Fine tuning Intelligent Design

Astrophysicist Ethan Siegel tries banishing the Kalam Constant

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To do that, he posits an “acausal, indeterminate, random Universe”:

It remains possible that the Universe does, at all levels, obey the intuitive rule of cause-and-effect, although the possibility of a fundamentally acausal, indeterminate, random Universe remains in play (and, arguably, preferred) as well. It is possible that the Universe did have a beginning to its existence, although that has by no means been established beyond any sort of reasonable scientific doubt. And if both of those things are true, then the Universe’s existence would have a cause, and that cause may be (but isn’t necessarily) something we can identify with God. However, possible does not equate to proof. Unless we can firmly establish many things that have yet to be demonstrated, the Kalam cosmological argument will only convince those who already agree with its unproven conclusions.

Ethan Siegel, “Does modern cosmology prove the existence of God?” at Big Think (November 3, 2021)

Physicist Brian Miller replies at Evolution News and Science Today:

Siegel begins his piece by outlining the Kalam cosmological argument for God that Meyer detailed in The Return of the God Hypothesis:

“Whatever begins to exist has a cause.

The Universe began to exist.

Therefore, the Universe has a cause to its existence.”

Siegel then attempts to challenge the first premise by arguing that quantum phenomena appear to occur without causes:

“…there is no cause for the phenomenon of when this atom will decay. It is as though the Universe has some sort of random, acausal nature to it that renders certain phenomena fundamentally indeterminate and unknowable. In fact, there are many other quantum phenomena that display this same type of randomness, including entangled spins, the rest masses of unstable particles, the position of a particle that’s passed through a double slit, and so on.”

This claim is highly misleading since it confuses determinism with causality. Quantum mechanics is not deterministic since it describes only the probabilities that certain events could occur such as the paths a photon could take in the double slit experiment. But the laws of quantum mechanics act in our universe as the causal agent for all such events.

Brian Miller, “Astrophysicist Ethan Siegel Again Desperately Attempts to Avoid a Cosmic Beginning” at Evolution News and Science Today (November 8, 2021)

Siegel may be confusing the Kalam Constant with the Shazzam! Constant. What’s really interesting is that he thinks he must answer Meyer’s arguments at all.

2 Replies to “Astrophysicist Ethan Siegel tries banishing the Kalam Constant

  1. 1
    bornagain77 says:

    As to Siegel’s claim that “…there is no cause for the phenomenon of when this atom will decay. It is as though the Universe has some sort of random, acausal nature to it that renders certain phenomena fundamentally indeterminate and unknowable.”

    First off, to claim that something happens without a cause, ‘reasonlessly’, is to make, as Paul Davies pointed out, “a mockery of science”, i.e., “If one traces these reasons all the way down to the bedrock of reality — the laws of physics — only to find that reason then deserts us, it makes a mockery of science.”

    Taking Science on Faith – By PAUL DAVIES – NOV. 24, 2007
    Excerpt: Over the years I have often asked my physicist colleagues why the laws of physics are what they are. The answers vary from “that’s not a scientific question” to “nobody knows.” The favorite reply is, “There is no reason they are what they are — they just are.” The idea that the laws exist reasonlessly is deeply anti-rational. After all, the very essence of a scientific explanation of some phenomenon is that the world is ordered logically and that there are reasons things are as they are. If one traces these reasons all the way down to the bedrock of reality — the laws of physics — only to find that reason then deserts us, it makes a mockery of science.
    Can the mighty edifice of physical order we perceive in the world about us ultimately be rooted in reasonless absurdity? If so, then nature is a fiendishly clever bit of trickery: meaninglessness and absurdity somehow masquerading as ingenious order and rationality.
    Although scientists have long had an inclination to shrug aside such questions concerning the source of the laws of physics, the mood has now shifted considerably. Part of the reason is the growing acceptance that the emergence of life in the universe, and hence the existence of observers like ourselves, depends rather sensitively on the form of the laws. If the laws of physics were just any old ragbag of rules, life would almost certainly not exist.,,,
    ,,, the very notion of physical law is a theological one in the first place, a fact that makes many scientists squirm. Isaac Newton first got the idea of absolute, universal, perfect, immutable laws from the Christian doctrine that God created the world and ordered it in a rational way. Christians envisage God as upholding the natural order from beyond the universe, while physicists think of their laws as inhabiting an abstract transcendent realm of perfect mathematical relationships.
    http://www.nytimes.com/2007/11.....avies.html

    Besides Siegel’s claim that there is “no cause for the phenomenon of when this atom will decay” anti-scientific in that it makes “a mockery of science”, the claim is also simply false.

    Which is to say, we are able, via science and reason, to infer the exact cause as to why any particular atom will decay.

    An old entry in wikipedia described the Quantum Zeno effect as such “an unstable particle, if observed continuously, will never decay.”

    Perspectives on the quantum Zeno paradox – 2018
    The quantum Zeno effect is,, an unstable particle, if observed continuously, will never decay.
    https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1742-6596/196/1/012018/pdf

    Likewise, the present day entry on wikipedia about the Quantum Zeno effect also provocatively states that “a system can’t change while you are watching it”

    Quantum Zeno effect
    Excerpt: Sometimes this effect is interpreted as “a system can’t change while you are watching it”
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quantum_Zeno_effect

    Atheistic materialists have tried to get around the Quantum Zeno effect by postulating that interactions with the environment (i.e. decoherence) are sufficient to explain the Quantum Zeno effect.

    Perspectives on the quantum Zeno paradox – 2018
    Excerpt: The references to observations and to wavefunction collapse tend to raise unnecessary questions related to the interpretation of quantum mechanics. Actually, all that is required is that some interaction with an external system disturb the unitary evolution of the quantum system in a way that is effectively like a projection operator.
    https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1742-6596/196/1/012018/pdf

    Yet, the following interaction-free measurement of the Quantum Zeno effect demonstrated that the presence of the Quantum Zeno effect can be detected without interacting with a single atom.

    Interaction-free measurements by quantum Zeno stabilization of ultracold atoms – 14 April 2015
    Excerpt: In our experiments, we employ an ultracold gas in an unstable spin configuration, which can undergo a rapid decay. The object—realized by a laser beam—prevents this decay because of the indirect quantum Zeno effect and thus, its presence can be detected without interacting with a single atom.
    http://www.nature.com/ncomms/2.....S-20150415

    In short, the quantum zeno effect, regardless of how atheistic materialists may feel about it, is experimentally shown to be a real effect that is not reducible to any materialistic explanation. And thus the original wikipedia statement of, “an unstable particle, if observed continuously, will never decay”, stands as being a true statement.

    Perspectives on the quantum Zeno paradox – 2018
    The quantum Zeno effect is,, an unstable particle, if observed continuously, will never decay.
    https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1742-6596/196/1/012018/pdf

    Moreover, on top of that rather startling finding, advances in quantum information theory have now shown that, “an object does not have a certain amount of entropy per se, instead an object’s entropy is always dependent on the observer.”

    Quantum knowledge cools computers: New understanding of entropy – June 1, 2011
    Excerpt: Recent research by a team of physicists,,, describe,,, how the deletion of data, under certain conditions, can create a cooling effect instead of generating heat. The cooling effect appears when the strange quantum phenomenon of entanglement is invoked.,,,
    The new study revisits Landauer’s principle for cases when the values of the bits to be deleted may be known. When the memory content is known, it should be possible to delete the bits in such a manner that it is theoretically possible to re-create them. It has previously been shown that such reversible deletion would generate no heat. In the new paper, the researchers go a step further. They show that when the bits to be deleted are quantum-mechanically entangled with the state of an observer, then the observer could even withdraw heat from the system while deleting the bits. Entanglement links the observer’s state to that of the computer in such a way that they know more about the memory than is possible in classical physics.,,,
    In measuring entropy, one should bear in mind that an object does not have a certain amount of entropy per se, instead an object’s entropy is always dependent on the observer. Applied to the example of deleting data, this means that if two individuals delete data in a memory and one has more knowledge of this data, she perceives the memory to have lower entropy and can then delete the memory using less energy.,,,
    No heat, even a cooling effect;
    In the case of perfect classical knowledge of a computer memory (zero entropy), deletion of the data requires in theory no energy at all. The researchers prove that “more than complete knowledge” from quantum entanglement with the memory (negative entropy) leads to deletion of the data being accompanied by removal of heat from the computer and its release as usable energy. This is the physical meaning of negative entropy.
    Renner emphasizes, however, “This doesn’t mean that we can develop a perpetual motion machine.” The data can only be deleted once, so there is no possibility to continue to generate energy. The process also destroys the entanglement, and it would take an input of energy to reset the system to its starting state. The equations are consistent with what’s known as the second law of thermodynamics: the idea that the entropy of the universe can never decrease. Vedral says “We’re working on the edge of the second law. If you go any further, you will break it.”
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/re.....134300.htm

  2. 2
    bornagain77 says:

    And as Renato Renner, a professor at ETH Zurich in Switzerland, stated in the following article, Fifteen years ago, “we thought of entropy as a property of a thermodynamic system,”,,, “Now in (quantum) information theory, we wouldn’t say entropy is a property of a system, but a property of an observer who describes a system.”,,,

    The Quantum Thermodynamics Revolution – May 2017
    Excerpt: the 19th-century physicist James Clerk Maxwell put it, “The idea of dissipation of energy depends on the extent of our knowledge.”
    In recent years, a revolutionary understanding of thermodynamics has emerged that explains this subjectivity using quantum information theory — “a toddler among physical theories,” as del Rio and co-authors put it, that describes the spread of information through quantum systems. Just as thermodynamics initially grew out of trying to improve steam engines, today’s thermodynamicists are mulling over the workings of quantum machines. Shrinking technology — a single-ion engine and three-atom fridge were both experimentally realized for the first time within the past year — is forcing them to extend thermodynamics to the quantum realm, where notions like temperature and work lose their usual meanings, and the classical laws don’t necessarily apply.
    They’ve found new, quantum versions of the laws that scale up to the originals. Rewriting the theory from the bottom up has led experts to recast its basic concepts in terms of its subjective nature, and to unravel the deep and often surprising relationship between energy and information — the abstract 1s and 0s by which physical states are distinguished and knowledge is measured.,,,
    Renato Renner, a professor at ETH Zurich in Switzerland, described this as a radical shift in perspective. Fifteen years ago, “we thought of entropy as a property of a thermodynamic system,” he said. “Now in (quantum) information theory, we wouldn’t say entropy is a property of a system, but a property of an observer who describes a system.”,,,
    https://www.quantamagazine.org/quantum-thermodynamics-revolution/

    The reason why I am very impressed with these experiments demonstrating that “an object does not have a certain amount of entropy per se, instead an object’s entropy is always dependent on the observer”, is that the second law of thermodynamics, entropy, is very foundational to any ‘scientific’ definition of time that we may have.

    As the following article states, “Entropy explains time; it explains every possible action in the universe;,,”,, “Even gravity,,,, can be expressed as a consequence of the law of entropy.,,,”

    Shining Light on Dark Energy – October 21, 2012
    Excerpt: It (Entropy) explains time; it explains every possible action in the universe;,,
    Even gravity, Vedral argued, can be expressed as a consequence of the law of entropy.,,,
    The principles of thermodynamics are at their roots all to do with information theory. Information theory is simply an embodiment of how we interact with the universe —,,,
    http://crev.info/2012/10/shini.....rk-energy/

    On top of the fact that “(Entropy) explains time; it explains every possible action in the universe”, entropy is also, by a very wide margin, the most finely tuned of the initial conditions of the Big Bang. Finely tuned to an almost incomprehensible degree of precision, 1 part in 10 to the 10 to the 123rd power. As Roger Penrose, (a staunch agnostic who is VERY reluctant to ever appeal to God as an explanation), himself stated, “This now tells us how precise the Creator’s aim must have been: namely to an accuracy of one part in 10^10^123.”

    “This now tells us how precise the Creator’s aim must have been: namely to an accuracy of one part in 10^10^123.”
    Roger Penrose – How special was the big bang? – (from the Emperor’s New Mind, Penrose, pp 339-345 – 1989)

    “The time-asymmetry is fundamentally connected to with the Second Law of Thermodynamics: indeed, the extraordinarily special nature (to a greater precision than about 1 in 10^10^123, in terms of phase-space volume) can be identified as the “source” of the Second Law (Entropy).”
    Roger Penrose – The Physics of the Small and Large: What is the Bridge Between Them?
    http://irafs.org/irafs_1/cd_ir.....enrose.pdf

    In the following video, Dr, Bruce Gordon touches upon just how enormous that number truly is. Dr. Gordon states, “you would need a hundred million, trillion, trillion, trillion, universes our size, with a zero on every proton and neutron in all of those universes just to write out this number. That is how fine tuned the initial entropy of our universe is.”

    “An explosion you think of as kind of a messy event. And this is the point about entropy. The explosion in which our universe began was not a messy event. And if you talk about how messy it could have been, this is what the Penrose calculation is all about essentially. It looks at the observed statistical entropy in our universe. The entropy per baryon. And he calculates that out and he arrives at a certain figure. And then he calculates using the Bekenstein-Hawking formula for Black-Hole entropy what the,,, (what sort of entropy could have been associated with,,, the singularity that would have constituted the beginning of the universe). So you’ve got the numerator, the observed entropy, and the denominator, how big it (the entropy) could have been. And that fraction turns out to be,, 1 over 10 to the 10 to the 123rd power. Let me just emphasize how big that denominator is so you can gain a real appreciation for how small that probability is. So there are 10^80th baryons in the universe. Protons and neutrons. No suppose we put a zero on every one of those. OK, how many zeros is that? That is 10^80th zeros. This number has 10^123rd zeros. OK, so you would need a hundred million, trillion, trillion, trillion, universes our size, with zero on every proton and neutron in all of those universes just to write out this number. That is how fine tuned the initial entropy of our universe is. And if there were a pre-Big Bang state and you had some bounces, then that fine tuning (for entropy) gets even finer as you go backwards if you can even imagine such a thing. ”
    – Dr Bruce Gordon – Contemporary Physics and God Part 2 – video – 1:50 minute mark – video
    https://youtu.be/ff_sNyGNSko?t=110

    And yet, to repeat the last sentence from the quantum information paper, “we wouldn’t say entropy is a property of a system, but a property of an observer who describes a system.”

    The Quantum Thermodynamics Revolution – May 2017
    Excerpt: “Now in (quantum) information theory, we wouldn’t say entropy is a property of a system, but a property of an observer who describes a system.”,,,
    https://www.quantamagazine.org/quantum-thermodynamics-revolution/

    That statement is just fascinating! Why in blue blazes should the finely tuned entropic actions of the universe, entropic actions which also happen to explain time itself, even care if I am consciously observing them, (and/or describing them), or not unless consciousness really is more foundational to reality than the finely tuned 1 in 10^10^123 entropy of the universe is? To state the obvious, this finding of entropy being “a property of an observer who describes a system.” is very friendly, if not outright proof, for a Mind First, and/or for a Theistic view of reality.

    And it is not as if the Bible did not anticipate the discovery of entropy.

    For instance, Romans chapter 8: verses 20 and 21 itself states, “For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God.”

    Romans 8:20-21
    For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God.

    And as Psalm 102:25-27 states,

    Psalm 102:25-27
    Of old You laid the foundation of the earth, And the heavens are the work of Your hands. They will perish, but You will endure; Yes, they will all grow old like a garment; Like a cloak You will change them, And they will be changed. But You are the same, And Your years will have no end.

    Even Sir William Thomson, Lord Kelvin, whose “research into the nature of heat led Kelvin to his formulation of the second law of thermodynamics”,,,,

    Second law of thermodynamics
    Excerpt: Research into the nature of heat led Kelvin to his formulation of the second law of thermodynamics.
    https://digital.nls.uk/scientists/biographies/lord-kelvin/discoveries.html#law

    Even Sir William Thomson, Lord Kelvin himself, whose “research into the nature of heat led Kelvin to his formulation of the second law of thermodynamics”, (and long before the quantum Zeno Effect, quantum information theory, and the initial entropy of the universe were even known about), even Sir William Thomson, Lord Kelvin, himself was not reticent in inferring God as the cause for the entropy of our universe:

    “We have the sober scientific certainty that the heavens and earth shall ‘wax old as doth a garment’….
    Dark indeed would be the prospects of the human race if unilluminated by that light which reveals ‘new heavens and a new earth.’”
    Sir William Thomson, Lord Kelvin (1824 – 1907) – pioneer in many different fields, particularly electromagnetism and thermodynamics.
    https://darwinthenandnow.com/scientific-revolution/william-thompson-kevin/

    Thus Ethan Siegel may, via his atheism, be forced to make a ‘mockery off science” and claim that “…there is no cause for the phenomenon of when this atom will decay”, but science and reason itself could care less what Siegel is forced to believe because of his a-priori adherence to atheism. As far as our best science can now tell us, God, specifically the infinite Mind of God, must be the cause for all the entropy of the universe, including being the cause for why any particular atom may decay.

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