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The multiverse did not start out as science …

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File:Multiverse - level II.svg … and probably won’t end up there either.  But we are indebted to Andrew Crumey, physicist turned novelist, for an enlightening survey of its role in literature, in some cases prefiguring science by a long way, for example in Cicero’s Academica (106–43 BC):

Would you believe that there exist innumerable worlds… and that just as we are at this moment close to Bauli and are looking towards Puteoli, so there are countless persons in exactly similar spots with our names, our honours, our achievements, our minds, our shapes, our ages, discussing the very same subject?

And

When the American physicist Seth Lloyd met Borges at a Cambridge reception in 1983, he asked him if he was aware that this story eerily prefigured Hugh Everett’s concept of many worlds. Borges had never heard of it, but said that it didn’t surprise him that physics sometimes followed literature. After all, physicists are readers, too (of literature, and of history).

So how much is literature, how much is history, and how much is …

26 Replies to “The multiverse did not start out as science …

  1. 1
    sigaba says:

    The Designer didn’t start out as science either, it was only after Edwards v. Aguillard that someone made that connection.

  2. 2
    bornagain77 says:

    sigaba you claim,,

    ‘The Designer didn’t start out as science either’

    actually:

    Founders of Modern Science Who Believe in GOD – Tihomir Dimitrov – (pg. 222)
    http://www.academia.edu/273960.....OD_Journal

    Science and Theism: Concord, not Conflict* – Robert C. Koons
    IV. The Dependency of Science Upon Theism (Page 21)
    Excerpt: Far from undermining the credibility of theism, the remarkable success of science in modern times is a remarkable confirmation of the truth of theism. It was from the perspective of Judeo-Christian theism—and from the perspective alone—that it was predictable that science would have succeeded as it has. Without the faith in the rational intelligibility of the world and the divine vocation of human beings to master it, modern science would never have been possible, and, even today, the continued rationality of the enterprise of science depends on convictions that can be reasonably grounded only in theistic metaphysics.
    http://www.robkoons.net/media/.....ffd524.pdf

    The Origin of Science
    Jaki writes: Herein lies the tremendous difference between Christian monotheism on the one hand and Jewish and Muslim monotheism on the other. This explains also the fact that it is almost natural for a Jewish or Muslim intellectual to become a patheist. About the former Spinoza and Einstein are well-known examples. As to the Muslims, it should be enough to think of the Averroists. With this in mind one can also hope to understand why the Muslims, who for five hundred years had studied Aristotle’s works and produced many commentaries on them failed to make a breakthrough. The latter came in medieval Christian context and just about within a hundred years from the availability of Aristotle’s works in Latin..
    As we will see below, the break-through that began science was a Christian commentary on Aristotle’s De Caelo (On the Heavens).,,
    Modern experimental science was rendered possible, Jaki has shown, as a result of the Christian philosophical atmosphere of the Middle Ages. Although a talent for science was certainly present in the ancient world (for example in the design and construction of the Egyptian pyramids), nevertheless the philosophical and psychological climate was hostile to a self-sustaining scientific process. Thus science suffered still-births in the cultures of ancient China, India, Egypt and Babylonia. It also failed to come to fruition among the Maya, Incas and Aztecs of the Americas. Even though ancient Greece came closer to achieving a continuous scientific enterprise than any other ancient culture, science was not born there either. Science did not come to birth among the medieval Muslim heirs to Aristotle. ….
    The psychological climate of such ancient cultures, with their belief that the universe was infinite and time an endless repetition of historical cycles, was often either hopelessness or complacency (hardly what is needed to spur and sustain scientific progress); and in either case there was a failure to arrive at a belief in the existence of God the Creator and of creation itself as therefore rational and intelligible. Thus their inability to produce a self-sustaining scientific enterprise.
    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.columbia.edu/cu/aug.....rigin.html

  3. 3
    sigaba says:

    BA-

    I said the Designer, not the Christian God. People have been making scientistic claims about the God of the Bible for centuries, some good and some bad.

    The ambiguously-theistic “Intelligent Designer” was invented in the late 1980s by Dembski, Behe and their political allies in order to promulgate Old-Earth Creationist dogma in public schools. This is Uncommon Descent, not a Creationist website. Or at least so I’m told.

  4. 4
    bornagain77 says:

    sigaba, so I take it that you don’t believe God created the universe and that you believe that ‘creationists’ are irrational for thinking so? Or do you believe God created the universe?

    The best data we have [concerning the Big Bang] are exactly what I would have predicted, had I nothing to go on but the five books of Moses, the Psalms, the bible as a whole.
    Dr. Arno Penzias, Nobel Laureate in Physics – co-discoverer of the Cosmic Background Radiation – as stated to the New York Times on March 12, 1978

    “Certainly there was something that set it all off,,, I can’t think of a better theory of the origin of the universe to match Genesis”
    Robert Wilson – Nobel laureate – co-discover Cosmic Background Radiation
    http://www.evidenceforchristia.....38;id=3594

    “There is no doubt that a parallel exists between the big bang as an event and the Christian notion of creation from nothing.”
    George Smoot – Nobel laureate in 2006 for his work on COBE

    “Now we see how the astronomical evidence supports the biblical view of the origin of the world. The details differ, but the essential elements in the astronomical and biblical accounts of Genesis are the same: the chain of events leading to man commenced suddenly and sharply at a definite moment in time, in a flash of light and energy.”
    Robert Jastrow – Founder of NASA’s Goddard Institute – Pg.15 ‘God and the Astronomers’

    ,,, ‘And if you’re curious about how Genesis 1, in particular, fairs. Hey, we look at the Days in Genesis as being long time periods, which is what they must be if you read the Bible consistently, and the Bible scores 4 for 4 in Initial Conditions and 10 for 10 on the Creation Events’
    Hugh Ross – Evidence For Intelligent Design Is Everywhere; video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4347236

    “I now believe that the universe was brought into existence by an infinite intelligence. I believe that the universe’s intricate laws manifest what scientists have called the Mind of God. I believe that life and reproduction originate in a divine Source. Why do I believe this, given that I expounded and defended atheism for more than a half century? The short answer is this: this is the world picture, as I see it, that has emerged from modern science.”
    Anthony Flew – world’s leading intellectual atheist for most of his adult life until a few years shortly before his death
    The Case for a Creator – Lee Strobel (Nov. 25, 2012) – video
    http://www.saddleback.com/mc/m/ee32d/

  5. 5
    Axel says:

    It is arguable that science didn’t start out as science, according to the lame, reductionist definitions imposed on science by the myrmidons of scientism, the self-styled skeptics.

    It is, after all merely the application of common-sense testing, while straining out any immaterial considerations.

    Nothing magical about it, except that, without the handicap of wilfull, reductionist blindness, it has led to the discovery of the supernatural, non-local phenomena of quantum mechanics.

  6. 6
    Querius says:

    sigaba,

    Baloney.

    Ever hear of the controversy between biogenesis and spontaneous generation? With biogenesis, you needed a creator of some kind. But spontaneous generation was supposedly a Quality of Nature that spontaneously generated organisms given the right conditions. Back in that day, Von Helmont’s famous recipe for generating mice was:

    Place a dirty shirt or some rags in an open pot or barrel containing a few grains of wheat or some wheat bran, and in 21 days, mice will appear. There will be adult males and females present, and they will be capable of mating and reproducing more mice.

    Other names to look up include Reti, and Pasteur.

    Before sneering at Von Helmont’s flawed experiment and conclusions, do remember that we currently believe that life on Earth began with a dirty planet, some chemicals, and a lot of time. The concept is the same, just the recipe is different.

    Even the Apostle Paul had to write the following:

    O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called: which some professing have erred concerning the faith.
    – I Tim. 6:20-21 (KJV)

  7. 7
    sigaba says:

    sigaba, so I take it that you don’t believe God created the universe and that you believe that ‘creationists’ are irrational for thinking so? Or do you believe God created the universe?

    I think it is a completely warranted belief, I’m not sure it’s rational, but that doesn’t make it wrong. I think it’s the working of the Holy Spirit upon the mind that causes one to accept such a thing, not any evidence. Evidence would never confirm such a thing, and claiming otherwise would place human constraints on divine providence. I believe the work of the Christian God cannot be tested.

    I understand the apologetic power of trying to say otherwise, but I think it’s a dead end. What’s going to happen to, say, your faith, BA, the day someone provides a superseding hypothesis to QM? You give me the impression that your cosmology completely hangs on the interpretation of a set of experiments done in the last 10 years, and whatever postulation you can tease out of Science Daily headlines.

    It is, after all merely the application of common-sense testing, while straining out any immaterial considerations.

    Whatever you do Axel, keep your common sense realism away from BA, he says that QM’s violation of the Leggett Inequality proves that it isn’t ontological.

    With biogenesis, you needed a creator of some kind

    Hrm, no, you just need some other life. Where it all starts from was something Pasteur never addressed in an experiment. Strictly speaking “spontaneous generation” as suggested in antiquity implied supernatural intervention as well.

  8. 8
    bornagain77 says:

    sigaba, I disagree.

  9. 9
    sigaba says:

    sigaba, I disagree.

    I respect that, and you’re entitled to believe whatever your heart confides in.

    Verse and music:

    THE FEYNMAN SERIES (part 3) – Curiosity

  10. 10
    Querius says:

    Hrm, no, you just need some other life.

    Yes, that’s why I put “creator” in lowercase.

    Where it all starts from was something Pasteur never addressed in an experiment.

    I think that’s correct–this was and is a huge controversy. Remember the other experiments with boiling broth (Needham versus Spallanzani) or putting gauze over the mouths of jars (Reti) that were criticized for destroying or restricting access to some mysterious life force called pneuma?

    Strictly speaking “spontaneous generation” as suggested in antiquity implied supernatural intervention as well.

    Actually, no. Spontaneous generation was proposed by ancient Greek philosophers as a naturalistic alternative to creation by the gods. For centuries, these ideas, which were aggregated and articulated by Aristotle, remained the consensus and were mostly unquestioned . . . except by a few early scientists who were suspected of being closet creationists. 😉

  11. 11
    bornagain77 says:

    as to:

    What’s going to happen to, say, your faith, BA, the day someone provides a superseding hypothesis to QM?

    Something tells me that is not going to happen anytime soon:

    Can quantum theory be improved? – July 23, 2012
    Excerpt: However, in the new paper, the physicists have experimentally demonstrated that there cannot exist any alternative theory that increases the predictive probability of quantum theory by more than 0.165, with the only assumption being that measurement (conscious observation) parameters can be chosen independently (free choice, free will, assumption) of the other parameters of the theory.,,,
    ,, the experimental results provide the tightest constraints yet on alternatives to quantum theory. The findings imply that quantum theory is close to optimal in terms of its predictive power, even when the predictions are completely random.
    http://phys.org/news/2012-07-quantum-theory.html

    Now this is completely unheard of in science as far as I know. i.e. That a mathematical description of reality would advance to the point that one can actually perform a experiment showing that your current theory will not be exceeded in predictive power by another future theory is simply unprecedented in science! And please note that free will and consciousness are axiomatic to Quantum Theory in the experiment.

    What Does Quantum Physics Have to Do with Free Will? – By Antoine Suarez – July 22, 2013
    Excerpt: What is more, recent experiments are bringing to light that the experimenter’s free will and consciousness should be considered axioms (founding principles) of standard quantum physics theory. So for instance, in experiments involving “entanglement” (the phenomenon Einstein called “spooky action at a distance”), to conclude that quantum correlations of two particles are nonlocal (i.e. cannot be explained by signals traveling at velocity less than or equal to the speed of light), it is crucial to assume that the experimenter can make free choices, and is not constrained in what orientation he/she sets the measuring devices.
    To understand these implications it is crucial to be aware that quantum physics is not only a description of the material and visible world around us, but also speaks about non-material influences coming from outside the space-time.,,,
    https://www.bigquestionsonline.com/content/what-does-quantum-physics-have-do-free-will

    But then again, atheists who do not like the theistic implications of quantum mechanics have been trying to overturn for a long time, and yet the ‘problem’ just keeps getting worse and worse for them:

    Divinely Planted Quantum States – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qCTBygadaM4#t=156s
    Of note: at the 8:30 minute mark of the preceding video, Schrodinger’s cat and Wigner’s Friend are highlighted,,

    Disclaimer: the preceding is science not philosophy.

    Verse and Music:

    2 Peter 1:16
    For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty.

    Mandisa – Overcomer (Lyric Video)
    http://www.vevo.com/watch/mand.....UV71301156

  12. 12
    sigaba says:

    For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty.

    I would probably classify Schrödinger’s cat as a cunningly devised fable — and most gedanken experiments, for that matter.

    1 John 4:12
    No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us. Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit.

  13. 13
    bornagain77 says:

    A fable has no root in reality whereas thought experiments, including Einstein’s famous riding a light beam, have the possibility to be confirmed to stunning degree. This is easy to see, so why did you try obfuscate the matter? I’m finding you to be thoroughly disingenuous in the way you argue your, ahem, ‘scientific’ points.

    Albert Einstein – Special Relativity – Insight Into Eternity – ‘thought experiment’ video
    http://www.metacafe.com/w/6545941/

    Time dilation
    Excerpt: Time dilation: special vs. general theories of relativity:
    In Albert Einstein’s theories of relativity, time dilation in these two circumstances can be summarized:
    1. –In special relativity (or, hypothetically far from all gravitational mass), clocks that are moving with respect to an inertial system of observation are measured to be running slower. (i.e. For any observer accelerating, hypothetically, to the speed of light, time, as we understand it, will come to a complete stop).
    2.–In general relativity, clocks at lower potentials in a gravitational field—such as in closer proximity to a planet—are found to be running slower.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Time_dilation

    This following confirmation of time dilation is my favorite since they have actually caught time dilation on film (of note: light travels approx. 1 foot in a nanosecond (billionth of a second) whilst the camera used in the experiment takes a trillion pictures a second):

    Amazing — light filmed at 1,000,000,000,000 Frames/Second! – video (so fast that at 9:00 Minute mark of video the time dilation effect of relativity is caught on film)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SoHeWgLvlXI

  14. 14
    bornagain77 says:

    corrected link:

    Amazing — light filmed at 1,000,000,000,000 Frames/Second! – video (so fast that at 9:00 Minute mark of video the time dilation effect of relativity is caught on film)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y_9vd4HWlVA

  15. 15
    Querius says:

    The cunningly devised fables that Peter referred to would likely have been Greek or gnostic mythologies that were common at that time. In these “charming” philosophical fantasies, Jesus was one of two (2) Aeons who came to Earth to teach mankind how to reach gnosis, and to combat the demiurge—the ill-begotten, malevolent creator of the universe known as the God of the Old Testament.

    And so on. You get the idea.

    So as the Apostle Peter said,

    For we did not follow cleverly devised stories when we told you about the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ in power, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty.

    Peter lays claim to the superiority of observational evidence corroborated by multiple witnesses under public scrutiny.

  16. 16
    bornagain77 says:

    of semi-related note:

    NASA’s Black-Hole-Hunter Catches Its First 10 Supermassive Black Holes – Sep. 9, 2013 —
    Excerpt: NASA’s black-hole-hunter spacecraft, the Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array, or NuSTAR, has “bagged” its first 10 supermassive black holes. The mission, which has a mast the length of a school bus, is the first telescope capable of focusing the highest-energy X-ray light into detailed pictures.
    The new black-hole finds are the first of hundreds expected from the mission over the next two years. These gargantuan structures — black holes surrounded by thick disks of gas — lie at the hearts of distant galaxies between 0.3 and 11.4 billion light-years from Earth.
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/re.....154918.htm

  17. 17
    Axel says:

    Your #11, Philip. I was wondering when you’d spot that! You’re the one who apprised most of us of it.

  18. 18
    Axel says:

    I’m confused, sagaba. You seem to be on our side up to a point.

  19. 19
    sigaba says:

    You seem to be on our side up to a point.

    You shouldn’t really see it in terms of sides. I think you guys have all talked yourselves into the belief that everyone who disagrees with you on some point or another is either a fool or a liar or both. The problem with asserting empirical proof of religious faith is that it automatically makes anyone who disagrees with doctrine a fool or a liar.

    I hold that faith has no empirical basis, that to witness Christ is to love and do good works. Faith for you guys is about particle accelerators and biosemiotics and whatever half-baked metaphysics you got from Deepak Chopra or the Morgan Freeman show. It’s bad theology and bad science in equal proportion.

    I personally blame Protestantism. Salvation through faith alone seems to demand ever more bizarre and scandalous displays of faith, radical rejection of scientific knowledge being only one example. You do it to set yourselves apart; the more apart from the consensus you are, the more you must argue and engage in apologetics, and the arguing becomes an act of faith in itself. To actually resolve the question one way is not the objective, the objective is to keep the argument going, from ever more indefensible (thus more spiritually testing) positions.

    I call it as I see it.

  20. 20
    Phinehas says:

    @sigaba

    I think it’s the working of the Holy Spirit upon the mind that causes one to accept such a thing, not any evidence. Evidence would never confirm such a thing, and claiming otherwise would place human constraints on divine providence.

    I can’t tell whether your second sentence above is a continuation of your mere opinion (I think…), or is the declaration of a truth you believe to be demonstrable. If the latter, I’d be curious to understand how.

  21. 21
    Phinehas says:

    @sigaba

    You shouldn’t really see it in terms of sides.

    …followed immediately by…

    I think you guys have all talked yourselves into the belief that everyone who disagrees with you on some point or another is either a fool or a liar or both.

    The lumping of us all together under “you guys” followed by a sweeping statement about our uniform belief tends to undermine a bit your first point.

  22. 22
    sigaba says:

    If the latter, I’d be curious to understand how.

    Evidence in the scientific sense means repeatable, controllable, and useful for human purpose. To make the existence of God a verifiable fact, it would be necessary to stick some inalienable aspect of Him in a machine that produces Him on command.

    I know not everyone here would claim there’s empirical evidence of God, but it’s a pretty common theme. Faithwise, it’s a house of sand — when I asked BA77 what would happen to his faith, for example, if and when Quantum Mechanics was disproven, his answer was, in so many words, It Won’t Be. That elevates Quantum Mechanics to the status of an idol.

  23. 23
    sigaba says:

    The lumping of us all together under “you guys” followed by a sweeping statement about our uniform belief tends to undermine a bit your first point.

    I had originally typed “Axel,” but it seemed unfair to single him out.

  24. 24
    Phinehas says:

    @sigaba

    To make the existence of God a verifiable fact, it would be necessary to stick some inalienable aspect of Him in a machine that produces Him on command.

    Really? Would you say the same about making my existence a verifiable fact?

    [Saying Quantum Mechanics won’t be disproven] elevates Quantum Mechanics to the status of an idol.

    Do you have anything other than bare assertion to support this statement? And does anything get elevated to the status of an idol by saying Quantum Mechanics will be disproven? I’m not clear on exactly what does and does not comport with your notion of idolatry.

  25. 25
    Phinehas says:

    @sigaba

    I had originally typed “Axel,” but it seemed unfair to single him out.

    I see. And then you decided to double down with the, “all talked yourselves…” Still, it’s nice to know that you don’t consider all of us guys with uniform beliefs to be on a different side than you are, though you don’t share in the uniform beliefs, but rather find them problematic, half-baked, and indefensible.

  26. 26
    Barb says:

    sigaba writes, “I hold that faith has no empirical basis, that to witness Christ is to love and do good works.”

    Wouldn’t the resurrection of Christ be the empirical basis for faith?

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