Critique of "The Scientific Worldview": Part 2 The Renaissance of Determinism

Infinity forces us to use assumptions. The difference between science and religion: opposing assumptions.

The Renaissance of Determinism

Just a few quibbles on Chapter Two:

"... consupponible ... belief in any one of these assumptions poses minimal contradiction with belief in all the others."

Strange. Isn't ANY contradiction clear evidence that one or the other assumption is at least partially false?

[Not strange at all. I deliberately used the word “minimal” here because only identical assumptions could be completely without contradiction. Because the universe is microcosmically and macrocosmically infinite, no assumption about it could be exhaustive. Even the inclusion of a second assumption is an admission that the first was insufficient. An indeterministic sophist could nitpick any of the assumptions in desperation to save his belief, but I consider such minor differences to be irrelevant.]

"It is impossible to travel to the end of the universe to determine which assumption is correct."

It is impossible to demonstrate that anything is *absolutely true*, in the absence of human omniscience. So, the best we can ever do is what I call "unmitigated truth" ... a proposition for which there is affirmative objective evidence AND no contrary evidence. It may turn out to be false, but in the meantime, it's the most worthy and valuable claim.

[Sounds like an assumption to me.]

Therefore, I don't think it's necessary to simply adopt "infinity" as an axiom, when we can reasonably say that there is good evidence for it and none to the contrary.

There's evidence in cosmology that the universe is infinite: our "light cone" increases every second, so every second of celestial observation is evidence that there's something more to see (or detect). There is no evidence of any "end point", only the mathematical presumption that the universe is *at least as old* as the light (radiation) we can see. Consequentially, there is persistent evidence of infinity and no evidence of finity in the macroverse.

[Gee, you sure are optimistic. I know of quite a few big bangers who would disagree vehemently. They claim to have no evidence for the universe extending beyond 13.7 13.8 billion light-years.]

For the inverse, the history of science demonstrates the persistent discovery of smaller components of known objects. However, there is good evidence that there are finite limits to the microcosm. Some might cite Planck's light Quanta as a limit, or the verified evidence of Quarks as fundamental components of matter, or the proposition that we can't know (even if they exist) smaller components (because of the Uncertainty Principle).

So, I would suggest that an infinite *macrocosm* is an "unmitigated truth", but the infinity of the *microcosm* is not.

[Sorry, but that looks like cherry picking to me. At least the big bangers and the standard particle guys are on the same finite page. You are not the first to assume one without the other in spite the obvious logical connection between the macro and the micro. The Eighth Assumption of Science, infinity (The universe is infinite, both in the microcosmic and macrocosmic directions) implies that it is merely a matter of relative size and nothing more.]

"But as with all assumptions in an infinite universe, experience can provide only support for materialism, it cannot prove it beyond a shred of doubt."

There is prolific evidence of materialism and NO evidence of immaterialism, so it's an "unmitigated truth". In all of human history, there is no evidence of any effect that did not have a material cause.

[I agree, of course, but prefer to use “assumption” instead of “unmitigated truth.” There are billions of folks who claim just the opposite. Their “unmitigated truth” has been handed to them in ancient texts and constant reminders from the authorities. Our truth is supported by observations and experiments, none of which is completely “unmitigated.” All our observations and experiments are of specific microcosms within specific macrocosms, yielding data that varies with each measurement because of microcosmic infinity. Nonetheless, this data is often so repeatable that we sometimes refer to it as a “fact.” Some scientists, having excess hubris, often consider facts to be the difference between science and religion. Science, they claim, is based on fact, while religion is based on faith. As I have maintained in TTAOS and TSW, this is not true. Data or “facts” are worthless without interpretation, which is ultimately based on faith—unprovable assumptions. The difference between science and religion is that these two lines of thought use opposing fundamental assumptions. They are just opposing faiths.

These two faiths, of course, do not get the same results. The “unmitigated facts” of science allow us to manipulate the external world, while the “mitigated facts” of religion allow us to imagine things that could never exist and activities that could never occur.]

Next: The Ten Assumptions of Science: Materialism

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Westmiller said...

Glenn Writes:
[Sounds like an assumption to me.]

The difference is that there is prolific evidence for (and none against) an "unmitigated truth", whereas an assumption is "accepted as true, without evidence or proof" (Webster).

Calling macro-infinity an "assumption" puts it in the same context as any random belief or blind faith, which is an insult to the entire scientific, materialist endeavor.

Glenn Borchardt said...

The difference is that there is prolific evidence for (and none against) an "unmitigated truth", whereas an assumption is "accepted as true, without evidence or proof" (Webster).

Calling macro-infinity an "assumption" puts it in the same context as any random belief or blind faith, which is an insult to the entire scientific, materialist endeavor.

[Obviously, I do not agree with Webster on that one. That definition implies that assumptions could pop out of nowhere, which is entirely false. Also, there are few theories that have only evidence for and none against. That is why we still have flat-earthers, geocentrists, and big bangers.

Remember that Collingwood defined metaphysics as that which is “beyond physics.” Thus, that which is beyond physics is either non-physical or simply more physics. As scientists, we assume the latter, just more physics. That is what we are doing when we assume macro-infinity, the belief that there is no end to the universe. Nonetheless, it always must be an assumption, because we can never go to the end of the universe or even receive data from the end of the universe that would change that assumption into an absolute fact. It is true that we have already observed over a trillion galaxies, each with over 100 billion stars, in support of folks like ourselves who believe in macro-infinity. That is a lot of “proof” that we are correct, but it is not a complete proof lacking in uncertainty whatsoever. As you will see when you get to the Third Assumption of Science, uncertainty (It is impossible to know everything about anything, but it is possible to know more about anything), infinity explains why the finite causality of classical mechanics and classical determinism was a failure.

Despite all the data supporting our belief in macro-infinity, big bang cosmogonists believe just the opposite: that the universe is finite, having exploding out of nothing and that it had a beginning and will have an end. This steadfast belief, despite all the evidence against it, appears phantasmagoric to us. This proves that the mere accumulation of data is not sufficient. Conservative believers in a particular assumption (or “law” if they wish to call it that) generally can come up with interpretations supporting their belief. Paraphrasing and turning your comment on its head: their belief or blind faith is an insult to the entire scientific, materialist endeavor. We agree that an insult has been perpetrated, but not on the reason for it. The discovery of one more galaxy is unlikely to remove the insult, because the insult is based on an erroneous, indeterministic assumption. Calling the opposing deterministic assumption of infinity a “law” will not likely convince the insulters to flip flop.

I beg to differ on your insinuation that infinity or any of the Ten Assumptions of Science amounts to a “random belief or blind faith.” As explained in Chapter 3, the fundamental deterministic assumptions are neither “random” nor “blind.” All are based on an accumulation of necessarily finite data that led me to those assumptions. The selection was guided by lifetime observations that caused me to generalize that there are “material causes for all effects.” The non-scientist may not have the same experience, and might even hold opposing assumptions. Nevertheless, I realize that even those opposing assumptions were not chosen randomly or blindly. The “data” supporting them is found in ancient texts regarded as just as “completely true” as you wish macro-infinity to be.]