Sunday, February 9, 2014

Answer To Snark By An Eminent Person

You mis-attribute motives to me in yesterday's post,  I am indifferent to the existence or non-existence of multiverses, unlike those whose stated motives in inventing the and promoting the belief in them, I'm not foolish enough to fall for their much hoped for ruse that they kill off God.  As soon as the first description of God attributed infinitude to him, in Exodus, I believe, that solved that problem.  As others have pointed out, an infinite God could create infinities of universes, though how you can have more than one UNIverse is a question in itself.

And, in a futile hope in proving to you that your hoped for use of the study of the one and only universe we have even any universe we have evidence of to kill off God, that problem for the believer was solved even earlier in The Book, in the first sentence of Genesis,  "Bereisheet bara Elohim et hashamayim ve'et ha'aretz,"  In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.  God created the universe as it is, as it was and as it becomes.  

What you can overturn is human understanding of that universe, as the geological and genetic record overturns the idea that all living beings were created within several days out of a week, which is a human explanation of things.  It's surprising that hard core, science worshiping folks like you wouldn't understand that overturning human conceptions does nothing to negate the reality of the thing they were mistaken about, isn't that one of your favorite pretenses about science, that it has that as a feature and not a bug?   Only, I don't believe your motives in that are honesty about science or its subject matter but as just another venue of your real goal in this discussion,  mocking religious people and what they think.  Or, rather, what you like to believe we think, that we all think the same thing, for a start.

No, my purpose for bringing up the multiverse brawl between Tegmark and Woit was the example it is of the lapses in your faith, scientism, materialism, and how much of what you mock and slam religious people for, you do yourselves.  Only, as you do it in the promotion of materialism and scientism, two of the great great pillars of faith among the would-be enlightened, modern, educated class, you don't even admit that's what you're doing any more than any of the more benighted writers of the medieval scholastic tradition were aware of the fuller picture of their narrow faith.   

In the Tegmark-Woit smackdown,  it seems to me that Woit is the more orthodox, insisting on their mutual religion living up to its founding principles.  Or, what turn out in practice to be pretended principles.   And I think that in those principles resides much of what is useful about science.   I more agree with Woit, though I think he's kind of a pill and quite clueless in other regards.   I think he is also the smarter of the two.   In that he has been absolutely brilliant in identifying, not only the defects in various strains of opposing materialist theology, string-M-multiverse sects,  but their utter violation of the more basic and, allegedly, agreed to points of faith.   So far Woit seems to me to win on that basis, though it certainly isn't as much fun to go after the crumbs of conventional physics left over from the previous three generations as it is to make up stuff out of nothing.  

About that making stuff up out of nothing.  It is one of the most amusing things about this, for me, to see how atheists among scientists, the ones who spend all of their time mocking the creation account of Genesis,  do exactly the same thing they mock as impossible for a rational person to believe was in the capacity of God. 

These multiverses are, literally, the greatest creation of universes described in human literature, outdoing Genesis by a power of 10500 at least if the Lords of Creation haven't thought bigger by now.  And it's done through, well whatever something that the physicists want to rename "nothing".   In one case it would seem to be that gravity is now the creator God, if not the even more nebulous concept of probability, as I recently wrote.   

Before that it was the enormous creation of dark matter and, then, energy.  That was created in a way that Tegmark cites as the motivation of the creation of multiverses, a faith in the power of vaguely defined assumptions of logic and what those can be forced to do when the equations don't balance or go as far as people needing to publish something in theoretical physics or cosmology desire them to. So perhaps the "modus ponens" is the God of that effort.

And, so as not to be left behind in the creation of stuff, the celebrity atheist biologists are in the act too.  Richard Dawkins and his faithful budget brand Thomas Huxley, Daniel Dennett are eminent magician-priests who are constantly creating genes and the proteins and higher structures derived from those genes as a materialist grounding for their creation myths.  Their creator God who gives them the power to do that is, of course, Natural Selection, the most potent of these atheist gods, having had the most power over human beings, societies and governments of all of them.   You might get kings, governments, and their bosses, the corporations, to build you an even bigger cathedral, uh, super collider, or so I'm reading.   But the god of Natural Selection has been infinitely more potent in commanding resources and sacrifices in human history.  

That is how I see this,  scientists are the modern priesthood of a religion that is materialistic, or, at least, many of the most well known of scientists are.  I recently had a link sent to me of an exchange on the old Eschaton blog, in which what was, obviously, a troll was goading the regulars about their entirely romantic and unrealistic view of science and scientists.  I believe the antagonist was a regular with an assumed identity, not the one I usually suspect but one of the brighter ones who still go there.  I don't think he was a right winger because everything he said was 1. obviously true, 2. accurate.   It's my experience of right-wingers that they can't go that long without lying.   And he really knew the others who can't stand to have the sins of the scientific priesthood pointed out,  the production of atomic weapons, conventional weapons, industrial pollution, dangerous, ineffective pharmacuticals.... I don't remember his exact list.   Even one of the regulars who I like, who is an actual scientist whose identity I know, was enraged that someone was telling the truth about what horrible things so many of his colleagues are paid to do by corporations and governments around the world.   It's been my experience of the scientific priesthood and the simple faithful of the religion of scientism, that they can't tolerate any criticism of their faith anymore than the most fanatical of Biblical Fundamentalists can, they become angry to the point of dishonest irrationality when you bring those things up.  It ended my friendship with several of them.  Only it's the truth.  

If science were not of such proven potency to effect the world, to destroy life on a small or on a universal scale, it would be less urgent to bring to bear the level of critical assessment to it that its apologists claim to be one of its main virtues.  Only, as can be seen everywhere, that is not actually welcomed or even tolerated. It is the rarest of things, to see a scientist St. Francis who goads the conscience of scientists to live up to their professed credo.  I have enormous respect for those few.  I honor them. 


  1. So I'm reading a book on Wittgenstein and Kierkegaard and their philosophical religious thought (I think I mentioned finding it on my blog, but I can't recall. Maybe I never posted that one. That happens a lot.) and it is immediately interesting because Wittgenstein especially is placed in context of his critics who accuse him of fideism and given some really rather rigorous (though limited, to be honest; I don't find the critiques persuasive so much as defensive) examination.

    And it's so refreshing to return to the world of careful thought. Which is my critique of most "scientists". They remind me of lawyers who think, because they know the law or have succeeded in legal careers, that they know quite a bit about everything. When, in fact, they know quite a bit about nothing.

    Humility, as in your example of St. Francis, is the beginning of wisdom.

  2. Humility's the beginning of wisdom? Then I must be the wisest EVER!

  3. Humility's the beginning of wisdom? Then I must be the wisest EVER!

    Proud of that, are you? ;-)

  4. I accept many premises of science because I see it at work: the computer I type on, the light the illuminates at the touch of a switch, the car that starts, goes, stops, starts again.

    But multiverses? I can only accept it by accepting that the mathematics upon which it is based, and which I do not understand, posits such things as real. But does it? If I say "yes," I'm making that claim on faith alone; on the trust that those who report the math leads to such conclusions, are correct.

    On the other hand, all such reports could be as daft as Dawkins in The Selfish Gene. If I apply a modicum of reasoning to the matter, I suspect such reports are.

    Is arguing about the reality and content of multiverses really any different from arguing about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin? Except in that comparison, the latter was never real, and only a fiction, a parodic example of medieval thought created by Renaissance critics of their immediate intellectual forebears.

    I make no comment on the validity of multiverses; only upon most people who talk so blandly about them, while disparaging all religious thought as groundless ignorance based on "blind faith." "Faith" is just trust; all a matter of what you trust, really.

  5. It is remarkable how many of those who create those multiverses talk about their disconfirmation of a creator, which could lead someone to conclude that was their motivation for developing them.

    When I first heard about them and was told that in some of those universes that the very principles of mathematics and logic that were used to create them wouldn't necessarily hold, my question was how you could create a universe out of mathematics that your created universe would contradict. Since it is in the more extreme applications of probability that, as I understand, they base these things, you would think that they would have to explain that paradox of even more fundamental aspects of mathematics being able to do that in other places when it can't do it here. I think this is all what is known as going out on a limb and sawing it off behind you.

    And, as was said, they make the same mistake with their multiverses that they make in this one, they think that the Creator would not have created the universe as it is instead of how people, temporarily, imagine it to be. Considering the ultimate in zig zagging that is the history of cosmology, you'd think they would understand that all of our discourse about the universe is entirely human and entirely temporary. But, no, they like to pretend that the last fifty or eighty years of their science hasn't been what it so obviously has been. It makes you think they don't really care about it. Which, I must admit, I become less and less convinced of as they go on about religion WITHIN WHAT IS ALLEGED TO BE THEIR SCIENTIFIC CONSIDERATIONS.

    I remember reading some popular philosophical essay that said the 20th century was "the age of analysis". I think it was largely the age of the promotion of atheism, that seems to have been the major effort of so much of it. Well, I don't buy it.

  6. But, no, they like to pretend that the last fifty or eighty years of their science hasn't been what it so obviously has been. It makes you think they don't really care about it.

    Makes me think one religion has replaced another,

    1. I think it has and I think the primary motive has been, to turn science into a religious orthodoxy, with an elite based on educational credentials and membership in the kind of social class that Lewontin pointed out comprise the bulk of his and Maynard Smith's range of acquaintance. That is one of the things I respect about Lewontin, he is always honest about things like that, though, as a member of his Vermont town's volunteer fire department, he's not above mixing with real people either.

      I think that snobbery is as big a motive in it as anything, and that snobbery has a distinct regional bias as well as a class bias and one based on having attended elite universities. I see so many who don't actually have those attributes hankering after the same elan, you see them all the time in college towns and in cities like New York and Boston. Clerkes instead of members of the hierarchy. Which is one of the reasons I found Eschaton, ultimately, absurd.