Intelligent Design Mathematics Physics

At Forbes: The Universe is not purely mathematical

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But isn’t this bad news for a Theory of Everything?:

At the frontiers of theoretical physics, many of the most popular ideas have one thing in common: they begin from a mathematical framework that seeks to explain more things than our currently prevailing theories do. Our current frameworks for General Relativity and Quantum Field Theory are great for what they do, but they don’t do everything. They’re fundamentally incompatible with one another, and cannot sufficiently explain dark matter, dark energy, or the reason why our Universe is filled with matter and not antimatter, among other puzzles.

It’s true that mathematics enables us to quantitatively describe the Universe, it’s an incredibly useful tool when applied properly. But the Universe is a physical, not mathematical entity, and there’s a big difference between the two.

Ethan Siegel, “No, The Universe Is Not Purely Mathematical In Nature” at Forbes

Maybe a universe that was completely explainable and provable couldn’t exist.

4 Replies to “At Forbes: The Universe is not purely mathematical

  1. 1
    Eugene says:

    And how do we know that “the Universe is a physical, not mathematical entity”?

    “Everything we call real is made of things that cannot be regarded as real.” Niels Bohr

    …To the best of our current knowledge, all those “things” are basically just combinations of math equations with some fixed rules governing the interactions of said equations.

  2. 2
    polistra says:

    Better question: How did math assume the royal position of sole explainer? Math is an artificial set of symbols, with rule-governed interactions, created by the human mind. There are many other sets of human-created symbols and interactions that do a better job of explaining everything. Drama and poetry and religion and painting and 3d animations and dances…. ad infinitum.

  3. 3
    bornagain77 says:

    When I first read the title, “No, The Universe Is Not Purely Mathematical In Nature”, I thought to myself, “Well this article could be good, perhaps Siegel will touch upon the fact that Mind, not matter, is now found to be the fundamental ‘stuff’ of the universe.”

    But alas, Siegal merely briefly touched upon the fact that observational evidence has always had final say in modern science. More specifically, he briefly touched upon the fact that observational evidence has always had final say in which mathematical models that we use to describe what we observe are correct, and which models are incorrect.

    To make matters worse, Siegal, directly insinuated that, since mathematical models have had a history of being corrected, then the universe must be ‘physical’. i.e. ““the Universe is a physical, not mathematical entity”

    This is an unfortunate choice of words on Siegal’s part. Siegal is no dummy and surely he is aware that the term ‘physical’ is a loaded term that directly implies that the universe is purely material and/or ‘natural’ in its fundamental nature, with no mental component to its foundational nature.

    phys·i·cal
    adjective
    1.
    relating to the body as opposed to the mind.
    Opposite:
    mental
    2.
    relating to things perceived through the senses as opposed to the mind; tangible or concrete.

    Moreover, according to Siegal’s own reasoning, it simply does not follow that the universe we observe must be purely ‘physical’.

    Just because the first mathematical models that we used to describe some ‘observable’ of the universe have had a history of being corrected, that certainly does not imply, as Siegal directly insinuated, that the universe must be purely physical in its foundational nature. It simply means that our first mathematical approximations were incorrect.

    Such a history of correction to our mathematical models is far more of a testimony to our finite and fallible limitations as human beings than it is of any evidence to the notion that the the universe must be purely physical in its foundational nature.

    In fact, according to Siegal’s own reasoning, if a mathematical model had no need of being corrected, then that would imply that our universe was ‘mathematical’ not physical.

    And indeed, (in so far as the ‘observables’ that the mathematical models were specifically designed to describe are concerned), our current mathematical models have been perfected to such a point that they currently show no sign of presently needing any correction in their mathematical formulation whatsoever.

    For most of the history of modern science in the Christian west, finding ‘platonic perfection’ for the mathematical descriptions of the universe has been a very elusive goal. This all changed with the discoveries of Special Relativity, General Relativity and Quantum Mechanics. That is to say, as far as experimental testing will allow, there is no discrepancy to be found between what the mathematical descriptions of Relativity and Quantum Mechanics predict and what our most advanced scientific testing of those predictions are able to measure.

    “Recent experiments have confirmed, to within one part in one hundred million billion (10^17), that the speed of light does not change when an observer is in motion.”
    Douglas Ell – “Counting To God” – pg. 41 – 2014

    “When this paper was published (referring to the circa 1970 Hawking, Penrose paper) we could only prove General Relativity’s reliability to 1% precision, today we can prove it to 15 places of decimal.”
    Hugh Ross PhD. Astrophysics – quote taken from 8:40 mark of the following video debate
    Hugh Ross vs Lewis Wolpert – Is there evidence for a Cosmic Creator
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VLMrDO0_WvQ

    Experimental non-classicality of an indivisible quantum system – Zeilinger 2011
    Excerpt: Page 491: “This represents a violation of (Leggett’s) inequality (3) by more than 120 standard deviations, demonstrating that no joint probability distribution is capable of describing our results.” The violation also excludes any non-contextual hidden-variable model. The result does, however, agree well with quantum mechanical predictions, as we will show now.,,,
    https://vcq.quantum.at/fileadmin/Publications/Experimental%20non-classicality%20of%20an%20indivisible.pdf

    Introduction to The Strange World of Quantum Mechanics
    Excerpt: quantum mechanics is the most successful theory that humanity has ever developed; the brightest jewel in our intellectual crown. Quantum mechanics underlies our understanding of atoms, molecules, solids, and nuclei. It is vital for explaining aspects of stellar evolution, chemical reactions, and the interaction of light with matter. It underlies the operation of lasers, transistors, magnets, and superconductors. I could cite reams of evidence backing up these assertions, but I will content myself by describing a single measurement. One electron will be stripped away from a helium atom that is exposed to ultraviolet light below a certain wavelength. This threshold wavelength can be determined experimentally to very high accuracy: it is
    50.425 929 9 ± 0.000 000 4 nanometers.
    The threshold wavelength can also be calculated from quantum mechanics: this prediction is
    50.425 931 0 ± 0.000 002 0 nanometers.
    The agreement between observation and quantum mechanics is extraordinary. If you were to predict the distance from New York to Los Angeles with this accuracy, your prediction would be correct to within the width of your hand. In contrast, classical mechanics predicts that any wavelength of light will strip away an electron, that is, that there will be no threshold at all.
    http://www.oberlin.edu/physics.....intro.html

    As well, quantum electrodynamics (QED), which is a combination of special relativity and quantum mechanics, also now joins the list of perfect mathematical descriptions of the universe in which we can find no deviation from what the mathematics predict and what our best experimental testing can discern. In other words, as far as we can tell, ‘platonic perfection’ is reached for QED:

    The Most Precisely Tested Theory in the History of Science – May 5, 2011
    Excerpt: So, which of the two (general relativity or QED) is The Most Precisely Tested Theory in the History of Science?
    It’s a little tough to quantify a title like that, but I think relativity can claim to have tested the smallest effects. Things like the aluminum ion clock experiments showing shifts in the rate of a clock set moving at a few m/s, or raised by a foot, measure relativistic shifts of a few parts in 10^16. That is, if one clock ticks 10,000,000,000,000,000 times, the other ticks 9,999,999,999,999,999 times. That’s an impressively tiny effect, but the measured value is in good agreement with the predictions of relativity.
    In the end, though, I have to give the nod to QED, because while the absolute effects in relativity may be smaller, the precision of the measurements in QED is more impressive. Experimental tests of relativity measure tiny shifts, but to only a few decimal places. Experimental tests of QED measure small shifts, but to an absurd number of decimal places. The most impressive of these is the “anomalous magnetic moment of the electron,” expressed is terms of a number g whose best measured value is:
    g/2 = 1.001 159 652 180 73 (28)
    Depending on how you want to count it, that’s either 11 or 14 digits of precision (the value you would expect without QED is exactly 1, so in some sense, the shift really starts with the first non-zero decimal place), which is just incredible. And QED correctly predicts all those decimal places (at least to within the measurement uncertainty, given by the two digits in parentheses at the end of that).
    – per science blogs

    Thus, according to Siegal’s own reasoning, if a mathematical model of an ‘observable’ needed no correction in order to agree with observational evidence, (as is currently the state with the current mathematics of Quantum Mechanics and Relativity), then that would imply that our universe was ‘mathematical’ rather than being ‘physical’.

    More specifically, mathematics has no possible material explanation and therefore, if mathematics can perfectly describe the universe, then, (again according to Siegal’s reasoning), our universe must ultimately have a non-material explanation for its existence rather than a ‘physical’ and/or material explanation for its existence.

    Naturalism and Self-Refutation – Michael Egnor – January 31, 2018
    Excerpt: Mathematics is certainly something we do. Is mathematics “included in the space-time continuum [with] basic elements … described by physics”?,,, What is the physics behind the Pythagorean theorem? After all, no actual triangle is perfect, and thus no actual triangle in nature has sides such that the Pythagorean theorem holds. There is no real triangle in which the sum of the squares of the sides exactly equals the square of the hypotenuse. That holds true for all of geometry. Geometry is about concepts, not about anything in the natural world or about anything that can be described by physics. What is the “physics” of the fact that the area of a circle is pi multiplied by the square of the radius? And of course what is natural and physical about imaginary numbers, infinite series, irrational numbers, and the mathematics of more than three spatial dimensions? Mathematics is entirely about concepts, which have no precise instantiation in nature,,,
    Furthermore, the very framework of Clark’s argument — logic — is neither material nor natural. Logic, after all, doesn’t exist “in the space-time continuum” and isn’t described by physics. What is the location of modus ponens? How much does Gödel’s incompleteness theorem weigh? What is the physics of non-contradiction? How many millimeters long is Clark’s argument for naturalism? Ironically the very logic that Clark employs to argue for naturalism is outside of any naturalistic frame.
    The strength of Clark’s defense of naturalism is that it is an attempt to present naturalism’s tenets clearly and logically. That is its weakness as well, because it exposes naturalism to scrutiny, and naturalism cannot withstand even minimal scrutiny. Even to define naturalism is to refute it.
    https://evolutionnews.org/2018/01/naturalism-and-self-refutation/

    Moreover, holding that our universe is purely mathematical in its foundational makeup, rather than being ‘physical’ or mental in its foundational makeup, is fraught with its own difficulties that render it untenable.

    Namely, as I pointed out the other day, Platonists, as opposed to neo-Platonists, hold to a view of mathematics that mathematics exists independently of the mind of God,

    As Ed Fesser recently pointed out, “There is also a very different answer, in which the mathematical realm is a rival to God rather than a path to him. According to this view, mathematical objects such as numbers and geometrical figures exist not only independently of the material world, but also independently of any mind, including the divine mind. They occupy a “third realm” of their own, the realm famously described in Plato’s Theory of Forms.

    KEEP IT SIMPLE – by Edward Feser – April 2020
    Excerpt: Mathematics appears to describe a realm of entities with quasi-divine attributes. The series of natural numbers is infinite. That one and one equal two and two and two equal four could not have been otherwise. Such mathematical truths never begin being true or cease being true; they hold eternally and immutably. The lines, planes, and figures studied by the geometer have a kind of perfection that the objects of our experience lack. Mathematical objects seem immaterial and known by pure reason rather than through the senses. Given the centrality of mathematics to scientific explanation, it seems in some way to be a cause of the natural world and its order.
    How can the mathematical realm be so apparently godlike? The traditional answer, originating in Neoplatonic philosophy and Augustinian theology, is that our knowledge of the mathematical realm is precisely knowledge, albeit inchoate, of the divine mind. Mathematical truths exhibit infinity, necessity, eternity, immutability, perfection, and immateriality because they are God’s thoughts, and they have such explanatory power in scientific theorizing because they are part of the blueprint implemented by God in creating the world. For some thinkers in this tradition, mathematics thus provides the starting point for an argument for the existence of God qua supreme intellect.
    There is also a very different answer, in which the mathematical realm is a rival to God rather than a path to him. According to this view, mathematical objects such as numbers and geometrical figures exist not only independently of the material world, but also independently of any mind, including the divine mind. They occupy a “third realm” of their own, the realm famously described in Plato’s Theory of Forms. God used this third realm as a blueprint when creating the physical world, but he did not create the realm itself and it exists outside of him. This position is usually called Platonism since it is commonly thought to have been Plato’s own view, as distinct from that of his Neoplatonic followers who relocated mathematical objects and other Forms into the divine mind. (I put to one side for present purposes the question of how historically accurate this standard narrative is.)
    https://www.firstthings.com/article/2020/04/keep-it-simple

    And as I also pointed out the other day, this view that mathematics has a necessary existence, rather than mathematics being contingent upon the mind o God for its existence, is what prevented the rise of modern science in the first place and is what is currently behind the present stagnation in theoretical physics with String Theory.

    It was only with the quote-unquote ‘outlawing’ of the ancient Greek philosophers’s deterministic and necessitarian view of creation, particularly mathematics, that modern science was finally able to achieve a viable birth.

    The War against the War Between Science and Faith Revisited – July 2010
    Excerpt: If science suffered only stillbirths in ancient cultures, how did it come to its unique viable birth? The beginning of science as a fully fledged enterprise took place in relation to two important definitions of the Magisterium of the Church. The first was the definition at the Fourth Lateran Council in the year 1215, that the universe was created out of nothing at the beginning of time. The second magisterial statement was at the local level, enunciated by Bishop Stephen Tempier of Paris who, on March 7, 1277, condemned 219 Aristotelian propositions, so outlawing the deterministic and necessitarian views of creation.
    These statements of the teaching authority of the Church expressed an atmosphere in which faith in God had penetrated the medieval culture and given rise to philosophical consequences. The cosmos was seen as contingent in its existence and thus dependent on a divine choice which called it into being; the universe is also contingent in its nature and so God was free to create this particular form of world among an infinity of other possibilities. Thus the cosmos cannot be a necessary form of existence; and so it has to be approached by a posteriori investigation. The universe is also rational and so a coherent discourse can be made about it. Indeed the contingency and rationality of the cosmos are like two pillars supporting the Christian vision of the cosmos.
    http://www.scifiwright.com/201.....revisited/

    And from that viable birth of modern science, that was made possible from the ‘outlawing’ of the ancient Greek philosophers’s deterministic and necessitarian views of creation, modern science has slowly descended back into that unfruitful deterministic and necessitarian view of the ancient Greek philosopher’s that had stymied the rise of modern science in the first place.

    No place is this unfruitful necessatarian view of mathematics more evident than it is with the current search for a purely mathematical ‘theory of everything’ in which it is hoped that a single mathematical framework and/or model will explain “all physical aspects of the universe” (per wikipedia). All ‘physical aspects’ which apparently includes explaining everything like why I decided to have eggs, bacon and hash-browns this morning instead of cereal.

    As should be needless to say, it is simply foolish for mathematicians to believe that such an all encompassing mathematical ‘theory of everything’ will ever be forthcoming.

    This self-evident truth should not even be up for debate in mathematical circles. Godel, around 1931, proved that mathematics can’t possibly be a necessary form of existence that modern day physicist think that it is with his incompleteness theorems. But that mathematics itself is dependent, i.e. contingent, upon something else for any truthfulness that might be derived therein.

    As the following article states, “Kurt Gödel had dropped a bomb on the foundations of mathematics. Math could not play the role of God as infinite and autonomous.”

    Taking God Out of the Equation – Biblical Worldview – by Ron Tagliapietra – January 1, 2012
    Excerpt: Kurt Gödel (1906–1978) proved that no logical systems (if they include the counting numbers) can have all three of the following properties.
    1. Validity … all conclusions are reached by valid reasoning.
    2. Consistency … no conclusions contradict any other conclusions.
    3. Completeness … all statements made in the system are either true or false.
    The details filled a book, but the basic concept was simple and elegant. He (Godel) summed it up this way: “Anything you can draw a circle around cannot explain itself without referring to something outside the circle—something you have to assume but cannot prove.” For this reason, his proof is also called the Incompleteness Theorem.
    Kurt Gödel had dropped a bomb on the foundations of mathematics. Math could not play the role of God as infinite and autonomous. It was shocking, though, that logic could prove that mathematics could not be its own ultimate foundation.
    Christians should not have been surprised. The first two conditions are true about math: it is valid and consistent. But only God fulfills the third condition. Only He is complete and therefore self-dependent (autonomous). God alone is “all in all” (1 Corinthians 15:28), “the beginning and the end” (Revelation 22:13). God is the ultimate authority (Hebrews 6:13), and in Christ are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge (Colossians 2:3).
    http://www.answersingenesis.or...../equation#

    Stephen Hawking himself, an atheist, honestly admitted that “Gödel’s incompleteness theorem (1931), proves that there are limits to what can be ascertained by mathematics. Kurt Gödel halted the achievement of a unifying all-encompassing theory of everything in his theorem that: “Anything you can draw a circle around cannot explain itself without referring to something outside the circle—something you have to assume but cannot prove”

    “Gödel’s incompleteness theorem (1931), proves that there are limits to what can be ascertained by mathematics. Kurt Gödel halted the achievement of a unifying all-encompassing theory of everything in his theorem that: “Anything you can draw a circle around cannot explain itself without referring to something outside the circle—something you have to assume but cannot prove”
    – Stephen Hawking & Leonard Miodinow, The Grand Design (2010)

    That Stephen Hawking could stare Gödel’s incompleteness theorems in the face like he did, and then proceed directly to try to formulate a purely mathematical theory in spite of it, tells us just how deeply some of our biases are. Biases that apparently completely blind us in the face of evidence that directly contradicts what we would want to believe beforehand. Namely, Hawking desperately wanted to believe beforehand that mathematics has a necessatarian existence that is completely independent of the Mind of God for its existence. And as a result, Godel’s incompleteness theorem was little more than a road bump for Hawking in his fruitless endeavor to try to find a purely mathematical ‘theory of everything’.

  4. 4
    bornagain77 says:

    Moreover, if we back up a step to where the Christian founders of modern science were in regards to their beliefs about mathematics,,, namely, if we hold mathematics to be contingent upon the Mind of God for its existence as the Christian founders of modern science held, rather than holding mathematics to have a necessatarian existence independent of the Mind of God, (as the ancient Greeks held), then a solution for the much sought after ‘theory of everything’ readily pops out for us.

    ,,, allowing the Agent causality of God ‘back’ into physics, as the Christian founders of modern science originally envisioned,,,, (Isaac Newton, Michael Faraday, James Clerk Maxwell, and Max Planck, to name a few of the Christian founders),,, and as quantum mechanics itself now empirically demands (with the closing of the free will loophole by Anton Zeilinger and company), rightly allowing the Agent causality of God ‘back’ into physics provides us with a very plausible resolution for the much sought after ‘theory of everything’ in that Christ’s resurrection from the dead provides an empirically backed reconciliation, via the Shroud of Turin, between quantum mechanics and general relativity into the much sought after ‘Theory of Everything”. Here are a few posts where I lay out and defend some of the evidence for that claim:
    January 2020
    https://uncommondescent.com/intelligent-design/welcome-to-the-brave-new-world-of-science/#comment-690569

    Verse:

    Colossians 1:15-20
    The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.

    Of supplemental, according to observational evidence itself, (the very thing that Siegal stressed so highly in his article to try to imply that the universe was purely ‘physical’), the universe certainly is not purely ‘physical’, (in the sense of it being material and/or ‘natural’ in its fundamental nature). but the universe is to be considered ‘mental’ in its fundamental nature.

    How Quantum Mechanics and Consciousness Correlate – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4f0hL3Nrdas

    Putting all the lines of evidence from quantum mechanics together, the argument for God from consciousness can now be framed like this:
    1. Consciousness either preceded all of material reality or is a ‘epi-phenomena’ of material reality (Jerry Coyne). or is an intrinsic property of material reality, (panpsychism, Philip Goff)
    2. If consciousness is a ‘epi-phenomena’ of material reality (Jerry Coyne). or is an intrinsic property of material reality, (panpsychism, Philip Goff), then consciousness will be found to have no special position within material reality. Whereas conversely, if consciousness precedes material reality then consciousness will be found to have a special position within material reality.
    3. Consciousness is found to have a special, even central, position within material reality.
    4. Therefore, consciousness is found to precede material reality.

    Eight intersecting lines of experimental evidence from quantum mechanics that shows that consciousness must precede material reality (Double Slit experiment, Wigner’s Quantum Symmetries, as well as the recent confirmation of the Wigner’s friend thought experiment, Wheeler’s Delayed Choice, Leggett’s Inequalities, Quantum Zeno effect, Quantum Information theory, and the recent closing of the Free Will loophole.)

    January 2020 – Here are a couple of examples from that list. Wheeler’s Delayed Choice experiment and Leggett’s inequality
    https://uncommondescent.com/intelligent-design/wow-panpsychism-gets-a-respectful-hearing-at-scientific-american/#comment-691134

    December 2019 – Although each of those (eight) experiments are very interesting in their own right as to proving that the Mind of God must precede material reality, my favorite evidences out of that group, for proving that the Mind of God must be behind the creation of the universe itself, is the Quantum Zeno effect and Quantum Information theory. This is because the Quantum Zeno effect and Quantum Information theory deal directly with entropy. And, entropy is, 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 himself stated that, “This now tells us how precise the Creator’s aim must have been: namely to an accuracy of one part in 10^10^123.”
    https://uncommondescent.com/big-bang/sabine-hossenfelder-physicists-theories-of-how-the-universe-began-arent-any-better-than-traditional-tales-of-creation/#comment-690210

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