Tag Archives: Metaphysics

Quora Answers 9/7/20: The Kalam Cosmological “Argument”

Today I am answering the following Quora question on the Kalam Cosmological Argument:

Is there a flaw in the Kalam cosmological argument?

My Answer

I assume you mean the form of the argument made popular by William Lane Craig. Which takes this essential form:

  1. Whatever begins to exist has a cause.
  2. The universe began to exist.
  3. Therefore, the universe has a cause
  4. Therefore God must have created it.

Let me show why this does not work.

  1. Yes, whatever begins to exist generally does have a cause. Which is to say that it did not always exist and did not come about by magic.

    However, the universe is not a thing. The concept of the universe refers to the totality of everything that exists. Regardless of what exists, we can lump everything that exists under the concept “universe”.

    But does the universe have a cause? Well, yes the concept of the universe has a cause. The need to refer to the totality of existence.

    But does existence have a cause? No, it does not. Existence has always existed. No matter how far “back in time” you go, you will always find that something has existed.

    There is no alternative to existence. There is no point at which nothing existed. And if there was, there would be nothing to cause existence to come into being.

    Therefore since existence has always existed and there is nothing that could cause the universe to come into existence, existence cannot have a cause.
  2. Since the universe refers to everything in existence, for the universe to have a cause, existence would have to have a cause. But we have shown that existence has no cause.
  3. Therefore since the existence has no cause, the universe has no cause.

I could go on and point out the Kalam Cosmological Argument has many flaws.

Firstly, the first premise applies to God. If God exists, then God must have a cause. According to Christians, God began to exist therefore god had to have a cause.

So what caused God? And if something caused God, then that thing must have existed and something must have caused that to exist.

And so on you, have an infinite series of creators that must have created each other.

Why does God get to be an uncaused entity? Logically he could not be. And if something created God, is that creator more powerful than God. If so, then that more powerful entity must be created by a yet more powerful entity.

So you have an infinite series of increasingly more powerful God-creating Creator gods.

Which is clearly logically absurd.

God, Kalam Cosmological argument
Hey God, who created you? And who created that God? Or do you get to be an arbitrary exception. If only there was a name for that logical fallacy…

It also greatly diminishes the importance of God as the ultimate creator. Since he is merely the last in the line of an endless line of more powerful creator Gods.

Which means that God cannot be omnipotent. Why? Because there is now a long series of entities far more powerful than God is.

That or all the other gods are just as powerful and God is part of an endless series of gods of equal power than created each other. It is Gods all the way down.

Which rather diminishes the uniqueness of God.

Or, God gets to be the exception to logic and was able to magically create himself.

The Kalam Cosmological Argument is of course an example of the special pleading fallacy.

What is the special pleading fallacy? That is when you establish a principle such as “everything must have a cause” and then make arbitrary exceptions to that principle for no reason.

In other words, you make a claim and then make exceptions to it for no reason. Everything is meant to adhere to the principle except for the things which you make exceptions for.

This creates a double standard where your opponents are expected to adhere to your principles but you get to make exceptions without providing any reason for why your exceptions are valid.

If we are allowed to make God immune to logic, why bother with logic at all? Why not just assume that the universe is magic?

Or, more logically, that the Kalam Cosmological argument is invalid.

But of course, the fact that this is entirely illogical is not going to bother Creationists such as Craig. Since they are perfectly willing to use logic as long as does not apply to God or anything in the Bible.

Which is why it is pointless to argue with them. As they will never listen to logic or reason when it clashes with what they have accepted on faith. For no reason and against all reason.

It is therefore rather pointless to point any of this out to them. As once you have closed your mind to logic and reason, you have closed your mind to reality. And such people cannot be reasoned with. It would be rather a waste of time to try….

The Inductive Summary of Physics Project

I have made this post to promote the “Inductive Summary of Physics” project.

What is this project? It is an important project started by my friend James Ellias. He has a Masters in Physics and like he is a very interested in the philosophy of physics. Also like me, he is an Objectivist and applies the philosophy of Objectivism to physics

Unlike me, he focuses more on presenting a rational presentation of physics itself, where I focus more on the problems in modern physics.

What is this series? Well, I will quote James himself:

In this lecture series, I give a detailed summary of the essentials of physics in an inductive order. This will allow us to understand the essentials of known physics through the inductions which proved them. This series does not constitute a rigorous inductive proof, but it is close, as it gives detailed accounts of the observations and reasoning steps required to prove the ideas. To make the lectures consumable by the general public, I have not included technical mathematics in this treatment, but this comes at the cost of full inductive rigor.

James Ellias describing the the “Inductive Summary of Physics” project.

I will not say much else, other than pointing out that it is a highly interesting and successful project. If you have any interest in rational physics, then I strongly suggest that you check it out.

If you like Metaphysics of Physics, then you will certainly like the Inductive Physics Projects and James’ other content.

Newton, physics
Newton, one of those masters of induction from the Inductive Summary of Physics…

You can check out the Inductive Physics playlist here.

Please go there, watch the videos and subscribe. And feel free to leave him some comments with any questions you have. Or ask me here on Facebook/Discord and I can pass them on to him.

I also have an interview with him here.

Interview with James Ellias

This is an interview with James Ellias, creator of the excellent “An Inductive Summary of Physics” series covering an inductive history of physics and other important philosophical topics.

We discuss the role of induction in physics and many other issues in the philosophy of physics. As well as taking a few questions from our listeners.

The questions asked in the interview include (please not the questions are not necceasirly listed in the order asked):

  • Tell us more about the role of induction in physics.
  • What would you add to or change about the theory of induction presented in the Logical Leap? Or what do you have to say about induction in general?
  • Tell us about your video “There are two hierarchies of knowledge”.
  • Alright, tell us about the role of mathematics in physics
  • Tell us about the “Brief History of Physics” series on your YouTube channel.
  • So, tell us the “Inductive Summary of Physics” project.
  • Who are some of your favorite physicists? 
  • Tell us about some of your favorite sources of inspiration for your work? Which authors/speakers do you draw the most from/get the most inspiration from?
  • Would you care to tell us any of your ideas about what really be going on with some of the lesser well known parts of modern physics? I am talking about things like quantum mechanics, what fields really are, what relativity is really describing and so on.
  • Tell us about some of your experiences in academia? Is going into academia something you would recommend for those interested in physics? Why or why not?
  • What do you think is wrong with modern physics? What are some of the root causes?
  • Which books/sources would you recommend to learn more about physics?
  • In what ways is philosophy important to physics? 
  • Why do you think so many physicists dismiss philosophy?
  • Tell us about some of the most ingenious experiments performed in physics.
  • Talk about the difference between the historical approach and your inductive approach. 
  • What do you think about Lewis Littles’ Theory of Elementary Waves?
Bohr, quantum physics,

To find out the answers to these questions, you should tune into the interview… 🙂

You can find his YouTube channel here.

You can find his Inductive Summary of Physics channel here.

Post-Reality Physics: Evidence, Who Needs It?

Today we are going to examine this article on the physics of string theory, “Philosophers Want to Know Why Physicists Believe Theories They Can’t Prove”.

As we discussed in one of our earlier articles, “Physicists vs Reality”, it starts in a rather refreshing way:

It’s often assumed that physics and philosophy are at opposite ends of the academic spectrum. In fact, they’re close—so close that they can overlap…”

Interesting, it is not that often you get to see people admitting that philosophy might be of any relevance at all to physics. Not a lot of physicists would admit this.

I suppose that it should not too be too surprising that philosophers might know better. And even less surprising that a philosopher of science might think this.

We will be hearing from one such, Richard Dawid, in this article.

Here is something he has to say:

The criteria for establishing a theory, he discovered, is not in itself subject to scientific enquiry. “They’re considered background assumptions,” says Dawid. “It’s a question that’s driven by physics but it’s a philosophical question.”

There are criteria for establishing a theory. At least there is if you want to do it rationally.

First, your theory should have a rational foundation. It should start with known facts, be it direct observational results. Or with something else we know to be true based on observation. Then we attempt to build up from there.

One should study the facts of reality and identify some implications of those facts. One should then focus in on one or more implications of reality and attempt to see what new facts one might be able to identify.

These form the basis of one’s hypothesis, some proposed fact of reality one wants to prove to be true. One then needs to validate this in some way.

In the physical sciences, this involves experimentation. One needs to perform experiments that validate that hypothesis and then show that it is indeed true.

In more abstract subjects, such as mathematics, one might need to perform a mathematical proof, based on logic. Such proof shows that given some established premise, that a given conclusion is true or false.

Of course, math proofs can be very hard and abstract. But they are not totally disconnected from reality …

In any case, one needs some valid way to prove their hypothesis and show that they have indeed identified some fact of reality.

So, yes, there are criteria for establishing a theory. And the philosophy of science helps establish what these criteria are.

And guess what Mr Dawid, philosophy is a science.

To quote Ayn Rand:

Philosophy is the science that studies the fundamental aspects of the nature of existence. The task of philosophy is to provide man with a comprehensive view of life. This view serves as a base, a frame of reference, for all his actions, mental or physical, psychological or existential. This view tells him the nature of the universe with which he has to deal (metaphysics); the means by which he is to deal with it, i.e., the means of acquiring knowledge (epistemology) …

Ayn Rand, “The Chickens’ Homecoming”, Return of the Primitive: The Anti-Industrial Revolution, 45

That is right, philosophy includes metaphysics, that is, our view of the fundamental view of existence. Which, ideally, one would approach scientifically.

It also includes epistemology, the science of how one goes about gaining knowledge. And this would include how we would go about performing science. Which, again, ideally, we would approach scientifically.

Despite what many philosophers might believe, philosophy is not a bunch of subjective thoughts where one argues whatever one wants.

At least, it does not have to be approached this way.

Ayn Rand, the great rational and founder of the philosophy of Objectivism.

To the contrary! Ayn Rand shows that philosophy can and should be approached as a systematic study of reality, of mankind’s nature and his relationship to the world around him. It should start with observation and work its way up from that.

Observation is something that scientists themselves often implicitly dismiss. What with Kant trying to argue that we cannot trust our senses and a lot of philosophers agreeing with him.

So, it is little wonder many of them can find no basis for their philosophical ranting.

[M]any serious physicists seem to have abandoned this model. String theory, for example, is one of the most exciting ideas in modern physics. But it’s not testable—so how can physicists be confident that it’s sound?

They cannot be. Anyone can come up with any kind of theory that they like. I could come up with a system that tries to explain physics as the product of little meta-puffballs (credit to Leonard Peikoff for this amusing idea or at least one like it).

Let us suppose that it is consistent and that if the universe is made up of meta-puffballs, that this would explain everything we see in physics. Does this make the theory true? Does this make this a good theory or good physics?

No, it does not. A theory is not true simply because it is self-consistent. It is not true because it might explain how things work.

What if meta-puffballs do not exist? Or if they have no bearing to anything we can observe? What if the theory does not explain anything?

We need to test theories against the facts of reality. And not simply come up with a purely mathematical hypothesis that may or may not describe the nature of real objects.

We do not want these hypotheses to fail to describe the interactions of real entities.

There is a need to verify that our theories describe actual fundamental entities and their actions. And not a simply self-consistent mathematical theory that may not describe how reality works!

Not that string theory is internally consistent anyway.

quantum, Schrodinger's Cat

Vodcast Episode Two: Quantum Absurdities, Part One

Play

Today we are going over quantum absurdities and showing how quantum physics is in fact highly absurd. This is part one of a two part series.

Click here to download the PDF transcript or read below the video.

You may also listen to or download an audio only version above.

[Note: Please note that this transcript may not exactly match the audio. However, there should be no significant differences.]

Intro

Metaphysics of Physics is the crucial voice of reason in the philosophy of science, rarely found anywhere else in the world today.

We are equipped with the fundamental principles of a rational philosophy that gives us the edge, may make us misfits in the mainstream sciences but also attracts rational minds.

With this show, we are fighting for a more rational world, mostly by looking through the lens of the philosophy of science.

We raise awareness of issues within the philosophy of science and present alternative and rational approaches.

The irrationality of modern physics is the focus of this channel. We have covered topics such as:

The irrationality of Stephen Hawking. The universe and the Big Bang. The philosophy of Niels Bohr. The achievements of Isaac Newton.Optical illusions and the validity of the senses.

If you think that science is about explaining a knowable reality, then this is the channel for you.

If you want to learn more about the irrationality of modern physics, then you are in the right place.

I am your host Ashna. My husband, Dwayne Davies is the primary content creator and your guide through the hallowed halls of the philosophy of science.

We will discuss the problems in modern physics and more and how we can live in a more rational world!

Check out our website at metaphysicsofphysics.com.

The Show Itself

Hi everyone! Welcome to the second episode of the Metaphysics of Physics video podcast. Today we are going over quantum absurdities and showing how quantum physics is in fact highly absurd.

While this is not an exhaustive list, it covers many of the essential absurdities.

What is the purpose of this? Yes, the mathematics of quantum theory is incredibly useful and impressive. But we want to show that the physical interpretations of quantum mechanics make no sense.

This is part one of a two-part series.

Particle Wave Duality

Quantum physics asserts that particles can be described as both a wave and a particle.

Albert Einstein had this to say about particle-wave duality:

It seems as though we must use sometimes the one theory and sometimes the other, while at times we may use either. We are faced with a new kind of difficulty. We have two contradictory pictures of reality; separately neither of them fully explains the phenomena of light, but together they do.

Albert Einstein

Until the early twentieth century, light was widely considered to be a wave, as demonstrated by Thomas Young.

Thomas Young
Thomas Young

But then Einstein showed that light seemed to have particle behavior! And Planck showed that light seemed to come in discrete packets.

So, was light a particle or a wave? Which was it? Later physicists alleged to show that light sometimes shows particle behavior and sometimes wave behavior.

This led them to conclude that light is somehow both a particle and a wave at the same time. And that it, somehow, sometimes behaves as a wave and sometimes behaves as a particle.

Does this make any sense? Well, of course not.

A wave is an abstract description. It describes the motion of something. It describes various relationships.

Take a sound wave. It is an abstract description of the movement of air that can be mathematically represented as a wave.

Or take a water wave. When we say “wave” in this context, we are describing water arranged in a certain pattern.

The pattern of rise and fall with peaks and troughs.

The concept of a water wave describes the relationship of positions between water molecules that makes this pattern.

In common speech, it is often said that a “water wave” or the like refers to the water molecules. This is the noun form of “wave” that describes something arranged like this (something that is waving).

We are using wave in its verb form, as a description of motion or behavior, or a description of some kind of relationship.

A wave is a behavior that a physical entity does. Water may move in a wave motion. Air molecules move in a wave pattern and we experience this as sound.

A wave is the behavior of physical entities. It is not a form of physical entity.

Saying that light is a wave is saying “Light is the movement or behavior of something”. It does not tell us what it is that is waving.

It is like if I held up a ball and asked what it is and you said “That is a bounce”.

You have told me something that the ball does but not what the ball actually is. Bouncing is what the ball does, it is not what the ball is.

Physics is the science of explaining the nature of the fundamental physical constituents of the universe. You want to explain what those things are and how they interact.

Saying “light is a wave, an abstract description of behavior” does not further that in any way and evades the question of what is doing the waving.

We do not even have to get into the issue that something cannot be a wave and a particle at the same time. Because a wave is a description of behavior while a particle is a description of what something is, its form.

The idea of particle-wave duality reifies an abstraction and attempts to reduce physical entities to an abstraction.

It also evades the Law of Identity that says that things are what they are. Something is either a particle or not. It is not a particle, a form of matter and also a wave, an abstraction.

Contradictions do not exist. If you think you see a contradiction in reality then check your premises, because one or more of them are wrong.

quantum, Schrodinger's Cat
That means no dead and alive zombie cats…

Indeterminacy

It is said that until they are observed, particles do not have a definite state. Instead, they exist in a state of “superposition”.

That is, they exist in multiple different, mutually exclusive states all at once. And then when an observation takes place, they take on definite values for their properties.

A property is merely an aspect of somethings existence. But any property of any particle can only exist in one state at a time. That particle’s property can only take one value at a time.

That is just another way of saying something is what it is and that it has a nature and its properties are determined by its nature. Its properties are simply an aspect of its nature and cannot be any different than what they are.

This implies that properties must have single, definite values, as determined by the nature of the entities in question.

Saying that particles exist in a superposition of states is equivalent to saying that those properties have no values and do not exist.

It is denying that a particle is what it is and instead treats it as some kind of Platonic combination of possibilities.

This reifies the idea that a particle can have different possible states and pretends that these possible states are all somehow real, independent of the particle and its nature.

Is “Settled Science” Scientific?

Is there any such thing as settled science? Yes, there is.

But, first, what do I mean by “settled” science? A scientific claim that any rational person would accept as true and established beyond any reasonable doubt. And which they consider will never be replaced by an alternate theory.

You might object that this is not very scientific! We must always keep in mind that we might be wrong. We need to be ready to adjust what we know to accommodate new information that might cast what we know today into doubt!

Yes, that is partially true. We should keep in mind that we are fallible and that we might come to invalid conclusions.

Science, as with any other body of knowledge, is contextual. We study reality and based on what we observe, we form logical conclusions. But we can only account for that which we know about.

For instance, take Newtonian gravity. In the context of not knowing what happens near the speed of light, it was entirely reasonable to accept Newton’s laws of gravity as settled science.

We did not know what happened at extremely high velocities so we had no reason to doubt Newtonian gravity. Newtonian gravity is valid, within the context of things not moving near the speed of light.

Then, we expanded our context to be able to account for things near light speed. We realized that in that context, Einstein’s relativity provides better mathematics for what happens with gravity at near light speed.

Does that mean that we had no reason to be certain about Newtonian gravity?

No, it does not. We knew that it was an extremely accurate description of gravity at speeds much lower than the speed of light.

That is why NASA uses Newtonian gravity for most purposes, even though relativistic equations would be more accurate. Newtonian gravity is easier to deal with and is extremely accurate at the speeds NASA tends to work with.

You may have noticed rockets do not go at anything near the speed of light. So, Newton’s gravity equations will work just fine thanks.

Certainty is contextual. Suppose in the context of our knowledge, the available evidence supports a theory. We are therefore entitled to some certainty about that theory.

But what if it turns out that we are wrong? After all, we used to believe some strange things.

We used to think things burned because of phlogiston. Phlogiston was a mysterious substance that was thought to exist in all combustible bodies.

We used to think that dinosaurs were all sluggish, scaly critters that probably lived in swamps to support their massive weight.

Well, yes. Sometimes we are wrong. Our theories are sometimes not supported by facts. We have no business accepting some theories as anything more than a plausible hypothesis.

These are the theories which do not make up the body of settled science. These are the theories we should not consider settled.

However, it would be dishonest to consider a theory settled in the absence of evidence. It would also be dishonest to consider a theory settled if we did not understand it well enough to be sure it was consistent with all the available evidence.

Having said that, some theories are entirely reasonable within the context of the available evidence. Sometimes all the known evidence points to these theories being true.

Sometimes we understand the theory well enough to reasonably conclude it is entirely consistent with the facts. Therefore, we can be certain about these theories.

We should not entertain serious doubt of theories that have substantial evidence behind them.

We can always imagine that some theories might be disproven. However, we should be certain about a theory if all the available evidence points to it being true.

Certainty does not require us to magically account for the possibility of a context of knowledge we do not currently possess. We can be certain that something is true even if there is something we do not know about now that may later show that it is not true.

Certainty is contextual, it is valid to be certain based on the context of available evidence. As long as we are willing to address any evidence that arises should the context of our knowledge change.

In other words, we can be certain something is true. And yet adjust our theories when the context of our knowledge expands.

However, there are theories that we can consider completely and forever settled. These are theories we know with certainty and can prove without any shadow of a doubt to be true.

We know these will never be shown to be false.

It would contradict known facts of reality if they were not true. Things would have to not be what we know that they are.

Examples of these would be that atoms exist. We know atoms exist; we have seen them. If they did not exist, almost everything we know about chemistry and atomic physics would not be true.

We know evolution happens. We might not know everything about how it happens, but we know that it does. To disprove evolution, we would have to invalidate almost everything we know about biology and the known facts of biology would have to be other than what they are.

We know that the Earth is round and that it orbits the Sun. To invalidate this, the direct evidence of our senses would have to be wrong! The fact that we can see that the Earth is round would have to be fake. And how would we explain the observed behaviour of Earth if it does not orbit the Sun?

Yes, because it is much more scientific to think this might be real, right?

We can say without a shadow of a doubt that theories like this are absolutely and forever settled and that we will never find anything that contradicts them. We know that no such evidence is even possible.

Such science is completely settled. It would be nonsensical to pretend otherwise!

So yes, there is such a thing as settled science. It is baseless to pretend otherwise. And it would be intellectually dishonest and non-scientific to pretend that it is not settled!

It is unscientific to question that the Earth might not be round. Or that evolution does not happen. Or that atoms do not exist. Why?

Because we have seen that the Earth is round! Are we to question the evidence of our senses so that we can become a Flattard?

It would contradict the obvious implications of the evidence of our senses to believe atoms do not exist. Additionally, we have seen atoms!

It would go against observable facts and their logical implications to question that evolution happens.

It would be unscientific to question that light exhibits wave behaviour. This would go against the evidence of our senses and the logical implications of that evidence.

To question theories which we can show are irrefutable facts based on the evidence of our senses and the logical implications of such, is unscientific.

Your belief that the irrefutable facts of reality might be wrong is completely nonsensical and unscientific.

The ability to entertain alternatives to the way reality works is not indicative of science, it is closer to the mindset of the religious person that must evade reality to maintain the possibility of his delusions.

The questioning of everything, even things we can prove beyond any reasonable doubt is little better than those that deny science outright.

To deny the absolute certainty of that which we can show beyond any reasonable doubt, is to either partially deny the veracity of the evidence or fail to understand that science is about the study of an objective reality, not blind guesswork.

Physicists vs Philosophy and Reality.

I was reading this article by Goldhill and found the opening rather refreshing. It led me to write this article about physicists’ rejection of philosophy.

We shall examine the article by Goldhill further in future articles. But for now, here is that opening:

It’s often assumed that physics and philosophy are at opposite ends of the academic spectrum. In fact, they’re close…

Olivia Goldhill

It is rather refreshing that the author admits that philosophy has any relevance to physics at all. Since most physicists would disagree with this.

I would say that many in physics are outright hostile towards philosophy!

Let me provide a few quotes to amply make this point.

Philosophy used to be a field that had content, but then ‘natural philosophy’ became physics, and physics has only continued to make inroads. Every time there’s a leap in physics, it encroaches on these areas that philosophers have carefully sequestered away to themselves, and so then you have this natural resentment on the part of philosophers.

Lawrence Krauss

What about another one from the late Stephen Hawking (we discuss him in our second podcast episode here)?

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.

Stephen Hawking

What about one heard repeated by Steven Weinberg but often attributed to Feynman?

The philosophy of science is just about as useful to scientists as ornithology is to birds.

Weinberg/Feynman
Oh Feynman, you don’t get philosophy, do you?

What about one from the famous Max Born?

“I have tried to read philosophers of all ages and have found many illuminating ideas but no steady progress toward deeper knowledge and understanding. Science, however, gives me the feeling of steady progress

Max Born

You get the idea. Many in physics are deeply hostile to philosophy. At best they think that philosophy has no relevance to what they do. At worst they believe that it contradicts their view of the world.

Because they do not understand the role of philosophy, they are often hostile to it.

Why? Well, for several reasons.

One of those would be that rational philosophies demonstrate that many tenents of modern physics cannot be right. For instance, Aristotle’s metaphysics and epistemology blast a lot of their fallacies apart.

For instance, Aristotle’s philosophy makes it clear that particle-wave duality is nonsense. Something cannot be two mutually exclusive things at once.

The most certain of all basic principles is that contradictory propositions are not true simultaneously.

Aristotle, Metaphysics

It also makes it clear that Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle is also nonsense. Everything that exists has identity, it has a definite nature. Not a vague, indefinite nature as alleged by this principle.

Now “why a thing is itself” is a meaningless inquiry (for—to give meaning to the question ‘why’—the fact or the existence of the thing must already be evident—e.g., that the moon is eclipsed—but the fact that a thing is itself is the single reason and the single cause to be given in answer to all such questions as why the man is man, or the musician musical, unless one were to answer, ‘because each thing is inseparable from itself, and its being one just meant this.’ This, however, is common to all things and is a short and easy way with the question.)

Aristotle, Metaphysics

But physicists have accepted anti-Aristotelian, anti-reality ideas. Therefore, they feel that they must rebel against the very ideas that brought the world out of the Middle Ages. The very ideas which made advanced science, including physics possible.

They are rebelling against the Aristotelian revival that made all this possible. The very knowledge that made it possible to get to the point where they know enough about atoms and space to make the kinds of irrational conclusions they have been making for over one hundred years!

Philosophy and physics are deeply intertwined.

Our view of metaphysics tells us what kind of world we think we live in. One in which objects have primacy or one in which consciousness and magic are primary.

Our epistemology includes our view of whether we live in a knowable world. And how we can know anything or if we think knowledge is even possible.

Physicists are, of course, influenced by philosophy. They believe that reality is inflicted with a kind of vagueness, in as far as it lacks a definite nature.

They believe that our senses are unable to perceive reality as it is, ala Kant.

Like Plato, they reify mathematics as somehow being more fundamental than physical objects, ala Plato.

philosophy, Plato
Funny how it almost always comes back to our arch-enemy, Plato…

So then, physicists are influenced by philosophy. Why then do they deny that philosophy influences them?

Because they do not understand the role of philosophy. They see it as intrusion on the business of science. Which they see as doing experiments and analyzing the results.

However, physics is not simply performing experiments and coming to whatever conclusions you wish. It is about explaining how the physical world works.

This requires one to be able to analyze the evidence of the senses and infer how the physical world works. It requires one to perform experiments and to be able to infer the mechanisms of nature from the results of said experiments. Without the conclusions contradicting basis metaphysical axioms such as “A is A”.

This is where one’s philosophy comes into play.

When looking at the results of these experiments, one’s view of the fundamental nature of reality, of metaphysics will come into play.

Their metaphysics tells them that things are not what they are, that they do not possess identity and that things can exist as something with a contradictory nature.

And this will seep into their physics. They will tend to interpret reality in this way and come to bizarre conclusions. The kind of bizarre conclusions modern physicists like to arrive at.

If they believe that reality is not knowable, then this will seep into their physics. They will pretend that some things cannot be known and thus do not need to be rationally explained. Or even explained at all.

They will evade explanations or offer non-explanations in their place.

Much as modern physics does when it pretends that the following is an explanation of gravity:

Einstein’s law of gravitation controls a geometrical quantity curvature in contrast to Newton’s law which controls a mechanical quantity of force.

Arthur Eddington, The Nature of the Physical World (1928) p. 133.

Or when it pretends that “electrons are a probability cloud” explains the unusual behavior of electrons.

A proper philosophy helps avoid these kinds of non-explanations. Irrational philosophies tend to make them inevitable.

Which is why modern physics is in the mess it is in. Good luck pointing that out given philosophy is allegedly useless!

It is rather like the man dying of thirst complaining that water is bad for him.

No, he needs water! And physics needs philosophy. Even if physicists lost in their desert of irrationality like to pretend otherwise…

The Primitive Non-Argument Against Reality, Part One

Today we are looking at this article, “The Evolutionary Argument Against Reality”.

In the words of the article:

The cognitive scientist Donald Hoffman uses evolutionary game theory to show that our perceptions of an independent reality must be illusions.

We shall see this is impossible. This is a gross misuse of mathematics. And is based on distorted view of natural selection.

We will get started with the first paragraph of the article.

As we go about our daily lives, we tend to assume that our perceptions — sights, sounds, textures, tastes — are an accurate portrayal of the real world.

We do not need to “assume” that. Our sensory organs passively perceive reality as it is. They have no means of distorting reality and showing us things as they are not.

Our visual cortex and other parts of our brain process the input of the senses. But they do not distort that input. They simply present the input of our senses to our consciousness. They do not fabricate or distort their inputs.

Everything we experience is an accurate portrayal of the real world, according to our mode of perception. There are different modes of perception. But that does not mean our senses are subjective or that we do not see reality as it is.

For example, we see things in color. Other organisms do not. Does that mean the senses of those organisms are invalid? Or that they do not see reality as it is?

No. It simply means that those other organisms have a different mode of perception. They observe the same facts of reality. But their senses present those facts differently.

Different modes of perception are not an argument for the subjectivity of those modes of perception. They simply mean that different organisms perceive the same facts of reality in different ways.

Do black and white photos invalidate our senses? No more than the fact that some organisms do not see color. Which is to say, not at all.

Nor does it prove that there is any distortion occurring. Different modes of perception are not kinds of sensory distortion.

Sure, when we stop and think about it — or when we find ourselves fooled by a perceptual illusion — we realize with a jolt that what we perceive is never the world directly, but rather our brain’s best guess at what that world is like, a kind of internal simulation of an external reality.

No. Our senses are not some kind of distorting lens that gives us a false view of reality.

Nor is what we perceive “our brain’s best guess at what the world is like”. It is an accurate representation of reality according to our mode of perception.

Indeed, we do not perceive everything that exists. We only perceive those things that are detectable by our senses. We will return to this a little later.

Episode sixteen of the podcast covers the topic of optical illusions.

In short, optical illusions are not an argument against the validity of the senses. When we observe an optical illusion, our senses are giving us valid data.

Neither our senses nor our brains are distorting the data. We are seeing things as they are. When we see bent straws in water, that is not our senses tricking us. That is how we observe light rays bent by water.

But if we want to better understand what we are observing, we must think and “see past” the illusion. We must understand that we need to process what we are seeing, which is real.

We need to more closely understand how it is consistent with reality. And then abstract away that optical illusion so that we can understand things better.

This does not invalidate our senses either.

The world presented to us by our perceptions is nothing like reality. What’s more, he says, we have evolution itself to thank for this magnificent illusion, as it maximizes evolutionary fitness by driving truth to extinction.

This obviously cannot be true. As we have seen, there is no false dichotomy between the world as we see it and as it is. We see what is. There is no alternative. We cannot see things as they are not.

Furthermore, evolution could not make any of this true. Evolution is a process whereby the gene pools of populations change. According to changes in the environment and other factors.

Living organisms undergo countless genetic changes in every generation. You have several such genetic mutations. Although most of them do not impact your life in any noticeable way.

Those mutations that are harmful to the survival of an organism tend to be less likely to be passed down to future generations.  Survival can be  tough enough as it is. Those with a genetic disadvantage are less likely to survive to have offspring.

Natural selection is the process by which genetic changes that are beneficial to survival tend to be passed on. It favors those changes which help increase the chances of survival. While tending to weed out many of the changes that would negatively impact survival chances.

Suppose an organism was less able to perceive the world as it is. That would make it harder for that organism to deal with reality. And thus, seriously impact its chances of survival.

Such unfortunate specimens are very unlikely to have offspring. Let alone offspring that survive to have offspring.

There is no way that being unable to see reality as it is could maximize evolutionary fitness. Only those with the greatest chances of survival maximize their evolutionary fitness. Not those with pathetic to zero chances of survival.

As for evolution driving truth to extinction, that is utter nonsense. The truth is what the facts are.

Natural selection is an extremely brutal and merciless process. Those changes which objectively enhance an organism’s chances of survival are likely to be passed on.

Those which are not in line with the brutal reality of nature tend not to be passed on. Life in the wild is hard and those changes which are not in accordance with the objective needs of the organism are less likely to be passed on.

In a sense, this makes natural selection and evolution itself, heavily subservient to the truth. To the objective requirements of an organism’s survival. Not something which somehow obliterates truth.

faith

Biblical Absurdities: Faith

Before we too far into our series on biblical absurdities, we should take a look at the most central issue here; faith itself. We should ask ourselves what faith is and why it is so unreasonable.

What is Faith?

I define faith as:

The blind acceptance of assertions in the absence of any evidence or proof, on the basis of emotion or wishing that claim to be true.

Dwayne Davies

So, it is the blind acceptance of empty assertions, for no reason.

The only claims which have any value are those which can be shown to have some relation to observable facts, those which can be said to have some truth to them. Those with some evidence or proof behind them. Any assertion accepted for no reason at all has no value at all.

But that is exactly what faith is, the acceptance of things for which there is no evidence or proof.

What is Wrong with Faith?

The truth typically does not matter to the devoutly religious. If it mattered to them, they would not be devoutly religious. They would not have faith in anything at all!

Faith is the belief in something for no reason whatsoever. Faith is typically defended against all reason. It is the acceptance of assertions without any attempt to find out what the facts are.

The most dishonest is position is knowing what the facts are and choosing to pretend that they are not so. But as we shall see, many faithful also do this. Making the devoutly faithful some of the most dishonest people that you are likely to meet.

As with any form of dishonesty, there are consequences for holding faith in anything.

Why? Because faith and reality are always in conflict. As is every claim of consequence that is assumed for no reason and against all reason.

Knowing the truth on any matter of consequence is not a trivial task. It takes observing reality, thought and understanding the facts for what they are.

Faith is the refusal to do any of that. Faith is the attempt to bypass thought and proceed directly to truth by the process of wishing empty assertions to be fact. As though wanting them to be true makes them true.

Assertions accepted on faith are wrong. They must be since since empty assertions accepted for no reason have no basis and blind assumptions are always wrong.

Once you have rejected reality and embraced faith, what does that leave you to believe? Whatever you want to believe in, as long as it is assumed blindly.

Most often this takes the form of whatever is emotionally satisfying or which seems easy to superficially grasp. Or which provides moral guidance with no actual connection to how man should act in order to be happy and thrive.

faith
Yes, Heaven may be an emotionally satisfying idea, but it just encourages people to waste their life.

The religions of every culture posit some kind of spiritual existence after death where the spirit can endure the death of the body. Why? Not because there is any reason to believe this. No, but because this is emotionally satisfying for some.

Every religion seems to offer some form of spiritual existence after bodily death usually by obeying the moral teachings of the religion and doing the bidding of the clergy.

Every religion tries to offer its followers moral teachings. This makes sense. We all need moral guidance in order to help choose which actions to take in life. Once you have rejected reality, you must get that moral guidance from somewhere and religions are all happy to offer that.

Often with plenty of threats and other forms of emotional manipulation.

The most devoutly religious people emotionally invest in their religion. They believe that their religion is the only means of moral guidance they have and more importantly, the only means by which they can achieve some kind of immortality.

It should come as little surprise that many of these people desperately cling to the teachings of their religion. Reality has little interest to them, unlike their religion. They are strongly incentivized to defend their religion against the facts of reality.

So, it should come as little surprise that since reality conflicts with religion, the truly devout have little interest in reality.

Their faith invariably clashes with science. Faith says one thing. But science says another. It is science that they discard.

When reality invariably clashes with their religion, they have two fundamental choices: to reject their faith as dishonest or to accept reality. But in embracing faith they have already rejected reality so they almost invariably continue to reject reality.

Many religious people know what the facts are. But they still refuse to abandon their faith. Reality is rejected for clashing with their delusions.

That is the harm in religion. It is the refusal to know reality and to accept whatever one wishes to believe. Assertions accepted on faith are always wrong about anything of consequence.

Faith is the epistemological equivalent of choosing to walk around blindfolded while declaring that you can see. But you cannot see. Reality is what it is despite you trying to make it whatever you want it to be.

faith
This is your brain on faith.

Is Biblical Faith “Justified Trust”?

There are those that might think that by “faith” the Bible means “justified trust”. I am about to present several several Biblical verses to disprove this notion.

The Bible never uses faith in that sense. By faith it means blindly believing things for no good reason and against all reason. It openly tells you to not to see reality but to just believe anyway.

Why? Because of the empty assertion of promises beyond the observable world. That is the only thing religions can offer anyone to have faith, empty assertions that have nothing to do with reality.

That is why every religion widely recognized as such always offers immaterial, unearthly rewards. Because they cannot offer anything real that relates to reality. All it can do is appeal to emotion and irrational, baseless desires that have nothing to do with reality.

Spacetime is NOT Swirling around a Dead Star

Today we are going to examine an article which claims that spacetime is swirling around a dead star. The article can be found here.

As many long-time followers of Metaphysics of Physics will know, we take issue with certain aspects of modern physics (for instance we talk about that here). That includes many of the central assertions of General Relativity(GR).

Key among these is the assertion that space and time are mathematical dimensions which are also somehow an aspect of physical reality. That they are somehow unified into some mathematical abstraction known as “spacetime”.

But space and time or spacetime are not things. Which is how GR and this article treats them. If it did not the whole premise and conclusion of this “thing” called spacetime swirling around a dead star falls apart. And this is exactly what happens when we define space and time as valid concepts.

Space and time are abstractions. And abstractions do not swirl or twist or dance around anything!

And spacetime is an invalid abstraction in as far as it is treated as anything other than a mathematical technique.

See, spacetime is apparently physical that is why it bends.

What is Space?

Space is a concept which indicates relationships between positions. Meaning?

Suppose that we consider one of the rooms in our house, say the living room. The living room is that part of the house between the four walls of the living room and between those four walls is some “space”.

The “space” within that room simply indicates relationships between the positions of those four walls. One wall is over here, another wall is over there and the other two are other there and there. In between is all this space. The space essentially refers to the separation between objects. This “space” then forms some area or volume in which you can find things.

The space in this room is simply a sum of places. Space is simply the relationships between boundaries of some kind of container or some otherwise defined set of bounding objects.

So, for instance, you can walk into the living room and say “Well, we have these walls. They are in different positions. There are other positions in between them.” And the sum of those other positions is the “space” inside the room.

(You can find more in episode twenty-one of the podcast, where this section was derived from).

What is Time?

Time measures motion or change. For instance, it takes two motions or changes and identifies a relationship between them.

For instance, suppose we are talking about how old I am. What fact of reality does my age refer to?

Well, we take two events, my birth and the writing of this article. And identify the fact that there is a certain relationship between these two. My birth happened during a particular revolution of the Earth around the Sun. This moment is occurring within a different revolution of the Earth around the Sun.

While I write this, 37 such revolutions have happened. And so I have thus identified a relationship between my birth and the writing of this article.

I could do something similar with myself starting a race and ending it. Except, presumably I would use a second to measure the relationship between the start and end of this event; a second as measured by the motion of a second hand around a clock or by a digital equivalent.

Or suppose I wish to measure how long it takes me for me to grow larger muscles and be able to work my way from bench pressing 100  to 125 pounds. And suppose I track the time using the date on my phone.

What am I measuring here? Relationships between my strength levels, a change in such over time.

(You can find out more about time in this subscription article).

We will go into what space and time are only far enough to see that they are abstractions. They are measurements of relationships.

What are Dimensions?

A dimension is a mathematical concept that indicates mathematical relationships. It is a technical concept that indicates how many independent parameters there are. In geometry, it indicates a set of coordinate axes required to specify any point.

The details are not important for this discussion. What is important is that dimensions are a mathematical concept that establishes mathematical relationships.

But physics treats dimensions as physical aspects of the universe. They treat the universe as if it was a thing that was somehow built up out of the dimensions. But space and time are not physical things, they are not aspects of the universe. They are relational concepts, they deal with abstractions.

space
Here is a representation of the mathematical concept of dimensions.

But relativity supposedly proves that space is a set of dimensions!

Does it? Show me the proof that shows this. Space is an abstraction, nothing in physics justifies treating it as though it is a physical thing that is somehow subject to bending or distortions as a physical object might be. The same is true about time.

The reason modern physicists do this is that they are reifying mathematical abstractions. They do not understand that mathematics is a science of method for measuring reality. They do not understand that the equations of Relativity do not describe physical objects.

What the equations describe are relationships. The equations need to be given a reasonable physical interpretation. Which is where rational metaphysics comes in. However  they refuse to engage in rational philosophy, instead choosing to interpret it in any way which is mathematically consistent. Without regard to logic, reason, that is, rational metaphysics.

What then to make of things getting shorter or longer based on relative speed? That objects get longer or shorter for other reasons. It does not justify the reification of  space.