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That “Inexorable March of Science” Has Finally Reached its Goal

Aristotle explained how objects in the sky move laterally whereas objects here on Earth move vertically, but how did it all start? The philosopher needed his Prime Mover to avoid an infinite regress in motion. The Unmoved Mover initiated motion without any prior motion. Isaac Newton overthrew Aristotle, but while the physicist’s new laws explained cosmic motion, they did not explain how the cosmos originated. For that a Creator was needed. Immanuel Kant provided an early version of how the cosmos could have evolved, but he remained in awe of the moral law within. Charles Darwin explained how the species, including any so-called moral laws, evolved, but how did life begin? Did not the Creator breath to life “a few forms”? In the twentieth century evolutionists explained how life could begin, but cosmologists discovered that the universe itself had a beginning. Did not that mean there was an Initiator? Now finally in the twenty first century cosmologists such as Lawrence Krauss explain how even the universe and its natural laws could have originated. It is the ultimate example of something from nothing.  Read more

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7 Responses to That “Inexorable March of Science” Has Finally Reached its Goal

  1. CH:

    I hear your point, and though I do not wish to get into all the debate points, one thing is central.

    “Something from nothing” is always problematic.

    Now, I know I know, here is Ehtan Siegel of Science Blogs in partnership with Nat Geog, inadvertently illustrating the problem:

    It’s often said that you can’t get something from nothing. And while this may be true for most practical applications of your life, it isn’t true for our physical Universe.

    And I don’t just mean some tiny part of it; I mean all of it. When you take a look at the Universe out there, whether you’re looking at the wonders of this world or all that we can see for billions of light years, it’s hard not to wonder — at some point — where it all came from.

    And so we try to answer it scientifically. In order to do that, we want to start with a scientific definition of nothing. In our nearby Universe, nothing is hard to come by. We are surrounded by matter, radiation, and energy everywhere we look. Even if we blocked it all out — creating a perfect, cold, isolated vacuum — we still wouldn’t have nothing.

    We would still exist in curved spacetime. The very presence of nearby objects with mass or energy distorts the very fabric of the Universe, meaning that if we want to truly achieve a state of physical nothingness, we cannot have anything in our Universe at all.

    Physically, that ideal case would be true nothingness. No matter, no radiation, no energy, no spatial curvature. We can imagine existing in completely empty, void space, infinitely far away from the nearest star, galaxy, atom or photon. The spacetime around us, rather than having curvature to it, would appear as completely flat . . . .

    The only physical freedom that such nothingness could have is the freedom to expand or contract, depending on the nature of this nothingness. Recently, Edward Feser picked on me — among others such as Hawking, but me in particular — for using this scientific definition of nothing. (Which yes, I’m fully aware is not the same as philosophical nothingness, which I explicitly stated in the fourth sentence of the post Feser criticizes.)

    Yet it is a form of this very nothingness that I have just imagined with you that — to the best of our scientific knowledge — the entire Universe is born from, and that it will return to in the distant future.

    Here’s how.

    You removed all the matter, energy, and sources of curvature from your Universe. You are left with empty spacetime. On large scales — where “large” means larger than the size of a subatomic particle like a proton — spacetime indeed looks like that flat grid we referred to earlier. But if you start looking at ever smaller scales, this picture breaks down.

    On the tiniest physical scales — the Planck scale — spacetime isn’t flat at all. Empty space itself vibrates and curves, and there is a fundamental uncertainty in the energy content — at any given time — of nothingness . . .

    See the inadvertent switcheroo?

    A space-time continuum, at whatever scale, is plainly not genuinely nothing.

    But by imagining that — by virtue of wearing the lab coat — one can redefine something as nothing and add an adjectival prefix: physical, one has nothing, one then thinks one can pull a cosmos out of the hat, as if by magic.

    Not so.

    In the relevant sense, nothing is non-being: no matter, energy, space, time, information, mind, ideas, etc. Therefore, no properties or capacities. An empty blackboard, write a zero, then erase it then erase the board and the space in which the board is. (That is the error in the above.)

    Nothingness, classically, is what rocks dream of — as, rocks do not dream.

    Nothing, then, cannot be a credible causal matrix from which something comes.

    That is, if you appeal to a speculative high-energy quantum vacuum in which there are nano-scale fluctuations, that is not nothing. If you appeal to the forces summed up by laws of gravitation etc, that is not nothing.

    Space is not nothing.

    A vacuum is not nothing.

    Nothing is what rocks dream of.

    It is therefore a reasonable first premise of scientific thought, that nothing — non-being — is not a credible appeal as a causal root of being.

    So, we can safely say that if something now is, a cosmos with us in it, something always was, with capacities that can credibly account for a cosmos with us in it.

    Is it some form of matter-energy in space-time, as an eternal entity? That was what was once thought via what was called the Steady State cosmological model.

    It collapsed.

    We are stuck with a cosmos that appears strongly to have had a beginning 10 – 20 BYA.

    That which begins, is contingent, there is some enabling factor that once set allows emergence.

    So, there is something beyond our observed cosmos.

    Oscillating models, inflationary bubbles, etc etc all point to that.

    The issue is, that at that point we are beyond empirical observation, and we have crossed over into philosophy, unannounced and perhaps unrecognised. Which, means that we have no right to exclude any serious alternative, including that it is not merely something beyond, but at root — even through a multiverse — someONE.

    Multiply that by a cosmos that appears fine tuned for C-chemistry, aqueous medium, gated metabolising automaton, molecular nanotech, self replicating, code using cell based life, and we have some relevant empirical facts that point to contrivance.

    Not of some small thing, but of a whole universe.

    No wonder, Sir Fred Hoyle went on record:

    Once we see that life is cosmic it is sensible to suppose that intelligence is cosmic. Now problems of order, such as the sequences of amino acids in the chains which constitute the enzymes and other proteins, are precisely the problems that become easy once a directed intelligence enters the picture, as was recognised long ago by James Clerk Maxwell in his invention of what is known in physics as the Maxwell demon. The difference between an intelligent ordering, whether of words, fruit boxes, amino acids, or the Rubik cube, and merely random shufflings can be fantastically large, even as large as a number that would fill the whole volume of Shakespeare’s plays with its zeros. So if one proceeds directly and straightforwardly in this matter, without being deflected by a fear of incurring the wrath of scientific opinion, one arrives at the conclusion that biomaterials with their amazing measure or order must be the outcome of intelligent design. No other possibility I have been able to think of in pondering this issue over quite a long time seems to me to have anything like as high a possibility of being true.” [[Evolution from Space (The Omni Lecture[ --> Jan 12th 1982]), Enslow Publishers, 1982, pg. 28.]

    From 1953 onward, Willy Fowler and I have always been intrigued by the remarkable relation of the 7.65 MeV energy level in the nucleus of 12 C to the 7.12 MeV level in 16 O. If you wanted to produce carbon and oxygen in roughly equal quantities by stellar nucleosynthesis, these are the two levels you would have to fix, and your fixing would have to be just where these levels are actually found to be. Another put-up job? . . . I am inclined to think so. A common sense interpretation of the facts suggests that a super intellect has “monkeyed” with the physics as well as the chemistry and biology, and there are no blind forces worth speaking about in nature. [F. Hoyle, Annual Review of Astronomy and Astrophysics, 20 (1982): 16]

    The big problem in biology, as I see it, is to understand the origin of the information carried by the explicit structures of biomolecules. The issue isn’t so much the rather crude fact that a protein consists of a chain of amino acids linked together in a certain way, but that the explicit ordering of the amino acids endows the chain with remarkable properties, which other orderings wouldn’t give. The case of the enzymes is well known . . . If amino acids were linked at random, there would be a vast number of arrange-ments that would be useless in serving the pur-poses of a living cell. When you consider that a typical enzyme has a chain of perhaps 200 links and that there are 20 possibilities for each link,it’s easy to see that the number of useless arrangements is enormous, more than the number of atoms in all the galaxies visible in the largest telescopes. This is for one enzyme, and there are upwards of 2000 of them, mainly serving very different purposes. So how did the situation get to where we find it to be? This is, as I see it, the biological problem – the information problem . . . .

    I was constantly plagued by the thought that the number of ways in which even a single enzyme could be wrongly constructed was greater than the number of all the atoms in the universe. So try as I would, I couldn’t convince myself that even the whole universe would be sufficient to find life by random processes – by what are called the blind forces of nature . . . . By far the simplest way to arrive at the correct sequences of amino acids in the enzymes would be by thought, not by random processes . . . .

    Now imagine yourself as a superintellect working through possibilities in polymer chemistry. Would you not be astonished that polymers based on the carbon atom turned out in your calculations to have the remarkable properties of the enzymes and other biomolecules? Would you not be bowled over in surprise to find that a living cell was a feasible construct? Would you not say to yourself, in whatever language supercalculating intellects use: Some supercalculating intellect must have designed the properties of the carbon atom, otherwise the chance of my finding such an atom through the blind forces of nature would be utterly minuscule. Of course you would, and if you were a sensible superintellect you would conclude that the carbon atom is a fix . . . .

    I do not believe that any physicist who examined the evidence could fail to draw the inference that the laws of nuclear physics have been deliberately designed with regard to the consequences they produce within stars. [["The Universe: Past and Present Reflections." Engineering and Science, November, 1981. pp. 8–12]

    It is time for us to rethink.

    KF

  2. PS: Feser’s comment on the concepts restated in the clip from Segal.

  3. oops; Ethan.

  4. In the following video, Anton Zeilinger, arguably the best experimentalist in quantum physics today, goes over the double slit experiment with Morgan Freeman:

    Quantum Mechanics (QM) – Double Slit Experiment. Is anything really physical? (Prof. Anton Zeilinger) – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ayvbKafw2g0

    In the preceding video Dr. Zeilinger states:

    “The path taken by the photon is not an element of reality. We are not allowed to talk about the photon passing through this or this slit. Neither are we allowed to say the photon passed through both slits. All this kind of language is not applicable.”

    Of course, all this ‘quantum weirdness’ is revealed to us by physicists trying to explain why the wave collapses in the double slit experiment simply by us simply observing it. Materialist, of course, are at a complete loss to explain why conscious observation should have any effect at all on material reality. Whereas the Theist is quite comfortable with consciousness having a central role in the experiment. But rather than the mainstream atheists/materialists accepting falsification for their worldview from the double slit experiment, they invented the unverifiable many worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics to try to ‘explain it away’. A view of reality that drives atheistic naturalism even further into epistemological failure than it already was and is (Boltzmann’s Brain; Plantinga’s EAAN). To make it even worse for materialists, further advances in the experimental techniques of Quantum Mechanics, experimentation which, by the way, could care less if the atheist is able to maintain his prior worldview or not, have only dramatically underscored this ‘weirdness’ that is highlighted by the double slit experiment:

    Quantum physics says goodbye to reality – Apr 20, 2007
    Excerpt: They found that, just as in the realizations of Bell’s thought experiment, Leggett’s inequality is violated – thus stressing the quantum-mechanical assertion that reality does not exist when we’re not observing it. “Our study shows that ‘just’ giving up the concept of locality would not be enough to obtain a more complete description of quantum mechanics,” Aspelmeyer told Physics Web. “You would also have to give up certain intuitive features of realism.”
    http://physicsworld.com/cws/article/news/27640

    A team of physicists in Vienna has devised experiments that may answer one of the enduring riddles of science: Do we create the world just by looking at it? – 2008
    Excerpt: So Zeilinger’s group rederived Leggett’s theory for a finite number of measurements. There were certain directions the polarization would more likely face in quantum mechanics. This test was more stringent. In mid-2007 Fedrizzi found that the new realism model was violated by 80 orders of magnitude; the group was even more assured that quantum mechanics was correct.
    http://seedmagazine.com/conten....._tests/P3/

    Lecture 11: Decoherence and Hidden Variables – Scott Aaronson
    Excerpt: “Look, we all have fun ridiculing the creationists who think the world sprang into existence on October 23, 4004 BC at 9AM (presumably Babylonian time), with the fossils already in the ground, light from distant stars heading toward us, etc. But if we accept the usual picture of quantum mechanics, then in a certain sense the situation is far worse: the world (as you experience it) might as well not have existed 10^-43 seconds ago!”
    http://www.scottaaronson.com/democritus/lec11.html

    As well, as with any robust theory of science, there are several different ways consciousness is confirmed to be ‘central’ to reality by quantum mechanics:

    Four intersecting lines of experimental evidence from quantum mechanics that shows that consciousness precedes material reality (Wigner’s Quantum Symmetries, Wheeler’s Delayed Choice, Leggett’s Inequalities, Quantum Zeno effect):
    https://docs.google.com/document/d/1G_Fi50ljF5w_XyJHfmSIZsOcPFhgoAZ3PRc_ktY8cFo/edit

    There are several other lines of evidence for QM omitted for the sake of brevity. But to the main point, besides all this evidence being completely contrary the atheist’s/materialist’s starting philosophical presuppositions, it is interesting to note just how tightly all this evidence fits into the Theist’s starting philosophical presuppositions. For prime example:

    The argument from motion is known as Aquinas’ First way. (Of note, St Thomas Aquinas lived from 1225 to 7 March 1274.)

    Aquinas’ First Way – (The First Mover – Unmoved Mover) – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qmpw0_w27As

    Aquinas’ First Way
    1) Change in nature is elevation of potency to act.
    2) Potency cannot actualize itself, because it does not exist actually.
    3) Potency must be actualized by another, which is itself in act.
    4) Essentially ordered series of causes (elevations of potency to act) exist in nature.
    5) An essentially ordered series of elevations from potency to act cannot be in infinite regress, because the series must be actualized by something that is itself in act without the need for elevation from potency.
    6) The ground of an essentially ordered series of elevations from potency to act must be pure act with respect to the casual series.
    7) This Pure Act– Prime Mover– is what we call God.
    http://egnorance.blogspot.com/.....t-way.html

    Or to put it much more simply:

    “The ‘First Mover’ is necessary for change occurring at each moment.”
    Michael Egnor – Aquinas’ First Way
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....first.html

  5. As well, not only is motion dependent on a “Prime Act”, i.e. on a ‘first mover’, but quantum non locality provides empirical confirmation for the ancient philosophical argument for ‘being’, for ‘existence’ itself!

    ‘Quantum Magic’ Without Any ‘Spooky Action at a Distance’ – June 2011
    Excerpt: A team of researchers led by Anton Zeilinger at the University of Vienna and the Institute for Quantum Optics and Quantum Information of the Austrian Academy of Sciences used a system which does not allow for entanglement, and still found results which cannot be interpreted classically.
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/re.....111942.htm

    Zeilinger Group – Photons run out of loopholes – April 15, 2013
    Excerpt: A team led by the Austrian physicist Anton Zeilinger has now carried out an experiment with photons, in which they have closed an important loophole. The researchers have thus provided the most complete experimental proof that the quantum world is in conflict with our everyday experience.
    http://vcq.quantum.at/research.....s/419.html

    Aquinas’ Third way – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V030hvnX5a4

    God Is the Best Explanation For Why Anything At All Exists – William Lane Craig – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TjuqBxg_5mA

    As a Theist, finding Quantum Mechanics to fit hand in glove to what was postulated centuries before in philosophy is, of course, something to be very excited about. But even as someone who tries to be unbiased, a person who believes in the objectivity of science to reveal truth to us about reality, I can only wonder as to what sinister motive would drive a atheist, who claims to believe in ‘rationality’ over and against superstition, to fight so hard against what has become so obvious from our science?

    To continue on, even though Quantum Mechanics takes precedence over the space-time of General Relativity as to being a more complete description of reality,,,

    LIVING IN A QUANTUM WORLD – Vlatko Vedral – 2011
    Excerpt: Thus, the fact that quantum mechanics applies on all scales forces us to confront the theory’s deepest mysteries. We cannot simply write them off as mere details that matter only on the very smallest scales. For instance, space and time are two of the most fundamental classical concepts, but according to quantum mechanics they are secondary. The entanglements are primary. They interconnect quantum systems without reference to space and time. If there were a dividing line between the quantum and the classical worlds, we could use the space and time of the classical world to provide a framework for describing quantum processes. But without such a dividing line—and, indeed, with­out a truly classical world—we lose this framework. We must ex­plain space and time (4D space-time) as somehow emerging from fundamental­ly spaceless and timeless physics.
    http://phy.ntnu.edu.tw/~chchan.....611038.pdf

    ,,,It seems that most Atheists, at least the ones I’ve interacted with, will not even accept the overwhelming substantiating evidence for Theism which is coming from looking at the space-time of the universe itself:

    “All the evidence we have says that the universe had a beginning.” -
    Cosmologist Alexander Vilenkin of Tufts University in Boston – paper delivered at Stephen Hawking’s 70th birthday party (Characterized as ‘Worst Birthday Present Ever’)
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....beginning/

    And as with the First Mover argument, philosophy had also reasoned, centuries before a beginning of the universe was even discovered, that the universe must have a beginning, or a ‘Uncaused Cause’, to explain why it came into being,,

    William Lane Craig – Hilbert’s Hotel – The Absurdity Of An Infinite Regress Of ‘Things’ – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/3994011/

    Time Cannot Be Infinite Into The Past – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xg0pdUvQdi4

    Not Understanding Nothing – A review of A Universe from Nothing – Edward Feser – June 2012
    Excerpt: A critic might reasonably question the arguments for a divine first cause of the cosmos. But to ask “What caused God?” misses the whole reason classical philosophers thought his existence necessary in the first place. So when physicist Lawrence Krauss begins his new book by suggesting that to ask “Who created the creator?” suffices to dispatch traditional philosophical theology, we know it isn’t going to end well. ,,,
    ,,, But Krauss simply can’t see the “difference between arguing in favor of an eternally existing creator versus an eternally existing universe without one.” The difference, as the reader of Aristotle or Aquinas knows, is that the universe changes while the unmoved mover does not, or, as the Neoplatonist can tell you, that the universe is made up of parts while its source is absolutely one; or, as Leibniz could tell you, that the universe is contingent and God absolutely necessary. There is thus a principled reason for regarding God rather than the universe as the terminus of explanation.
    http://www.firstthings.com/art.....ng-nothing

    And please note the Philosophical arguments, and scientific discoveries, were made independent of statements made in the Bible:

    “The best data we have [concerning the Big Bang] are exactly what I would have predicted, had I nothing to go on but the five books of Moses, the Psalms, the bible as a whole.”
    Dr. Arno Penzias, Nobel Laureate in Physics – co-discoverer of the Cosmic Background Radiation – as stated to the New York Times on March 12, 1978

  6. Music and verses:

    Third Day – Creed – Acoustic
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mxEFqjH9G9Y

    REVELATION 4:11
    “You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.”

    Genesis 1:1
    In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

    John 1:1
    In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

    Supplemental notes:

    the quest to find a ‘theory of everything’, i.e. to find a unification between General Relativity and Quantum Mechanics:
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-454084

  7. 7
    Chance Ratcliff

    OT: On today’s irony update, we discuss how the goose-stepping methods of Jerry Coyne and PZ Myers demonstrate their dogmatism by successfully calling for the censorship of Rupert Sheldrake’s TED Talk on the subject of dogmatism in science. The punchline: the subject of the TEDx Talks series was about challenging existing paradigms.

    Alex Tsakiris: The irony of this is, if not hilarious, certainly inescapable. A reputable Cambridge biologist publishes a book claiming science is dogmatic. He’s then censored by an anonymous scientific board. You can’t script that any better. What does this say about how science can be dogmatic without even realizing it’s dogmatic?

    The Skeptico discussion between Rupert Sheldrake and Alex Tsakiris: 207. Rupert Sheldrake Censored by TED Conference’s Anonymous Scientific Board

    Rupert Sheldrake’s censored TEDx Talk

    Science Set Free: 10 Paths to New Discovery – Rupert Sheldrake

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