20071024

Big Bang Theory, Creationism, Deloria, and Capra

"The Scientific Worldview" is what you get when you use infinity as one of your consuponible fundamental assumptions. It implies that the universe is infinite in extent and eternal, without a beginning and without an end--the opposite of today's absurd assumption that the universe exploded out of nothing. The Big Bang Theory is a creationist theory despite what the conventional wisdom claims. Thus I am with Vine Deloria and Fritjof Capra in observing that many of the assumptions used by today's scientists have much in common with religion. The BBT is part and parcel of the religious milieu within which it evolved. But as I showed in "The Ten Assumptions of Science" (2004) (also as chapter 3 in TSW), many of the the religious assumptions that Deloria and Capra favor are the opposites of deterministic scientific assumptions that make more logical sense. We really don't need "spiritual values" to have respect for the earth--we just need to take good care of it. It is, after all, our home.

Ref:

Capra, Fritjof, 1975, The tao of physics: An exploration of the parallels between modern physics and Eastern mysticism: New York, Bantam Books, 332 p.

Deloria, Jr., Vine, 1988, Custer died for your sins: An Indian manifesto: Norman, University of Oklahoma Press, 278 p.

12 comments:

googlymoogly said...

"We really don't need "spiritual values" to have respect for the earth--we just need to take good care of it. It is, after all, our home."

But the word "need" is a social construct. It implies a moral imperative. Even if Free Will is denied, it implies that with our "feeling of freedom" we OUGHT to do one thing rather than another. But without spiritual value, OUGHT is convention and habit, nothing more. It has no intrinsic meaning. The only thing that exists for materialism is deterministic law that regulates matter.

Thus, by the standards of the Scientific Worldview, we ought not to do anything; we are merely conditioned to want to out of necessity.

It's also intriguing that you compare the Big Bang theory to religion. Religion is under the genus Dogma. You steadfastly maintain that the universe is infinite in size and age; you refuse to not believe it. There is no debate for you; it simply is true. This, itself, is dogmatic. It's not a testable hypothesis, and the evidence for your belief is outweighed by a lot of evidence against it.

While your belief might not be spiritual, it is equally inflexible and unverifiable.

Glenn Borchardt said...

I see no difference between "spiritual values," which have evolved and convention, habit and the idea of "nothing more," which also have evolved. The fact remains that evolution causes us to learn from experience no matter what you call it. By the standards of TSW we should do everything. Knowing the causes of effects makes us more powerful. Through UD we can change the world to make it better than it currently is. We can get rid of extreme poverty, war, and crime, not because of "spiritual values," but because that is what we prefer.

The Big Bang Theory is based on the assumption of creation. Its opposite, conservation, assumes that matter and the motion of matter neither can be created nor destroyed (also known as the First Law of Thermodynamics). Both creation and conservation are assumptions, which like determinism or indeterminism can never be completely proven without a doubt. This is why we are having this debate. I have chosen conservation and clearly show in TSW how this is consuponible with infinity. Most people have no opinion on these one way or the other. Choosing one or the other, however, leads to a conscious logical foundation for the analysis that completes the book. You are right that I no longer entertain creationist ideas. For me, conservation is a settled question that lets me advance beyond the elementary philosophical debates such as this one.

googlymoogly said...

It is out of convenience that you consider the question "settled," and it's a loaded qualifier to call the debate "elementary." The determinism/indeterminism dialectic has kept the Western mind busy for over 2000 years. I'm sure it will do so for another 2000. If you choose one side, that's all well and good, but you're actually leaving behind serious philosophy, which only entertains the most general subjects.

The basis of Univironmental Determinism, as expressed in your 300+ page book, lacks the logical rigor of a Kant or Sartre. It's more like a "gentleman's philosophy," akin to the aphorisms of Cicero or Caesar... certainly not on the order of Aristotle. If we dissect your assumptions, we determine that many of them are not really consupponible, that in fact holding them all is illogical and self-contradictory. You make a good practical argument, your pragmatic edge is superb, but the real underlying basis for your beliefs just doesn't cut it.

Glenn Borchardt said...

I totally agree that the determinism-indeterminism debate has occupied the species for millenia and will continue to do so in the future. Instead of spending all their waking time joining the debate, people assume either determinism or indeterminism and get on with their lives. That is exactly what I did.

That does not mean that the debate is pointless, just as the atheism-theism debate is not pointless. It still is a wonderful tool for teaching youngsters about determinism and atheism, which necessarily must be done over and over again. We are not born knowing that "there are causes for all effects."

I find "serious philosophy" to be little more than sophistry in the service of religion. Much of its logic begins with assumptions that I no longer hold. Those assumptions certainly are not any more consupponible than "The Ten Assumptions of Science." At least since 1940 when Collingwood (an indeterminist) brought forth the challenge, no indeterministic philosopher has succeeded in coming up with a set of consupponible assumptions as a foundation for indeterminism. That is simply because it can't be done. One of Collingwood's criteria was that each unprovable assumption must not be derivable from any of the other assumptions. In an infinite universe, this is impossible. So I have used Collingwood's suggestion loosely, just as I have used his demand for non-contradiction loosely. Strictly speaking, only imagined identities have no contradictions. Nevertheless, I find the ten assumptions to be a solid foundation for scientific philosophy, which like our scientific practice, must eschew any hint of religion.

googlymoogly said...

You shoot yourself in the foot. If indeterminism is contradictory, and if your system is also contradictory, because nothing except imagined categories are contradictory, then your system is no better than any other (in a PURE sense). And because you make a gross generalization that pure philosophy is sophistry in defense of religion (ignoring the fact that many serious philosophers, like Sartre and Marx, were atheists), you're essentially begging the question.

The only way you can argue your philosophy's validity is from a PRACTICAL sense.

But I would argue that it's also impractical. Take a good look at the citation index at PubMed. Or serious journals in physics and chemistry. Their assumptions--Darwinian evolution, the Big Bang, the Heisenberg Uncertainy Principle, universal Entropy to name a few--are empirically valid, whereas yours are not.

You're stradling a fence. You're trying to be better than serious philosophy by arguing the practical and you're acting better than science because supposedly your assumptions are more philosophically sound. But rather than bridging them, you've sacrificed the quality of both.

You should just rename your philosophy "Borchardtism" and scrap the idea of objectivity altogether.

Glenn Borchardt said...

You wrote: "because nothing except imagined categories are contradictory"

I wrote: "only imagined identities have no contradictions"

I brought up "imagined" in the discussion, because, according to the Ninth Assumption of Science, relativism, identities do not exist in nature. Even Collingwood, the idealist, only called for a minimum of contraction within any particular constellation of assumptions.

Sartre, although an atheist, was clearly an indeterminist, with his overbearing "freewill." Marx, although an atheist, probably was a determinist, but not explicitly so. Engels, as quoted in TSW, was adamantly opposed to determinism. Spinoza was a determinist, but not an atheist. My claim is that we need to leave the "eternal debate" behind in order to make philosophical progress.

Darwinian evolution was replaced long ago by neo-Darwinism (genes + natural selection) as the official mechanism of evolution. Because it considers only biology, it is a special case of the general mechanism of evolution: Univironmental Determinism (UD), which states that whatever happens to a portion of the universe is determined by the interaction between the infinite matter in motion within and the infinite matter in motion without. So obviously, I am opposed to the Big Bang Theory as being unverifiable indeterministic nonsense violating the Fifth Assumption of Science, conservation, on the grand scale. The primary so-called "empirical" support for the BBT involves the galactic red shift, which assumes that light can travel 13.7 billion light years without anything happening to it other than the Doppler Effect. This so-called "evidence" for the BBT eventually will be rejected as an indicator of universal expansion.

The Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle, of course, had deterministic (Bohm) and indeterministic (Copenhagen) interpretations. With the Third Assumption of Science, uncertainty, I demonstrated the implied consupponibility of Bohm's infinite universal causality (the Second Assumption of Science: all effects have an infinite number of causes) and Bohm's view of uncertainty (The Third Assumption of Science: It is impossible to know everything about anything, but it is possible to know more about anything).

"Universal Entropy," as you call it refers to the Second Law of Thermodynamics (SLT), which states that the entropy or "disorder" of an isolated system can only increase. This restatement of Newton's First Law of Motion has been applied without fail in the only way it could be: to semi-isolated systems. Like Newton's First Law, it is "universally" applicable to all systems within the universe. The only way it could be "universal" in the grand sense would be with an assumed finite universe. When we assume that the universe is infinite, then the SLT becomes a law of departure and its complement becomes a law of arrival. In other words, The Sixth Assumption of Science, complementarity (all things are subject to divergence and convergence from other things) then applies instead. Similarly, we replace "unless" in Newton's First Law with "until." Both laws simply are laws describing the motion of matter in an infinite universe with construction occurring as things come together and destruction occurring when they come apart.

Some of these suggested changes may have little practical significance, but they have enormous philosophical importance. Most people (being religiously inclined) may not be disturbed by the claim that the universe exploded out of nothing. That such an absurd theory is promulgated by otherwise intelligent mathematicians in the name of science is a sure sign that a revolution is needed. Following Collingwood and Kuhn, I simply went back to fundamentals to see where we went wrong. That I am not a cosmologist, physicist, or mathematician should not be surprising for those who have read Kuhn. It will be much too embarrassing, and certainly not financially rewarding for those folks to admit their mistakes. The Big Bangers, like my friends who fought plate tectonics to the bitter end, simply will become irrelevant. They will be replaced by youngsters who have learned "to think outside the box" well enough to rid humanity of the last vestige of the pre-Copernican worldview. After reading TSW, they will do well to take a good look at some anti-BBT books such as those by Lerner and Mitchel to develop the necessary skepticism.

Refs:

Bohm, David, 1957, Causality and chance in modern physics: New York, Harper and Brothers, 170 p.

Collingwood, R.G., 1940, An essay on metaphysics: Oxford, Clarendon Press, 354 p.

Engels, Frederick, 1925, Dialectics of nature: Moscow, Progress, 403 p.

Kuhn, T.S., 1996, The structure of scientific revolutions (3 ed.): Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 212 p.

Books opposing the BBT:

Lerner, E.J., 1991, The Big Bang never happened: New York, Random House, 466 p.

Mitchel, W.C., 2002, Bye bye big bang: Hello reality: Carson City, NV, Common Sense Books, 448 p.

googlymoogly said...

The expression "think outside the box" is a culturally-conditioned knee-jerk catch phrase used by independently-minded intellectuals to justify their non-conformity. There's nothing wrong with that, but there's also nothing intrinsically admirable about it.

The trouble is this: All the reasons you gave to defend your theory were from inside of a box--your box, UD. Because you have barricaded yourself behind assumptions, you can say whatever you wish.

I don't believe in owning any dogma completely. Indeed, nothing just "is." But if we take your approach, to think outside the box and be free of dogma, this includes the dogma of your philosophical system. To simply say, "The universe is infinite, and there's no debate" is obviously dogmatic. We need a Socratean atmosphere if we're truly to think outside the box. That's the point of philosophy. If it were monolithic, like most organized religions, it wouldn't be philosophy anymore.

Hence, there's nothing that needs to "be put back on track." Your contribution, UD as you call it (although I think someone else gave you that abbreviation), is intriguing. But it's no more valid than anything else.

On the other hand, if you want to talk science, you need to accept where the evidence is. Currently, the evidence we have supports the Big Bang. True, the evidence could be wrong. The universe could be infinite. But the opposing picture--that the universe is infinite--has much less, if any, evidence. Tired light theory has very little, if any, hard evidence. If one day it's shown to be true, then I'll believe it. But I'm not going to just "assume" something in science. If evidence accumulates, THEN I'll believe the universe is infinite. Until then, I'm going to trust where the evidence lies.

Glenn Borchardt said...

There is plenty of evidence that the universe is infinite. For example, there are more than 100 billion galaxies each with more than 100 billion stars. Isn't that pretty close? Nevertheless, we can never know without a doubt whether the universe is infinite or finite. It will always be an assumption that, in a truly infinite universe, must be used as a logical starting point. The absolutism demanded by the indeterminists is not possible. As I pointed out in TTAOS and in Part Two of TSW, we need to begin with consupponible assumptions and follow the logic. This is truly dogmatic, but by admitting that the starting point is "only" an assumption, we reserve the right to begin again with some different assumption that we hope will produce an even better story.

Read the anti-big bang books to see how flimsy the "evidence" for the BBT is. As I mentioned, the Big Bangers, for example, expect us to believe that light could travel 13.7 billion light years without anything happening to it. Scientists know that this is impossible. Nothing goes anywhere without something else happening to it. All wave motion is red-shifted over distance as part of its motion is absorbed by the medium. The only way Einstein could hypothesize this "immaculate" behavior of light was to assume that it passes through completely empty space. But the evidence for completely empty space is nonexistent. There is no such thing. No one has ever succeeded in obtaining an absolute vacuum. In addition to all the various dust particles, atoms, and ions found in intergalactic space, we now have evidence for cosmic background radiation (CBR) at 2.7K. This is still another proof of the existence of the ether (that Einstein denied based on the poor methodology used in the Michelson-Morley experiment). See p. 202 in TSW and Stephan Gift's recent work on the orbit of Io around Jupiter showing good evidence for the ether. The Big Bangers lay claim to the CBR as "evidence" even though it proves that space certainly is not empty, at least when CBR is going through it, which is all the time.

What I mean by going "outside the box" is that we need to look at all the evidence, pro and con, for major theories and philosophical pronouncements. Today, the greatest dogmatists are believers in the BBT, with the media and the public lapping it up. Everything is upside down. The Big Bangers are the ones claiming that the universe exploded out of nothing and us skeptics supposedly are the ones with the strange ideas!

googlymoogly said...

The existence of ether, as you call it, does not necessarily go against the Big Bang theory. A billion billion galaxies is not close enough to infinity. It's only 10 raised to the 18th power. That's big, but it's the number zero compared to infinity. Truly appreciating what infinity means is impossible for the human mind. It's utterly incomprehensible. The best we can do is write a sideways 8 and think about really, really big things. Also, it should be pointed out that "scientists" are the ones who devised the Big Bang theory as well. Scientists are as heterogeneous a group as any. All scientists, in the practice of their field, ought to be a little skeptical.

Galactic redshift is just one piece of evidence for the Big Bang. No one can reasonably state that the universe exploded out of "Nothing," only that, at one time, all of the matter and energy in what we call the universe (i.e., what we can measure) was once concentrated in a very small space. It may not have actually been "nothing," and some have postulated a Planck Time in which space and time were indeterminate and gravity did not exist.

Few, if anyone, believes that space is empty. Obviously, there is a probability density function governing hydrogen atoms. The extent to which individual atoms of hydrogen and helium alter light is not sufficient to explain galactic redshift. Indeed, red shift does not occur by interaction with particles. As a propagating wave, the frequency never changes. Rather, the amplitude dims. Dimming of amplitude definitely occurs; after all, the stars would blind us if it didn't. But their wavelengths are constant.

In fact, due to Rayleigh scattering, shorter wavelength light is more intrinsically visible over distances. This is why mountains look blue in the distance and then appear green as you come closer. Monochromatic light, if scattered by prismatic material, will favor blue wavelengths. To actually observe red wavelengths is a very good indication that the light source is moving away. And due to the velocity of light, it indicates that the object if moving away very, very fast. That the vast majority of galaxies are red-shifted, moreover, fits well with Einstien's idea of spacetime.

Thus, even if it's ultimately wrong, the theory is supported by many lines of evidence.

Indeterminists should not be lumped together as they are in your book. There is nothing that equates indeterminism with absolute knowledge, immaterialism, or anything of the sort. Moreover, there are many determinists who would be offended to think that you are their representative... if for no other reason, because they have their own spin on things.

Whether the universe has a radius that equals infinity is not so important. The human imagination is infinite. That's what makes all of this possible. That's all that really matters.

Glenn Borchardt said...

"The existence of ether, as you call it, does not necessarily go against the Big Bang theory."

The BBT is predicated on the treatment of light as a wave-particle traveling through completely empty space. AE was ambivalent on the ether, which he accepted at times, and denied at other times. At the end, he assumed that space was an "immaterial field." In my view, this is the same as completely empty space which can only be imagined and has never been found anywhere.

"A billion billion galaxies..." I have read estimates of 10 to the 23rd power for the number of stars observed (100 billion stars in a trillion gallaxies). This is close enough to infinity for me.

"No one can reasonably state that the universe exploded out of "Nothing," only that, at one time, all of the matter and energy in what we call the universe (i.e., what we can measure) was once concentrated in a very small space. It may not have actually been "nothing," and some have postulated a Planck Time in which space and time were indeterminate and gravity did not exist."
All this assumes the universe is finite. Space always contains matter. Time is the motion of matter. Time does not exist; time occurs.

"Few, if anyone, believes that space is empty." I wish this were true.

"As a propagating wave, the frequency never changes." I disagree, everything changes. Because waves cannot increase their energy by themselves, they can only lose energy and thus have lower frequency over distance.

"That the vast majority of galaxies are red-shifted, moreover, fits well with Einstien's idea of spacetime." This is exactly my point. Without "spacetime," the treatment of time (motion) as a 4th dimension, the BBT would not be viable.

"Thus, even if it's ultimately wrong, the theory is supported by many lines of evidence." To be "ultimately wrong," a theory must be see as misinterpreting the evidence.

"Indeterminists should not be lumped together as they are in your book. There is nothing that equates indeterminism with absolute knowledge, immaterialism, or anything of the sort." In studying hundreds of indeterminists, I have to agree with you that there is a great inconsistency in their thinking. For example, one will claim to be a materialist and then use the idea of "matterless motion" in his analysis. This is because indeterministic thought does not require a logical basis. If it did, most religions would disappear at once.

"Moreover, there are many determinists who would be offended to think that you are their representative... if for no other reason, because they have their own spin on things." Correct. Classical determinists, although materialists to a great degree, believed in finity--the opposite of my assumption of microcosmic and macrocosm infinity. Following Newton, they claimed that finite equations could produce complete descriptions of the world. As I show in TSW, this idea was obsolete just as soon as the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle was devised. Even then, classical determinists used finity to interpret uncertainty.

"Whether the universe has a radius that equals infinity is not so important. The human imagination is infinite." I agree that the imagination is infinite--a clear indication that the universe is infinite as well. I do not agree that it is not important to correctly view the universe as infinite. Your claim is in tune with pre-Copernican philosophy that also saw Earth as the center of all that exists. The BBT has more data to work with, but the philosophical twist is the same. Eventually, the BBT will be overthrown and we will overcome all remnants of pre-Copernican thinking. The acceptance of the universe as infinite and all that it implies will be a crucial part of the maturation of humanity during the 21st Century.

aja said...

The trouble with any "isms" is that it is limiting. We cannot know the nature of things for sure in our current level of thinking and technology, but I do support thinking outside the box in order to reach closer to inventing the technology and ideaology needed to seek answers to these universal dilemmas. Endless arguments over wording ultimatley takes energy that might otherwise be used to explore the universe using different paradigms. We can't get away from "beliefs" because we are subjective creatures. We test those beliefs using scientific method.
I agree that our "answers" as such, certainly at this stage, are all subjective, for we perceive everything through our subjective perception, and in some instances may influence scientific results (or certainly their 'interpretation'). Some of this energy might be better invested in solving famines and poverty.
Meanwhile, the scientific method is the best we have so far to test out theories, for theories they still are. It has many failings because, for example, that testing is stressful and can affect the performance of, say, psychics under investigation by parapsychologists. In that case, I find there's proof in the pudding - make the predictions in a "reading" and wait to see if they come true...many people who use psychics in such fashion will atest to their level of accuracy.(Then it might be argued that foreknowledge helped the event come to pass; I disagreee, having seen many instances of psi-prediction coming true later on, even when the initial prediction seemed like a paltry and insignificant little piece of information like a symbol or somesuch.) ...Aja ( a couch philosopher and psychic).

Glenn Borchardt said...

“The trouble with any "isms" is that it is limiting.”


That, of course, is exactly the point of science. As scientists, we aim to limit the possibilities by observing and experimenting. Thus, for instance, we predict that salt crystals will dissolve when we add water. Determinism, the assumption that all effects have causes, is an absolute necessity for science. Don’t be afraid of “isms,” just make sure you choose the correct ones.


“We cannot know the nature of things for sure in our current level of thinking and technology…”


I agree. According to the third assumption of science, uncertainty, it is impossible to know everything about anything, but it is possible to know more about anything. Those who claim to know “the nature of things for sure,” are using the assumption of certainty, which is one of the mainstays of indeterminism (and of classical determinism, based on the associated assumption of finity).


“Endless arguments over wording ultimatley takes energy that might otherwise be used to explore the universe using different paradigms.”


I agree to some extent. That is why I have left the determinism-free will debate to others. By choosing determinism, I can get on with the logical train that produced “The Scientific Worldview,” removing so many “dilemmas” and “paradoxes” in the process. On the other hand, the debate over words often reveals the fundamental assumptive choices that are being made.



“We can't get away from "beliefs" because we are subjective creatures. We test those beliefs using scientific method. I agree that our "answers" as such, certainly at this stage, are all subjective…”


We need beliefs because the universe is infinite and we have to start somewhere. To the degree that we interact with the external world, our answers leave the realm of subjectivity and enter the realm of objectivity. As soon as others get involved, the answers become more and more objective. Eventually, almost all folks will agree that “salt dissolves in water,” placing that answer about as close to objective as you can get.


"Some of this energy might be better invested in solving famines and poverty."


I agree. The point is not merely to philosophize, but to do something about it. On the other hand, what is to be done? We have been dealing with “famines and poverty" for centuries with modest success (see www.foodfirst.org for one of the best theoretical approaches). My own approach is through education supporting univironmental determinism, the scientific worldview. If you want to change the world most efficiently, you first must know how it works.

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