Is the idea that "everything boils down to probability and randomness" itself absolutely true? Or just a matter of probability?
I think it is currently considered pretty much unshakable in the scientific community, but then again, an honest scientist would be forced to admit that "unshakable" in the context of science is conserably less iron-clad than it is in the realm of philosophical logic. But I doubt most empiricists would care, as they don't value that realm to begin with. For them, the probablility and randomness of quantum mechanics is about as certain as anything can be established within the framework of their epistomological biases. It's on par with evolution and global warming, at least among the mainstream of the scientific community.
Personally, I don't know whether or not quantum mechanics is ultimately true. Insofar as it, then yes, I would say probability and randomness seem to be necessary consequences. But it is always possible that there is something deeper than quantum mechanics - the problem is, in order to convince empiricists, this would have to be demonstrable on a physical
level. And that seems a bit less than a stellar bet.
The cold hard truth is that mankind cannot prove the existence of any absolutes, because our entire existence is defined by relative probability.
I share David's sketicism as to whether this is "the cold hard truth," for the simple reason that all such claims boil down to "it is absolutely true that there are no absolutes." Even in a world of relativity and probability, the philosophical concept of absolutes remains and must be dealt with - at least if one is going to address the issue. Even for the purest relativist imaginable, there is at least one absolute truth - that no others exist. If this is denied, then we enter a form of what is really non-discourse - nothing meaningful can actually be said, because there is simply no basis for a coherent exchange.
At that level, the universe is understood in terms of statistics, which "even out" at the macroscopic level to create the deceptively predictable world we experience. In my mind, this is more or less an admition by the brightest people alive that cause and effect is incidental to our existence, rather than being the fundamental, driving force that so many believe it to be.
To my mind, it is an admission that even the brightest people can be slaves to fashion.
I'm not sure I'd even call them "the brighest people alive," as outside their own field of empirical research, I've heard a lot of scientists and materialists say some of the dumbest things one would want to hear. I assume David just conceded this for the sake of argument, though. But putting that aside, even if they are incredibly brilliant, it wouldn't necessarily lend any support to their specific claims. That being said, I assume it is the concept of "decoherence" being referred to here, and that does seem like a reasonable idea to me.
So, no cause and effect? No beginning or end?
I totally buy that, and I feel kinda bad for anyone who cannot at least consider it.
No beginning or end? Yeah, I can buy that, too. But no cause and effect? That's throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Even quantum mechanics does not totally deny causality, it simply categorizes it as a macroscopic phenomena. To say otherwise would be like saying "quantum mechanics has disproven Jupiter" simply because you can't see the whole planet with an electron microscope.
Correct me if I am wrong, but I think you're trying to say that there is no beginning or end to anything because any divisions we perceive in Nature are own mental creations. "Cause" and "effect" are also mental creations, so in that sense cause and effect does not exist. Nature is ultimately a seamless continuum without beginning or end. All this I agree with.
However, on the other side of the coin, as soon as the mind starts to create and perceive divisions in Nature (e.g. things or events), cause and effect immediately becomes a reality.
This I would agree with as well. It's even (to a certain extent) comparable to how the major interpretations of quantum mechanics are supposed to work. What I have trouble getting around is the insistence (which I may be falsely interpretruing, admittedly, that causality is "ultimate." I don't see the ultimacy in your statement above. You seem to give Nature itself that role, and causility a secondary, derivitave role based on the actions of the human mind.
No things = no cause and effect = beginninglessness and endlessness.
Things = cause and effect = beginnings and ends.
Would you agree with that?
Yes, but I would add that Nagarjuna and others warn us against becoming attached to this kind of distinction as well, and argue that properly understood, the imaginary division should not even arise.
Your turn - would you agree with that?
I live in a tub.