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Feynman, says Massimo Pigliucci, is wrong about beauty and truth in science

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A statement attributed to the brilliant oddball Richard Feynman is “You can recognise truth by its beauty and simplicity.” However,

The problem is that it’s difficult to defend the notion that the truth is recognisable by its beauty and simplicity, and it’s an idea that has contributed to getting fundamental physics into its current mess; for more on the latter topic, check out The Trouble with Physics (2006) by Lee Smolin, or Farewell to Reality (2013) by Jim Baggott, or subscribe to Peter Woit’s blog. To be clear, when discussing the simplicity and beauty of theories, we are not talking about Ockham’s razor (about which my colleague Elliott Sober has written for Aeon). Ockham’s razor is a prudent heuristic, providing us with an intuitive guide to the comparisons of different hypotheses. Other things being equal, we should prefer simpler ones. More specifically, the English monk William of Ockham (1287-1347) meant that ‘[hypothetical] entities are not to be multiplied without necessity’ (a phrase by the 17th-century Irish Franciscan philosopher John Punch). Thus, Ockham’s razor is an epistemological, not a metaphysical principle. It’s about how we know things, whereas Feynman’s and Dirac’s statements seem to be about the fundamental nature of reality.

But as the German theoretical physicist Sabine Hossenfelder has pointed out (also in Aeon), there is absolutely no reason to think that simplicity and beauty are reliable guides to physical reality. She is right for a number of reasons.

To begin with, the history of physics (alas, seldom studied by physicists) clearly shows that many simple theories have had to be abandoned in favour of more complex and ‘ugly’ ones. (July 11, 2018)


Massimo Pigliucci, “Richard Feynman was wrong about beauty and truth in science” at Aeon

Hossenfelder’s comments, as above, in Aeon are here.

See also: Massimo Pigliucci: A Burden Of Proof In Science ThatJust Does Not Make Sense First, we are astonished at Pigliucci’s grand claims for the tautology of “natural selection” to produce adaptive complexity which is about as well demonstrated in the real world as magic…

and

Massimo Pigliucci Takes No Prisoners In His War On “Denialism”

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14 Replies to “Feynman, says Massimo Pigliucci, is wrong about beauty and truth in science

  1. 1
    Seversky says:

    Reminds me of the old Star Trek episode “Is The In Truth No Beauty?”

  2. 2
    Seversky says:

    And, sure, there is no reason to think that subjective human aesthetic judgments about beauty and simplicity are any guide to truth. But then the same can be said about equally subjective judgments of ugliness and complexity. Isn’t the real test of an hypothesis or theory whether or not it works?

  3. 3
    AaronS1978 says:

    Isn’t the real test of an hypothesis or theory whether or not it works?

    Absolutely, there has been problems following this standard in the past decade, example oxytocin nasal spray studies, but your statement vibrates with truth……….beauty and simplicity……….argh couldn’t help that I’ll be here all week 🙂

  4. 4
    bornagain77 says:

    Seversky states

    there is no reason to think that subjective human aesthetic judgments about beauty and simplicity are any guide to truth.

    Well there is certainly no reason to presuppose beauty or truth to exist from a Darwinian framework. Beauty and truth simply have no place in the reductive materialism of Darwin’s theory.

    In regards to beauty, Darwin himself stated that if “structures have been created for beauty in the eyes of man,,,.This doctrine, if true, would be absolutely fatal to my theory.”

    “The foregoing remarks lead me to say a few words on the protest lately made by some naturalists, against the utilitarian doctrine that every detail of structure has been produced for the good of its possessor. They believe that very many structures have been created for beauty in the eyes of man, or for mere variety. This doctrine, if true, would be absolutely fatal to my theory.”
    (Charles Darwin – 1859, 199)

    In fact, besides beauty being, according to Darwin himself, antithetical to Darwin’s theory, beauty itself does not even exist in the reductive materialist’s Darwinian worldview but, like many other things in their woldview, becomes illusory.

    If something is not composed of particles or does not have physical properties (e.g., mass, energy, orientation, position, etc), it is abstract, i.e., spiritual. Numbers, mathematics, logic, truth, distance, time, beauty, ugliness, species, person, information, etc.. etc.. fall into that category. It is amazing how many things fall into that category even though most of us, including scientists, (scientists also to be an abstract term itself), swear they exist physically.
    June 2019
    https://uncommondescent.com/intelligent-design/why-some-biologists-are-beginning-to-question-the-biological-species-concept/#comment-679500

    In fact, the existence of beauty, since it cannot be ground in materialism, is yet another argument for the existence of God:

    Aesthetic Arguments for the Existence of God:
    Excerpt: Beauty,,, can be appreciated only by the mind. This would be impossible, if this `idea’ of beauty were not found in the mind in a more perfect form.
    http://www.quodlibet.net/artic.....etic.shtml

    Thus, if you believe beauty really exists, and you rightly should, then you should believe in God.

    As well, truth itself is an abstract property of the mind and thus truth itself becomes illusory in the Darwinian worldview. And thus, like beauty, “Truth” can only ever be properly grounded within Theism:

    Twenty Arguments For The Existence Of God – Peter Kreeft
    11. The Argument from Truth
    This argument is closely related to the argument from consciousness. It comes mainly from Augustine.
    1. Our limited minds can discover eternal truths about being.
    2. Truth properly resides in a mind.
    3. But the human mind is not eternal.
    4. Therefore there must exist an eternal mind in which these truths reside.
    https://www.peterkreeft.com/topics-more/20_arguments-gods-existence.htm#11

    Secularists tried, and still try, to hold that ‘truth’ can be grounded within mathematics. But, besides the fact that mathematics itself is an abstract immaterial entity that can never be grounded within the Darwinist’s materialistic world,

    What Does It Mean to Say That Science & Religion Conflict? – M. Anthony Mills – April 16, 2018
    Excerpt: In fact, more problematic for the materialist than the non-existence of persons is the existence of mathematics. Why? Although a committed materialist might be perfectly willing to accept that you do not really exist, he will have a harder time accepting that numbers do not exist. The trouble is that numbers — along with other mathematical entities such as classes, sets, and functions — are indispensable for modern science. And yet — here’s the rub — these “abstract objects” are not material. Thus, one cannot take science as the only sure guide to reality and at the same time discount disbelief in all immaterial realities.
    https://www.realclearreligion.org/articles/2018/04/16/what_does_it_mean_to_say_that_science_and_religion_conflict.html

    ,,, besides the fact that mathematics itself is an abstract immaterial entity that can never be grounded within the Darwinist’s materialistic world,,, Kurt Gödel, with his incompleteness theorem, brought the secularist’s dream, (that math alone could ground ‘truth’) crashing down.

    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

    “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”.”
    Cf., Stephen Hawking & Leonard Miodinow, The Grand Design (2010)

    Thus, since ‘truth’ itself is a abstract immaterial entity which is not reducible to some mathematical equation, much less is it reducible to some purely material/natural explanation, then presupposing Darwinian Materialism and/or Methodological Naturalism , as the vast majority of American universities do, actually precludes ‘The Truth’ from ever being reached by science!

    Moreover, beauty clearly can be no sure guide to truth for the Darwinist since the reductive materialism foundation of Darwinian evolution precludes both truth and beauty from actually existing.

    Whereas for the Christian Theist, we should expect that the equations which turns out to be true descriptions of reality would also be beautiful since the Christian Theist presupposes that they are products of the Mind of God.

    Of related note: Alex Vilenkin, who mathematically proved that all hypothetical inflationary universes must also have had a beginning, commenting on Euler’s Identity, stated,,,

    “It appears that the Creator shares the mathematicians sense of beauty”
    Alex Vilenkin – Many Worlds in One: (page 201)

  5. 5
    EDTA says:

    As we move into a new area of knowledge, we naturally discover the simplest aspects first. That fools us into thinking that scientific truth has to be simple. It’s actually an observer selection effect of sorts.

  6. 6
    hazel says:

    Fluid flow, as described by chaos theory, is not simple. Neither are the orbits of multiple gravitational orbits. EDTA is right, I think.

  7. 7
    AaronS1978 says:

    Off of both of your points, the universe and its contents are very very complicated the more we look into it the more complicated things become as they unfold

    We have a very linear way of thinking and it is helped us a lot so far but the more we dig the less linear things become

    I think we have vastly underestimated life, our universe, and what we are, and we might not be equipped to actually truly understand it

    It’s in the realm of possibility, but who knows, I really truly hope that the universe is that complicated because it would honestly humble us and on the exact same note, make it very exciting

  8. 8
    bornagain77 says:

    EDTA: As to your claim that “That fools us into thinking that scientific truth has to be simple”

    Along that line of thought, in the following video,,,

    Creation of the Cosmos – Walter Bradley PhD. – video (24:10 minute mark; Five foundational equations)
    https://youtu.be/T4_SQzM-1AY?t=1453

    ,, Dr. Walter Bradley stated that, “Only in the 20th century have we come to fully understand that the incredibly diverse phenomena that we observe in nature are the outworking of a very small number of physical laws, each of which may be described by a simple mathematical relationship. Indeed, so simple in mathematical form and small in number are these physical laws that they can all be written on one side of one sheet of paper, as seen in Table 1.”

    How the Recent Discoveries Support a Designed Universe – Dr. Walter L. Bradley – paper
    Excerpt: Only in the 20th century have we come to fully understand that the incredibly diverse phenomena that we observe in nature are the outworking of a very small number of physical laws, each of which may be described by a simple mathematical relationship. Indeed, so simple in mathematical form and small in number are these physical laws that they can all be written on one side of one sheet of paper, as seen in Table 1.
    1. Mechanics (Hamilton’s Equations)
    2. Electrodynamics (Maxwell’s Equations)
    3. Statistical Mechanics (Boltzmann’s Equations)
    4. Quantum Mechanics (Schrödinger’s Equations)
    5. General Relativity (Einstein’s Equation)
    http://www.leaderu.com/offices.....dence.html

    ,, And In regards to the claim that a scientific truth must be complicated, Dr. Bradley further noted in the video that,

    “Occasionally I’ll have a bright engineering student who says, “Well you should see the equations we work with in my engineering class. They’re a big mess.”, The problem is not the fundamental laws of nature, the problem is the boundary conditions. If you choose complicated boundary conditions then the solutions to these equations will in fact, in some cases, be quite complicated in form,,, But again the point is still the same, the universe assumes a remarkably simple and elegant mathematical form.”
    – Dr. Walter Bradley – Creation of the Cosmos – video

    As to Hazel’s claim that “multiple gravitational orbits” in particular is an example of a scientific truth being complicated, well, again, “the incredibly diverse phenomena that we observe in nature are the outworking of a very small number of physical laws, each of which may be described by a simple mathematical relationship”. Where the complication comes in, for us at least, is that in multiplying the number of gravitational bodies to be calculated we have complicated our ‘boundary conditions’, but, as Dr. Bradley pointed out, that still does not negate the fact “the universe assumes a remarkably simple and elegant mathematical form.”

    There is a bit of history behind how complicated the math becomes for us when calculating “multiple gravitational orbits”. If you remember your history right, Newton, Leibniz (and Laplace) had a disagreement about God’s role in creation. Newton was supposedly chastised by Leibniz (and Laplace) for invoking “God of the gaps” for saying that God occasionally ‘reformed’ the orbits:

    Newton, Leibniz, and the Role of God in Planetary Orbits – December 2014
    Excerpt:
    “This most beautiful system of the sun, planets, and comets could only proceed from the counsel and dominion of an intelligent and powerful Being”
    — Sir Isaac Newton. “Principia Mathematica” (1687)
    Perhaps the most spectacular early success of Isaac Newton’s theory of gravitation was its natural explanation for Johannes Kepler’s observation that the planets orbit the sun in elliptical orbits. But upon further reflection, some nagging problems emerge. The perfect elliptical orbits are only valid for an isolated planet orbiting around the sun. Gravity works on all objects, and so the other planets perturb the motion of the Earth, potentially leading to its ejection from the solar system. This problem vexed Sir Isaac, who postulated that God occasionally “reformed” the planets, perhaps by sending through a comet with just the right trajectory.
    In a famous exchange of letters, cut short only by his death in 1716, Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, took Sir Isaac to task for his view. He objected that:
    “if God had to remedy the defects of His creation, this was surely to demean his craftsmanship.”1
    And moreover that:
    “..when God works miracles, he does it not to meet the needs of nature but the needs of grace. Anyone who thinks differently must have a very mean notion of the wisdom and power of God.”2
    In other words, the regular sustaining activity of God, as evidenced by natural laws, should be sufficient to explain the regular behavior of the solar system, without the need for additional ad-hoc interventions. Making it right the first time is more glorious than having to fix it later. Moreover, when God deviates from his regular sustaining activity to perform miracles, he does so for soteriological reasons, not to repair nature.,,,
    1. 1. John Hedley Brooke, Science and Religion, CUP, Cambridge (1991), p147.
    2. From letter 1 point 4 (Nov 1715). The full correspondence can be found online.

    But, although Newton held God to be active in creation and not a distant clock-maker (as some deists have tried to portray Newtons beliefs), the preceding account of Newton is a bit of Whig history:

    Here is an interesting article about the Newton-Leibniz-Laplace controversy that shows Newton’s ‘God of the gaps’ controversy is not nearly as cut and dried as some atheists, deists, and/or Theistic Evolutionists have tried to make it out to be:

    a) Newton did develop perturbation theory for the orbits (and actually applied it to the moon), so it is false that God belief prevented him from attempting to solve the problem.
    b) the math was not “crumbs” for Newton, since Laplace had worked on foundations laid by some of the most brilliant mathematicians of the century (Euler, Lagrange, Clairaut), some of whom also failed to solve the very same problem Newton was working on, and one of these, Euler is regarded as the greatest mathematician of all time!
    c) Laplace did not really solve the problem in the end, but only for first degree approximations, but Haret showed that orbits are not absolutely stable using third degree approximations.
    d) Finally, and most ironically perhaps, it is not clear that Laplace was motivated by atheism to solve this problem, Laplace cites with approval Leibniz’s criticism of Newton’s invocation of divine intervention to restore order to the Solar System: “This is to have very narrow ideas about the wisdom and the power of God.”, to them, it would count as evidence against intelligent design if God had to intervene to prevent the solar system from collapsing. So intelligent design could just as easily be a motivation to prove the stability of the solar system.
    (of note: original article modified since originally accessed)
    https://letterstonature.wordpress.com/2015/11/04/neil-degrasse-tyson-on-newton-part-1/
    “Leibniz, in his controversy with Newton on the discovery of infinitesimal calculus, sharply criticized the theory of Divine intervention as a corrective of the disturbances of the solar system. “To suppose anything of the kind”, he said, “is to exhibit very narrow ideas of the wisdom and power of God’.”
    – Pierre-Simon Laplace
    https://books.google.com/books?id=oLtHAAAAIAAJ&pg=PA73&lpg=PA73

    As to not having to “remedy the defects of His creation”, I hold that both Newton and Leibniz (and even Laplace himself) would be very pleased by what modern science has now revealed about the wisdom and power of God:

    “You might also think that these disparate bodies are scattered across the solar system without rhyme or reason. But move any piece of the solar system today, or try to add anything more, and the whole construction would be thrown fatally out of kilter. So how exactly did this delicate architecture come to be?”
    R. Webb – Unknown solar system 1: How was the solar system built? – New Scientist – 2009

    Is the Solar System Stable? By Scott Tremaine – 2011
    Excerpt: So what are the results? Most of the calculations agree that eight billion years from now, just before the Sun swallows the inner planets and incinerates the outer ones, all of the planets will still be in orbits very similar to their present ones. In this limited sense, the solar system is stable. However, a closer look at the orbit histories reveals that the story is more nuanced. After a few tens of millions of years, calculations using slightly different parameters (e.g., different planetary masses or initial positions within the small ranges allowed by current observations) or different numerical algorithms begin to diverge at an alarming rate. More precisely, the growth of small differences changes from linear to exponential:,,,
    As an example, shifting your pencil from one side of your desk to the other today could change the gravitational forces on Jupiter enough to shift its position from one side of the Sun to the other a billion years from now. The unpredictability of the solar system over very long times is of course ironic since this was the prototypical system that inspired Laplacian determinism.
    Fortunately, most of this unpredictability is in the orbital phases of the planets, not the shapes and sizes of their orbits, so the chaotic nature of the solar system does not normally lead to collisions between planets. However, the presence of chaos implies that we can only study the long-term fate of the solar system in a statistical sense, by launching in our computers an armada of solar systems with slightly different parameters at the present time—typically, each planet is shifted by a random amount of about a millimeter—and following their evolution. When this is done, it turns out that in about 1 percent of these systems, Mercury’s orbit becomes sufficiently eccentric so that it collides with Venus before the death of the Sun. Thus, the answer to the question of the stability of the solar system—more precisely, will all the planets survive until the death of the Sun—is neither “yes” nor “no” but “yes, with 99 percent probability.”
    https://www.ias.edu/about/publications/ias-letter/articles/2011-summer/solar-system-tremaine

    Research now establishes that every planet in our solar system must possess exactly the masses and orbits that they do for advanced life to be possible on Earth. No other known planetary system comes anywhere close to having the features to make advanced life possible. We live not only on a miraculously “rare” Earth but also a miraculously “rare” planetary system. For details and documentation, see my latest blog post. – Hugh Ross – June 2017
    http://www.reasons.org/blogs/t.....ary-system

    Milankovitch Cycle Design – Hugh Ross – August 2011
    Excerpt: In all three cases, Waltham proved that the actual Earth/Moon/solar system manifests unusually low Milankovitch levels and frequencies compared to similar alternative systems. ,,, Waltham concluded, “It therefore appears that there has been anthropic selection for slow Milankovitch cycles.” That is, it appears Earth was purposely designed with slow, low-level Milankovitch cycles so as to allow humans to exist and thrive.
    http://www.reasons.org/milankovitch-cycle-design

    THE EARTH-MOON SYSTEM AND THE DYNAMICAL STABILITY OF THE INNER SOLAR SYSTEM – 1998
    Excerpt: Evidence from self-consistent solar system n-body simulations is presented to argue that the Earth- Moon system (EM) plays an important dynamical role in the inner solar system, stabilizing the orbits of Venus and Mercury by suppressing a strong secular resonance of period 8.1 Myr near Venus’s heliocentric distance. The EM thus appears to play a kind of “gravitational keystone” role in the terrestrial precinct, for without it, the orbits of Venus and Mercury become immediately destabilized. … First, we find that EM is performing an essential dynamical role by suppressing or “damping out” a secular resonance driven by the giant planets near the Venusian heliocentric distance. The source of the resonance is a libration of the Jovian longitude of perihelion with the Venusian perihelion longitude.
    http://iopscience.iop.org/1538.....4_2055.pdf

  9. 9
    rado says:

    I think the ability to sense beauty is based on the ability to sense order. A tree is an ordered system and we are capable of detecting that just as we can detect design. But if you cut the tree into pieces with a chainsaw it no longer looks beautiful because as a whole it’s lost its natural order. Beauty is in the wholeness of a natural construction, which also includes logical, purposeful function.

    And yes, truth is simple. Walter Russell discovered the unifying principle in physics which science still seems to be looking for, decades ago, but not many understood it, probably because it’s too simple and obvious.

    “So simple is this underlying Principle of Creation that I have been enabled, throughout these years, to state it in one paragraph and one octave-wave diagram so simply that every law or theory ever propounded in the past or future by man can be tested by that paragraph and diagram. If they will not fit into this unitary principle they are outside of Natural Law and must be discarded. It will be found that most of even the most fundamental laws and theories of the past and present do not come anywhere near fitting into this underlying principle. They will, therefore, have to be discarded in favor of immortal Truth.”

    In the prelude to his “Course in Cosmic Consciousness” he also writes:

    UNIVERSAL LAW, NATURAL SCIENCE, AND LIVING PHILOSOPHY
    1950
    BY WALTER RUSSELL

    These lessons are written for the purpose of revealing the nature of God and verifying the Presence of God as the One Universal Being through the gradual unfolding of the secret processes of Creation, which have until now been unknown to humanity. My ability to prove God as a scientific fact and bring Him within the range of man’s comprehension through incontrovertible evidence of His controlling Presence in all creating things is the result of having fully experienced that rarest of all spiritual phenomena known as the Illumination into the Light of Cosmic Consciousness, during a thirty-nine day and night period in May and June of 1921.

    I will not describe that phenomenon here, for it will be fully described in the following pages, except to say that the seat of sensation becomes completely severed from its centering conscious Mind for intervals, followed by intervals of partial awareness of bodily sensing. During these intervals of complete severance, one becomes wholly Mind, the One Mind of God, in which exists all-knowledge, all-power, and all-presence. Relatively few such experiences of illumination have been recorded throughout world history.

    Naturally, the entirety of the secrets of Creation were mine to know as a complete and consistent cosmogony, which knowing enabled me to envision the universe as a whole. Underlying the creative process of the universe was a fundamental principle of such simplicity that I felt that I could gather the great scientists of the world together and give them that entire principle in a few minutes, for I had been aware that for decades science has been searching for such an underlying principle, which would apply to all phenomena.

    This I prepared to do by purchasing a textbook of science to familiarize myself with the present state of scientific knowledge, for before my illumination I knew nothing whatsoever of science. To my amazement I found that the entire cosmogenetic theory of science was so unlike God and Nature that, while reading it, I felt that these laws, hypotheses, and other conclusions could not possibly have been written by men of our day, for they were so far afield from fact they seemed more like the conjuring of ancient sages who told of the flat earth upheld at its four corners by huge elephants as their cosmogenetic concept.

    As I read these unnatural theories and laws, it gradually dawned upon me that these primal ideas were so fixed within the mental structure of science that it would be more than foolhardy to attempt to carry out my plan. The science I read was so utterly complex that it was beyond the comprehension of average people without special training, whereas the science of God’s plan in Nature, which I wished to give, was so simple that anyone of average intelligence could master it without difficulty.

  10. 10
    Seversky says:

    Bornagain77 @ 4

    Well there is certainly no reason to presuppose beauty or truth to exist from a Darwinian framework. Beauty and truth simply have no place in the reductive materialism of Darwin’s theory.

    Quite right. Once again, evolution is theory in biology, not aesthetics.

    In regards to beauty, Darwin himself stated that if “structures have been created for beauty in the eyes of man,,,.This doctrine, if true, would be absolutely fatal to my theory.”

    In other words, evidence of ubiquitous design in living things would present a severe challenge to his theory. He knew that just as well as we do. That shouldn’t be a surprise.

    In fact, besides beauty being, according to Darwin himself, antithetical to Darwin’s theory, beauty itself does not even exist in the reductive materialist’s Darwinian worldview but, like many other things in their woldview, becomes illusory.

    This from the man who believes that nothing exists at the quantum level, which presumably implies that nothing exists at higher levels as well, unless it is observed by a conscious mind. How does that differ from an illusion?

    In fact, the existence of beauty, since it cannot be ground in materialism, is yet another argument for the existence of God:

    Beauty exists in the eye of the beholder. If there is no beholder, there is no beauty

    As well, truth itself is an abstract property of the mind and thus truth itself becomes illusory in the Darwinian worldview. And thus, like beauty, “Truth” can only ever be properly grounded within Theism:

    Truth lies within the correspondence between our observations of the world and our descriptions and explanations thereof. If we can observe and try to explain what we observe, which we apparently can, then we are capable of at least an approximation of truth. We don’t need to rely on the dubious charity of a deity who occasionally deigns to dole out morsels of “Truth”.

    Secularists tried, and still try, to hold that ‘truth’ can be grounded within mathematics. But, besides the fact that mathematics itself is an abstract immaterial entity that can never be grounded within the Darwinist’s materialistic world,

    The value of mathematics lies in its power to model what we observe of the objective world. If it didn’t, it would be no more than a game like chess with which we entertain ourselves. In other words, it’s only useful if it works when applied to the material world, which it apparently does rather well.

    Thus, since ‘truth’ itself is a abstract immaterial entity which is not reducible to some mathematical equation, much less is it reducible to some purely material/natural explanation, then presupposing Darwinian Materialism and/or Methodological Naturalism , as the vast majority of American universities do, actually precludes ‘The Truth’ from ever being reached by science!

    Once again, Truth is for philosophers. Science is about the more mundane business of trying to understand and explain the material world in which we find ourselves. That doesn’t mean scientists are not interested in the truth about that world. Of course, they are. They very much hope that some part of it will emerge from the work they do but it’s not their primary focus.

    Moreover, beauty clearly can be no sure guide to truth for the Darwinist since the reductive materialism foundation of Darwinian evolution precludes both truth and beauty from actually existing.

    If beauty only exists in the eye of the beholder, does it exist or not? If Middle Earth only exists in the minds of the author and the readers of Lord of the Rings does it exist or not? You argue that quantum phenomena only exist in the mind of the observer so do they – and, by extension, we – exist or not?

  11. 11
    hnorman42 says:

    Pigliucci speaks of Ockham’s razor as being an epistemological principle rather than a metaphysical one. “It’s about how we know…” If he was to instead say “It’s about how we model…” I think I could agree. One can only know something that’s true. However, a model can have utilitarian value even if it’s wrong. Actually, Ockham’s razor can also be good for deciding which hypotheses to check first.

  12. 12
    Axel says:

    It is what happens when atheists try to plagiarise – inevitbly slavishly – intelligent design advocate, Einstein ; as atheist Communists do Christianity, also without the most minimal attribution.

    Einstein apparently remarked that simplicity should be sought, but not at the expense of common sense, not beyond reason. He also remarked that the criterion he used for his initial hypotheses was aesthetic, but to mention that to atheists is asking for trouble, since it is a concept only people with an understanding that all things and our understanding of them are interconnected, could make sense of.

    It is not subject to physical analysis under laboratory conditions – or any other for that matter. But notice how they affect to despise intelligent design, but want any of that ‘mojo’ Einstein might have bequeathed the scientific community.

  13. 13
    bornagain77 says:

    Seversky at 10,

    Bornagain77 @ 4 : Well there is certainly no reason to presuppose beauty or truth to exist from a Darwinian framework. Beauty and truth simply have no place in the reductive materialism of Darwin’s theory.

    Sev: Quite right. Once again, evolution is theory in biology, not aesthetics.

    BA77: In regards to beauty, Darwin himself stated that if “structures have been created for beauty in the eyes of man,,,.This doctrine, if true, would be absolutely fatal to my theory.”

    Sev: In other words, evidence of ubiquitous design in living things would present a severe challenge to his theory. He knew that just as well as we do. That shouldn’t be a surprise.

    So Seversky is apparently conceding that design and beauty are in some way deeply correlated. But why does Seversky presuppose that such a deep correlation between design and beauty should exist in the first place? And why do we see some designs, that were not so well designed, as being ugly? None of those criteria, i.e. design, beauty, ugly, have any place in Seversky’s reductive materialistic framework. To repeat:

    If something is not composed of particles or does not have physical properties (e.g., mass, energy, orientation, position, etc), it is abstract, i.e., spiritual. Numbers, mathematics, logic, truth, distance, time, beauty, ugliness, species, person, information, etc.. etc.. fall into that category. It is amazing how many things fall into that category even though most of us, including scientists, (scientists also to be an abstract term itself), swear they exist physically.
    June 2019
    https://uncommondescent.com/intelligent-design/why-some-biologists-are-beginning-to-question-the-biological-species-concept/#comment-679500

    Moreover, as was pointed out earlier this morning on another thread, to make this dilemma even more devastating to the Darwinian materialists, it turns out that atoms themselves are not the solid indivisible concrete particles, as they were originally envisioned to be by materialists, but it turns out that the descriptions we now use to describe atoms themselves, the further down we go, dissolve into “abstract conceptual tools for describing nature, which themselves seem to lack any real, concrete essence.,,,”
    https://uncommondescent.com/intelligent-design/neurosurgeon-michael-egnor-takes-on-a-materialist-neurologist/#comment-680258

    Seversky goes on to state,

    BA77: In fact, besides beauty being, according to Darwin himself, antithetical to Darwin’s theory, beauty itself does not even exist in the reductive materialist’s Darwinian worldview but, like many other things in their woldview, becomes illusory.

    Sev: This from the man who believes that nothing exists at the quantum level, which presumably implies that nothing exists at higher levels as well, unless it is observed by a conscious mind. How does that differ from an illusion?

    BA77: In fact, the existence of beauty, since it cannot be ground in materialism, is yet another argument for the existence of God:

    Sev: Beauty exists in the eye of the beholder. If there is no beholder, there is no beauty

    You simply can’t make this stuff up. Nobody would believe it. First Seversky denies the multiple experiments from quantum mechanics that have proven, in no uncertain terms, that material reality does not exist unless we are observing it, then Seversky turns right around and states that “Beauty exists in the eye of the beholder. If there is no beholder, there is no beauty”

    Apparently Seversky sees no problem whatsoever with denying the importance of the ‘beholder’ in one instance and then turning right around and insisting that the ‘beholder’ is of tantamount importance in the other instance. Apparently logic itself goes out the window when one is determined to defend atheistic materialism at all costs.

    Seversky then goes on to state:

    BA77: As well, truth itself is an abstract property of the mind and thus truth itself becomes illusory in the Darwinian worldview. And thus, like beauty, “Truth” can only ever be properly grounded within Theism:

    Sev: Truth lies within the correspondence between our observations of the world and our descriptions and explanations thereof. If we can observe and try to explain what we observe, which we apparently can, then we are capable of at least an approximation of truth. We don’t need to rely on the dubious charity of a deity who occasionally deigns to dole out morsels of “Truth”.

    BA77: Secularists tried, and still try, to hold that ‘truth’ can be grounded within mathematics. But, besides the fact that mathematics itself is an abstract immaterial entity that can never be grounded within the Darwinist’s materialistic world,

    Sev: The value of mathematics lies in its power to model what we observe of the objective world. If it didn’t, it would be no more than a game like chess with which we entertain ourselves. In other words, it’s only useful if it works when applied to the material world, which it apparently does rather well.

    Amazing, Seversky is basically denying that mathematics has any value whatsoever outside of how we can ‘model’ it to the material world. I’m sure that the mathematics departments of every major university in the world would take umbrage to Seversky’s accusation that math is merely “a game like chess with which we entertain ourselves’ unless it can be applied to the material world. As Berlinsky noted:

    An Interview with David Berlinski – Jonathan Witt
    Berlinski: There is no argument against religion that is not also an argument against mathematics. Mathematicians are capable of grasping a world of objects that lies beyond space and time ….
    Interviewer:… Come again(?) …
    Berlinski: No need to come again: I got to where I was going the first time. The number four, after all, did not come into existence at a particular time, and it is not going to go out of existence at another time. It is neither here nor there. Nonetheless we are in some sense able to grasp the number by a faculty of our minds. Mathematical intuition is utterly mysterious. So for that matter is the fact that mathematical objects such as a Lie Group or a differentiable manifold have the power to interact with elementary particles or accelerating forces. But these are precisely the claims that theologians have always made as well – that human beings are capable by an exercise of their devotional abilities to come to some understanding of the deity; and the deity, although beyond space and time, is capable of interacting with material objects.
    http://tofspot.blogspot.com/20.....-here.html

    Far from mathematics being merely ‘a game’ that is of no real consequence, the fact of the matter is that immaterial mathematics, and logic, besides being able to, (according to Einstein and Wigner), “miraculously” model the universe, mathematics and logic are now also found to have real and tangible effects on material reality.

    Specifically, the ‘top-down’ infusion of immaterial mathematical and/or logical information into material substrates lies at the very basis of many, if not all, of man’s most stunning, almost miraculous, technological advances in recent decades.

    Describing Nature With Math By Peter Tyson – Nov. 2011
    Excerpt: Mathematics underlies virtually all of our technology today. James Maxwell’s four equations summarizing electromagnetism led directly to radio and all other forms of telecommunication. E = mc2 led directly to nuclear power and nuclear weapons. The equations of quantum mechanics made possible everything from transistors and semiconductors to electron microscopy and magnetic resonance imaging.
    Indeed, many of the technologies you and I enjoy every day simply would not work without mathematics. When you do a Google search, you’re relying on 19th-century algebra, on which the search engine’s algorithms are based. When you watch a movie, you may well be seeing mountains and other natural features that, while appearing as real as rock, arise entirely from mathematical models. When you play your iPod, you’re hearing a mathematical recreation of music that is stored digitally; your cell phone does the same in real time.
    “When you listen to a mobile phone, you’re not actually hearing the voice of the person speaking,” Devlin told me. “You’re hearing a mathematical recreation of that voice. That voice is reduced to mathematics.”
    http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/p.....-math.html

    Recognising Top-Down Causation – George Ellis
    Excerpt: page 5: A: Causal Efficacy of Non Physical entities:
    Both the program and the data are non-physical entities, indeed so is all software. A program is not a physical thing you can point to, but by Definition 2 it certainly exists. You can point to a CD or flashdrive where it is stored, but that is not the thing in itself: it is a medium in which it is stored.
    The program itself is an abstract entity, shaped by abstract logic. Is the software “nothing but” its realisation through a specific set of stored electronic states in the computer memory banks? No it is not because it is the precise pattern in those states that matters: a higher level relation that is not apparent at the scale of the electrons themselves. It’s a relational thing (and if you get the relations between the symbols wrong, so you have a syntax error, it will all come to a grinding halt). This abstract nature of software is realised in the concept of virtual machines, which occur at every level in the computer hierarchy except the bottom one [17]. But this tower of virtual machines causes physical effects in the real world, for example when a computer controls a robot in an assembly line to create physical artefacts.
    Excerpt page 7: The assumption that causation is bottom up only is wrong in biology, in computers, and even in many cases in physics, ,,,
    The mind is not a physical entity, but it certainly is causally effective: proof is the existence of the computer on which you are reading this text. It could not exist if it had not been designed and manufactured according to someone’s plans, thereby proving the causal efficacy of thoughts, which like computer programs and data are not physical entities.
    http://fqxi.org/data/essay-con.....s_2012.pdf

    (also see the recent experimental realization of Maxwell’s demon thought experiment that proved that immaterial information has a ‘thermodynamic content’)

    Thus directly contrary to Seversky’s claim that mathematics is merely ‘a game’, the fact of the matter is that unless immaterial mathematics (and logic) had some real and tangible effect on material reality then none of our present day ‘miraculous’ technology would even be possible. Immaterial objects having real and tangible effects on material reality is simply impossible given the presuppositions of Seversky’s own reductive materialistic worldview.

    The same holds for the immaterial mind, which Seversky also denies the reality of. As Ellis noted at the end of the article I cited,,

    The mind is not a physical entity, but it certainly is causally effective: proof is the existence of the computer on which you are reading this text. It could not exist if it had not been designed and manufactured according to someone’s plans, thereby proving the causal efficacy of thoughts, which like computer programs and data are not physical entities.”
    – George Ellis

    Seversky goes on to say,

    BA77: Thus, since ‘truth’ itself is a abstract immaterial entity which is not reducible to some mathematical equation, much less is it reducible to some purely material/natural explanation, then presupposing Darwinian Materialism and/or Methodological Naturalism , as the vast majority of American universities do, actually precludes ‘The Truth’ from ever being reached by science!

    Sev: Once again, Truth is for philosophers. Science is about the more mundane business of trying to understand and explain the material world in which we find ourselves. That doesn’t mean scientists are not interested in the truth about that world. Of course, they are. They very much hope that some part of it will emerge from the work they do but it’s not their primary focus.

    So Seversky first tries to claim that “Truth is for philosophers. Science is about the more mundane business of trying to understand and explain the material world in which we find ourselves.”

    Of course, trying to “understand and explain the material world in which we find ourselves” is in fact, contrary to Seversky’s claim, precisely a search for “The Truth” about reality.

    So Seversky, apparently sensing that his claim that “Truth is for philosophers” does not wash, tries to back off and then states “That doesn’t mean scientists are not interested in the truth about that world. Of course, they are. They very much hope that some part of it will emerge from the work they do but it’s not their primary focus.”

    And again, even with his muted caveat about science’s search for truth, Seversky is still completely wrong. The large hadron collider (LHC), arguably the most famous and expensive scientific experiment in the world, was constructed precisely to answer fundamental questions about the nature of reality. In other words, the most famous experiment in the world was constructed precisely to find out ‘The Truth” about reality

    Large Hadron Collider
    Purpose
    Physicists hope that the Large Hadron Collider will help answer some of the fundamental open questions in physics, concerning the basic laws governing the interactions and forces among the elementary objects, the deep structure of space and time, and in particular the interrelation between quantum mechanics and general relativity.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Large_Hadron_Collider#Purpose

    Of supplemental note to science’s primary quest to find the ‘theory of everything’, i.e. quest to find ‘The Truth’.

    As Sheldon Lee Glashow states in the following article, “Although quantum field theory is fully compatible with the special theory of relativity, a relativistic treatment of quantum measurement has yet to be formulated.”

    Not So Real – Sheldon Lee Glashow – Oct. 2018
    Review of: “What Is Real? The Unfinished Quest for the Meaning of Quantum Physics”
    by Adam Becker
    Excerpt: Heisenberg, Schrödinger, and their contemporaries knew well that the theory they devised could not be made compatible with Einstein’s special theory of relativity. First order in time, but second order in space, Schrödinger’s equation is nonrelativistic. Although quantum field theory is fully compatible with the special theory of relativity, a relativistic treatment of quantum measurement has yet to be formulated.
    https://inference-review.com/article/not-so-real

    That is to say, although special relativity and quantum mechanics were mathematically unified in QED by “brushing infinity under the rug”(Richard Feynman), this unification between special relativity and quantum mechanics into Quantum Electrodynamics has left the entire enigma of Quantum Measurement on the cutting room floor.

    Yet quantum measurement is precisely where conscious observation makes its presence fully felt in quantum mechanics. As the following researcher stated, “It proves that measurement is everything. At the quantum level, reality does not exist if you are not looking at it.”

    New Mind-blowing Experiment Confirms That Reality Doesn’t Exist If You Are Not Looking at It – June 3, 2015
    Excerpt: Some particles, such as photons or electrons, can behave both as particles and as waves. Here comes a question of what exactly makes a photon or an electron act either as a particle or a wave. This is what Wheeler’s experiment asks: at what point does an object ‘decide’?
    The results of the Australian scientists’ experiment, which were published in the journal Nature Physics, show that this choice is determined by the way the object is measured, which is in accordance with what quantum theory predicts.
    “It proves that measurement is everything. At the quantum level, reality does not exist if you are not looking at it,” said lead researcher Dr. Andrew Truscott in a press release.,,,
    “The atoms did not travel from A to B. It was only when they were measured at the end of the journey that their wave-like or particle-like behavior was brought into existence,” he said.
    Thus, this experiment adds to the validity of the quantum theory and provides new evidence to the idea that reality doesn’t exist without an observer.
    http://themindunleashed.org/20.....at-it.html

  14. 14
    bornagain77 says:

    Thus since QED, and by extension the standard model itself. (which is what the Large Hadron Collider is testing), has left quantum measurement, i.e. conscious observation, on the cutting room floor by “brushing infinity under the rug”, then it necessarily follows that our best theory of the interactions of the fundamental particles of the universe will never include an adequate account of consciousness. Yet consciousness is inextricably bound to quantum mechanics in such a fundamental way so as to make it an irreducible part of quantum theory, and thus an irreducible part of any other theory that may seek to be unified with quantum theory (i.e. any theory that may lay claim to be the “theory of everything”):

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

    In short, although QED is empirically robust, it is still, since it has left measurement on the cutting room floor, nonetheless fatally flawed as a correct step towards a coherent ‘theory of everything’.

    And although special relativity, by ‘brushing infinity under the rug’, has been successfully unified with quantum theory to produce Quantum Electrodynamics, no such mathematical ‘sleight of hand’ exists for unifying general relativity with quantum mechanics.

    General relativity, as the following articles show, simply refuses to be mathematically unified with quantum mechanics in any acceptable way. In technical terms, Gravity has yet to be successfully included into a theory of everything since the infinities that crop up in that attempt are not renormalizable as they were in Quantum-Electrodynamics.

    Does quantum mechanics contradict the theory of relativity?
    Sanjay Sood, Microchip Design Engineer, Theoretical and Applied Physicist – Feb 14, 2016
    Excerpt: quantum mechanics was first integrated with special theory of relativity by Dirac in 1928 just 3 years after quantum mechanics was discovered. Dirac produced an equation that describes the behavior of a quantum particle (electron). In this equation the space and time enter on the same footing – equation is first order in all 4 coordinates. One startling by product of this equation was the prediction of anti matter. It also gave the correct explanation for the electron’s spin. Dirac’s equation treats an electron as a particle with only a finite degrees of freedom.
    In 1940s Dirac’s equation was incorporated into the relativistic quantum field theory that’s knowns as quantum electrodynamics (QED) independently by Feynman, Schwinger and Tomonaga. This is the theory that describes the behavior of electrons and photons and their interactions with each other in terms of relativistic quantum fields that have infinite degrees of freedom. QED allowed extremely precise calculation of anomalous magnetic dipole moment of an electron. This calculated value matches the experimentally measured value to an astonishing precision of 12 decimal places!
    The integration of Einstein’s general theory of relativity and quantum mechanics has proved to be far more difficult. Such an integration would give a quantum theory of gravity. Even after a sustained effort lasting more than half a century, no renormalized quantum field theory of gravity has ever been produced. Renormalization means a theory that’s free of infinities at zero distance or infinite energy because 2 point particles can interact with each other at zero distance. A non renormalizable theory has no predictive value because it contains an infinite number of singular coefficients.
    https://www.quora.com/Does-quantum-mechanics-contradict-the-theory-of-relativity

    Unified field theory
    Excerpt: Gravity has yet to be successfully included in a theory of everything.
    Simply trying to combine the graviton with the strong and electroweak interactions runs into fundamental difficulties since the resulting theory is not renormalizable. Theoretical physicists have not yet formulated a widely accepted, consistent theory that combines general relativity and quantum mechanics. The incompatibility of the two theories remains an outstanding problem in the field of physics.
    Some theoretical physicists currently believe that a quantum theory of general relativity may require frameworks other than field theory itself, such as string theory or loop quantum gravity.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unified_field_theory#Current_status

    Quantum Leaps – Jeremy Bernstein – October 19, 2018
    Excerpt: Divergent series notwithstanding, quantum electrodynamics yielded results of remarkable accuracy. Consider the magnetic moment of the electron. This calculation, which has been calculated up to the fifth order in ?, agrees with experiment to ten parts in a billion. If one continued the calculation to higher and higher orders, at some point the series would begin to break down. There is no sign of that as yet. Why not carry out a similar program for gravitation? One can readily write down the Feynman graphs that represent the terms in the expansion. Yet there remains an irremediable difficulty. Every order reveals new types of infinities, and no finite number of renormalizations renders all the terms in the series finite.
    The theory is not renormalizable.
    https://inference-review.com/article/quantum-leaps
    Jeremy Bernstein is professor emeritus of physics at the Stevens Institute of Technology.

    The irreconcilable ‘infinity problem’ between Quantum Mechanics and General Relativity, and how it relates to Godel’s Incompleteness Theorem, is dealt with in a little bit more detail in the following video.

    Gödel, Infinity, and Jesus Christ as the Theory of Everything – video
    https://youtu.be/x1Jw5Y686jY

    And as was also touched upon in the preceding video, I firmly believe that the correct reconciliation of Quantum Mechanics and General Relativity into the much sought after ‘theory of everything’ was accomplished via Jesus Christ’s resurrection from the dead.

    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”.

    (April 2019) Overturning the Copernican principle (with our two most powerful theories in science)
    Excerpt: Thus in conclusion, the new interactive graph by Dr. Dembski provides a powerful independent line of evidence, along with several other powerful lines of scientific evidence (from Quantum Mechanics and General Relativity), that overturns the Copernican principle and restores humanity back to centrality in the universe, and even, when putting all those lines of evidence together, brings modern science back, full circle, to Christianity from whence it originated in the first place.
    https://uncommondescent.com/intelligent-design/bill-dembski-and-colleagues-create-an-updated-magnifying-the-universe-tool/#comment-675730

    (February 19, 2019) To support Isabel Piczek’s claim that the Shroud of Turin does indeed reveal a true ‘event horizon’, the following study states that ‘The bottom part of the cloth (containing the dorsal image) would have born all the weight of the man’s supine body, yet the dorsal image is not encoded with a greater amount of intensity than the frontal image.’,,,
    Moreover, besides gravity being dealt with, the shroud also gives us evidence that Quantum Mechanics was dealt with. In the following paper, it was found that it was not possible to describe the image formation on the Shroud in classical terms but they found it necessary to describe the formation of the image on the Shroud in discrete quantum terms.
    https://uncommondescent.com/intelligent-design/experiment-quantum-particles-can-violate-the-mathematical-pigeonhole-principle/#comment-673178

    Supplemental notes defending the authenticity of the Shroud of Turin:
    https://uncommondescent.com/intelligent-design/viruses-devolve/#comment-674732

    To give us a small glimpse of the power that was involved in Christ resurrection from the dead, the following recent article found that, ”it would take 34 Thousand Billion Watts of VUV radiations to make the image on the shroud. This output of electromagnetic energy remains beyond human technology.”

    Astonishing discovery at Christ’s tomb supports Turin Shroud – NOV 26TH 2016
    Excerpt: The first attempts made to reproduce the face on the Shroud by radiation, used a CO2 laser which produced an image on a linen fabric that is similar at a macroscopic level. However, microscopic analysis showed a coloring that is too deep and many charred linen threads, features that are incompatible with the Shroud image. Instead, the results of ENEA “show that a short and intense burst of VUV directional radiation can color a linen cloth so as to reproduce many of the peculiar characteristics of the body image on the Shroud of Turin, including shades of color, the surface color of the fibrils of the outer linen fabric, and the absence of fluorescence”.
    ‘However, Enea scientists warn, “it should be noted that the total power of VUV radiations required to instantly color the surface of linen that corresponds to a human of average height, body surface area equal to = 2000 MW/cm2 17000 cm2 = 34 thousand billion watts makes it impractical today to reproduce the entire Shroud image using a single laser excimer, since this power cannot be produced by any VUV light source built to date (the most powerful available on the market come to several billion watts )”.
    Comment
    The ENEA study of the Holy Shroud of Turin concluded that it would take 34 Thousand Billion Watts of VUV radiations to make the image on the shroud. This output of electromagnetic energy remains beyond human technology.
    http://westvirginianews.blogsp.....in-is.html

    Verse:

    Colossians 1:15-22
    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.
    Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation—

    John 14:6
    Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

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