When science and philosophy collide in a 'fine-tuned' universe

Apr 03, 2014 by Jonathan Borwein And David H. Bailey
Karl Popper. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

When renowned scientists now talk seriously about millions of multiverses, the old question "are we alone?" gets a whole new meaning.

Our ever-expanding universe is incomprehensibly large – and its rate of growth is apparently accelerating – but if so it's actually in a very delicate balance.

It's then incredible that the universe exists at all. Let us explain.

In a 2004 review in Science of Searle's Mind a Brief Introduction, neuroscientist Christof Koch wrote:

Whether we scientists are inspired, bored, or infuriated by philosophy, all our theorising and experimentation depends on particular philosophical background assumptions. This hidden influence is an acute embarrassment to many researchers, and it is therefore not often acknowledged. Such fundamental notions as reality, space, time and causality – notions found at the core of the scientific enterprise – all rely on particular metaphysical assumptions about the world.

This may seem self-evident, and was regarded as important by Einstein, Bohr and the founders of quantum theory a century ago, but it runs against the grain of the views of working scientists in the post-war period.

Indeed, 21st-century mathematicians and scientists seem to have little need of philosophy.

The glory days of Karl Popper, who argued that falsifiability was a hallmark of good science, and Thomas Kuhn, who noted the phenomenon of paradigm shifts, are long gone—in science, if not in the humanities.

For many years, scientific philosophy as practised by scientists has languished, punctuated only by lapses such as the Sokal hoax, when NYU physicist Alan Sokal wrote a tongue-in-cheek article with a lot of scientific nonsense that was accepted by a leading journal in the postmodern science studies field (and launched a cottage industry of similar hoaxes).

But maybe the tide is finally turning. Perhaps modern science really needs philosophy after all.

Cosmic coincidences

The main drivers here are some truly perplexing developments in physics and cosmology. In recent years physicists and cosmologists have uncovered numerous eye-popping "cosmic coincidences," remarkable instances of apparent "fine-tuning" of the universe.

Here are just three out of many that could be listed:

  1. Carbon resonance and the strong force. Although the abundance of hydrogen, helium and lithium are well-explained by known physical principles, the formation of heavier elements, beginning with carbon, very sensitively depends on the balance of the strong and weak forces. If the were slightly stronger or slightly weaker (by just 1% in either direction), there would be no carbon or any heavier elements anywhere in the universe, and thus no carbon-based life forms like us to ask why.
  2. The proton-to-electron mass ratio. A neutron's mass is slightly more than the combined mass of a proton, an electron and a neutrino. If the neutron were very slightly less massive, then it could not decay without energy input. If its mass were lower by 1%, then isolated protons would decay instead of neutrons, and very few atoms heavier than lithium could form.
  3. The cosmological constant. Perhaps the most startling instance of fine-tuning is the cosmological constant paradox. This derives from the fact that when one calculates, based on known principles of quantum mechanics, the "vacuum energy density" of the universe, focusing on the electromagnetic force, one obtains the incredible result that empty space "weighs" 1,093g per cubic centimetre (cc). The actual average mass density of the universe, 10-28g per cc, differs by 120 orders of magnitude from theory.

Physicists, who have fretted over the paradox for years, have noted that calculations such as the above involve only the electromagnetic force, and so perhaps when the contributions of the other known forces are included, all terms will cancel out to exactly zero, as a consequence of some unknown fundamental principle of physics.

This video is not supported by your browser at this time.
It was a Nobel prize-winning discovery too.

But these hopes were shattered with the 1998 discovery that the expansion of the universe is accelerating, which implied that the cosmological constant must be slightly positive.

This meant that physicists were left to explain the startling fact that the positive and negative contributions to the cosmological constant cancel to 120-digit accuracy, yet fail to cancel beginning at the 121st digit.

Curiously, this observation is in accord with a prediction made by Nobel laureate and physicist Steven Weinberg in 1987, who argued from basic principles that the cosmological constant must be zero to within one part in roughly 10120 (and yet be nonzero), or else the universe either would have dispersed too fast for stars and galaxies to have formed, or else would have recollapsed upon itself long ago.

The Anthropic Principle

In short, numerous features of our universe seem fantastically fine-tuned for the existence of intelligent life. While some physicists still hold out for a "natural" explanation, many others are now coming to grips with the notion that our universe is profoundly unnatural, with no good explanation other than the Anthropic Principle—the universe is in this exceedingly improbable state, because if it weren't, we wouldn't be here to discuss the fact.

They further note that the prevailing "eternal inflation" big bang scenario suggests that our universe is just one pocket in a continuously bifurcating multiverse.

Inflation cosmology, by the way, got a significant experimental boost with the March 17, 2014 announcement that astronomers had discovered gravitational waves, signatures of the big bang inflation, in data collected from telescopes based at the South Pole.

In a similar vein, string theory, the current best candidate for a "theory of everything," predicts an enormous ensemble, numbering 10 to the power 500 by one accounting, of parallel universes. Thus in such a large or even infinite ensemble, we should not be surprised to find ourselves in an exceedingly fine-tuned universe.

But to many scientists, such reasoning is anathema to traditional empirical science. Lee Smolin wrote in his 2006 book The Trouble with Physics:

We physicists need to confront the crisis facing us. A scientific theory [the multiverse/ Anthropic Principle/ string theory paradigm] that makes no predictions and therefore is not subject to experiment can never fail, but such a theory can never succeed either, as long as science stands for knowledge gained from rational argument borne out by evidence.

And even the proponents of such views have some explaining to do. For example, if there are truly infinitely many pocket universes like ours, as physicists argue is the case, how can one possibly define a "probability measure" on such an ensemble? In other words, what does it mean to talk of the "probability" of our universe existing in its observed state?

But others see no alternative to some form of the multiverse and the Anthropic Principle. Physicist Max Tegmark, in his recent book Our Mathematical Universe, argues that not only is the multiverse real, but in fact that the multiverse is mathematics—all mathematical laws and structures actually exist, and are the ultimate stuff of the universe.

Modern science needs philosophy

With this backdrop, a growing number of scientists are calling for head-to-head interactions with philosophers. In a recent New Scientist article, cosmologist Joseph Silk reviews these and other issues now faced by the field, and then notes that such problems, probing the meaning of our very existence, are closely akin to those that have been debated by philosophers through the ages.

Thus perhaps a new dialogue between science and philosophy can bring some badly needed insights into physics and other leading-edge fields such as neurobiology. (Indeed, there is a burgeoning sub discipline of neurophilosophy.)

As Silk explains, "Drawing the line between philosophy and physics has never been easy. Perhaps it is time to stop trying. The interface is ripe for exploration."

Explore further: An analysis of Einstein's 1931 paper featuring a dynamic model of the universe

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Alan Guth on new insights into the 'Big Bang'

Mar 20, 2014

Earlier this week, scientists announced that a telescope observing faint echoes of the so-called "Big Bang" had found evidence of the universe's nearly instantaneous expansion from a mere dot into a dense ...

Recommended for you

UC Santa Barbara receives $65M from Munger

13 hours ago

A physics institute at the University of California, Santa Barbara, has received a $65 million donation—the largest single gift in the university's history.

Prophet's ancient seal provides insights from antiquity

19 hours ago

When a personal artifact of a religious leader is discovered nearly 1,700 years after its use, the object provides invaluable historical insights. Zsuzsanna Gulacsi, professor of Comparative Cultural Studies, ...

Billionaires' $10m gift to Yale stirs debate in China

23 hours ago

A Chinese billionaire couple's $10 million gift to Yale University sparked controversy among the country's Internet users Thursday, with some arguing that the money would be better spent on schools in China.

User comments : 62

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

mvg
2 / 5 (16) Apr 03, 2014
Why, "Anything but God"?

Why is it so difficult to grasp that: The universe (even multiverses) exist as the engineered product of the Creator"

Oh yes, you say 'You cannot put this to the test'.

But would you expect to be able to falsify The Almighty?

Does this discourage research/exploration? (No, we are not referring to that horridly ignorant monstrosity--the clergy!)

No, some of the greatest minds in science have been very firm believers (Newton wrote more on spiritual matters than on science and his views on scripture and science were FAR removed from those held by the clergy of the time).

Belief provides a context to discovery.

It provides meaning and an incentive to explore more deeply.
PhyOrgSux
2.8 / 5 (13) Apr 03, 2014
"...with no good explanation other than the Anthropic Principle—the universe is in this exceedingly improbable state, because if it weren't, we wouldn't be here to discuss the fact."

The "Antropic Principle" is an idea concocted by morons who are incapable of properly analyzing their own ideas at the level they should be expected to analyze them.

For the first, the Universe cannot be in this "exceedingly improbable state" BECAUSE we are here.

Our existence can not be the cause simply because it goes against the laws of causality. Within our Universe events (modifications, actions, etc) can only be caused by something that preceded the event in the timestream. For this reason, the events that configured the Universe cannot have depended on something whose existence is dependent on those events.

Besides that there is the simpler reason that humans have not always even existed here. Yet the same conditions existed even when we had just animals on this planet.
Modernmystic
4.3 / 5 (7) Apr 03, 2014
Does this discourage research/exploration?


It can, and often has in the past in several ways. The first is direct edicts by the church. The second is more subtle, it discourages because it takes the focus entirely off "worldly" things and matters.

That being said all science and no philosophy is the worst kind of recipe for disaster I can think of. This doesn't mean we need god (whatever that means) in the mix, but we DO need philosophy.
ShotmanMaslo
4.8 / 5 (12) Apr 03, 2014
"...with no good explanation other than the Anthropic Principle—the universe is in this exceedingly improbable state, because if it weren't, we wouldn't be here to discuss the fact."

The "Antropic Principle" is an idea concocted by morons who are incapable of properly analyzing their own ideas at the level they should be expected to analyze them.

For the first, the Universe cannot be in this "exceedingly improbable state" BECAUSE we are here.

Our existence can not be the cause simply because it goes against the laws of causality.


Or you just dont understand anthropic principle. It is not in conflict with causality. It doesnt state that our existence caused the universe to be this improbable way. Its that we can only exist in those areas that happen to be fine-tuned, as so thats why our universe is fine-tuned. It couldnt be any other way or we wouldnt be here to observe it.
osnova
Apr 03, 2014
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
osnova
Apr 03, 2014
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
mvg
1 / 5 (4) Apr 03, 2014
Does this discourage research/exploration?


It can, and often has in the past in several ways. The first is direct edicts by the church. The second is more subtle, it discourages because it takes the focus entirely off "worldly" things and matters.

I agree(somewhat)--that is why I mentioned the hideous influence of the clergy.

As to taking the focus off the "worldly"--my definition of "worldly" would be: "that which is perverse and evil"--which is not exactly what you would mean by it.

I suspect that you are using the word to denote something that is in the material realm.

For a believer (and by this I am NOT including those who are irrational pseudo-believers)--All things material are a treasure chest from which we may glimpse the Mind of God.

osnova
Apr 03, 2014
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
GoodElf
not rated yet Apr 03, 2014
It has been hinted at above... the reason why these "anomalies", such as the apparent existence of finely balanced Constants of Nature is simple... our Theories in Physics are "operational" not "absolute", and are subject to the Anthropic Principle. We instinctively formulate the theories in such a way that are "most satisfactory" to our Philosophical Understanding, appealing to our notions of "simplicity".

Kurt Gödel summarized this in his Incompleteness Theorem : "Any effectively generated theory capable of expressing elementary arithmetic cannot be both consistent and complete. In particular, for any consistent, effectively generated formal theory that proves certain basic arithmetic truths, there is an arithmetical statement that is true, but not provable in the theory." In brief... our Theoretical Physics can't be both consistent and complete at the same time.

Of course Pure Mathematics can, but it's main "virtue" is no reference to the "real world". Ne'er the twain shall meet.
Benni
1 / 5 (1) Apr 03, 2014
Sounds like I need to take more math courses?
TheGhostofOtto1923
3.7 / 5 (12) Apr 03, 2014
science needs philosophy
Yeah because soon enough we wont be able to use monkeys for lab tests. Im sure philos will suffice, and Im also sure they will be able to justify it philosophically.

Probably something like 'Ah - the chance to be relevant again.'
would you expect to be able to falsify The Almighty?
Well if youre talking about some bookgod or other, they have all been thoroughly discounted. Their books describe things that archeologists tell us never existed and events that never happened. End of story. Arent you relieved?

But if youre talking about some deistic creator entity, then only science has the proper tools with which to discover him. In the meantime, dont waste your breath or wear out your knees praying to him - the only evidence that THATS good for anything, is found in the books.

No souls, no heaven, no hell, no wish-granting, no retribution, no absolution. Only lots of pretty buildings which make nice museums and chic upscale houses and antique shops.
TheGhostofOtto1923
3.9 / 5 (11) Apr 03, 2014
No, some of the greatest minds in science have been very firm believers (Newton wrote more on spiritual matters than on science and his views on scripture and science were FAR removed from those held by the clergy of the time)
AT THE TIME, you either had to profess your belief or be unemployed and probably incarcerated and probably burnt. Ask giordano bruno.

But Im sure that if newton knew what we know now about the bible stories being false, and the bible itself being full of rehashed copies of earlier myths, forgeries, adulterations, mistakes, graffiti, and LIES, he wouldnt be able to believe in it either.

Because he obviously wasnt an IDIOT.
https://www.youtu...Moo8kpDo
osnova
Apr 03, 2014
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
orti
1 / 5 (6) Apr 03, 2014
Modern science can't stand being in the back seat when it comes to any (especially ultimate) questions – for them, there must be a physical explanation for everything (see Stephen Hawkins Caltech presentation).. They see the big bang and anthropic principle, just as the evolutionists saw the creation, complexity and apparent design of life, and have invented a similar slight-of-hand work-around. Just as life's adaptability is used to falsely explain its creation, muliverses are used to explain the universe's apparent design for life. Evolutionists cannot explain life's creation and its adaptability any more than muliverses can explain their own existence. Scientists are just trying to push something unacceptable to them back another step. And they're only proving how wrong they are.
Whydening Gyre
not rated yet Apr 04, 2014
Well, I think what y'all (sorry, just got back from Houston) are missing here, is that each of us INDIVIDUALLY is NOT the final product. Each of us is just another little piece of a bigger "organism". Any single interaction with any part of our observable Universe is relevant to all the other parts.
I'm not a believer in a "designing" god. I do however believe in a universe that can add 1 and 1, count to 2 - maybe 3 - depends on the day I'd guess. And it is all the resultant additions are what develop their own ability to recognize flow patterns. Basic Awareness evolved to a point of SELF awareness/expression and VOILA!
Therefore - The Universe isn't fine-tuned to YOU silly rabbits...

Diogenes Tha Dogg
5 / 5 (1) Apr 04, 2014
If we believe Aristotle, science & philosophy started with Thales breaking with tradition and declaring water, not gods, to be the nature of all things.
Zwentoo
Apr 04, 2014
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
Diogenes Tha Dogg
4.8 / 5 (4) Apr 04, 2014
Thanks to Pythagoras, we have science. Period. And Pythagoras was a hippie. A hyperhippie. He was a mystical-guitar-tuning odd-numbers-are-superior-to-even-numbers cultist weirdo. He may not have contributed anything to math/science other than a name to a theorem, but his philosophy eventually inspired Socrates, whose ramblings on the immortality of the soul moved Plato who make Academy, and then etc & Aristotle.

Aristotle is The Original Science Guy. & it's all thanks to Philosophy.
antialias_physorg
4.6 / 5 (9) Apr 04, 2014
our Theories in Physics are "operational" not "absolute", and are subject to the Anthropic Principle. We instinctively formulate the theories in such a way that are "most satisfactory" to our Philosophical Understanding, appealing to our notions of "simplicity".

Which would mean, that our theories are already very, very good.

For the first, the Universe cannot be in this "exceedingly improbable state" BECAUSE we are here

The anthropic principle doesn't say that our existence causes this universe. It says that there may be a lot of universes - but that we only can make measurements/observations in one in which we can exist. Therefore that one must be of a biased type (towards human life) and we SHOULD expect it to be perfectly biased towards it (this does not imply an agency that set such a bias. The same works just as well if you postulate a multiverse. Which is much more plausible)
GoodElf
not rated yet Apr 04, 2014
our Theories in Physics are "operational" not "absolute", and are subject to the Anthropic Principle. We instinctively formulate the theories in such a way that are "most satisfactory" to our Philosophical Understanding, appealing to our notions of "simplicity".

Which would mean, that our theories are already very, very good.
Yes they are - "what is good" compared with the "unadorned" Truth though? Our math theories sometimes entice us into a vain attempt to repair one that worked well in the past and now past it's use by date. By adding a bit here, and a bit there, we kid ourselves it is still "good". The modified theory now answers more questions because it has added correction term(s). The Standard Model is a bit like that. Originally it was a more "simple" theory but to answer all the new questions posed by actual experiments, there are now dozens of "extensions" which lead to 24 free variables to make it fit. I can "fit" a lot of curves with 24 free variable.
Benni
3 / 5 (2) Apr 04, 2014
In AWT the amount of entropy decreases fast with increasing distance from human observer scale, so that the hostile parts of our Universe appear relatively smaller and less significant, than they really are.


.........and you don't know a thing about ENTROPY. Anyone who's taken Thermodynamics courses in college like I have as a Nuclear/Electrical Engineer knows this is bull****. Are you & Uncle Ira the same two posters? You AWT guys write as much unintelligible nonsense as The Ira because nothing you write comports with proven science, yet you keep screaming for it.
TheGhostofOtto1923
3.4 / 5 (5) Apr 04, 2014
Modern science can't stand being in the back seat when it comes to any (especially ultimate) questions – for them, there must be a physical explanation for everything
So far as we've looked, there are entirely physical explanations for everything.
Just as life's adaptability is used to falsely explain its creation, muliverses are used to explain the universe's apparent design for life. Evolutionists cannot explain life's creation and its adaptability complexity and apparent design of life
There IS no apparent design of life. This is obvious when you actually look, which creationists are deathly afraid to do.

I just re-skimmed ken hamms site. His recurring explanation - "The bible is the word of god and so must be true. Therefore if we don't how god it, rest assured we know he did." -Which leaves them open to theorize all sorts of half-baked nonsense as 'plausible'.
TheGhostofOtto1923
3.7 / 5 (6) Apr 04, 2014
Scientists are just trying to push... back another step. And they're only proving how wrong they are
You religionists are STILL left with the unassailable conclusion that EVIDENCE tells us the bible stories are false and the book is seriously flawed. And so we MUST conclude that anything we find in it is suspect.

And the more science actually learns about how the universe IS, the worse your bookgod looks. Declaring science wrong does not make it so.

And declaring that your god is responsible for something that science hasn't yet figured out, is a temptation you really ought to resist. This is the internet, and when science DOES explain something you guys have previously laid claim to, it is easy enough to dig up what you said and shove it in your face.

Religion will not survive the internet. Evidence trumps faith. Evidence says your god is either an incompetent or a liar, or most likely merely the fabrication of incompetents and liars.

You can no longer obscure this truth.
orti
2 / 5 (8) Apr 04, 2014
Sorry Otto. Science cannot and never will be able to explain where the physical universe that popped into existence 13.7 BYA (complete with matter, energy, space, time, physical laws, the seed of life, etc) came from or why. Or to answer the question or why there is something instead of nothing. No amount of ranting, slight-of-hand, or bluster will change that. Cosmologists/atheists such as Hawking (and yourself) cannot bear the idea of something greater than the universe (or themselves), and are reduced to desperate measures such as multiverses. Can you really tell me you can believe in things you cannot see (or can never hope to see). If so, you are the religionist. At least, I have the evidence of circa 30AD and well as my wits. Don't blame me. You're the one that injected religion (your obsession) into this argument.
Whydening Gyre
1 / 5 (2) Apr 04, 2014
For the first, the Universe cannot be in this "exceedingly improbable state" BECAUSE we are here
The anthropic principle doesn't say that our existence causes this universe. It says that there may be a lot of universes - but that we only can make measurements/observations in one in which we can exist. Therefore that one must be of a biased type (towards human life) and we SHOULD expect it to be perfectly biased towards it (this does not imply an agency that set such a bias. The same works just as well if you postulate a multiverse. Which is much more plausible)

Got a feelin' we're here cuz the Universe is here...
Got a little gedanken for ya'll - what if we exist in all of the various multiverse (or at least more than just one) However, to what extent is determined by choice(not necessarily conscience) of the different levels of awareness that exist in all of us? IE - cells, organs, yada, yada...
Of course - even THAT is subject to relativity...:-)
russell_russell
not rated yet Apr 05, 2014
Life is reproduction, growth, metabolism and carbon. Test that.
Anything beyond repair defines the living from the non living. Test that too.

The first sentence is science.
The second sentence is philosophy.

"Beyond repair" is irreversibility. The collision and challenge to what you label intelligent.
Benni
Apr 05, 2014
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
eltodesukane
not rated yet Apr 05, 2014
annoying adds
zaxxon451
not rated yet Apr 05, 2014
Sorry Otto. Science cannot and never will be able to explain where the physical universe that popped into existence 13.7 BYA . Or to answer the question or why there is something instead of nothing. Cosmologists/atheists such as Hawking (and yourself) cannot bear the idea of something greater than the universe (or themselves), and are reduced to desperate measures such as multiverses. If so, you are the religionist. At least, I have the evidence of circa 30AD and well as my wits. Don't blame me. You're the one that injected religion (your obsession) into this argument.


You make a valid point. I consider myself an atheist, but I am completely comfortable with the fact that there are mysteries that science may never be able to explain. I have no problem with "I don't know" as an answer. As the limits of science are reached, I welcome a re-collaboration with philosophy.
Victorag
not rated yet Apr 05, 2014
First of all the so-called "anthropic principal" can be applied just as easily to Darwinian evolution. If one single mutation had not taken place purely by chance in some tiny organism a few billion years ago, then there would be no such thing as a mouth, OK? Same principle applies to ears. Or eyes. Not to mention the almighty brain. And yes, there is an evolutionary equivalent to the anthropic principal. It was called predestination and it has been thoroughly discredited.

Secondly, if you carry the anthropic principle far enough then you reach the point where it is you yourself that is the ultimate product. In other words, the universe exists for no other reason than to produce the wonderful mind that now contemplates it: "my" mind. This ancient "principle" is known as "solipsism" and also, like predestination, has had no place in serious scientific thought for many years.
zaxxon451
not rated yet Apr 06, 2014
First of all the so-called "anthropic principal" can be applied just as easily to Darwinian evolution. If one single mutation had not taken place purely by chance in some tiny organism a few billion years ago, then there would be no such thing as a mouth,


Interesting point, but if we assume everything in the universe follows physical law then there is no such thing as "chance". The mutation you describe was inevitable at exactly the point in time that it occurred.
osnova
Apr 06, 2014
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
zorro6204
3.7 / 5 (3) Apr 06, 2014
Why, "Anything but God"?

Because if god fine tuned the universe, then we are simply asking the wrong question, which is, who fine tuned god? Any question about why the universe exists the way it does that is answered by god can be re-stated as a question about how god came to be. Therefore, god is a unnecessary complication, a supreme being answers nothing.
corymp
not rated yet Apr 06, 2014
The universe exists as a reference to nothing existing. it's like theres 2 sides to every coin. There has to be 2 sides. We are just a rising edge of a waveform. that went above zero about 13.7b yeas ago. just a fluctuation of something and nothing.
lol I know i'll get downvoted for this but it is the only thing that makes sense to me.
zaxxon451
not rated yet Apr 06, 2014
The universe exists as a reference to nothing existing. it's like theres 2 sides to every coin. There has to be 2 sides. We are just a rising edge of a waveform. that went above zero about 13.7b yeas ago. just a fluctuation of something and nothing.
lol I know i'll get downvoted for this but it is the only thing that makes sense to me.


I think you're close to describing the idea that quantum fluctuations gave rise to the Big Bang, which is fairly mainstream.
Jaeherys
5 / 5 (2) Apr 06, 2014
I consistently see the word 'science' thrown around like it's some living and breathing entity that roams around, haunting creationists in their sleep. We should always remember science is the framework guiding the juxtaposition of our minds and reality but it is people who perform scientific studies and interpret them. People.

The question isn't whether science can answer our most fundamental questions (although perhaps they are pointless questions), it's whether people can answer those questions.

Ultimately, our personal philosophies are meaningless. If we want to ask fundamental questions of our existence, the only question that may matter is this: does the ability exist for our reality to describe itself through itself? If our reality does not have a means through which we can explain our reality, then we never be able to understand our existence. The only way to figure that out is to try!
corymp
not rated yet Apr 06, 2014
good to know my thinking isn't that out to lunch . I was also thinking that if we consider our timeline a wave function, maybe the CMB could be infinite parallell timelines including our own mashed together. We would carry out our timeline without any interaction with others but might never be able to distinguish one from another out of the noise. I think that almost fits with the idea of multiple universes or dimensions..... btw I don't claim to know anything about this stuff i was just thinking...
davidivad
not rated yet Apr 06, 2014
it's about time someone in the scientific community suggest we do something more than count sticks and rocks.
zaxxon451
not rated yet Apr 07, 2014

Ultimately, our personal philosophies are meaningless. If we want to ask fundamental questions of our existence, the only question that may matter is this: does the ability exist for our reality to describe itself through itself?


Not possible, according to Godel's incompleteness theorem.
mvg
1 / 5 (1) Apr 07, 2014
Why, "Anything but God"?

Because if god fine tuned the universe, then we are simply asking the wrong question, which is, who fine tuned god? Any question about why the universe exists the way it does that is answered by god can be re-stated as a question about how god came to be. Therefore, god is a unnecessary complication, a supreme being answers nothing.


Zorro6204--You give the impression that you feel that belief closes doors of inquiry--This is not the case.

Belief invites exploration.

Acknowledging that a piece of art was done by a certain artist, does not detract from the artwork--but opens new fields of study (like the methods and materials used)--

So to, belief invites us to explore deeply with the hope of glimpsing the Mind of God.
TheGhostofOtto1923
3.7 / 5 (3) Apr 07, 2014
Belief invites exploration
Well that's not true. Visit ken hamms website. I'm sure you've been there before. The creationists answer for everything is god. No evidence necessary. Evidence is the enemy of faith.

Ken will preface every inquiry by stating his belief that your book is infallible. Then he will list a few theories about for instance how the Grand Canyon was formed, and then conclude that since it's there it was gods doing and we really don't have to know anything more about it now do we?

You get the impression that he and his team are getting a little tired of scientists finding so many flaws with their explanations. To them there is only one explanation. God. But to us, we find that the FACT that this god wrote a book describing things which never happened needs some explaining indeed.

Did your god replace all evidence for these things with only contrary evidence? Does he DECEIVE you to find out how much you TRUST him?? Please explain.
TheGhostofOtto1923
3.7 / 5 (3) Apr 07, 2014
Here's a case in point:
Sorry Otto. Science cannot and never will be able to explain where the physical universe that popped into existence 13.7 BYA (complete with matter, energy, space, time, physical laws, the seed of life, etc) came from or why. Or to answer the question or why there is something instead of nothing. No amount of ranting, slight-of-hand, or bluster will change that
-So in other words, according to the faither, we should stop looking. Why bother? He already has his answer.

If we had listened to you faithers we would still be treating the plague with holy water and waiting for the next asteroid to kill us all. And that is not a joke. After all if god decides we are not worthy then this is what we should expect, yes?

This is why it is very easy to conclude that religion is anti-life and pro-suicide. Because ignoring evidence is the very best way of getting yourself killed. THIS is why your superstitions are all evil.
mvg
not rated yet Apr 07, 2014
Otto--
I am not a Catholic inquisitor--
I do not hold the views you put forward to describe ' believers'.
I am not part of the 'creationist' website you mention nor have I ever seen it..

Have I mentioned any "book?
Have I tried to--or advocated--the stifling of inquiry?
Am I less knowledgeable about science, physics or math--because I believe?

What evidence have I personally ignored" (Is there really EVIDENCE that there is no Creator?)

I can easily agree with you about the hideous actions of the clergy--but does my belief in a Creator automatically make me one of them? I am no friend of the clergy.

Otto--
Painting with a broad brush obscures relevant details.

PS--Please explain "The Ghost" of Otto--
I don't believe in ghosts--I am not that superstitious.
zaxxon451
5 / 5 (1) Apr 07, 2014

So to, belief invites us to explore deeply with the hope of glimpsing the Mind of God.


Sorry for jumping in your conversation, but I am wondering about the parameters you place on God. Is it necessary that God be same deity as in the Old Testament? Would you be open to the possibility that God is the physical laws (which we may never fully understand) of the universe in action?
mvg
3 / 5 (2) Apr 08, 2014
Hello Zaxxon--

Jumping in is no problem.

Regarding the setting of parameters:

As a speck in such a vast universe I would consider it presumptuous to set parameters (as if I could draw a circle within which the Creator may operate--as if to say: 'This far and no further').

I imagine (which is all any of us can do) that the Creator is the source of all the laws and power from which our l universe immerges. Physical laws-- provide a glimpse at that source-but would unlikely be the source itself.

We have been endowed with curiosity, enjoy the exploration.
Reg Mundy
2 / 5 (4) Apr 08, 2014
What amazes me is the way well-known scientists and philosophers put forward wild explanations for the universe we live in such as multiverses, branes, etc., all completely unsupported by evidence, yet are treated with awed reverence. Yet if somebody unknown puts forward equally valid theories explaining the universe, they are howled down and treated as crackpots.
TheGhostofOtto1923
3.7 / 5 (3) Apr 08, 2014
What amazes me is the way well-known scientists and philosophers put forward wild explanations for the universe we live in such as multiverses, branes, etc., all completely unsupported by evidence, yet are treated with awed reverence. Yet if somebody unknown puts forward equally valid theories explaining the universe, they are howled down and treated as crackpots
But they ARE supported by evidence. You've only shown that you don't know what that is.
Have I mentioned any "book?
Have I tried to--or advocated--the stifling of inquiry?
You jumped in to defend an obvious religionist. Stop quibbling - do you believe in some theistic bookgod or not?
Am I less knowledgeable about science, physics or math--because I believe?
Probably. There is as yet no evidence for a deistic god either and yet you jump to conclusions. Faith is ignorance. Faith presumes an explanation.

Faith is belief despite evidence. When you profess faith you support all manner of dangerous ignorance.
Modernmystic
5 / 5 (4) Apr 08, 2014
Yeah because soon enough we wont be able to use monkeys for lab tests. Im sure philos will suffice, and Im also sure they will be able to justify it philosophically.

Probably something like 'Ah - the chance to be relevant again.'


Otto, it's philosophy which tells us it's ethical to try to curb population growth with science. YOU are using philosophy when you take a position against religion. I don't think you have a clue what the word means. That's not an insult or a dig...just an observation.

There aren't any humans that don't use philosophy every day of their lives.

Epistemology, ethics, politics, aesthetics, etc etc etc.
mvg
not rated yet Apr 08, 2014
Otto--

You forgot to explain "The Ghost"
TheGhostofOtto1923
3.7 / 5 (3) Apr 08, 2014
What evidence have I personally ignored" (Is there really EVIDENCE that there is no Creator?
Scientists have uncovered no evidence for a deistic creator god, and they are the only ones capable of doing this.

Deism is another invention of philosophers who know that, like the meaning of life or 'being' or 'knowledge' or 'truth' or 'why', they can discuss these ad infinitum with the illusion that they are exploring valid issues and that they alone are capable of doing this.

In contrast, scientists have amassed a great deal of evidence to conclude that the theistic gods are fabrications. And as they are the ones causing all the trouble in the world today, they are the ones we need to be concerned about.

They are the ones who promise outrageous nonsense about immortality, wish-granting, retribution, and absolution in return for mindless ritual, the subjugation of women, the belief that unbelievers are evil, and that genital mutilation is next to godliness. Among other offenses.
TheGhostofOtto1923
4.2 / 5 (5) Apr 08, 2014
Otto--

You forgot to explain "The Ghost"
There was a war once, long ago, on the Great Plains of Armageddon. Hordes of ghosts attacked poor otto and in retaliation he unleashed hordes of his own. The battle raged for many many weeks and alas, even in victory, otto was slain. Only his ghost remains to tell the tale. And his legions sit, and brood, and await resurrection.
YOU are using philosophy when you take a position against religion
You are confusing entirely different uses of the word, as do most professional philos. A personal philosophy has nothing to do with the formal academic crap foisted by the likes of kant, Spinoza, Hegel, nietszche, et al. And you know it.

Science is not a philosophy in either sense of the term. It is an evidence-based system of exploration. It is not idealism or rationalism or formalism or any other sort of -ism that philos use to attempt to lay claim to it.

And philos have no more right to dictate ethics than religionists do.
mvg
2.3 / 5 (3) Apr 08, 2014
Otto

Still no explanation of your "Ghost"

You are still using a broad brush--I am none of the things you rant about.

I wish I knew what sort of person I was writing this too--

Are you an embittered old man--or a 20-something without a clue?
Arf_Arf_Arf_Arf_Arf_Arf
3 / 5 (2) Apr 08, 2014
Now otto? Should I go wake everybody up?
mvg
1 / 5 (2) Apr 08, 2014
Otto

Sorry I missed your ghost story--our messages passed each other in transit.

Looks like you have your own private mythology.

Have a nice day--you sound like you are hurting inside.
TheGhostofOtto1923
3.7 / 5 (3) Apr 08, 2014
Now otto? Should I go wake everybody up?
Relax doggie. Judgement day approaches.
Still no explanation of your "Ghost"

You are still using a broad brush--I am none of the things you rant about.
So you need to state exactly what you are. Are you speaking via some religious affiliation or not? Are you ashamed of it?
Are you an embittered old man--or a 20-something without a clue?
Thats the beauty of evidence - it doesn't matter who is presenting it. Only in religion and philosophy and politics do pomp and pretense count for anything.
Have a nice day--you sound like you are hurting inside.
See I knew it - you're a xian. Yes it hurts me inside when I read things like how priests and bishops were complicit in the Rwandan genocide. They were reading Joshua at the time no doubt.
http://www.thegua...=classic
Modernmystic
4.2 / 5 (5) Apr 08, 2014
Science is not a philosophy in either sense of the term. It is an evidence-based system of exploration. It is not idealism or rationalism or formalism or any other sort of -ism that philos use to attempt to lay claim to it.


Otto, look up the word epistemology, then look up the word philosophy, then tell me that science doesn't use epistemology. Logic is included in the definition of philosophy too. So is metaphysics which science bases many of its basic assumptions on. The scientific method itself is a philosophical framework, it doesn't exist outside the minds of people.

I appreciate that you have a particular negative view of philosophy and seem to think it's akin to religion, and make no mistake that it CAN be similar to religion. Without philosophy first however, there would be no science...or religion for that matter.
TheGhostofOtto1923
3.8 / 5 (4) Apr 08, 2014
Otto, look up the word epistemology, then look up the word philosophy, then tell me that science doesn't use epistemology
Scientists don't CARE about what philos have to say about the 'nature of knowledge'. Similarly they don't care about the 'nature of reality' or the 'nature of nature' or similar such poetry.

Pondering these nonsense issues doesn't help scientists do what they do one bit. I have posted numerable quotes from scientists like hawking, feinman, Krauss, etcetc and even other philos to support this fact.
Without philosophy first however, there would be no science...or religion for that matter
Philos posit without evidence and try to calculate using words. As such their conclusions are, and have always been, worthless. Philos who began doing science were in fact scientists, not philos.

Formal philosophy has always been a cover for sociopolitical manipulation; it couldn't be anything else. You simply can't understand the world just by thinking about it.
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (6) Apr 08, 2014
What amazes me is the way well-known scientists and philosophers put forward wild explanations for the universe we live in such as multiverses, branes, etc., all completely unsupported by evidence, yet are treated with awed reverence. Yet if somebody unknown puts forward equally valid theories explaining the universe, they are howled down and treated as crackpots.

The problem you're having is this: YOU only see the science journalist blurb of what these people do (which is little more than :"Scientists model univese as strings! Cool!"). Then YOU think that anyone who can write a similar blurb is a scientific genius.

But scientists actually think long and hard about this stuff. They do the math (important!) and then, and ONLY then when there is possibly something interesting to be said about the universe from this do they publish the hard facts of what they have (theory AND predictions).

Just shouting "I-think-it's-like-this" is mere crackpottery.

See the difference?
mvg
5 / 5 (1) Apr 08, 2014
"See I knew it - you're a Xian"

Otto--

What is a Xian?--

By the way I had no connection to the Rwandan genocide.

Is that what I get for wishing you a good day?
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (1) Apr 08, 2014
Xians celebrate Xmas. Correct? Chi rho.
http://www.waupun...ols.html
By the way I had no connection to the Rwandan genocide.
Are you so sure? You support the legitimacy of superstition as described in your book. That book has been used since it was written to justify all manner of atrocity. It describes very succinctly how to perpetrate this atrocity. The only way you can separate yourself from this legacy is to disavow the book.
mvg
5 / 5 (1) Apr 08, 2014
Otto--

I do not celebrate Christmas.

I have removed myself from the religions you describe--I disavow them and their actions, past and present--I dislike them as much as you do.

By the way--wouldn't you consider that ghost story you told us a few posts back to be a superstition?
TheGhostofOtto1923
3 / 5 (2) Apr 08, 2014
I have removed myself from the religions you describe--I disavow them and their actions, past and present--I dislike them as much as you do
Well of course you do. You all say that about every other religion.

Religions allow you to custom-build your own personal god to suit. I repeat - you ascribe to superstition, you are responsible for the consequences of it whenever and wherever. Take responsibility for your self-indulgence.

You wouldn't necessarily disagree with the Rwandan priests core beliefs, just their methodology. God loves you both yes?
By the way--wouldn't you consider that ghost story you told us a few posts back to be a superstition?
Uh no you twit that was humor.
Reg Mundy
1 / 5 (3) Apr 09, 2014
@antialias-physiognomy
The problem you're having is this: YOU only see the science journalist blurb of what these people do.....
But scientists actually think long and hard about this stuff. They do the math (important!) and then, and ONLY then when there is possibly something interesting to be said about the universe from this do they publish the hard facts of what they have (theory AND predictions).

You are accusing me of having the same superficial view that you obviously have, with no evidence.
I particularly like your bit "But scientists actually think long and hard about this stuff. They do the math (important!) and then, and ONLY then when there is possibly something interesting to be said about the universe from this do they publish the hard facts..". What planet are you on? Where are the "hard facts" for multiverses, branes, etc.? You are a total prat, and shoot your mouth off without putting your brain into gear. Do us all a favour and shut up!
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (5) Apr 09, 2014
Where are the "hard facts" for multiverses, branes, etc.?

Papers on these are based on:
1) An assumption that is not at odds with current observation.
2) SOLID math based on that assumption to see where it leads.
3) Predictions based upon the extrapolations that lead to (at least in theory) eventually testable results.

The assumption may be wrong (and often times is), that is why such speculative papers often get resigned to the dustbin of history when evidence rolls in that invalidates the assumption.

Again: The difference to crackpottery is that these people actually think about what they are doing and try to see what comes of it, instead of trying to fit everything into a preconceived notion (like religious people - or you - do)

You are accusing me of having the same superficial view that you obviously have, with no evidence.

I present to you exhibit A:
Every. Single. Post. You. Have. Made. On. This. Site.

I rest my case. Let the readers judge.
Jaeherys
5 / 5 (4) Apr 09, 2014
As a biologist, I really dont care about philosophy the slightest. Philosophy doesnt confirm that if i inject stem cells into your spine you will almost certainly develop a tumor(s). Nor does it help me interpret 6 lines of evidence supporting a claim. People can say and think whatever they want but at the end of the day, it doesnt matter the slightest. My cells are going to do what the hell ever they want to do (normally its the exact opposite of what i want them to do, of course) regardless of what anybody says or believes. Philosophy by its very nature, cannot and will not increase our understanding of the universe. Only evidence, careful analysis, and lots and lots of stats, has the potential to increase our understanding.

Of course, thats not to say philosophy isnt important in our society, i rather enjoyed the philosophy of ethics, but it has very little benefit to the hard sciences. And since the end of that course, I have not once used or heard any talk of philosophy
TheGhostofOtto1923
3 / 5 (3) Apr 09, 2014
Of course, thats not to say philosophy isnt important in our society
Of course it does say this. Philosophy is at the very least unimportant.
rather enjoyed the philosophy of ethics
But science is telling us that ethics is wholly biologically-derived.

"Morality and Evolutionary Biology... So now it is time for someone else to have a go…Perhaps [biologists] can eventually do what philosophers have never managed, and explain moral behavior in an intellectually satisfying way."
http://plato.stan...voEvoEth

-And even though the quote is from a philo site, this only indicates their desperate and futile efforts to hold onto something else that we now know can only be explained by scientists.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (1) Apr 09, 2014
Hey I just read the article. I should do this more often. I found this:

"Such fundamental notions as reality, space, time and causality – notions found at the core of the scientific enterprise – all rely on particular metaphysical assumptions about the world."

-as written by:

"Christof Koch... an American neuroscientist best known for his work on the neural bases of consciousness... Koch advocates for a modern variant of Panpsychism, the ancient philosophical belief that some minimal form of consciousness can be found in all biological organisms..."

-I see. As scientists explore the evolutionary basis for human behavior, many are beginning to suspect the existence of consciousness and wonder if it belongs in the same category as 'soul' and 'heaven'.

A neuroscientist who refers to the metaphysical as if it was a useful term to scientists is also suspect. Why would such a scientist seek support from philosophy if science wasnt starting to disprove and discredit his specialty?
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (3) Apr 09, 2014
Philosophy by its very nature, cannot and will not increase our understanding of the universe.

I agree with you up to a point. Philosophy does have one interesting area of application: it can think about itself. While that may sound circular/tautological at first there is something that this can achieve: It can tell us something about our inherent bias at looking at the universe. We take our biology for granted when we look at experiments and judge results. But we never question whether that ultimate of instruments we use (the brain) isn't:
a) biased
b) might have some blind spot where there is something it simply cannot work on by the very nature of its construction (before anyone asks: I'm not arguing religion or souls or somesuch nonsense here)

If such bias exists then a failure in the philosophical narrative may point it out (e.g. Goedels incompleteness theorem or even the anthropic principles MIGHT constitute such failures. Though I'm not at all sure they do.)
Reg Mundy
1 / 5 (3) Apr 09, 2014
Where are the "hard facts" for multiverses, branes, etc.?

Papers on these are based on:
1) An assumption that is not at odds with current observation.
2) SOLID math based on that assumption to see where it leads.
3) Predictions based upon the extrapolations that lead to (at least in theory) eventually testable results.

The assumption may be wrong (and often times is), that is why such speculative papers often get resigned to the dustbin of history when evidence rolls in that invalidates the assumption.


Ah! You wouldn't know a "HARD FACT" if it fell on your foot! What a supercilious twit you are!
Your reply is complete twaddle, followed by your usual recourse to silly insults. Grow up!

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.