Critique of "The Scientific Worldview": Part 10b The Ten Assumptions of Science: Infinity

Bill confronts his nemesis: microcosmic infinity. Why we need to understand fundamental assumptions to confront regressive physics.

I am ever so grateful to Bill Westmiller, whose comments are marked "BW: ". The quotes marked TSW are from "The Scientific Worldview[1]" and my comments are marked "[GB: ".

TSW: Eighth Assumption: Infinity (Part 2 of 2)

“The universe is infinite, both in the microcosmic and macrocosmic directions."

TSW:  "For example, a million atoms of gold did not weigh the same as a million atoms of silver. How could the atom be the ultimate particle if different atoms had different masses?"

BW: Seriously? Nobody ever imagined, much less suggested, that every atom had the same weight. It was the difference in their weight (and properties) that led Mendeleev to create the periodic table.

[GB: Wrong. The essence of atomism, the Finite Particle Theory of the Greeks, was exactly as I implied. As originally idealized, matter consisted of atoms, round little identical indivisible balls of solid matter. Some folks still hold to that belief, although they have abandoned the atom as a misnomer, hypothesizing that the true “atom” is a much smaller constituent.[1]]

TSW:  "The electron has been succeeded by the quark as the smallest subatomic particle."

BW: A quark isn't a particle, it's a set of attributes (mass, charge, spin) which are expressed in different configurations of bosons.


That suggests that there *are* smaller particles that dictate those attributes and their combinations. I don't deny that there is at least one additional incremental step in the microcosm: that's what the Unimid Theory is all about. But, I can only claim that Unimids [Bill’s finite particles] *need not be* divisible and offer my logical arguments on the evidence.

[GB: Sorry Bill, but a “set of attributes” cannot be a particle. What you mean is that there are many different kinds of quarks, with each type having different attributes. Atomic particles are similar—we call them elements. You can be as “logical” as you want with Finite Particle Theory, but you won’t get anywhere without first assuming microcosmic finity. Just prey that no one busts your Unimid particle before you finish the theory!]

TSW:  "One scientist felt sure that 'matter is not infinitely divisible,' while another reiterated that 'no ‘ultimate’ individual or partless particle is known to science.'

BW: Both were correct, based on the available evidence. Democritus was right for 2,200+ years ... until new evidence mitigated that truth. The other statement will also be true, until UT is validated by evidence.

[GB: Good luck with that.]

TSW:  "... there are now at least three different kinds of electrons, some of which emit neutrinos."

BW: My Kindle version doesn't have footnotes, so I have no idea what you're talking about. There is only one "kind" of electron. There are three types, or "flavors", of neutrinos (which have no charge), but their names do not imply that they are the same as electrons (which have charge): electron neutrinos, muon neutrinos and tau neutrinos. Each of them is a distinct particle, even if they're in the same class.

[GB: That reference is: Weisskopf, V.F., 1979, Contemporary frontiers in physics: Science, v. 203, p. 240-244. Your neutrino example furnishes the same point: the splitting goes on and on. And, like all microcosms, no two particles, even those within a particular class are identical. BTW: My recent speculation concerning electrons indicates that each has about 1020 aether particles—not much chance for any two of them being identical.]

TSW:  "The indeterministic notion of the ultimate particle with no thing (e.g., nothing) inside it is of a sort with the indeterministic notion of a universe with no thing (e.g., nothing) outside it."

BW: An amusing semantic twist, but invalid. An ultimate particle would be solid mass, not empty. To assert that it doesn't have constituent parts (no smaller things) is not saying it contains nothing. It isn't "of a sort" with the proposition of an eternal nothingness (void) *outside* of the known cosmos.

[GB: Imagine what you will. Steve and I speculated that our aether progression would become increasingly dense, but we never assumed that it could become infinitely dense.]

TSW:  "The philosophical purpose of finity, whether it be construed as microscopic, macroscopic, or both, is at some point to call a halt to materialism."

BW: A microcosmic fundamental particle IS matter, not immaterial. Of course, it can always be argued that the Unimid is not "fundamental", but that's a different question.

[GB: Remember that materialism assumes that the universe consists of matter in motion. Once you claim that the insides of a microcosm have matter that is not in motion (as you have alluded to before) you have left materialism behind. Good luck with that!] 

TSW:  Lakatos: "As the universe is infinitely varied, it is very likely that only statements of infinite length can be true."

BW: ... because Imre Lakatos says it, or because Lakatos was a dialectical materialist?

[GB: …because the statement is close to being true. However, per causality, I would have omitted the words “it is very likely that.” ]

BW: In essence, he's just restating Karl Popper's characterization of the "uncertainty" of inductive reasoning. What Popper says about induction is correct, but irrelevant, simply because he offers a standard of impossible human omniscience, rather than "unmitigated truth".

[GB: With both Lakatos and Popper we are seeing the intellectual movement toward the correct understanding of the relation between causality and uncertainty. That’s why Popper is famous for his view that theories can never be proven. In tune with infinity, they can only be supported or falsified. As you can see, I use the same approach with fundamental assumptions. And, as you have shown throughout this discussion, one can never completely prove fundamental assumptions beyond an indeterminist’s doubt. Ultimately, one can only assume them.]

TSW:  "Thus, the infinite hotel with the infinite number of rooms can always accommodate an infinite number of guests."

BW: It's a funny story, which ignores the fact there is no room available for the first guest, since there are no predecessors.

[GB: What? There are an infinite number of rooms. Why wouldn’t there be room for one guest?]

TSW:  Planck: "... calculation shows that an infinitely long time passes ..."

BW: An artificial construct, like Zeno's Paradox: taking half-the-remainder steps toward the wall never gets you to the wall. Whenever a mathematical construct "goes to infinity", it probably has no correlation with reality. You discard the "paradoxes", because they "assume reversibility" in an artificially isolated system. I don't think that's true or relevant: it's just an illogic word game, expressed in mathematical terminology. But, I do like your rebuttal to the Planck assertion of "within-class" infinity.

BTW: Planck was also wrong about his "quanta" being discrete particles of light. It's just a conversion factor. Ask if you want an explanation.

TSW:  Paul Davies: "The infinities that occur in QED (quantum electrodynamics) are clearly symptomatic of some profound shortcomings in our understanding of physics."

BW: He's right: any time a theoretical mathematical description "goes to infinity", it is probably false. But that's a conclusion at odds with your observation:

TSW:  "We invariably give up contact with the real world whenever we use mathematical axioms that 'somehow avoid the concept of infinity."

BW: On the contrary, It is THAT the mathematical axioms DO go to infinity that makes them invalid. It's a good argument *against* infinities in math, not *for* infinity in nature.

[GB: That is exactly what we expect from an infinite universe. Even math is telling us that the universe is infinite. Only those who assume finity consider the resulting axioms to be invalid.]

TSW:  "This model, unfortunately of a piece with mere enumeration, is nonetheless an improvement in that it provides a three-dimensional framework for beginning a description of the real, infinite universe."

BW: Nonsense. There is no such thing as a "point", "line", or "plane" in reality: they are abstractions *from* reality, which always has three dimensions. A primary fault of the Big Bang Theory is the proposition of a "singularity", with no dimensions, as the origin of everything.

[GB: Partially disagree. Remember that the first sentence talks about “beginning a description of the real, infinite universe,” which means that it is an abstraction, as you realized. Sorry, but abstractions are not nonsense. “Fruit” is an abstraction for a class of objects. I can never eat the abstraction, but I sure can eat an apple. I agree with what you said about the Big Bang Theory.]

TSW:  Robin Collingwood: "Since modern science is now committed to a view of the physical universe as finite, certainly in space and probably in time ... the physical world as a whole must ultimately depend for its existence on something other than itself."

BW: You're comparing an obscure British professor with Aristotle??!! I discussed Aristotle's apparent "sop" to mystics earlier, explaining why it wasn't anything any mystic could love.

[GB: I don’t remember making any such comparison. Remember that Collingwood was a non-obscure English idealist. In his “An Essay on Metaphysics[2]” that I quote so much, he implied that “beyond physics” there was either something (more physics, the deterministic view) or nothing (no physics, the indeterministic view). Note how his logical progression extends to the subject at hand: determinism implies an infinite universe, while indeterminism implies a finite universe.]

TSW:  "The quest for certainty and its search for the ultimate answer to the reason for the existence of the universe periodically calls a halt to the question begging. Therein lies its fatal error."

BW: Anytime anybody pursues a "reason" for all of existence, they have committed a logical fallacy: reason is a human *product* of reality, not its creator. In the absence of a body, supporting a brain, there can be no thought, nor any motive. Reality does what it does, without the slightest "concern" about the consequences or its effect on our understanding of why it does what it does.

[GB: At last, we agree—more or less! Nonetheless, note that it is only a logical fallacy if one starts with the deterministic assumption of materialism like you and I do. Those who start with the indeterministic assumption of immaterialism generally assume that consciousness produces reality instead. Thinking that proceeds from that assumption does not amount to a logical fallacy. The logic is immaculate even though the assumption is wrong.

That is why I have emphasized "The Ten Assumptions of Science" so much. Otherwise, we would never be able to understand why folks accept all the paradoxes and contradictions of regressive physics. For instance, Einstein’s erroneous “immaterial fields” are a logical progression developed from his erroneous belief in immaterialism. For those untrained in philosophy, such as Einstein, it is not clear whether materialism or immaterialism is the correct assumption. Being agnostics unaware of their own presuppositions, they tend to waver back and forth as Einstein did, never realizing that they are “halfway to crazy town".[3]]

Next: Relativism

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[1] AbuBakr, Mohammed, 2007, The End of Pseudo-Science: Essays Refuting False Scientific Theories Taught in Schools, Colleges, and Universities, iUniverse, 86 p.

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

[3]Myers, P.Z., 2010, That's not a shoehorn, it's a sledgehammer ( http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2010/06/thats_not_a_shoehorn_its_a_sle.php ).

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