Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Limits of Presuppositions for Scientists

Up to this point we have seen that presuppositions determine conclusions, major premises determine interpretations, and that only what goes into the deductive reasoning process can come out.  Reason and argument do not add anything to a system that was not already there.  For this reason, it is said that all reasoning is circular reasoning.  This does not mean that all reasoning is fallacious, however.  It only means that all reasoning depends on the truth of its premises.

Reasoning can, in itself, be instructive.  Sometimes combinations of truthful statements shine new light on a problem that allow insight to be gained, and sometimes, reasoning confronts us with the limits of our presuppositions.

Let us take time as an example.  Time is defined as a succession of moments or even as a dimension in a multidimensional space.  Time is important in both science and history.  Existentially, we move through time from one day to the next, or one moment to the next.  Time is an essential ingredient to human personality.

In mathematics, we talk about time as existing from minus infinity to plus infinity and use symbols like the indefinite integral to represent functions whose time-frame goes from minus infinity to plus infinity.  However, in the real cosmos, we know that this is not a true construct.

In the real universe, we have observed what we know as the Law of Entropy, which states, among other things, that things go from more ordered states to less ordered states, from more energetic states to less energetic states as they progress through time.  This is why a pan of boiling water cools off, if you turn off the heat under it.  We can take measurements of the surrounding environment and the current temperature and volume of the water, and extrapolate back to the time the water was at a full boil.  Eventually, the water and its surrounding environment will be the same temperature.  If it has cooled for a long time, the water will be as cold as its surroundings.

This principle of Entropy, when applied to the cosmos, and especially to "hot spots" in the cosmos, such as our sun, indicates that there was a definite point in time when the sun was formed.  If there were an infinite time period, all "hot spots" would have cooled, and everything would now be the same temperature.  That fact has led scientists to postulate a beginning point.for all things, a "big bang" or "creation" event.  It means there is no such thing as "minus infinity" on the time line.

The mathematician is free to use the indefinite integral and to study functions involving the concept of minus infinity, but physicists and other natural scientists must limit themselves to a "t sub zero," the first instant in time as the starting point in their time formula and the lower limit of their time integration.  I am afraid most scientists do not consider t sub zero when extrapolating backwards on the time line.  It is possible using mathematics to extrapolate backwards to minus infinity, but any extrapolation prior to t sub zero is an error, in the real world.

There is another presupposition problem most scientists ignore.  We know from experiments that mathematics allow us to represent equations for systems such as the flow of electrons in a circuit.  However, we also know that these equations only work when the circuit is at steady state, but do not apply at the instantaneous state when the circuit is first energized.

We know that a circuit behaves very differently when the power goes from zero to some steady value, than it does after a certain period of time has elapsed, and the circuit has stabilized.  The circuit demonstrates transient effects when it is first energized, and these effects last a definite, but transient period of time.

By analogy, we should expect to see transient effects at a creation or big bang event.  We normally use another mathematical construct, differentiation, to help explain changes over time, but differentiation doesn't apply to a time between the first instant, and the non-existent instant before it. Some transient effect must occur, which can resemble the effects of division by zero.

Normal assumptions do not apply to transient situations.  The definition of some things becomes meaningless at such a point.  Things such as velocity, for example, expressed as a value "per second" don't have meaning in that period leading to the first second.  Even such equations as E=mC^2 need special attention at the first instant, because C, the speed of light, is expressed in terms of "per second."  What does that mean when time is going from zero to one second, causing transient effects?  Can C be a constant in such a situation?

I don't know the answers to these transient time questions, but I do know that one should be cautious in making definitive statements regarding time and the Big Bang or Creation.  The point I am making is that one's presuppositions need to be examined.  They sometimes contain limits.  In order to be consistent in our argumentation, we need to remember the limits of our presuppositions.

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