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Physicists Are Philosophers, Too?

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  • Sea of red
    replied
    Originally posted by Boxing Pythagoras View Post
    The difference is twofold. Firstly, the graviton and Tegmark's multiverse are predictions of mathematical models for which a great deal of physical evidence exists, despite the fact that the objects of those predictions, themselves, are as yet unobserved. This is not the case for angels.

    Secondly, the unobserved entities which are posited by scientists are readily admitted to be hypothetical, and their existence is well-acknowledged to be in doubt. Theologians who posit the existence of gods or angels or other such things, on the other hand, do not usually make any such concession, and instead act as if the existence of those unobserved entities is certain and incontrovertible.
    Bingo.

    Leave a comment:


  • The Pixie
    replied
    Originally posted by grmorton View Post
    Pixie, you asked earlier, "Can you (or anyone) give any examples of what philosophy and religion have brought to the table in that regard in the last 100 years?"

    I don't know if anyone ever gave you a cogent answer, but I think I can. In the first half of the 20th century, the universe was held to be an eternal everlasting mostly unchanging thing. Hoyle and others invented a hydrogen creation mechanism in order to keep the density of the universe approximately constant in an expanding universe. Many scientists claimed that to have an origin of the universe, like Gamow's cosmic egg was to invoke a creator, and they heartily rejected such ideas..

    But theologians, Christian theologians in particular have always held that the universe had a beginning. When the microwave background was found, it proved the theologians correct and the scientific view of the time, wrong.
    Hmm, kind of. That was a position theology brought to the table thousands of years ago. I do not think theology (or philosophy) bought anything new in the way of theory or evidence in the last century. Science did that.
    I think I would add that theologians have always held that there are unseen entities an unseen heaven, but science has utterly rejected such a view as hopelessly faith-based. Theologians didn't change and continued to believe in sentient beings in unseen heaven. And theologians were continually riduculed by the intelligentsia for such belief.

    So, what is the difference between their ridiculed view and Tegmark's view of the multiverse in which, out there somewhere unobserved you and I are having the very same conversation in another universe(read HEAVEN)?
    The multiverse is Tegmark's speculation as to the most likely explanation that fits the very limited evidence we do have. If evidence appears that refutes the multiverse, he will abandon it.

    Christianity is held as fact by Christians, rather than speculation, despite a similar lack of evidence. That is a big difference. Where the evidence does not fit a Christian's worldview, the Christian will reject the evidence, not the worldview (just look at how YECs deal with evidence for an ancient earth).
    "Is there a copy of you reading this article? A person who is not you but who lives on a planet called Earth, with misty mountains, fertile fields and sprawling cities, in a solar system with eight other planets? The life of this person has been identical to yours in every respect. But perhaps he or she now decides to put down this article without finishing it, while you read on.
    "The idea of such an alter ego seems strange and implausible, but it looks as if we will* just have to live with it, because it is supported by astronomical observations. The simplest and most popular cosmological model today predicts that you have a twin in a galaxy about 10 to the 10^28 meters from here. This distance is so large that it is beyond astronomical, but that does not make your doppelganger any less real."* Max Tegmark, "Parallel Universes" Scientific American May 2003, p. 41

    So, now science believes in unseen, unobserved sentient beings in unseen heavens and that is considered science, but when theologians do it, it is considered nutso. seems there is a double standard.
    No, one scientist believes that. As far as I am aware, that view is not mainstream science. It is not something I believe, and it is quite different to the multiverse as I understand the term (in that he is describing parallels within a single universe).
    I would add another broad category. Christians are criticized for believing in angels, because they are unobserved. But unobserved (and unobservable) also applies to the graviton, the axion, the sterile neutrino etc, yet, those things are said to exist (and act of scientific faith) and angiels are said not to exist.
    The graviton, the axion and the sterile neutrino are hypothetical, and reading the Wiki page for each makes that clear.

    Are you prepared to go on record saying angels are merely hypothetical?

    In fact, here is a quote in which a scientist acknowledges gravitons may not exist:
    “Four years ago, Tony Rothman, a physicist at Princeton University was chatting with fellow physicist Freeman Dyson about the elusiveness of gravitons. In fact, gravitons are thought to be so elusive that Dyson wondered whether it was possible to detect one at all. And if gravitons are undetectable, do they really exist?
    Marcus Chown, “The Longest Stake-out,” New Scientist, March 18, 2006, p. 32

    It is the same one you quoted. Strangely you cite it as evidence that scientists believe in things they cannot detect, despite this scientist stating clearly they might not even exist.
    I probably won't stick around to reply to your reply. I can't stand this kind of debate any longer.
    Yeah, probably best that way. You might realise you were wrong.

    Which is kind of the point here. Science makes claims tentatively, and is upfront about when something is hypothetical. It may be that someone will join the debate and explain why Tegmark holds the view cited above, and will convince me. Science is open to new ideas, and changes according to new evidence. So I will stick around, and I might learn something, which wll be good for my scientific knowledge.

    Religion cannot do that. Religion makes pronouncements, and wil only reluctantly back downfrom them once the evidence is overwhelming. Christianity asserts there are angels, so all Christians are sure there are angels. Evidence and arguments to the contrary are to be avoided. So you will not stick around, as you might learn something, which wll be bad for faith.

    Leave a comment:


  • Roy
    replied
    Originally posted by Boxing Pythagoras View Post
    Lovely. Actual particle physicists, however, consider particles which have been predicted to exist but not yet observed to be hypothetical. They do this precisely because of the track record of scientists in the past.
    And because that's what 'hypothetical' means?

    Leave a comment:


  • Boxing Pythagoras
    replied
    Originally posted by shunyadragon View Post
    I consider the predicted existence of particles and properties of the Quantum World to be better than hypothetical, because of the good track record of predictions by scientists in the past.
    Lovely. Actual particle physicists, however, consider particles which have been predicted to exist but not yet observed to be hypothetical. They do this precisely because of the track record of scientists in the past.

    Leave a comment:


  • shunyadragon
    replied
    Originally posted by Boxing Pythagoras View Post
    The difference is twofold. Firstly, the graviton and Tegmark's multiverse are predictions of mathematical models for which a great deal of physical evidence exists, despite the fact that the objects of those predictions, themselves, are as yet unobserved. This is not the case for angels.

    Secondly, the unobserved entities which are posited by scientists are readily admitted to be hypothetical, and their existence is well-acknowledged to be in doubt. Theologians who posit the existence of gods or angels or other such things, on the other hand, do not usually make any such concession, and instead act as if the existence of those unobserved entities is certain and incontrovertible.
    I consider the predicted existence of particles and properties of the Quantum World to be better than hypothetical, because of the good track record of predictions by scientists in the past.

    Leave a comment:


  • Boxing Pythagoras
    replied
    Originally posted by grmorton View Post
    So, what is the difference between their ridiculed view and Tegmark's view of the multiverse in which, out there somewhere unobserved you and I are having the very same conversation in another universe(read HEAVEN)?

    So, now science believes in unseen, unobserved sentient beings in unseen heavens and that is considered science, but when theologians do it, it is considered nutso. seems there is a double standard.

    I would add another broad category. Christians are criticized for believing in angels, because they are unobserved. But unobserved (and unobservable) also applies to the graviton, the axion, the sterile neutrino etc, yet, those things are said to exist (and act of scientific faith) and angiels are said not to exist.
    The difference is twofold. Firstly, the graviton and Tegmark's multiverse are predictions of mathematical models for which a great deal of physical evidence exists, despite the fact that the objects of those predictions, themselves, are as yet unobserved. This is not the case for angels.

    Secondly, the unobserved entities which are posited by scientists are readily admitted to be hypothetical, and their existence is well-acknowledged to be in doubt. Theologians who posit the existence of gods or angels or other such things, on the other hand, do not usually make any such concession, and instead act as if the existence of those unobserved entities is certain and incontrovertible.

    Leave a comment:


  • shunyadragon
    replied
    Originally posted by grmorton View Post
    Pixie, you asked earlier, "Can you (or anyone) give any examples of what philosophy and religion have brought to the table in that regard in the last 100 years?"

    I don't know if anyone ever gave you a cogent answer, but I think I can. In the first half of the 20th century, the universe was held to be an eternal everlasting mostly unchanging thing. Hoyle and others invented a hydrogen creation mechanism in order to keep the density of the universe approximately constant in an expanding universe. Many scientists claimed that to have an origin of the universe, like Gamow's cosmic egg was to invoke a creator, and they heartily rejected such ideas..

    But theologians, Christian theologians in particular have always held that the universe had a beginning. When the microwave background was found, it proved the theologians correct and the scientific view of the time, wrong.

    I think I would add that theologians have always held that there are unseen entities an unseen heaven, but science has utterly rejected such a view as hopelessly faith-based. Theologians didn't change and continued to believe in sentient beings in unseen heaven. And theologians were continually riduculed by the intelligentsia for such belief.

    So, what is the difference between their ridiculed view and Tegmark's view of the multiverse in which, out there somewhere unobserved you and I are having the very same conversation in another universe(read HEAVEN)?

    "Is there a copy of you reading this article? A person who is not you but who lives on a planet called Earth, with misty mountains, fertile fields and sprawling cities, in a solar system with eight other planets? The life of this person has been identical to yours in every respect. But perhaps he or she now decides to put down this article without finishing it, while you read on.
    "The idea of such an alter ego seems strange and implausible, but it looks as if we will* just have to live with it, because it is supported by astronomical observations. The simplest and most popular cosmological model today predicts that you have a twin in a galaxy about 10 to the 10^28 meters from here. This distance is so large that it is beyond astronomical, but that does not make your doppelganger any less real."* Max Tegmark, "Parallel Universes" Scientific American May 2003, p. 41

    So, now science believes in unseen, unobserved sentient beings in unseen heavens and that is considered science, but when theologians do it, it is considered nutso. seems there is a double standard.

    I would add another broad category. Christians are criticized for believing in angels, because they are unobserved. But unobserved (and unobservable) also applies to the graviton, the axion, the sterile neutrino etc, yet, those things are said to exist (and act of scientific faith) and angiels are said not to exist.

    “Four years ago, Tony Rothman, a physicist at Princeton University was chatting with fellow physicist Freeman Dyson about the elusiveness of gravitons. In fact, gravitons are thought to be so elusive that Dyson wondered whether it was possible to detect one at all. And if gravitons are undetectable, do they really exist?
    Marcus Chown, “The Longest Stake-out,” New Scientist, March 18, 2006, p. 32

    Tony Rothman and Steve Broughan calculated that it would take a detector the size of Jupiter running continuously for 42 million years to get one hit by a graviton. And since that could be a fluke of the equipment, one must run it probably 5x that long to be sure you are actually seeing them. This makes gravitons as undetectable as angels--maybe more so.

    I probably won't stick around to reply to your reply. I can't stand this kind of debate any longer.
    Nice to here from my lurking friend out of advancing desert meeting the world flood of Texas. How are you doing?

    This thread is that scientists have a philosophy too! I hope this would be more a discussion of the nature of the relationship between philosophy and science.

    Leave a comment:


  • grmorton
    replied
    Pixie, you asked earlier, "Can you (or anyone) give any examples of what philosophy and religion have brought to the table in that regard in the last 100 years?"

    I don't know if anyone ever gave you a cogent answer, but I think I can. In the first half of the 20th century, the universe was held to be an eternal everlasting mostly unchanging thing. Hoyle and others invented a hydrogen creation mechanism in order to keep the density of the universe approximately constant in an expanding universe. Many scientists claimed that to have an origin of the universe, like Gamow's cosmic egg was to invoke a creator, and they heartily rejected such ideas..

    But theologians, Christian theologians in particular have always held that the universe had a beginning. When the microwave background was found, it proved the theologians correct and the scientific view of the time, wrong.

    I think I would add that theologians have always held that there are unseen entities an unseen heaven, but science has utterly rejected such a view as hopelessly faith-based. Theologians didn't change and continued to believe in sentient beings in unseen heaven. And theologians were continually riduculed by the intelligentsia for such belief.

    So, what is the difference between their ridiculed view and Tegmark's view of the multiverse in which, out there somewhere unobserved you and I are having the very same conversation in another universe(read HEAVEN)?

    "Is there a copy of you reading this article? A person who is not you but who lives on a planet called Earth, with misty mountains, fertile fields and sprawling cities, in a solar system with eight other planets? The life of this person has been identical to yours in every respect. But perhaps he or she now decides to put down this article without finishing it, while you read on.
    "The idea of such an alter ego seems strange and implausible, but it looks as if we will* just have to live with it, because it is supported by astronomical observations. The simplest and most popular cosmological model today predicts that you have a twin in a galaxy about 10 to the 10^28 meters from here. This distance is so large that it is beyond astronomical, but that does not make your doppelganger any less real."* Max Tegmark, "Parallel Universes" Scientific American May 2003, p. 41

    So, now science believes in unseen, unobserved sentient beings in unseen heavens and that is considered science, but when theologians do it, it is considered nutso. seems there is a double standard.

    I would add another broad category. Christians are criticized for believing in angels, because they are unobserved. But unobserved (and unobservable) also applies to the graviton, the axion, the sterile neutrino etc, yet, those things are said to exist (and act of scientific faith) and angiels are said not to exist.

    “Four years ago, Tony Rothman, a physicist at Princeton University was chatting with fellow physicist Freeman Dyson about the elusiveness of gravitons. In fact, gravitons are thought to be so elusive that Dyson wondered whether it was possible to detect one at all. And if gravitons are undetectable, do they really exist?
    Marcus Chown, “The Longest Stake-out,” New Scientist, March 18, 2006, p. 32

    Tony Rothman and Steve Broughan calculated that it would take a detector the size of Jupiter running continuously for 42 million years to get one hit by a graviton. And since that could be a fluke of the equipment, one must run it probably 5x that long to be sure you are actually seeing them. This makes gravitons as undetectable as angels--maybe more so.

    I probably won't stick around to reply to your reply. I can't stand this kind of debate any longer.

    Leave a comment:


  • Boxing Pythagoras
    replied
    Originally posted by shunyadragon View Post
    I believe Lee Smolin is a more articulate philosopher when it comes to science
    I tend to agree.

    Leave a comment:


  • shunyadragon
    replied
    I believe Lee Smolin is a more articulate philosopher when it comes to science, and worthwhile to provide some references on how philosophy can be applied within science. There are the more broader philosophies (worldviews?) such as Metaphysical Naturalism and Theistic Evolution, Lee goes further and addresses the aspects of philosophy within science regardless of the broader world view

    Source: http://arxiv.org/abs/hep-th/0507235



    The aim of this paper is to explain carefully the arguments behind the assertion that the correct quantum theory of gravity must be background independent. We begin by recounting how the debate over whether quantum gravity must be background independent is a continuation of a long-standing argument in the history of physics and philosophy over whether space and time are relational or absolute. This leads to a careful statement of what physicists mean when we speak of background independence. Given this we can characterize the precise sense in which general relativity is a background independent theory. The leading background independent approaches to quantum gravity are then discussed, including causal set models, loop quantum gravity and dynamical triangulations and their main achievements are summarized along with the problems that remain open. Some first attempts to cast string/M theory into a background independent formulation are also mentioned.

    The relational/absolute debate has implications also for other issues such as unification and how the parameters of the standard models of physics and cosmology are to be explained. The recent issues concerning the string theory landscape are reviewed and it is argued that they can only be resolved within the context of a background independent formulation. Finally, we review some recent proposals to make quantum theory more relational.

    © Copyright Original Source



    http://arxiv.org/abs/hep-th/0507235

    Leave a comment:


  • Boxing Pythagoras
    replied
    Originally posted by The Pixie View Post
    Ah, I see. In that case disregard my last post. I thought you meant his philosophy was bad when you said "bad philosophy", not that he did not express it well.
    No worries. I had clarified, in an earlier post to Shunyadragon, that by "philosophy" I was referring to the ability to articulate and support a consistent position, and not to a worldview or set of beliefs; but I think it rather quickly became buried by other posts.

    Leave a comment:


  • The Pixie
    replied
    Originally posted by Boxing Pythagoras View Post
    Not articulating one's propositions well is precisely what I mean when I say "bad philosophy" ...
    Ah, I see. In that case disregard my last post. I thought you meant his philosophy was bad when you said "bad philosophy", not that he did not express it well.

    Leave a comment:


  • The Pixie
    replied
    Originally posted by Boxing Pythagoras View Post
    The quote about the universe creating itself is poor because, as I have said earlier in the thread, the words which Hawking uses in that statement mean precisely the opposite of the sentiment which he intends to convey. Hawking is attempting, by that statement, of giving laymen a description of the implications of his past-unbounded model of spacetime. However, as Hawking is well aware (and as he explicitly states elsewhere in his work) on such a model, the universe is not "created," at all. So, in order to describe a model in which the universe is not created at all, Hawking says that the universe "can and will create itself from nothing."
    Ah, so it is not Hawking's position you are disparaging, rather it is that particular phrase. That is fair enough. but you said before:

    "However, as I've mentioned several times, Hawking is not a philosopher. We have no reason to expect him to have competence in that field. It does not diminish his actual accomplishments or abilities, in the least."

    You cannot say Hawking is offering a bad philosophy because he uses vague definitions if you also admit he explicitly states what he means elsewhere in his work.
    The quote about the universe "creating itself" is not spurious, because it's not even plausible. However, the second example I gave is spurious. The claim that God "would have to act through the laws of physics" is plausible, but has not been demonstrated to be true and stands in direct opposition to the descriptions of God offered by Classical Theology. As Hawking makes this statement without ample support, it is spurious.
    What is the support for the opposing theory, Classical Theology?

    Do you think a philosophical claim should only be advanced if there is good support for it? Can you give a cosmological philosophy that does have "ample support"?
    In the case of the first statement, the word "create" is vague, as I have mentioned. In the case of the second quote, "God" is vague.
    So again it is just that phrase that is bad philosophy, and not Hawking's thinking in general right? As you said, Hawking has been explicit elsewhere.
    Sure! There are plenty. Special and General Relativity, Lamda-CDM, Big Bang Nucleosynthesis, Hubble's Law, et cetera, et cetera. Not sure how that's relevant, though, since my critique of Hawking's philosophical ability has nothing to do with cosmological physics.
    Those all sound like science to me, not philosophy. You said before:

    "That claim is poorly formed, poorly supported, and betrays a thorough ignorance of Classical Theology. That's indicative of poor philosophy."

    I am trying to understand the link from poorly supported to poor philosophy, so I was asking for a philosophy that is well supported. Hawking was discussing cosmology, so it seems reasonable to look at philosophies in that arena.

    To be clear here, my suspicion is that there are none. I think Hawking is speculating about the beginning of the universe, albeit speculation based on our cutting edge understanding of physics, and as such I would guess his speculation is as well supported as any philosophers and rather better than most. However, I invite you to show otherwise.

    Leave a comment:


  • Boxing Pythagoras
    replied
    Originally posted by shunyadragon View Post
    I do not consider Hawking's philosophy 'bad,' nor 'not well supported.' Hawking is simply not a philosopher nor articulate in expressing his philosophy.
    Not articulating one's propositions well is precisely what I mean when I say "bad philosophy" or claim that the proposition is "not well supported."

    Leave a comment:


  • Boxing Pythagoras
    replied
    Originally posted by The Pixie View Post
    But what does that actually mean? Just take the quote about the universe creating itself. How is it poorly founded? What does mean to be "badly founded"?
    The quote about the universe creating itself is poor because, as I have said earlier in the thread, the words which Hawking uses in that statement mean precisely the opposite of the sentiment which he intends to convey. Hawking is attempting, by that statement, of giving laymen a description of the implications of his past-unbounded model of spacetime. However, as Hawking is well aware (and as he explicitly states elsewhere in his work) on such a model, the universe is not "created," at all. So, in order to describe a model in which the universe is not created at all, Hawking says that the universe "can and will create itself from nothing."

    In what way is it spurious? Merely asserting it is is certainly bad philosophy. Tell us what makes it spurious.
    The quote about the universe "creating itself" is not spurious, because it's not even plausible. However, the second example I gave is spurious. The claim that God "would have to act through the laws of physics" is plausible, but has not been demonstrated to be true and stands in direct opposition to the descriptions of God offered by Classical Theology. As Hawking makes this statement without ample support, it is spurious.

    What terms are vaguely defined? We have discussed "nothing"; it is true he uses the term differently to philosophers, are you saying he never states what he means by "nothing"? That would be bad physics as wel as bad philosophy if that is the case.
    In the case of the first statement, the word "create" is vague, as I have mentioned. In the case of the second quote, "God" is vague.

    Can you give an example of a theory in cosmology that is well supported?
    Sure! There are plenty. Special and General Relativity, Lamda-CDM, Big Bang Nucleosynthesis, Hubble's Law, et cetera, et cetera. Not sure how that's relevant, though, since my critique of Hawking's philosophical ability has nothing to do with cosmological physics.

    Leave a comment:

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