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Straw in the wind? Get a load of the insightful review of a string theorist’s Big Book at Nature

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In sharp contrast with the classic slobbering review at Time of string theorist Brian Greene’s new book, Until the End of Time: Mind, Matter, and Our Search for Meaning in an Evolving Universe (Penguin 2020), the Nature reviewer is not impressed. (Kiddos, that was back when Time Magazine mattered, as did newsprint in general.) By contrast, Philip Ball appears appropriately skeptical:

Brian Greene’s Until the End of Time sits within a tradition of grand, synoptic visions of the Universe, rooted in physics, that feels (to this British reader) distinctively American. Halfway through, I realized why. With its scepticism of religion but openness to humanistic wonder, awe of nature, celebration of the individual and recognition of the power of physical law, the narrative has a strong whiff of transcendentalism. There is an echo of philosopher Henry David Thoreau in Greene’s account of lying out at night, enraptured by the aurora borealis. And essayist Ralph Waldo Emerson’s declaration that the “sublime laws play indifferently through atoms and galaxies” could almost be this book’s epigraph.

Philip Ball, “From Big Bang to cosmic bounce: an astronomical journey through space and time” at Nature


Right. It’s a shlock religion. If you’re an adult who likes jawbreakers and plastic shark toys, check it out. Otherwise, note this:

When it comes to human behaviour — creativity, art, story, religion — Greene places a reductive faith in evolutionary psychology. He is probably right to say that many of our complex behaviours are underpinned by rather basic adaptive impulses, but he doesn’t adequately acknowledge how culture shapes them. For instance, he supports psychologist Steven Pinker’s notorious description of music as “auditory cheesecake”. This posits that music is enjoyable because it piggybacks on capacities that evolved for other reasons, such as the ability to separate our auditory experience into comprehensible chunks. This might or might not be true, but to appreciate what music really means, we need to consider its cultural, historical and social specifics, and not just attribute it to “our ancient adaptive sensitivity to sounds with elevated information content”.

Philip Ball, “From Big Bang to cosmic bounce: an astronomical journey through space and time” at Nature


But that amounts to saying that an aggressive application of Darwinism does not provide serious answers to the human condition, which amounts in turn to saying that… string theory, Darwinism, etc., are not the big ansewr to conundrums that baffle science.

Um.

See also: String Theory as a philosophy of life – Time’s reviewer laps it up. Some reviewers almost make us forget that string theory was supposed to be science, not religion. Get a load of this review of string theorist Brian Greene’s new book, Until the End of Time: Mind, Matter, and Our Search for Meaning in an Evolving Universe (Penguin 2020)

“The evolutionary psychologist knows why you vote — and shop, and tip at restaurants”

and

Post-modern physics: String theory gets over the need for evidence

3 Replies to “Straw in the wind? Get a load of the insightful review of a string theorist’s Big Book at Nature

  1. 1
    kairosfocus says:

    Same old, same old, it seems.

  2. 2
    bornagain77 says:

    As to this comment from the article:

    This (Greene’s) narrative features humanity as a brief moment when matter became self-aware. Current physical and cosmological theories imply that this state of affairs can’t last. Eventually proton decay, a dominance of dark energy or thermodynamic heat death will doom all matter and thought. Greene, however, suggests that intelligent beings could eke out their thought processes almost indefinitely by gradually slowing them to minimize their inevitable thermodynamic cost.
    He views this extinction of sentience as a cosmic tragedy.,,,

    I guess we should thank Greene for elucidating the fatal flaws within reductive materialism co clearly.

    Greene falsely imagines, in his book “Until the End of Time”, that all of his thoughts are reducible to particles in motion. And he also falsely believes that there is an “inevitable thermodynamic cost” to his thoughts.

    There are a few, rather gaping, holes in Greene’s beliefs.

    For instance, all the words that Greene wrote in his book to try to prove that all of his thoughts are reducible to material explanation, (all the words that he himself wrote!), are themselves immaterial in their fundamental nature.

    The thing about information that forever prevents material processes from ever giving an adequate account of it is its immaterial nature. As Dr. Stephen Meyer explains in this following video, information is immaterial in its fundamental nature and therefore, by its very nature, irreducible to materialistic explanations.

    Intelligent design: Why can’t biological information originate through a materialistic process? – Stephen Meyer – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wqiXNxyoof8

    Thus Greene’s very own words, that he himself wrote in his book to try to prove that all his thoughts are materialistic in their fundamental nature, in and of themselves. prove that all of Greene’s thoughts cannot possibly be materialistic in their fundamental nature.

    Humans think, (and write), about many things which are immaterial and timeless in nature and therefore cannot possibly be reduced purely to ‘particles in motion’, i.e. reduced to materialistic explanations.

    For primary example, mathematics and logic themselves, (the very backbone of all science, technology and engineering), are blatantly immaterial. As Dr. Egnor notes, “What is the physics behind the Pythagorean theorem?,,, 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?,,, 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? ”

    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/

    Simply put, mathematics itself exists in a transcendent, beyond space and time, realm. A realm which refuses to be reduced any possible material explanation. This timeless and immaterial mathematical realm is commonly referred to as a Platonic mathematical world and furthermore “Mathematical platonism,,,, is frequently considered the default metaphysical position with respect to mathematics.”, since “mathematical entities are not constituents of the spatio-temporal realm.”

    Platonic mathematical world – image
    http://abyss.uoregon.edu/~js/i.....ysical.gif

    Mathematical Platonism
    Excerpt: Mathematical platonism enjoys widespread support and is frequently considered the default metaphysical position with respect to mathematics. This is unsurprising given its extremely natural interpretation of mathematical practice. In particular, mathematical platonism takes at face-value such well known truths as that “there exist” an infinite number of prime numbers, and it provides straightforward explanations of mathematical objectivity and of the differences between mathematical and spatio-temporal entities. Thus arguments for mathematical platonism typically assert that in order for mathematical theories to be true their logical structure must refer to some mathematical entities, that many mathematical theories are indeed objectively true, and that mathematical entities are not constituents of the spatio-temporal realm.
    http://www.iep.utm.edu/mathplat/

    The fact humans can think about this timeless and immaterial realm of Platonic mathematical objects is proof in and of itself that humans must possess a timeless and immaterial component to their being. i.e. Humans must possess a ‘soul’.

    As Alfred Russel Wallace, Darwin’s contemporary, himself noted “Mathematics is alone sufficient to prove in man the possession of a faculty unexistent in other creatures. Then you have music and the artistic faculty. No, the soul was a separate creation.”

    “Nothing in evolution can account for the soul of man. The difference between man and the other animals is unbridgeable. Mathematics is alone sufficient to prove in man the possession of a faculty unexistent in other creatures. Then you have music and the artistic faculty. No, the soul was a separate creation.”
    Alfred Russel Wallace – Co-Discoverer of Evolution by Natural Selection

    In fact, besides mathematics and logic, (and as Alfred Wallace touched upon), there is an endless library of abstract, immaterial, concepts that humans think about that cannot possibly be reduced to materialistic explanation.

    As Dr. Egnor noted, “Human beings think about mathematics, literature, art, language, justice, mercy, and an endless library of abstract concepts.,,, We are more different from apes than apes are from viruses.”

    The Fundamental Difference Between Humans and Nonhuman Animals – Michael Egnor – November 5, 2015
    Excerpt: Human beings have the power to contemplate universals, which are concepts that have no material instantiation. Human beings think about mathematics, literature, art, language, justice, mercy, and an endless library of abstract concepts. Human beings are rational animals.
    Human rationality is not merely a highly evolved kind of animal perception. Human rationality is qualitatively different — ontologically different — from animal perception. Human rationality is different because it is immaterial. Contemplation of universals cannot have material instantiation, because universals themselves are not material and cannot be instantiated in matter.,,
    It is in our ability to think abstractly that we differ from apes. It is a radical difference — an immeasurable qualitative difference, not a quantitative difference.
    We are more different from apes than apes are from viruses.
    https://evolutionnews.org/2015/11/the_fundamental_2/

    It is surprising how many things fall into this abstract category of being immaterial.

    Darwinists ultimately seek to ‘scientifically’ explain everything in materialistic terms. i.e. Reductive materialism. And yet, if something is not composed of particles or does not have physical properties (e.g., length, mass, energy, momentum, orientation, position, etc), it is abstract, even ‘spiritual’.

    Numbers, mathematics, logic, truth, distance, time, beauty, ugliness, species, person, information, etc.. etc.. all fall into that category of being an abstract property of the immaterial mind. It is amazing how many things fall into that ‘abstract’ category even though most everyone, including atheists, (“atheists” also happens to be an abstract term itself), swear that they exist physically.

    Take for instance the abstract concept of species, The term species is an abstract property and/or definition of the immaterial mind that cannot possibly be reduced to any possible materialistic explanations. i.e. How much does the concept of species weigh? Does the concept ‘species’ weigh more in English or in Chinese? How long in the concept of species in millimeters? How fast does the concept go? Is the concept of species faster or slower than the speed of light? Is the concept of species positively or negatively charged? Or etc.. etc.. ?..

    You don’t have to take my word for it. A Darwinist admitted that “The most important concept in all of biology, (i.e. species), is a complete mystery”

    What is a species? The most important concept in all of biology is a complete mystery – July 16, 2019
    https://theconversation.com/what-is-a-species-the-most-important-concept-in-all-of-biology-is-a-complete-mystery-119200

    The Species Problem, Why Again? – Igor Ya. Pavlinov – February 6th 2013
    Excerpt: Discussants, even belonging to opposite research schools, can quite agree with each other in recognition of fundamental status of the above “Boethian question”, whatever its particular answer might be. For instance, both “methodist” Linnaeus and “naturalist” Buffon (in his later years) believed in objective (real) status of the species as a universal and fundamental “unit of the Nature”. On the other hand, evolutionist Darwin, rejecting alongside with logician J. Bentham distinctiveness of the species as a fundamental taxonomic and eventually natural category, called however his famous book just “The Origin of Species…”, and not of races or of something like that.
    https://www.intechopen.com/books/the-species-problem-ongoing-issues/the-species-problem-why-again-

    “I look at the term species as one arbitrarily given, for the sake of convenience, to a set of individuals closely resembling each other, and that it does not essentially differ from the term variety, which is given to less distinct and more fluctuating forms. The term variety, again, in comparison with mere individual differences, is also applied arbitrarily, for convenience’s sake.”
    – Charles Darwin

    Needless to say, if you cannot even provide a rigid definition of ‘species’ in the first place, (in your theory that supposedly claims to explain the ‘origin of species’), well then, so much for the claim from Darwinists that Darwinian evolution even qualifies as a hard science in the first place.

  3. 3
    bornagain77 says:

    As to Greene’s claim that, “thought processes” have an “inevitable thermodynamic cost.”

    I thought this claim from Greene to be particularly interesting. The reason why I find that claim from Greene to be particularly interesting is that in quantum mechanics it is now found, via the Quantum Zeno effect, that “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

    Atheistic materialists have tried to get around the Quantum Zeno effect by postulating that interactions with the environment are sufficient to explain the Quantum Zeno effect. 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 statement of, “an unstable particle, if observed continuously, will never decay”, stands as being a true statement.

    Moreover, on top of that, recent experiments in quantum mechanics have now also shown that “entropy is always dependent on the observer.”

    Quantum knowledge cools computers: New understanding of entropy – June 1, 2011
    Excerpt: 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.,,,
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/re.....134300.htm

    And as the following 2017 article states: James Clerk Maxwell (said), “The idea of dissipation of energy depends on the extent of our knowledge.”,,,
    quantum information theory,,, describes the spread of information through quantum systems.,,,
    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.”,,,

    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/

    Thus, directly contrary to what Brian Greene presupposed, and according to our latest advances in quantum information theory, thought processes are not the result of thermodynamic processes, but thermodynamic processes are instead found to be subservient to “an observer who describes a system.”

    This IS NOT a minor discrepancy between what Brain Greene presupposes to be true, namely that there is always a ‘thermodynamic cost’ to his thoughts, and what empirical science is now telling us to be true, namely, “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/

    This 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 unless conscious thought, i.e. the ‘immaterial mind’. really is more foundational to reality than the finely tuned 1 in 10^10^123 entropy of the universe is? To state what is now blatantly obvious, this finding of entropy being “a property of an observer who describes a system.” is very friendly to a Mind First, and/or to a Theistic view of reality.
    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.

    Supplemental notes on how advances in quantum biology have now completely upended the presuppositions inherent in Darwinian materialism:

    Darwinian Materialism vs. Quantum Biology – Part II – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oSig2CsjKbg

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