Quantum Creationism -- Is It Science Or Is It Religion?

Discussion in 'Comparative Religion' started by Eugene Shubert, Jan 8, 2018.

  1. Eugene Shubert Valued Senior Member

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    Prof. Alexander Vilenkin, Director, Institute of Cosmology at Tufts University, seems to believe his first-cause fantasy about the origin of the universe.
     
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  3. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

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    You misunderstand.
    Atheists are perfectly all right with having beliefs.
    The difference is that atheists recognize these beliefs to be beliefs - i.e. unsubstantiated and unsubstantiable.
     
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  5. Eugene Shubert Valued Senior Member

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    So you believe that no atheist is a hypocrite or only that a few atheists are hypocrites? You live in a fool's paradise.
     
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  7. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

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    Perhaps it would help if you spelled out your idea of how atheists are hypocritical. It was a pretty generic statement.
     
  8. Eugene Shubert Valued Senior Member

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    I had every right to coin the term "quantum creationism," to use that creation and to prove theorems about it.
     
  9. Eugene Shubert Valued Senior Member

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    Perhaps you should read the statement that I quoted and was in agreement with.
     
  10. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

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    Of course I did. But your comment did not agree with Yazata - your comment was a non sequitur - one that does not follow from what went before. So I'm suggesting you spell out how your assertion of atheistic hypocrisy follows directly from what Yazata said.

    I surmise (absent your elaboration) that you are of the opinion that atheists having a belief about creation is comparable with theists having their own belief about creation. And since (in your view) atheists decry any form of belief, yet hold them themselves,m you conclude that to be hypocritical. If so that's because you misunderstand atheism.

    Atheists follow the evidence, and that points to a particular creation mechanism. But atheism isn't really about a particular creation mechanism; it is about the rejection of the God creation mechanism being treated as fait accompli.

    So atheists can have their own beliefs - there's nothing hypocritical about believing something - but they recognize that they don't have access to arcane knowledge that leads them to "know the truth".
     
  11. origin In a democracy you deserve the leaders you elect. Valued Senior Member

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    You can say whatever you want. But don't expect us to buy what you're selling.
     
  12. Yazata Valued Senior Member

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    Yes, I agree with that.

    I agree that science doesn't require it.

    But... if we believe in the 'big bang', and if we believe that the 'big bang' was the origin of the entire space-time-matter universe, such that it was the origin of time as well as matter and spatial extension, suggesting that there could have been no 'before' prior to that singular event, since that's where pastwards time just... stops, then it would seem to be implied. It also renders the whole origin event inexplicable by science, since causes and explanatory principles would seem to have been ruled out by theoretical fiat. My feeling is that kind of idea leaves many cosmologists unsatisfied (for obvious reasons).

    Hence the 'something from nothing' speculations and their inevitable problems of circularity. They seem to me to typically depend on some theoretical physics style mathematical update of the eternal Platonic forms possessing ontological priority to and a 'higher' sort of reality than physical reality and the space-time-matter universe. Hence the mathematical equations (of quantum mechanics in this case) that theoretical physicists scrawl on their chalkboards can still be appealed to as explanatory principles even in the absence of physical reality and (arguably) can still serve as an explanation for the latter. (Theoretical physicists often seem to me to believe that their mathematics is more real than physical reality, which in their view simply illustrates the underlying mathematics.)

    Ironically, given Lawrence Krauss' belief that this finally puts a stake in the heart of natural theology's 'first cause' argument, the more Neoplatonic versions of Christian and Islamic theology (popular in medieval times) identified the eternal Platonic forms with the eternal and unchanging ideas in the mind of God, expressed in his speech or Logos when he commanded reality into being in Genesis. (I suspect that Isaac Newton would have agreed with that. Einstein is said to have spoken of physics 'reading the mind of God', though he may have meant it figuratively.)

    Right. That's why I favor my metaphysical agnosticism approach. At this point we just don't know. (I'd go even farther and suggest that humanity may never know, given the nature of the problem.) The best we can do is speculate.

    So physicists should be more careful and more critical about what they are doing. It isn't just a matter of getting the mathematics right, it's a matter of examining their fundamental underlying assumptions (such as what justifies their use of the mathematics in the first place). And especially, they shouldn't misrepresent it to laymen who are supposed to believe their every word (at risk of being condemned as "deniers"). That's just evil.

    I agree that is what 'big bang' theories should be and in many cases are. But I'm not convinced that trying to take that final explanatory step that stares everyone in the face is just a "creationist mistake".

    I think that it's indisputable that some individual cosmologists do make very strong 'something from nothing' claims. Vilenkin does here:

    https://mm-gold.azureedge.net/science/physics/a_vilinkin/universe_from_nothing.pdf

    Paddoboy was very fond of posting this one over and over:

    https://arxiv.org/pdf/1404.1207v1.pdf

    And there's Krauss and his popular book on the subject (with its afterward by Dawkins who compares Krauss to Darwin):

    https://www.amazon.com/Universe-Nothing-There-Something-Rather/dp/1451624468

    There are many more examples.
     
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2018
  13. Eugene Shubert Valued Senior Member

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    This is the very definition of hypocrisy. And I agreed with Yazata's judgment against these hypocrites.
     
  14. Eugene Shubert Valued Senior Member

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    What I don't expect is a refutation.
     
  15. Eugene Shubert Valued Senior Member

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    Yes, Yes in this context indicates acknowledgement, agreement.
     
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2018
  16. Yazata Valued Senior Member

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    No, no, no. I was trying to explain what I thought that you were up to in this thread, since you seem strangely unwilling/unable to clearly state what your own point is.

    I'm glad you agree with that part of it, which suggests that I wasn't entirely off the mark.

    I just posted my own views on the subject in response to Spidergoat's interesting remarks in post #129.

    In a nutshell, I don't think that what you call "quantum creationism" is truly science or religion. I think that it's most accurately classified as metaphysical speculation, a distinct third category.
     
  17. Eugene Shubert Valued Senior Member

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    I'm under no obligation to respond to off-topic remarks.
     
  18. Eugene Shubert Valued Senior Member

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    Then creationism is most accurately classified as metaphysical speculation. I'll interpret that as a win for my Shubertian perspective.
     
  19. spidergoat Venued Serial Membership Valued Senior Member

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    The big bang is the observed situation, it's still going on. The Big Bang Theory is an attempt to explain the evidence, and only applies back to an instant after the universe was incomprehensibly small. We don't know if it was a singularity or the beginning of time, although both of these ideas are more valid than god, since they do not reference the supernatural. If there was a creation event, it was certainly unique compared to our present universe, and ideas like a beginning of space/time seem more plausible.
    So what? Something being inexplicable by science doesn't make a faith position valid by default. Scientists may well hold and express (sometimes imprecisely) beliefs about the origin of the big bang. If pressed to say whether their idea is considered fact, they would have to admit it isn't.
    You can explain science to a creationist, and it's in one ear and out the other. Scientists aren't always the best public representatives of their field, but you can't blame them for faith addled idiots. Grow a spine and use science to counter the "denier" claim. If that ever happens.
    It's valid to make such claims. Remember, the something isn't the entire universe in all it's complexity, that happened later. The something was a microscopic particle of space/time with no destiny or possible plan to become what it eventually became. It was necessarily devoid of anything that could be considered a mind or organized structure. That much is supported by the laws of thermodynamics.
     
  20. Yazata Valued Senior Member

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    Vilenkin explicitly takes the Platonism line I outlined in the text above in this interview:

    http://now.tufts.edu/articles/beginning-was-beginning

    In quantum physics, events do not necessarily have a cause, just some probability.

    As such, there is some probability for the universe to pop out of "nothing." You can find the relative probability for it to be this size or that size and have various properties, but there will not be a particular cause for any of it, just probabilities.

    I say "nothing" in quotations because the nothing that we were referring to here is the absence of matter, space and time. That is as close to nothing as you can get, but what is still required here is the laws of physics. So the laws of physics should still be there, and they are definitely not nothing.

    I cannot really claim that I understand the beginning of the universe. We have a picture which kind of makes sense, which I think is an achievement. Because, if you think about it, you say, "OK, what happened before the Big Bang, before inflation?" It seems you can keep asking these questions and the answer is impossible.

    But this quantum creation from "nothing" seems to avoid these questions. It has a nice mathematical description, not just words. There's an interesting thing, though; the description of the creation of the universe from nothing is given in terms of the laws of physics. That makes you wonder, where are these laws? If the laws describe the creation of the universe, that suggests they existed prior to the universe. The question that nobody has any idea how to address is where these laws come from and why these laws in particular? So there are a lot of mysteries to keep us working.
     
  21. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

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    Well of course you do. Yazata was surmising what you think - due to the (common) perception that you seem unable to express it yourself.

    But Yazata was not himself purporting it to be true
    ; he simply summarized your argument. Look:

    So, no he's not asserting; he's summarizing, without judgment (except to suggest it's not totally without merit).



    And yet the argument remains flawed.

    Simply put: there's nothing wrong with having beliefs. No atheist objects to a theist (or an atheist) having beliefs. Everyone has beliefs, and that's OK.

    That alone invalidates the accusation of hypocrisy. You invoke hypocrisy because you appear not to understand the nature of atheism.


    To re-clarify: What atheists do reject is the common theistic notion that they just "know" stuff (eg. Jan Arden doesn't need evidence of God, he just "knows it's true" in his hearty-heart.).

    That's not a belief - that's magical thinking being imposed upon others as if it's objective truth.
     
    origin likes this.
  22. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

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    He doesn't say that in the video. What he says is that there is no known conservation law in physics that prevents the universe from popping up spontaneously out of "nothing". I don't he states whether it is his belief that anything like that occurred in fact.

    I find it interesting that you refer to this idea as a "first-cause fantasy". But why? What is unreasonable about the idea?

    You speak as i you care about mathematics and logical consistency and so on, so I expect you to post your mathematical, physical or logical objection to the idea you are seeking to dismiss.
     
  23. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

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    exchemist:

    I agree with this. "Creationist" usually refers to biblical literalists, as you say.

    In that context, "quantum creationist" doesn't make much sense, since Eugene is not talking about tacking some kind of speculative physics onto biblical creation accounts.

    I think that, actually, Eugene is just appropriating the word "creationist" to try to rile up scientists, or something. I'm not quite sure what his issue is. He seems to have some kind of philosophical objection to speculative scientific cosmology. But I also get the sense that he is conflicted, because it seems he has certain sympathies with the Seventh Day Adventist church. I think that, behind the scenes, he is probably trying to preserve certain elements of his own brand of Christianity in his preferred explanation of the likely cause of the universe. On the other hand, obviously he has some kind of argument with his former church, because he has apparently decided to strike out on his own to create a new religion with just one adherent (so far).

    I should be clear: many mainstream Christians have no major issues with speculative scientific cosmology. They can still find lots of places they can slot God into the "creation" story.
     
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