defeat one notion: that science can rule out the existence of an external cause (ie external to the universe) for the organization and uniformity of nature.

So when a theist claims there is a creator, it’s fallacious to say “no because science”. We can say “we don’t know. It certainly would explain uniformity, but ultimately there is no experiment we can conduct to prove this either way”. But anything beyond this very basic description – ideas of sentience, a personal god and any other attributes – the theist would have to furnish proofs for.


Stevil: “we don’t know, hence we don’t know” is more accurate than “we don’t know, hence maybe god, maybe nothing”. The cause of uniformity could be a natural materialistic phenomenon. Looking at the quantum level reveals possibilities rather than cause and effect. Postulating about a cause is an exercise of the imagination and thus hypothetical/unprovable.

Response: Most accurate is: “we observe uniformity. Maybe it has a cause, maybe it doesn’t”. There’s a reason why this was the essence of the debate between the philosophers – these are the only two possibilities the mind can conjure.

The cause of uniformity can’t be a materialistic phenomenon because if it’s materialistic, by definition it’s subject to the uniformity. See my response to Meremortal – what would you be looking for? Something property-less? That’s unscientific and moreover irrational.

Cause and effect does exist at the quantum level – the point of the Copenhagen interpretation is precisely that. It gave a cause-effect outlook to quantum mechanics so that physicists could move on and continue practicing physics. It states that how you conduct the experiment causes the object to exhibit wavelike or particle like characteristics. In reality there is still a mystery there because it appears that your mind is causing reality to be a certain way. But mystery aside, it’d be foolish to deny that there is uniformity on the quantum level. If we can understand and study it (more basically: if we can sense it), then it is subject to laws/uniformity.

As for postulating a cause to be an exercise in imagination, I’d argue yes beyond the initial two options of there being a cause or not. But merely putting those two options as possibilities is rational, not hypothetical.


Taqiyya: “Cause for uniformity in nature” means nothing. No definition of uniformity provided. If uniformity is observable then it’s subject to the scientific method. To say we will only discover smaller constituents of energy/matter is fallacious.

Response: I’ve answered this above in response to Mathilda and Meremortal.
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20-04-2014, 05:43 AM (This post was last modified: 20-04-2014 04:31 PM by Bucky Ball.)
RE: Insurmountable gap?
(17-04-2014 04:27 AM)lots2learn Wrote:  
(16-04-2014 07:48 PM)evenheathen Wrote:  Citation needed.

Why? It's a proposition I'm making, and if it's wrong I'd like to hear why.

Why ?
Because your assumptions (priors) are incorrect. Looking for "ultimate cause" is (already) a biased, unexamined, and incoherent stance.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chaos_theory
http://io9.com/watch-the-most-accurate-s...1462882295
http://www.space.com/17530-universe-dark...ation.html
The question "What *causes* the uniformity" is an inherently biased (and incoherent) approach. A "cause" has to PRECEDE the event, (as well as Causality must be IN PLACE already). Neither of which are coherent in your paradigm. Since time comes to a halt at a singularity, it's a meaningless set of words. You're also making the assumption that what we observe to be occasionally operative within the confines of this universe applies externally to it. There is no reason to assume that.
It's not the same as "Why does uniformity *arise*, or "Why do we perceive *uniformity* ?", both vastly different questions, neither of which leads to any knee-jerk "oh maybe a god did it, but we can't really know". Saying "the gods acted" (a temporal reference) is meaningless UNLESS space-time is already in place, so no matter what the answer turns out to be, THAT one is the most unlikely.
In fact we know about 5 % of the "stuff" from which the universe is comprised of. It's WAY to early to make generalizations about anything. Not "satisfying" but that's the way the cookie crumbles.
(BTW, the process and result from and by which various groups (or even single) of humans assert what they come to see as "ethical" is NOT beyond the scope of scientific inquiry.) ... yet another biased, unexamined premise.

Insufferable know-it-all.Einstein God has a plan for us. Please stop screwing it up with your prayers.
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20-04-2014, 06:43 AM
RE: Insurmountable gap?
(16-04-2014 07:29 PM)lots2learn Wrote:  I was interested in knowing what folks thought about this idea: The uniformity in nature (or the laws of the universe) is an observable phenomenon who's cause is not a scientific subject. This is essentially embodied in the debate between Humeans (who argue that the uniformity has no discernible cause) vs the Necessitarians (who argue uniformities must have some intangible cause which explains their existence). This topic will forever remain a subject of philosophy because the scientific method cannot be applied to it. A theist can adopt a Necessitarian perspective, attributing the cause to God. Assume here that God has a limited meaning of "intangible cause for the existence-of/uniformity-in nature". In this way, it would be a theory to explain an observable phenomenon, but impossible to test. At the same time, it’s a “gap” which science can unquestionably never fill (because the scientific method cannot is not applicable to it). Conclusion: the classical “god of the gaps” is an irrelevant discourse because there is in actuality a permanent gap outside the reach of science.

Science views the 'laws' of nature as a collection of facts about how things work. That is, the 'law' is a result not a pre-ordained rule.
Theism views the laws of nature as a pre-existing set of rules.

Quote: Any form of imagination, even abstract concepts like math are originally grounded in things we sensed (think about how you learned to add – by seeing a thing and putting it next to another thing). If a thing is subject to sensation, then it means that it exists according to some laws (it has a shape, maybe color, maybe smell, a mass or charge, etc) – there is some property to it, even if its existence is fleeting (like the weak bosons). If there were no property then we couldn't identify the thing – we couldn't know it exists.

You are correct. Whatever is 'beyond' the universe is beyond the limit of the human mind. The universe, being space and time, is the foundation of all our thought and imagination. Try to imagine no-space and no-time. What is that like? It's impossible to even imagine.
The problem with the theistic explanation is that it assumes a larger space-time outside our universe, like a russian nesting doll. There is no basis for such an assumption. Saying the universe (space-time) must have a cause, assumes a timeline beyond our own and a space beyond our own.

While science may never investigate what is beyond our own universe, it can discover objective realities about our universe. We currently don't know much about the nature of space and time, but that is changing. For example, we recently learned that space can expand faster than the speed of light.
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20-04-2014, 10:35 AM
RE: Insurmountable gap?
(20-04-2014 04:56 AM)lots2learn Wrote:  
Quote:Taqiyya: “Cause for uniformity in nature” means nothing....If uniformity is observable then it’s subject to the scientific method.

Response: I’ve answered this above in response to Mathilda and Meremortal.

You have not addressed my points in the least. FAIL.


Quote:No definition of uniformity provided....To say we will only discover smaller constituents of energy/matter is fallacious.

I said NOTHING like this. Don't fucking misrepresent me, asshole.

Quote what the fuck I say, rather than "paraphrasing" it with strawmen.


Quote:...what causes uniformity.


AGAIN: This is WORD SALAD. You are employing the "there must be a law-giver" flimflam. This is the entire basis for your claims and it fails miserably for the reasons I have already delineated.

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20-04-2014, 11:00 AM
RE: Insurmountable gap?
(20-04-2014 04:56 AM)lots2learn Wrote:  Cjlr: Define senses. Our limits of knowledge don’t appear to be what can be sensed, for example we cannot see spin waves yet they exist. Your usage of God here is just a placeholder for “the unknowable” so what’s the point in using God? What’s the point of your idea if it leads only to a strict deist God and nothing about God may be known? If we don’t know the cause of uniformity, we remain at “we don’t know” but you’re jumping to “we know”.

Response: Sense are the 5 - seeing, smelling, touching, tasting, hearing. Regarding spin waves, I’ll freely admit I know nothing about. Glancing at the Wikipedia page though I saw: “Spin waves are observed through four experimental methods: inelastic neutron scattering, inelastic light scattering (Brillouin scattering, Raman scattering and inelastic X-rayscattering), inelastic electron scattering (spin-resolved electron energy loss spectroscopy), and spin-wave resonance (ferromagnetic resonance).” What little I gather from that (and feel free to correct me) is we can determine this phenomenon exists through experimentation with instruments. This is a form of indirect sensation, which is ultimately built on the senses – we sense the instrument which can detect things at more granular levels.

Yes, because phenomena within the universe and amenable to our current physical understanding are observable and able to be investigated.

Presupposing anything beyond those limits is meaningless.

(20-04-2014 04:56 AM)lots2learn Wrote:  Your point about God being a placeholder for the unknowable – it’s true. And yes, from this line of reasoning there is nothing more that can be known. And no, I’m not jumping from “we don’t know” to “we know”. I’m suggesting an agnostic position. The point of this entire thread is to defeat one notion: that science can rule out the existence of an external cause (ie external to the universe) for the organization and uniformity of nature.

... but that's still massively presuppositional.

"The existence of an external cause" relies on contingent definitions of "existence", "external", and "cause", which - just as much - cannot be said to be meaningful or applicable in the context given (ie you can't know things about the unknowable).

To even suggest the possibility is a little dishonest. If the premise is not even coherent or meaningful then agnosticism is inapplicable.

It's not literally "I don't know, therefore I do"; that I grant.

What you've done here is, "I don't know, therefore maybe I do". That's not much better.

(20-04-2014 04:56 AM)lots2learn Wrote:  So when a theist claims there is a creator, it’s fallacious to say “no because science”. We can say “we don’t know. It certainly would explain uniformity, but ultimately there is no experiment we can conduct to prove this either way”. But anything beyond this very basic description – ideas of sentience, a personal god and any other attributes – the theist would have to furnish proofs for.

Except, as you say, theism is not merely an irrelevant and untestable claim of knowledge beyond the scope of human investigation - there are a great many additional premises.
(which fail under rational investigation)

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20-04-2014, 11:10 AM
RE: Insurmountable gap?
(20-04-2014 11:00 AM)cjlr Wrote:  
(20-04-2014 04:56 AM)lots2learn Wrote:  Cjlr: Define senses. Our limits of knowledge don’t appear to be what can be sensed, for example we cannot see spin waves yet they exist. Your usage of God here is just a placeholder for “the unknowable” so what’s the point in using God? What’s the point of your idea if it leads only to a strict deist God and nothing about God may be known? If we don’t know the cause of uniformity, we remain at “we don’t know” but you’re jumping to “we know”.

Response: Sense are the 5 - seeing, smelling, touching, tasting, hearing. Regarding spin waves, I’ll freely admit I know nothing about. Glancing at the Wikipedia page though I saw: “Spin waves are observed through four experimental methods: inelastic neutron scattering, inelastic light scattering (Brillouin scattering, Raman scattering and inelastic X-rayscattering), inelastic electron scattering (spin-resolved electron energy loss spectroscopy), and spin-wave resonance (ferromagnetic resonance).” What little I gather from that (and feel free to correct me) is we can determine this phenomenon exists through experimentation with instruments. This is a form of indirect sensation, which is ultimately built on the senses – we sense the instrument which can detect things at more granular levels.

Yes, because phenomena within the universe and amenable to our current physical understanding are observable and able to be investigated.

Presupposing anything beyond those limits is meaningless.

(20-04-2014 04:56 AM)lots2learn Wrote:  Your point about God being a placeholder for the unknowable – it’s true. And yes, from this line of reasoning there is nothing more that can be known. And no, I’m not jumping from “we don’t know” to “we know”. I’m suggesting an agnostic position. The point of this entire thread is to defeat one notion: that science can rule out the existence of an external cause (ie external to the universe) for the organization and uniformity of nature.

... but that's still massively presuppositional.

"The existence of an external cause" relies on contingent definitions of "existence", "external", and "cause", which - just as much - cannot be said to be meaningful or applicable in the context given (ie you can't know things about the unknowable).

To even suggest the possibility is a little dishonest. If the premise is not even coherent or meaningful then agnosticism is inapplicable.

It's not literally "I don't know, therefore I do"; that I grant.

What you've done here is, "I don't know, therefore maybe I do". That's not much better.

(20-04-2014 04:56 AM)lots2learn Wrote:  So when a theist claims there is a creator, it’s fallacious to say “no because science”. We can say “we don’t know. It certainly would explain uniformity, but ultimately there is no experiment we can conduct to prove this either way”. But anything beyond this very basic description – ideas of sentience, a personal god and any other attributes – the theist would have to furnish proofs for.

Except, as you say, theism is not merely an irrelevant and untestable claim of knowledge beyond the scope of human investigation - there are a great many additional premises.
(which fail under rational investigation)

The other part of this "I dunno, therefore MAYBE gawd, maybe not" piece of Fail is that it is a false dichotomy that deliberately ignores the endless OTHER "possibilities" that could be suggested to answer this incoherent non-issue. ANYTHING could equally be asserted as a "cause": Thor, Vishnu, Baal, Wotan, leprechauns, unicorns, dragons, space aliens, Voldemort, or Monkeys Flying Out Of My Butt. To assert, allude, or even imply that the only alternative to "maybe not" is this vague, deliberately undefined "gawd" is just disingenuous semantic-prestidigitational fucktardery.

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20-04-2014, 03:41 PM
RE: Insurmountable gap?
(20-04-2014 04:56 AM)lots2learn Wrote:  If that were true, then it would be possible to know what causes uniformity.
Show me where it has been established that it isn't possible. Consider

(20-04-2014 04:56 AM)lots2learn Wrote:  The problem is that our thought is dependent on the uniformity itself.
Source?

(20-04-2014 04:56 AM)lots2learn Wrote:  We “know” by first sensing things (via the 5 senses), and then forming beliefs about them.
If we form "beliefs", then we believe and it's not "knowledge"... And where is your source for the claim that we can only believe by first sensing things?

(20-04-2014 04:56 AM)lots2learn Wrote:  You need that initial sensation to formulate any type of belief.
I have never felt, seen, heard, tasted, or smelled Jesus. Yet, I once believed in him...

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20-04-2014, 05:30 PM
RE: Insurmountable gap?
Lots2learn is an apt moniker. Sadly L2L is uninterested in learning anything. Seeing as he/she believes he/she already has all the answers.

Lot2learn. I recommend you go right back to the beginning and start with Plato. Through the arguments postulated by Socrates you may learn that the beginning of all knowledge is the understanding that we are ultimately ignorant. This idea helps us become modest. Immodesty and the assumption of knowledge leads to ignorance. As displayed accurately by your good self.

NOTE: Member, Tomasia uses this site to slander other individuals. He then later proclaims it a joke, but not in public.
I will call him a liar and a dog here and now.
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22-04-2014, 05:01 AM
RE: Insurmountable gap?
Buck Ball writes: The question "What *causes* the uniformity" is an inherently biased (and incoherent) approach. A "cause" has to PRECEDE the event, (as well as Causality must be IN PLACE already). Neither of which are coherent in your paradigm. Since time comes to a halt at a singularity, it's a meaningless set of words…… Saying "the gods acted" (a temporal reference) is meaningless UNLESS space-time is already in place.

Response: You’re referring to the singularity theorized to have existed at the origin of the universe. I’m speaking of here and now so there is no sequence of events per say. My example was “why is the speed of a photon consistent given any photon?”. So drawing from your usage of words, it would be like saying “the gods are acting”.


Buck Ball writes: You're also making the assumption that what we observe to be occasionally operative within the confines of this universe applies externally to it. There is no reason to assume that.

Response: I’m not clear on what you’re implying by “occasionally operative”.
But anyhow, yes there’s an analogy being drawn here from cause and effect that we observe in nature to uniformity being an effect of an external cause - which is why we can’t make a definitive judgment but only put this as a possibility. It’s an observable phenomenon, hence we can question it, but we can’t scientifically account for how it exists.

By the way, I find it interesting that you linked articles that reference the idea that the universe may be a simulation. When you ask that question, you’re questioning if there is a cause external to nature that accounts for its existence and uniformity. Same question, same rational positing of an “external cause” possibility drawn from cause and effect that we sense in nature. In fact, the simulation idea is more a of a jump in logic because you’re comparing the universe to computer hardware (the software just being electrical states of the hardware). If you’re ok with positing that the possibility that the universe is a simulation is a valid possibility, you’d be hypocritical to deny the more basic version of that proposition which is that there is some external cause (without specifying anything more).


Bucky Ball writes: In fact we know about 5 % of the "stuff" from which the universe is comprised of.

Response: It doesn’t make a difference. We know our epistemic limitations. We know any stuff out there, if we are capable of learning of its existence, has properties and thus will be subject to laws, dark matter and dark energy notwithstanding.


Avalon writes: Science views the 'laws' of nature as a collection of facts about how things work. That is, the 'law' is a result not a pre-ordained rule. Theism views the laws of nature as a pre-existing set of rules.

Response: Science is agnostic pertaining this topic. It assumes consistency in nature, that experiments can be objectively repeated. It doesn’t trouble itself with why the consistency is there. I’d be interested in reading if you could find a study where scientists try to address this topic using the scientific method. Typically, you will find it addressed in texts pertaining to the philosophy of science.


Avalon writes: The problem with the theistic explanation is that it assumes a larger space-time outside our universe, like a russian nesting doll. There is no basis for such an assumption. Saying the universe (space-time) must have a cause, assumes a timeline beyond our own and a space beyond our own.

Response: The basis for assuming the possibility of a larger spacetime outside the universe is that the universe cannot be explained by nature alone (science assumes uniformity, an observed phenomenon, but can’t explain it). Hence, we have to leave open doors and remain agnostic. The new atheist mantra is different – science has closed all doors and nature is all that there is. The scientific mind is open to possibilities, willing to question any phenomenon while the New Atheist viewpoint to me seems dogmatic in comparison.


cjlr writes: Presupposing anything beyond those limits is meaningless…."The existence of an external cause" relies on contingent definitions of "existence", "external", and "cause", which - just as much - cannot be said to be meaningful or applicable in the context given (ie you can't know things about the unknowable). To even suggest the possibility is a little dishonest. If the premise is not even coherent or meaningful then agnosticism is inapplicable. It's not literally "I don't know, therefore I do"; that I grant. What you've done here is, "I don't know, therefore maybe I do". That's not much better.

Response: You’re suggesting because we cannot know what causes uniformity there is nothing but our spacetime and nothing but nature. You’re the one actually making the judgment about the unknowable. You’re saying “I don’t know, therefore I do”. Here it is with logic: “F exists; we can't ever know what causes it; therefore, there is no cause.” – this is unsound. You’re saying my premise is not coherent, but on the contrary, you understand it perfectly well. Let’s look at it another way: a scientific mind, whenever it sees a phenomenon, it searches for a cause. Someone mentioned Dark matter & energy earlier and this is a perfect example. Going with the latter of the two, we observe a phenomenon – the increasing rate of expansion of the universe – and we question what causes it. Our attitude isn’t that it ‘simply exists and to question why is incoherent’. The only difference between the questions “what causes our universe to expand at an increasing rate” and “what causes the universe to exhibit uniformity” is that the latter can’t be subjected to the scientific method while the former *may* be (we’re certainly trying).


Taqiyya writes: ANYTHING could equally be asserted as a "cause": Thor, Vishnu, Baal, Wotan…

Response: The point about “ok if god, then which god”, is unrelated. If it’s a thing that exists within our spacetime, then it’s subject to uniformity and hence would not be a candidate to explain the uniformity. Positing a fictional character (god, mortal or otherwise) is beside the point. If someone were to say Vishnu is the cause of uniformity, I’d first ask to define what is Vishnu. If it’s a thing outside of spacetime that accounts for observed uniformity of it, then I’d say yes, this matches the definition of what we’re looking for but now prove it exists. However, we know Vishnu, as the idea of the Hindu God, has a lot more contained within it than merely “cause of universal laws”. And so we would question what the evidences are for the rest of the idea that is Vishnu (that he is a sentient being, he has a body with 4 arms, that he has a wife, etc).
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