The Mystery of the God Particle – The Unpublished Newsweek Letter

July 23, 2012 | None Yet - Post a Comment

Categories: Failure of Scientific Materialism, Higgs Boson, Multiverse

Here is a letter to the editor of Newsweek, commenting upon Lawrence Krauss’s article, The Godless Particle, published in the July 16, 2012 issue of Newsweek.

 

The Higgs finding illustrates a serious problem with modern physics and cosmology: scientists want to bedazzle the public with the latest discovery of “the secret to the universe” and the consequent vanquishing of God, but remain tight-lipped about the assumptions embedded in their theories and the mysteries remaining. While Lawrence Krauss and others triumphantly proclaim that the Higgs particle (assuming it has been found in fleeting collisions of elementary particles) solves the mystery of mass, they remain silent about how the Higgs field itself arose. As the more forthright Nobel prize-winning physicist Martinus J.G. Veltman notes, with the Higgs particle “ignorance about the origin of mass is replaced by the ignorance about the particle-Higgs couplings, and no real knowledge is gained.” In other words, the Higgs field is supposed to bestow mass upon particles but no knows why such a field happens to have the peculiar properties to perform this feat. This leads to the further mystery of why these particles and forces are precisely adjusted to allow for a stable universe and life itself to exist. This fine-tuning problem then leads to the choice currently confronting modern cosmology: either our universe happens to be the only perfectly adjusted one out of a vast landscape of multiple universes, or else cosmology’s theoretical framework is out-of-kilter, and there is an intelligence lurking behind the scenes after all. Scientists like Professor Krauss, who overstate the progress of modern science in understanding our world and fail to disclose their assumptions, do a disservice by leading the public to believe the mystery of the universe has been solved even though, when the full picture is drawn, the mystery only grows deeper.

Tags: God particle, Higgs, Krauss, Newsweek

Response to Lawrence Krauss and His Materialistic Vision

April 28, 2012 | 4 Comments

Categories: Failure of Scientific Materialism, Multiverse, New Consciousness, Scientific Revolution

In a recent article on Scientific American’s website, entitled Consolation of Philosophy, http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=the-consolation-of-philos&page=2, Professor Lawrence Krauss expounds on some of the themes in his book, A Universe from Nothing, and concludes that philosophy has nothing of importance to tell us about the real world, and that only physics can lead us to truth.

Professor Krauss, in rejecting philosophy, fails to acknowledge that he is promoting his own brand of philosophy known as scientific materialism.  So what he really seems to be saying is that scientific materialism is the final truth, and we should not bother considering any other alternative.

But scientific materialism – the view that a real world of matter exists independently of consciousness – has a number of fatal flaws.  Two of them are (1) several great thinkers, such as Bishop George Berkeley, David Hume, and Immanuel Kant, showed that we can never prove that such a real world of matter actually exists outside of the mind; rather, as Hume said, this is a belief humankind takes on faith; and (2) in the scientific realm, quantum theory shows that consciousness plays an unmistakable role in forming the world of experience.  (F. Kuttner & B. Rosenblum, The Quantum Enigma (http://quantumenigma.com/).   Quantum theory teaches that an objective world of particles does not exist.  (D. Lindley, The End of Physics .http://www.amazon.com/The-End-Of-Physics-Unified/dp/0465019765)  The fact that quantum theory gives a role to consciousness in experience may be taken as a sign of a developing convergence between science and other fields of thought, and as evidence that the philosophical idealists were on the right track after all.

It is time for the scientific thought leaders to open their minds to the real possibility that there may very well be a fundamental synergy between mind and the physical world, and that this fact will not destroy science but perpetually energize it.  Science deals only with models, and the evidence, from quantum theory to the placebo effect to the unavoidable fine-tuning of the universe, shows we are due for a change-over  in model lines.

With science unable to bring themselves to accept mind or intelligence in the make-up of the physical world, it is forced to fall back to the multiverse and string theory to explain such things as the physical constants and the conflict between gravity and quantum theory.  But neither of these two theories can be proven or falsified, so their role as “scientific” theories is doubtful.  (See George Ellis,  Does the Multiverse Really Exist?, Scientific American (Aug. 2011)http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=does-the-multiverse-really-exist ; L. Smolin, The Trouble with Physics, http://www.thetroublewithphysics.com/.)  So why is all of this important?  Because if consciousness in fact plays a role in the formation of the world, then it is time we take more responsibility for the world we live in, rather than pass off the task to some external force, and fanciful notions of multiple universes and hidden dimensions.

Scientific American Article Puts the Multiverse in its Place

July 27, 2011 | None Yet - Post a Comment

Categories: Failure of Scientific Materialism, Multiverse

The multiverse — the notion that our universe is simply one among trillions— is currently in vogue in modern cosmology.   The multiverse is the subject of the best-selling books, The Grand Design by Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow, and The Hidden Reality by Brian Greene, as well as others by popular science writers, John Barrow and John Gribbin.  It is the topic of numerous articles in the leading scientific magazines, and has even caught the attention of  The Wall Street Journal, which has published an excerpt from The Grand Design, interviewed Brian Greene on the topic, and published John Gribbin’s review of The Hidden Reality.
 
As is so often the case, the difficulty is in determining whether this latest cosmological theory warrants our attention.  The answer is yes.

To begin with, the multiverse is important because it is the product of today’s scientific thought leaders, which is to say the people that write the textbooks, present the lectures, and give the interviews that tell us about our place in the universe.  So if you care about where science placed us in the grand cosmos you might want to spend a little time grappling with the multiverse.

The multiverse is science’s latest approach for explaining the undeniable order in the universe without having resort to God. Specifically, if a near-infinity of other universes exist, then the odds increase that one of these universes would have turned out to have the unique conditions necessary to support life, much like if you deal enough poker hands, one will come up to be a royal flush.  

A further reason we should care about the multiverse is that it reflects the scientific belief that the creation of the universe was a random event without cosmological meaning or purpose.  As Stephen Hawking writes in the Wall Street Journal Article, universes are just things that now and then spontaneously appear from nothing.  This is an important position because if the universe is just one of those things that now and then pops out of the vacuum, we are more likely to treat it lightly, and without the reverence due a miracle.

So in the face of all the hype over the multiverse, the article by George Ellis brings a needed dose of sense and reason to the concept. http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=multiverse-the-case-for-parallel-universe  Professor Ellis notes that the currently observable universe is 42 billion light years, what he calls the cosmic visual horizon. The multiverse is imagined to exist outside this cosmic horizon, with each variant universe possessing a different set of physical laws.

But how can one ever empirically prove the workings of an imagined universe that by definition lies beyond experience? He writes, “All the parallel universes lie outside of our horizon and remain beyond our capacity to see, now or ever, no matter how technology evolves.  In fact, they are too far away to have had any influence on our universe whatsoever.  That is why none of the claims made by multiverse enthusiasts can be directly substantiated.”  Nor can anyone prove the multiverse wrong since it lies beyond our ability to prove anything.

Brian Greene, in his Wall Street Journal interview, makes the argument that “if a theory offers the most accurate and complete predictions about our own universe and also requires the existence of other universes, then confirmation of its predictions gives us confidence that other universes are out there.”

The problem with this argument, as Ellis points out, is the bedrock principle known as Occam’s razor. This principle holds that a theory should be as simple as possible and that the fewer assumptions the better the theory.  Clearly, relying on an infinity of unknowable universes to explain features of our one known universe must be considered to be a flagrant violation of Occam’s razor.  A theory that explains our current universe without imagining a multiverse would be superior to one that does.  In the end, the multiverse may give materialistic scientists cover for a time, but the concept is so highly speculative and cumbersome that it is destined to gradually fade away.  All it will take is a theory that does not assume an infinity of other universes to explain this one.

Heaven is the Better Bet

June 26, 2011 | None Yet - Post a Comment

Categories: Failure of Scientific Materialism, Multiverse

           As widely reported, Stephen Hawking announced in a recent interview with the Guardian newspaper that there is no heaven, and that any such notion is simply a fairly tale.

           At the same time Mr. Hawking holds this negative thought in his mind, he also concludes that the body is a machine, the brain is a decaying computer, the universe mysteriously arose from background vibrations, and our universe is simply one of roughly 10500 other ones. The only distinguishing feature of our universe is that it just so happens to possess exactly the right conditions and physical laws to support life.  The other 10500 – 1 universes are not so lucky.

          So Mr. Hawking, like so many materialists, trades a world of hope for one of dire speculation.  What evidence does Mr. Hawking have for the multiverse? None.  What evidence does he have for universes popping out of spatial fluctuations? None.  Does your mind feel like a computer, your body, a machine?

           To Hawking this does not matter: he does not think he can be scientific and at the same time leave the slightest room for spirit, God, or hope.  But are science and God mutually incompatible? If Hawking spent more time trying to reconcile science with humankind’s deep belief in God perhaps he would not need all those extra universes to explain the one standing before us. 

           If our universe is instead special and not one of 10500 other ones, then perhaps there is a designer behind the scenes; if it did not arise from quantum fluctuations out in space, then perhaps it came from us; if we do not feel like robots, then maybe we are not.  If God is real, then heaven can be real.  Where should we place our bets? On God and heaven, or all those other universes? At the end of the scientific investigation into our world of endless order perhaps we will find not death and gloom but real hope, and a vision of a better world that only we – with unrelenting optimism — can make come true.

Powerful Hallucinations and the Multiverse

April 21, 2011 | 1 Comment

Categories: Failure of Scientific Materialism, Multiverse

           The Hidden Reality: Parallel Universes and the Deep Laws of the Cosmos is the new book by Brian Greene, the best-selling author of The Elegant Universe and The Fabric of the Cosmos.  Hidden Reality describes nine different ways modern scientists reach the theoretical conclusion that there is actually more than one universe out there.  According to the multiverse concept, there is anywhere from 10500 to an infinity of other universes, in dimensions we cannot see and in regions of space we will never encounter.

 

            To his credit, Professor Greene acknowledges that “the subject of parallel universes is highly speculative.  No experiment or observation has established that any version of the idea is realize in nature.”  (p. 8). He’s “laid out a general prescription for how a multiverse proposal might be testable, but at our current level of understanding none of the mutliverse theories we’ve encountered yet meet the criteria.”  (p. 313).  And, “gaining experimental or observational insight into the validity of any of the mutliverse proposals is surely a longshot.” (p. 314). 

 

            This is a best-selling book by a physics professor at a leading university writing about mysterious universes buried in the imagination of scientists but treating them as if they are truly the next big thing.  But one has to wonder why these scientists speculate about trillions upon trillions of other universes when no one has yet to devise a coherent explanation — a theory of everything — for the one we know exists.  Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow, authors of The Grand Design, another multiverse book, are more direct about the function the multiverse serves in modern cosmology: it allows science to explain away the stunning cosmic coincidences that allow life to exist.  As they write in their article, “Why God Did not Create the Universe,” (Wall St. J., Sept 4-5, 2010), if the multiverse turns out to be true, it “means that our cosmic habitat — now the entire observable universe — is just one among many.” (emphasis added).   Yes, just one universe among many.  The only problem is that the “many” remains a figment of the scientific imagination.

 

            Brian Greene, in The Hidden Reality, tells a personal story that is not just a figment of the scientific imagination.  He writes about a feverish flu he once had that produced “hallucinations far more vivid than any ordinary dream or nightmare.”  He writes,

 

In one that has stayed with me, I’d find myself with a group of people sitting in a sparse hotel room, locked in a hallucination within a hallucination.  I was absolutely certain that days and weeks went by — until I was thrust back into the primary hallucination, where I’d learn, shockingly, that hardly any time had passed at all.  Each time I felt myself drifting back to the room, I resisted strenuously, since I knew from previous iterations that once there I’d be swallowed whole, unable to recognize the real as false until  found myself back in the primary hallucination, where I’d again be distraught to learn that what I’d thought real was illusory.  Periodically, when the fever subsided, I’d pull out one level further, back to ordinary life, and realize that all those translocations had been taking place with my own swirling mind.

           

Hidden Reality, 281.

 

            It is surprising that Professor Greene, in a book about imagined other worlds, does not realize the significance of this powerful hallucination — an event he personally experienced and has no doubt actually happened.  This sort of vivid, powerful hallucination, presents a clear choice for those who approach the problem with an open mind.  Here’s the choice:

 

            Option One:  A universe worth of matter, space, and time came out of the void and exploded in the Big Bang.  Out of the same void, the laws of nature appeared, directing this matter to form into stars, planets, and a solar system containing the planet Earth.  Then, through a further series of completely fortuitous events, this matter decided to form into the DNA molecule and then into a living cell.  This first living thing then evolved according to Natural Selection into beings possessing a complicated and intricate organ known as the human brain.  This brain then somehow gained the skill of projecting a three-dimensional world in a vivid hallucination of such power that it is mistaken for the world at large. 

 

            Option Two: A vivid hallucination like Professor Greene’s shows the power of the mind to conjure up a real-seeming world from nothing.  If the mind of one person can create this sort of intense private world, then it is reasonable to conclude that the united mind of humankind can dream the natural world.

 

            Which option seems more logical? Less contrived?  Simpler? Which requires less assumptions? Which explains more?

 

            The real possibility that Option Two is the right answer should be considered because it offers a logical way to explain the one world we do experience: the product of a mind some call God.  With this theory we do not need a multiverse to explain the cosmic coincidences; the world fits us because we made it that way.