Science predicts that many different kinds of universe will be spontaneously created out of nothing. It is a matter of chance which we are in.
The multiverse “theory” is just an attempt to avoid explaining aspects of modern physics. You cannot explain the problems away in this way. Appealing to “chance” is no matter and is the opposite of science, which is supposed to explain things. Appealing to chance is the same as alleging that something has no cause, something just happens. We shall be returning to the topic of chance in another episode.
One might think this means that imaginary numbers are just a mathematical game having nothing to do with the real world. From the viewpoint of positivist philosophy, however, one cannot determine what is real. All one can do is find which mathematical models describe the universe we live in. It turns out that a mathematical model involving imaginary time predicts not only effects we have already observed but also effects we have not been able to measure yet nevertheless believe in for other reasons. So what is real and what is imaginary? Is the distinction just in our minds?
I think many of the issues here are fairly obvious. It is a simple denial of the existence of a real, knowable world. And an appeal to just forming mathematical models.
We cannot know what is real, so we just shut up and calculate, apparently. Which is the overwhelmingly typical view in mainstream modern physics. This is something that is covered in other episodes, so we shall not go into it very much at this point.
One might ask what imaginary time is. Some kind of mathematics with a nonsensical interpretation. Shut up and calculate, and do not worry too much about interpretation. It is all just words.
The human race is just a chemical scum on a moderate-sized planet, orbiting around a very average star in the outer suburb of one among a hundred billion galaxies. We are so insignificant that I can’t believe the whole universe exists for our benefit. That would be like saying that you would disappear if I closed my eyes.
This is a terrible way to try to estimate the value of humanity. Who cares how much other matter exists? We exist on this bit of matter and are able to do amazing things here, I think that makes us very significant.
I think the fact that we know so much about a vast, complicated universe proves just how powerful reason and the human mind really can be. I think that makes us the most significant and giant species we know of. The wonder of the human mind dwarves, in my opinion, the wonder of all stars and planets in the universe.
So Einstein was wrong when he said, “God does not play dice.” Consideration of black holes suggests, not only that God does play dice, but that he sometimes confuses us by throwing them where they can’t be seen.
Chance again! No, sorry, as I said before, you cannot avoid physics by appealing to randomness. You might as well stop trying to do physics if you are going to do that.
I don’t demand that a theory correspond to reality because I don’t know what it is. Reality is not a quality you can test with litmus paper. All I’m concerned with is that the theory should predict the results of measurements.
Physics is not about prediction, it is about understanding the universe. At least, that used to be the goal of physics. Here Hawking seems to be openly rejecting that as the goal of physics. Instead, he thinks physics should just be about predicting things.
Which is really more like the goal of math than physics. But, these days many physicists do tend to view physics as little more than applied mathematics.
Traditionally these are questions for philosophy, but philosophy is dead. Philosophy has not kept up with modern developments in science, particularly physics. Scientists have become the bearers of the torch of discovery in our quest for knowledge.
This is of course nonsense. Since you cannot engage in science without philosophy, you cannot use physics to kill off philosophy.
What this amounts to is:
I have this philosophy, which I got from some other guy (which they got from Kant). It tells me that there is no reality. What do I do now? Well, I just need to shut up and crunch numbers and declare whatever I calculate to be true. You don’t need philosophy for that, right? So, let’s get rid of it.
Given the dead-end philosophies that are implicitly or explicitly held by most physicists today, it is hardly surprising that many of them consider philosophy useless.
Ok, so I have been talking for a while and I think you now have some idea why I think Hawking was no friend of reason.
We have covered a lot of little tidbits here. We will probably discuss most of these issues in further detail at some point, but this gives you a little taste of a number of different issues and a range of different views widely held.
Alright, I am just about done for now. Before, I wrap up though, a few more things.
If you have not done so already, please check out the website on metaphysicsofphysics.com.
I am always seeking guest stars to interview or present lectures! So, if you have any suggestions along such lines, please email us and I will consider your suggestion. I have a couple of these coming up, more details on this soon.
You are welcome to send in questions about any of the things talked about in this episode or about irrational stuff in physics or the philosophy of science in general. Send them in to email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. Both will work just as well.
In the upcoming episode, I will be discussing the Big Bang and my philosophical issues with this theory. I will not really be going into the science of this issue, as this is not as interesting as the philosophical issues…
Thanks for listening! Please tune in for the next episode and start thinking of some questions! Until then, stay rational!