About the Dialectic Materialist Method
The “dialectic” part of Dialectic Materialism refers to the method used to figure things out in materialist philosophy. To start we have to set our “Thesis” and “Antithesis”. These should be one word statements, to capture the essence of the subject at hand. You need to make a lot of effort to distill the issue to a pair of words. Then we have to do the analysis to come up with the “Synthesis” of the thesis and antithesis.
Our thesis at hand is “Order” as it refers to the Observable Universe (in future, for brevity I’ll refer to it as Universe only. ) around us. Order refers to the patterns, regularities, rationalities we come across when we observe the Universe.
I think we can all agree that we find lots of regularities around us. These patterns seem to make up the world around us. Even animals and early man noticed these regularities. We use them for survival. To make predictions about the future. Take for example the sun. It apparently rising in the morning and setting in the evening. Also, the tide coming in and going out. No miscommunication, as silly Billy Bill O’Reilly puts it.
This order gives one of the basis for science. We look for them everywhere and try to find out how they come about. So, we can agree that we have a great deal of order in the Universe, as it is self evident.
Even so we see a great deal of order. Not everything seem to be in order. There are things which come about seemingly for no particular reason, out of the blue. These things we call “Random” and this is our antithesis.
One could argue that chaos would be more suitable antithesis of order. I do not think so, as chaos denotes complete disorder, utter confusion. We cannot see complete disorder or utter confusion around us. That is why chaos used, to refer to formless matter before the “cosmos”, the ordered universe appeared, in classical myths and legends. Random is unpredictable but not utter disorder, as we can see this in mathematics.
Lets look at our thesis “Order” first. As noted above, we can observe order in the Universe. But if we examine these regularities a bit closer. We notice, that not everything is what it appears to be. For example, the apparent movement of the sun in the sky. While on one level, or frame of reference, it seems to rise in the same place every day, but not exactly. If we observe those small differences every day, another pattern emerges. If we examine that even closer, we notice more small differences. In a same way if we examine any cyclic event, we notice that they are not completely cyclic. That is an object never ends up, at the end of a cycle, in the same place where it is started. We can see that in the movement of the Earth orbiting the sun. One would think that the Earth ends up in the same place in space where it started, but this is not true. See Perihelion Precession:
So, is the Earth’s orbit a cyclic? Take this a notch up. That is change the frame of reference and look at the Earth’s orbit at the galaxies level. Our Sun is located on one of the arms of the Milky Way Galaxy. Our galaxy rotates and in a collusion course with the Andromeda galaxy. Add to this, that the Universe, that is space itself expanding. How can the Earth end up at the end of its cycle in the same place? It cannot! We can see that the Earth’s orbit around the Sun is not a true cycle at all. It is a cycle in a certain reference frame only. But, this reference frame is arbitrary. We have set it up for our convenient. Anywhere you look you cannot find a “true” cycle.
This has been noticed by Heraclitus (535-475BC) the originator of “Logos” (No, it was not “John” the Gospel writer). He said: you cannot step into the same river twice.
Think about this for a moment. What does this means for science? There are no truly repeatable experiments! Each experiment is unique. Where this leave us? Well, it leave us where we are. That is why we cannot be 100% sure about any theory we have. They are subject to change due to new data. We can be highly confident in a theory only in a given reference frame.
As a side note: This blows WLC’s Kalma Cosmological Argument right out of the water. WLC states that there could not be an infinite number of events in the Universe. Well, since there are no true cycles. You can view the history of the Universe as one continuous event. So no need for infinite number of events.
How all these things affect our thesis? Is there Order in the Universe? I will try to answer this later, but now we have a look at our antithesis.
What is random? It is a good question, because it is very hard, if not impossible to answer it. Random is when no apparent pattern emerges from a series of events. Can we have true randomness in reality? Well, just as with order, we cannot seems to find true randomness. This is well demonstrated when we want to generate random numbers. These random numbers needed in some, if not most of scientific experiments. So far, we have not discovered a way to generate true random numbers. We can only generate pseudo random numbers. Scientist use a quantum events, a decay of a radioactive isotope, which considered to be random. Even if generate numbers by this method, after a while, exhibit pattern. That is the Gaussian distribution or bell curve. This is a very important fact, as we have to take this into consideration, when making statistical analysis.
From our analysis, we can conclude that the Universe neither orderly nor random. It appears to be a mixture of the two and depending on what frame of reference we look at it.
What can we say about the Universe? Well not much with absolute certainty. All we can say is that the Universe is what it is and our perception of it is inconsistent as a whole. We cannot say that the Universe is inconsistent, as we cannot dictate how the Universe should be. We cannot say that the Universe is illogical either. We only can conclude that our logic is not completely consistent with the Universe.
Why should this be? We have to examine our thinking, that is, how our brain make sense of the Universe. If we take into consideration evolution. It is clear that our brain evolved to enable us to survive long enough to produce offspring. We notice, that our brain have a very good representation of our environment at the macro level. At the level we need to survive. But, if we move to the smaller or larger levels, the brain is not reliable at all, to represent the word around us. That is when we need the scientific method to gain a better picture.
We can see that our brain is not working like computers do at all. It does not give us exact answers to our questions about our environment. But it is like a Bayesian probability computing machine. At the macro level close enough is good enough. We working on high probabilities. Most of the time we are right. It does not have to be perfect. As long as we can survive, it is OK. As long as the brain errs on the safe side no problem. This explain why we ended up with hyper agency detection … etc.
So the synthesis of the Order and Random is that our brain projecting order and randomness onto the Universe. This could be disturbing to some, but it served us OK so far. So we should and have to trust our brains and senses. It is not the best, but this has to do, as we haven’t got a better one yet. Only we have to keep in mind, that we working with an imperfect instrument and have to count on errors.