Sunday, May 10, 2015

Tegmark Stubs a TOE

In thinking about, not the absurd ideas Max Tegmark is pushing about consciousness but about his idea that any form that can be mathematically calculated exists in the universe, that it is quite problematic for a lot of his fellow peddlers selling the line of naive materialism, some of them quite well known and working at similar academic institutions.

First is that I'd like to know, mathematics being at least effectively if not actually infinite, how that could achieve verification, there could always be a class of objects that could be calculated which could also not exist, especially in some as of yet unknown and unsuspected form of mathematical relationships.  It would seem to me that ultimate proof of such an idea would require a grand unified theory of mathematics and physics which would never be available.  Though I'd like an explanation of how you could get by that problem.  Even if, as I assume from reading various articles about Tegmark's ideas, he wants to get rid of the idea that mathematics is actually infinte, that still leaves the problem of it being effectively infinite as compared to the entire combined ability of human beings to reach the end of it, and not only us but, let me ask, if it surpasses the ability of all of the combined intelligence in the universe - which our full professors of physics and cosmology don't have and will certainly never have access to.*

The second problem is for that oh, so popular quest for a "theory of everything" within physics and cosmology if all something had to be to exist in the physical universe was to be calculable.  Doesn't the idea expand the problem of coming up with such a complete theory infinitely?   There would always be more forms, more relationships governing those forms, more aspects of those forms that would not be covered by existing theory, etc. ad infinitum.   I would think that the infinite vistas of complexity and detail that are implied by such a proposal would mean that the entirety of human knowledge about the physical universe is less than a drop in the bucket but also of negligible worth, if hankering after completeness is the Holy Grail being sought.   Yes, even that currently most popular item in the hazy reverence of the sci-rangers, the Higgs particle, and its epic of discovery is just  meh.

There is a story that after Thomas Aquinas finished his massive opus, the Summa Theologica  he had a mystical experience which led him to declare that all of his intellectual work was "as straw" compared to what he had experienced.   I, somehow, doubt that such questers as Sean Carroll and the such are going to be content to have their quest reduced to the same status.

*  Yesterday's posts were provoked by the exchange I had with some true believers (and I suspect employees of) the SETI hobby project and the study of "exo or astrobiology".   The blind and naive faith of the sci-rangers can be measured in direct proportion to the blind and naive denial that their faith is faith and, far more so than most of religion, based in wishful thinking.   I mean, there aren't any moral prohibitions on doing what you want to do and being selfish in the Church of Atheist Science.  Its prosperity gospel has less exigent demands than that of the most banal and repulsive TV peddler of the competing product.

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