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Bleak and radical prospect: Naturalism is dead

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We didn’t think anyone would be so honest about it, but get this from Quanta Magazine:

As things stand, the known elementary particles, codified in a 40-year-old set of equations called the “Standard Model,” lack a sensible pattern and seem astonishingly fine-tuned for life. Arkani-Hamed and other particle physicists, guided by their belief in naturalness, have spent decades devising clever ways to fit the Standard Model into a larger, natural pattern. But time and again, ever-more-powerful particle colliders have failed to turn up proof of their proposals in the form of new particles and phenomena, increasingly pointing toward the bleak and radical prospect that naturalness is dead.

Arkani-Hamed considers his tendency to speculate a personal weakness. “This is not false modesty, it’s really a personal weakness, but it’s true, so there’s nothing I can do about it,” he said. “It’s important for me while I’m working on something to be very ideological about it. And then, of course, it’s also important after you are done to forget the ideology and move on to another one.” Thinking of the naturalness question, and his quest for a mathematical theory of nature, he continued, “But certainly in things where progress isn’t so immediate, I find it very important to convince myself that it’s the one true path. Or at least a true path.”More.

Where the heck is that dam multiverse anyway? It’s proving as elusive as the tooth fairy.

See also: How cosmology became science fiction

6 Replies to “Bleak and radical prospect: Naturalism is dead

  1. 1
    ppolish says:

    When physicists speak of “naturalness”, they don’t mean it in the Mother Nature sense. They mean it the “that just ain’t natural sense”.

    For example, If someone wins the Lotto fifty times in a row, “that ain’t natural”. Believe me, that dude would be under investigation for that “naturalness” problem.

    Inside job? Can’t find any evidence. Rigged the machine? Nope, different lottery machines were used. Some hermetically sealed before play. Just really lucky? Chance? Come on get serious say the physicists and mathematicians.

    Ok, maybe he traveled back in time and played the known winning numbers? Maybe there is an infinite multiverse and somewhere someone DOES win fifty times in a row. Some one HAS to. Ding Ding Ding we have a winner. Multiverse Multiverse Multiverse!

  2. 2
    ppolish says:

    Another example Nima Arkani Hamed has used is walking into a room and finding a pencil balanced on its point. That ain’t natural. We have a naturalness problem here,

    Is the pencil glued? Nope. Held by a string? Nope. Magnets? Nope.

    How about if the pencil falls over the room blows up leaving no trace? An infinite number of blown up rooms and we happen to walk into a balanced pencil room. “Well duh – if it was blown up we would not be here to observe it” say the anthropic believers. And naturalness problem solved yaa.

  3. 3
    snelldl says:

    ppolish #2: LOL brilliant!

  4. 4
    ppolish says:

    Snelldl, that example is Nima’s – and I agree he is brilliant. It is not easy to come up explanations for the fine tuning. Stuff like String Theory and Multiverses are backed up by very imaginative math.

    I did watch a lecture by Nima once where he stated that if a natural explanation does not exist – he would become Religious. He knows chance/oops does not cut it Scientifically. Like I said, I agree he is brilliant:)

  5. 5
    bornagain77 says:

    Here is the full context of the first quote:

    Particle physicists seek to know whether the properties of the universe are inevitable, predictable, “natural,” as they say, locking together into a sensible pattern, or whether the universe is extremely unnatural, a peculiar permutation among countless other, more mundane possibilities, observed for no other reason than that its special conditions allow life to arise. A natural universe is, in principle, a knowable one. But if the universe is unnatural and fine-tuned for life, the lucky outcome of a cosmic roulette wheel, then it stands to reason that a vast and diverse “multiverse” of universes must exist beyond our reach — the lifeless products of less serendipitous spins. This multiverse renders our universe impossible to fully understand on its own terms.
    As things stand, the known elementary particles, codified in a 40-year-old set of equations called the “Standard Model,” lack a sensible pattern and seem astonishingly fine-tuned for life. Arkani-Hamed and other particle physicists, guided by their belief in naturalness, have spent decades devising clever ways to fit the Standard Model into a larger, natural pattern. But time and again, ever-more-powerful particle colliders have failed to turn up proof of their proposals in the form of new particles and phenomena, increasingly pointing toward the bleak and radical prospect that naturalness is dead.

    As to the standard model itself, Steven Weinberg was instrumental in the standard model’s present formulation:

    The first step towards the Standard Model was Sheldon Glashow’s discovery in 1961 of a way to combine the electromagnetic and weak interactions.[4] In 1967 Steven Weinberg[5] and Abdus Salam[6] incorporated the Higgs mechanism[7][8][9] into Glashow’s electroweak theory, giving it its modern form.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Standard_Model

    Richard Dawkins, like Arkani-Hamed presently is hoping, was also hoping for a universe that was ‘inevitable’ instead of a universe that is ‘extremely unnatural, a peculiar permutation among countless other’.
    Steven Weinberg himself set Dawkins straight on just how bleak the prospect is for an ‘inevitable’ universe.
    At the 8:15 minute mark of the following video, Weinberg personally explains to Dawkins just how big the ‘problem’ of the 1 in 10^120 Cosmological Constant is for those who would prefer an ‘inevitable universe’, i.e. an atheistic worldview, to be true:

    Quote:
    “I don’t think one should underestimate the fix we are in. That in the end we will not be able to explain the world. That we will have some set of laws of nature (that) we will not be able to derive them on the grounds simply of mathematical consistency. Because we can already think of mathematically consistent laws that don’t describe the world as we know it. And we will always be left with a question ‘why are the laws nature what they are rather than some other laws?’. And I don’t see any way out of that.
    The fact that the constants of nature are suitable for life, which is clearly true, we observe,,,”
    (Weinberg then comments on the multiverse conjecture of atheists)
    “No one has constructed a theory in which that is true. I mean,, the (multiverse) theory would be speculative, but we don’t even have a theory in which that speculation is mathematically realized. But it is a possibility.”
    Steven Weinberg – as stated to Richard Dawkins at the 8:15 minute mark of the following video
    Leonard Susskind – Richard Dawkins and Steven Weinberg – 1 in 10^120 – Cosmological Constant points to intelligent design – video
    https://youtu.be/z4E_bT4ecgk?t=495

    Please note this particular statement by Weinberg in the preceding quote:

    “Because we can already think of mathematically consistent laws that don’t describe the world as we know it. And we will always be left with a question ‘why are the laws nature what they are rather than some other laws?’. And I don’t see any way out of that.”

    And indeed, as Godel proved decades ago, mathematics is necessarily ‘incomplete’:

    Kurt Gödel – Incompleteness Theorem – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/w/8462821

    Moreover, Gregory Chaitin’s work suggests that there are ‘an infinite number of true mathematical theorems exist that cannot be proved from any finite system of axioms’.

    The Limits Of Reason – Gregory Chaitin – 2006
    Excerpt: Unlike Gödel’s approach, mine is based on measuring information and showing that some mathematical facts cannot be compressed into a theory because they are too complicated. This new approach suggests that what Gödel discovered was just the tip of the iceberg: an infinite number of true mathematical theorems exist that cannot be proved from any finite system of axioms.
    http://www.umcs.maine.edu/~chaitin/sciamer3.pdf

    So as Weinberg himself stated, “we will always be left with a question ‘why are the laws nature what they are rather than some other laws?’.”
    Theism readily answers Weinberg’s question without winding up in epistemological failure as the atheistic conjecture of an infinite multiverse does:

    BRUCE GORDON: Hawking’s irrational arguments – October 2010
    Excerpt: ,,,The physical universe is causally incomplete and therefore neither self-originating nor self-sustaining. The world of space, time, matter and energy is dependent on a reality that transcends space, time, matter and energy.
    This transcendent reality cannot merely be a Platonic realm of mathematical descriptions, for such things are causally inert abstract entities that do not affect the material world,,,
    Rather, the transcendent reality on which our universe depends must be something that can exhibit agency – a mind that can choose among the infinite variety of mathematical descriptions and bring into existence a reality that corresponds to a consistent subset of them. This is what “breathes fire into the equations and makes a universe for them to describe.” Anything else invokes random miracles as an explanatory principle and spells the end of scientific rationality.,,,
    For instance, we find multiverse cosmologists debating the “Boltzmann Brain” problem: In the most “reasonable” models for a multiverse, it is immeasurably more likely that our consciousness is associated with a brain that has spontaneously fluctuated into existence in the quantum vacuum than it is that we have parents and exist in an orderly universe with a 13.7 billion-year history. This is absurd. The multiverse hypothesis is therefore falsified because it renders false what we know to be true about ourselves. Clearly, embracing the multiverse idea entails a nihilistic irrationality that destroys the very possibility of science.
    Universes do not “spontaneously create” on the basis of abstract mathematical descriptions, nor does the fantasy of a limitless multiverse trump the explanatory power of transcendent intelligent design. What Mr. Hawking’s contrary assertions show is that mathematical savants can sometimes be metaphysical simpletons. Caveat emptor.
    http://www.washingtontimes.com.....arguments/

    Even Stephen Hawking himself at one time admitted, and apparently subsequently forgot, that Godel’s incompleteness theorem implies that there can’t ever be a complete (mathematical) Theory of Everything:

    The nature and significance of Gödel’s incompleteness theorems – Princeton – 2006
    Excerpt: ,,Stephen Hawking and Freeman Dyson, among others, have come to the conclusion that Gödel’s theorem implies that there can’t be a (mathematical) Theory of Everything.,,
    http://math.stanford.edu/~fefe.....el-IAS.pdf

    Here are a few more notes along that line:

    THE GOD OF THE MATHEMATICIANS – DAVID P. GOLDMAN – August 2010
    Excerpt: we cannot construct an ontology that makes God dispensable. Secularists can dismiss this as a mere exercise within predefined rules of the game of mathematical logic, but that is sour grapes, for it was the secular side that hoped to substitute logic for God in the first place. Gödel’s critique of the continuum hypothesis has the same implication as his incompleteness theorems: Mathematics never will create the sort of closed system that sorts reality into neat boxes.
    http://www.firstthings.com/art.....ematicians

    “Clearly then no scientific cosmology, which of necessity must be highly mathematical, can have its proof of consistency within itself as far as mathematics go. In absence of such consistency, all mathematical models, all theories of elementary particles, including the theory of quarks and gluons…fall inherently short of being that theory which shows in virtue of its a priori truth that the world can only be what it is and nothing else. This is true even if the theory happened to account for perfect accuracy for all phenomena of the physical world known at a particular time.”
    Stanley Jaki – Cosmos and Creator – 1980, pg. 49

    Here is a neat quote by Godel himself that gives a short overview of the theological ‘problem’ inherent in incompleteness:

    “In materialism all elements behave the same. It is mysterious to think of them as spread out and automatically united. For something to be a whole, it has to have an additional object, say, a soul or a mind. “Matter” refers to one way of perceiving things, and elementary particles are a lower form of mind. Mind is separate from matter.”
    Kurt Gödel – Hao Wang’s supplemental biography of Gödel, A Logical Journey, MIT Press, 1996. [9.4.12]

    Here are a few more papers that go over the Theistic implications inherent in Godel’s incompleteness theorem

    A BIBLICAL VIEW OF MATHEMATICS
    Vern Poythress – Doctorate in theology, PhD in Mathematics (Harvard)
    15. Implications of Gödel’s proof
    B. Metaphysical problems of anti-theistic mathematics: unity and plurality
    Excerpt: Because of the above difficulties, anti-theistic philosophy of mathematics is condemned to oscillate, much as we have done in our argument, between the poles of a priori knowledge and a posteriori knowledge. Why? It will not acknowledge the true God, wise Creator of both the human mind with its mathematical intuition and the external world with its mathematical properties. In sections 22-23 we shall see how the Biblical view furnishes us with a real solution to the problem of “knowing” that 2 + 2 = 4 and knowing that S is true.
    http://www.frame-poythress.org.....thematics/

    For those who are mathematically challenged like I am, here is a bit simpler paper on the subject:

    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#

  6. 6
    bornagain77 says:

    Moreover, subsequent work on Godel’s incompleteness theorem, particularly in the area of Conservation of Information theorems, has extended the theological implications of Godel’s incompleteness into biological evolution itself.

    Conservation of information, evolution, etc – Sept. 30, 2014
    Excerpt: Kurt Gödel’s logical objection to Darwinian evolution:
    “The formation in geological time of the human body by the laws of physics (or any other laws of similar nature), starting from a random distribution of elementary particles and the field is as unlikely as the separation of the atmosphere into its components. The complexity of the living things has to be present within the material [from which they are derived] or in the laws [governing their formation].”
    As quoted in H. Wang. “On `computabilism’ and physicalism: Some Problems.” in Nature’s Imagination, J. Cornwall, Ed, pp.161-189, Oxford University Press (1995).
    Gödel’s argument is that if evolution is unfolding from an initial state by mathematical laws of physics, it cannot generate any information not inherent from the start – and in his view, neither the primaeval environment nor the laws are information-rich enough. ,,,
    More recently this led him (Dembski) to postulate a Law of Conservation of Information, or actually to consolidate the idea, first put forward by Nobel-prizewinner Peter Medawar in the 1980s. Medawar had shown, as others before him, that in mathematical and computational operations, no new information can be created, but new findings are always implicit in the original starting points – laws and axioms.
    http://potiphar.jongarvey.co.u.....ution-etc/

    Evolutionary Computing: The Invisible Hand of Intelligence – June 17, 2015
    Excerpt:,,What Marks and Dembski prove is as scientifically valid and relevant as Gödel’s Incompleteness Theorem in mathematics. You can’t prove a system of mathematics from within the system, and you can’t derive an information-rich pattern from within the pattern.,,,
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....96931.html

    Verse and Music:

    Job 38:2-7
    Who is this that darkeneth counsel by words without knowledge?
    Gird up now thy loins like a man; for I will demand of thee, and answer thou me.
    Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if thou hast understanding.
    Who hath laid the measures thereof, if thou knowest? or who hath stretched the line upon it?
    Whereupon are the foundations thereof fastened? or who laid the corner stone thereof;
    When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?

    Danny Gokey – More Than You Think I Am (Lyric Video)
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Su5DG8pQMB8

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