Selected Correspondence Peter
PETER: Hi Everyone,
Just a bit more from the meta-physicians of mathematics, theoretical physics and cosmology. I thought I would post some quotes on the subject of infinity as they reveal much about the tortured imagination of the human mind. Imaginative flights of fantasy, such as we see in children’s fairy stories, are well documented, fervently believed in, passionately defended and financially well supported in the ‘adult’ worlds of science, religion and philosophy. Much convoluted and twisted thinking has gone into making up stories about ‘what lies beyond’ – whether it be beyond the stars in the physical world, or beyond death in the spiritual world. The theoretical scientists realm is supposedly that of the physical world but when they encounter infinity – the fact that this physical universe has no limit, no ‘outside’, no edges, nothing ‘beyond’ – they eagerly succumb to the spiritual or ethereal.
I remember, it was a stunning realization when I contemplated on the fact that the universe is infinite. No outside ... this is it. And I am nowhere in particular – there is no bottom left-hand corner in infinite space. And there is no room for God.
I had had previous glimpses of the infinitude of the universe while sleeping out at night in the desert when the stars alone were as bright as a coastal full moon night. Or the evening when we stopped to camp and sat out on deckchairs to watch the sunset. As the sun was setting to a huge golden-red ball I turned to see the moon rising behind me – an equal sized golden-red ball on the opposite horizon. What a sight, I didn’t know which way to look, such was the magnificence of it all.
The actual leaves any paltry imagination for dead.
So, on to some quotes from – Paul Davies, The Edge of Infinity, Beyond the Black Hole, Penguin 1994, Chapter 2 – Measuring the Infinite
Paul Davies, The Edge of Infinity, p. 22
The ‘end of the universe’, in spacetime terms, is an illusion built upon an illusion. Spacetime is an imaginary ‘other dimension’ invented by Mr. Einstein – so whatever is theorized to happen in spacetime is twice removed from the actual universe (with actual time and actual space) that we live in. All this nonsense is based on the stubborn and instinctual fear of acknowledging the fact that the physical universe is infinite and eternal – no other worlds, no other place, no other dimensions.
A little disclaimer he slips in here but then proceeds to apply his mathematical theories to the real world – predicting the existence of black holes and singularities in the physical universe despite a stunning lack of any factual evidence.
‘... impossible to believe, yet they are true’. ‘True’ is a word that is currently so abused as to be useless. Christians believe the virgin birth was true, NDA-followers believe that inert planets hurtling through space affects their moods and behaviour, Trekkies believe in Warp-speed and wormholes, and Mr. Davies believes in an edge to the infinite universe. Strange tales, but ‘true’ ...?
I hate to quibble about words, but Mr. Oxford says of infinity –
So how is it almost impossible to make it larger? Could it be by inventing a plug hole in the middle – a black hole – so we can all disappear down there one day? Or how about a hole that ‘new stuff’ comes flowing in one day? Of course, you would have to bend space a bit around the holes but ... then again ... why not? It is just a theory after all ... truly ... honestly ...
How not to win friends in the church. Mr. Davies has no such trouble, as he collected a cool million dollars in 1995 for the ‘Templeton Prize for Progress in Religion’.
Questions ‘frequently asked by children’ and adult cosmologists? Answers provided by science fiction writers and cosmologists – if there is a difference between the two. The only difference between Paul Davies and George Lucas is that one writes science fiction books and the other makes science fiction movies.
As for the cosmological ‘answers’ – beyond the stars we see from earth have come pictures of vast nebula thousands of light years across, fantastic arrays of particles, rocks, gases, storms, eruptions, explosions, lights, clouds. All actual – requiring no imagination. All obvious – raising no question. All perfect – requiring no solution.
Yep, insanity and madness prevail. And the passion and fervour of Holy Mathematics is indicated by the phrase – ‘a paradise from which no one will drive us’. Their search for God, ‘eternal and perfect’, involves trust, faith and belief in concepts that are held to be truths, all firmly based on the quick-sand of imagination. An imagined new dimension – spacetime that bends, folds and warps, that has holes and peaks; an imagined time that can run backwards, split into two or more and even loop the loop, imaginary numbers that are unreal, irrational and illogical; imaginary matter that is negative, uncertain, anti or virtual, particle and/or wave or even string-like.
And from this mish mash come theories which are ... ‘impossible to believe, yet they are true’.
‘True’ they may be called, but factual they are not – nobody has found a black hole, or a worm hole, let alone a naked singularity! It was nuclear chemists and engineers who developed nuclear energy and the bomb. According to the book,
i.e. he didn’t think it was possible. Further, Edward Teller states
The Americans got to the moon with Newtonian physics and engineering, not Einsteinian theory.
The more I read and understand Mr. Einstein, the more mystical and Guru-like he becomes.
It’s all mythical tales and wishful thinking of anywhere but here, and anytime but now. Anything to avoid the fact that we are mortal and that neither goodness nor Godness can make us happy and harmless. Anything to avoid the instinctually-sourced malice and sorrow of the Human Condition. Anything to avoid the fact that this is the only moment one can experience being alive. Anything to avoid being here and now in this very actual world, happening at this very moment.
What a waste to bury one’s head in the sand or in the clouds when what is actual is perfect, benign, delightful, magnificent, tangible, tactile, tasty, vibrant, alive, immediate and right here on this planet.
And it is the destiny of all committed actualists to experience this actuality 24 hrs. a day, every day. To sacrifice one’s self – to psychologically and psychically self-immolate, in order that the perfection and purity of the infinitude of the physical universe can become actualized in a human being.
RESPONDENT: A quick note re Paul Davies: you mention him receiving the Templeton(?) prize for religion, as if this supports the charge of ‘spiritual scientist’. Readers of his books would conclude that he was awarded this prize for demonstrating how and why some conventional religious beliefs are untenable, for explaining that physics is better placed to describe and explain phenomena than religion, for explaining that science can account for most aspects of the universe’s behaviour without God’s intervention, and for cautioning against invoking God to explain the hitherto unexplained, ie. invoking a ‘God of the gaps’ to explain tricky phenomena like consciousness, the illusion of free will, etc. It is also a bit rich to criticise a theoretical physicist, whose job is to construct explanatory models that are consistent with observable phenomena, for ... doing his job
PETER: Rather than speculate upon what ‘readers of his books would conclude’, here is what Paul Davies himself has said on this very subject –
Given that he so blatantly champions the cause of metaphysics and the mystical, it is no wonder he was awarded the Templeton Prize of 795,000 Pounds Sterling – ‘the Templeton Prize honours and encourages the many entrepreneurs trying various ways for discoveries and breakthroughs to expand human perceptions of divinity and to help in the acceleration of divine creativity’. Website of the Templeton prize Website of the Templeton prize Website of the Templeton prize
PETER: No comment? You raise an objection claiming that Paul Davies has been misrepresented, I respond by posting Mr. Davies’ own words and then you don’t even bother to respond. Perhaps it is that you consider my response somewhat moot? If so I will let Mr. Davies say a bit more on the subject –
RESPONDENT: All of this clangs for me.
PETER: Aye. The only reason that one would even dare to leave mystical imagination behind is if one wanted to live the actuality that one experiences in a PCE, 24/7. I remember one incident that particularly stood out for me at the time I was enquiring into the differences between imagination and actuality ...
A pragmatic example that the actuality of this infinite, eternal and only universe far exceeds the paltry imaginations of anything the ancient mystics, and their modern day pseudo-scientific equivalents, have ever – or could ever – dream up.
PETER: The discovery of an actual freedom from the human condition renders the whole mystical tradition not only irrelevant but it exposes it for what it is – an aberration from the dim, dark ages of humanity. Far from being outside of an actualist’s area of expertise, the mysticism still taught and practiced in current day science is precisely the field of expertise of an actualist. A practicing actualist has a hands-on experiential understanding of the workings of the human condition (including the instinctive lure of mysticism and spiritualism).
RESPONDENT: Yeah, but does he have a privileged insight into the ultimate nature of the universe? I need to hear more about your basis for arguing this with such surety.
PETER: I am not arguing anything, I am only pointing to the facts. You made the statement that it is a bit rich to label Paul Davies as being spiritual and I simply posted a quote in which he champions metaphysical science. I didn’t need to rely on my ‘privileged insight’, as you put it, I simply went to my bookshelf, pulled out one of his books – it happened to be one of those ones that I read when I was investigating the extent to which spiritualism still dominates science – and sat down and typed out the quote. Given that you didn’t reply I then added another quote for further clarification.
As for your reliance on Paul Davies’ expertise and his insight into the ultimate nature of the universe, you might have noticed that his own research was conducted on a ‘toy universe’ that had only one spatial dimension and not the three spatial dimensions of the world that you and I live in. So much for down-to-earth common sense. (...)
PETER: In fact, a clear-eyed look at the current state of the sciences reveals that a significant turning back to the mystical roots of the past has been occurring – a turning back that closely parallels the current fashionable obsession with Eastern spirituality and philosophy.
RESPONDENT: I’ve seen some signs of this in the trend toward the primacy of consciousness. Solipsism by any other name. But honestly I don’t see it to the extent that you do. (I also don’t have any personal attachment to scientific theories: they’re just models as far as I’m concerned. It’s the actuality behind them that is interesting, not the model).
PETER: And yet this was what you had to say to me about Paul Davies –
– and when I posted quotes of Paul Davies (whose work involved studying model ‘toy universes’ and not the actual universe) in which he contradicted your personal interpretation you didn’t respond.
I knew very little about the inner workings of the world of science until I made my own clear-eyed investigation – and I can only recommend that anyone who is at all interested in the extent to which religion, spirituality and mysticism influences the world of science do likewise.
RESPONDENT: The portion that is knowable to us is seen ‘through a glass darkly’ as it were, distorted by sensory limitations, conceptual models, and sheer [lack of] cognitive power.
PETER: Again this is what the mystics would have us believe. Their presumption is that there is ‘something’ mysterious in the universe that is by its very supernatural nature beyond detection by human perception or instrumentation and beyond our limited understanding. As Paul Davies says in the quoted passage below
What the PCE reveals is that there is another world other than the affective human world of grim reality but this world is not a mystical creation, it is a magical fairytale like actuality, this actual world is not a metaphysical world, it is nothing other than a physical world, this actual world is not ephemeral, it is perpetually ever-changing … and that this actual world can only be sensately experienced when one’s affective and imaginary faculties cease ruling the roost.
RESPONDENT: Here we go again. The limitedness of human senses and intellect does not imply that ... there is ‘something’ mysterious in the universe that is by its very supernatural nature beyond detection by human perception or instrumentation and beyond our limited understanding. What’s with this ‘mysterious, supernatural’ stuff all the time? Why can’t you interpret anything I say in a down-to-earth manner? Do me a favour in future please: assume that I might just be able to understand that the actual universe is not supernatural.
PETER: Okay, then why did you make a statement that says in essence that ‘I’ as an entity see the universe as ‘distorted by sensory limitations’ and ‘conceptual models’ whilst also including a ‘lack of cognitive power’? By including the later you imply, if not state clearly, that it impossible for human beings to cognitively make sense of the ‘the portion that is knowable to us’.
Do you perhaps see that this is what the mystics would have us believe – that there is ‘something’, or ‘somewhere’ in this case, that empirical science (those branches of study that apply objective scientific method to the phenomena of the physical universe) cannot understand and can never understand and therefore will forever remain ‘unknowable’?
On the other hand, I am only too happy to stand corrected if you have got your wording wrong and this is not what you meant to say.
PETER: As Paul Davies says in the quoted passage below –
RESPONDENT: That’s right Peter. And for that reason they discovered some mathematical relationships in the interactions between the kickable objects in this physical universe. These mathematical relationships are ‘supernatural’ I suppose?
PETER: Again I’ll leave Mr. Davies speak for himself (from the quotes I have previously posted) –
RESPONDENT: Peter’s false ideas: 2) The ‘big-bang’ theory proposes the universe was ‘created out of nothing.’
The facts: 2) I’m sure there are those that propose that the universe was created out of nothing – and they may be rightly termed ‘creationists.’
PETER: I take this to be a qualifier to ‘the facts’ you presented when you made the case in 1) that the ‘big-bang’ theory is not ‘creationist’ cosmology. If I can just summarize your case to date, your position now is –
I just want to get this clear as I find that I have to stop and think through what the other person is really saying if I am to make sense of what it is that they are really saying.
RESPONDENT: As it should be clear – ‘creationist’ does not mean to me what it means to you, so your representation of my ‘position’ is not correct. Put simply: ‘creationist’ cosmology normally entails a ‘creator.’ You have opted to change the meaning of the word without first informing us of that fact.
PETER: Okay that’s clear, your position now is –
And this is clearly the reason why theoretical physicists, together with secular philosophers, were compelled to design ever more models of the universe in a desperate attempt to refute all notions that there was a big bang event that happened in which all of the matter of the universe suddenly came into being out of nothing – in other words relativistic cosmology is involved in an ongoing process of denial and obscuration of its original hypothesis.
RESPONDENT: The facts: I know of no scientist who excludes God as part of their cosmology – who thinks the universe came ‘out of nothing.’
PETER: Which of course is not to say there aren’t any such scientists. I say this because you made the case for another point you raised on the basis that ‘there are plenty of physicists who …’
RESPONDENT: Right – people can have a variety of beliefs. My point is that people like Stephen Hawking and Steven Weinberg do not say that the universe ‘came out of nothing.’ Rather, they have theories about singularities, multiple expansions and crunches, etc – to offer.
PETER: I think you would probably agree that this is where it gets confusing because you are saying that Stephen Hawking who talks about ‘the mind of God’ is not a Creationist because he doesn’t say that the universe ‘came out of nothing’ and yet Paul Davies who also talks about the ‘Mind of God’ says –
But then again these are old-hat theories by now I take it. Is the model of the universe that Victor Stenger talks about at the cutting edge or are other models gaining favour? Just curious.
RESPONDENT: Rather, it is normally proposed that ‘prior to the big bang’ there existed great energy – that is hardly nothing.
PETER: Most of what I have read of cosmology theories seem to me to concentrate on imagining how the Big Bang could have happened and I haven’t come across many theories that concentrate on what supposedly existed prior to the Big Bang. If it is normally proposed that ‘great energy’ existed prior to the Big Bang out of which all of matter of the entire universe was created, I would ask the scientists if this was a non-material energy as in a metaphysical energy or if it was a non-matter material energy?
RESPONDENT: Sure, and that’s what scientists go on about. The question I’m focussing on now though is not ‘what existed prior to the big bang’ – rather, I am focussing on your misrepresentation of scientific theories of the big-bang – since you seem to think that big-bang theorists necessarily propose that the universe came out of nothing.
PETER: Thus far you have pointed me to other physicists and philosophers who use various descriptions to explain what ‘our’ universe supposedly came out of –
As far as I can ascertain, the cosmologists’ attempts to make nothing sound like something appear only to be playing into the hands of the spiritualists.
PETER: I have just taken a break from this post and put my feet up for a bit and skimmed through a book from Paul Davies, who achieved an international reputation for his ability to explain the significance of advance scientific ideas in simple language. I came across this –
and further on …
If I take this on board, I can only assume that the ‘great energy’ that you say is normally proposed as having existed prior to the Big Bang would have to be a formless (there being no space existing before the big bang), spaceless (there being no space existing before the big bang) and timeless (there is no time existing before the big bang) energy.
And I say timeless because Paul Davies says –
From what I make of what Paul Davies is saying it also appears that I am wrong in saying that the Big Bang theory proposes the universe was ‘created out of nothing.’ because nothing existed prior to the Big Bang (as in no space, time or matter existed prior to the singularity) and not only that but the Big Bang was not an event and did not happen at a particular moment in time because the event did not occur either in a place in space nor at a moment in time (as in no space, time or matter existed prior to the singularity).
After re-reading some of this book, I knew why I regarded relativistic cosmology as being absurd when I first started trying to make sense of it … but I digress.
To get back to the practicalities of your statement, when you say this ‘great energy’ that existed prior to the supposed Big Bang is ‘hardly nothing’, what do you mean? Do you mean it is ‘hardly nothing’ because it is a cosmological theory or ‘hardly nothing’ as in it is a bona fide energy that had, or has, a real existence? I ask because I am interested in what sense you make out of these theories, not as philosophical sense but as down-to-earth sense.
RESPONDENT: The facts: Also, there are those that propose that the universe actually expands and contracts and may go through a series of big-bangs – so this particular bang did not come out of nothing at all.
PETER: Yeah. I have read of many theories, amongst my favourites being the oscillating universe, a universe that is cyclic in nature, and many books have been written pointing out that this particular model is consistent with Hindu and other Eastern cosmologies of a cyclic nature (the reincarnating universe model?). There is also the time reversing model, wherein in each successive cycle, time oscillates between running forward and running backwards. There is also ‘the universe creates itself’ model, the ‘Mother and Child’ universe model, the ‘many universes’ theory, the Darwinist Cosmology model and so on. From what I gather, most of these theories are not big bang theories but are theories that have evolved in order to avoid the difficulties inherent in the mathematics of the Big Bang theory – seemingly not only does time, space and matter disappear in a singularity but also mathematics itself gets somewhat lost.
If I can just summarize, the point you appear to be making is that my idea that ‘the ‘big-bang’ theory proposes the universe was ‘created out of nothing’’ is ‘false’ because it is a fact that there are also other theories that propose a series of ‘little bangettes’ as alternatives to the Big Bang theory. From where I stand, it would be misleading to call these subsequent theories ‘the big-bang’ theory. Please correct me if I am wrong, but I can’t follow the logic of your refutation.
RESPONDENT: First, I should say that Paul Davies is an excellent source for you to buttress your theories about the ‘big bang’ being ‘creationist’ cosmology – yet he is not such an excellent source for looking at what others are proposing about the ‘big-bang.’ I’m sure it was for good reason that Davies titled one of his books ‘God and the New Physics.’
PETER: As I have indicated before, the only reason I have quoted Paul Davies is that I happened to buy a book of his in the local second-hand bookshop when I first started to enquire into the latest cosmological theories and the only reason that I mentioned Paul Davies in my post to No 60 was that he made the claim that –
But I do take your point that in the ongoing battle that the secularists are waging in support of relativistic cosmology Paul Davies could well be seen as a defector to religiosity.
RESPONDENT: My point is that there are big-bang theorists without the mystical bent of Davies and to a lesser degree – that of Einstein.
PETER: Now you have piqued my interest. Are you saying there is a relativistic cosmology that is not based on Einstein’s theory of relativity?
RESPONDENT: Your insisting on making ‘down-to-earth’ sense of what ‘pre-existed’ the ‘big-bang’ may of course, be unfulfillable.
PETER: It’s definitely unfulfillable for the simple reason that relativistic cosmology is a theoretical cosmology based on model universes that have nothing to do with the actual physical universe of sensate experience.
RESPONDENT: Can you make ‘down-to-earth’ sense of what Pluto is made of?
PETER: Human beings have done a fair job with this planet, this planet’s moon, are currently making sense of what Mars is made of, and have had a spacecraft fly by Pluto for a preliminary making sense … if that’s what you mean.
RESPONDENT: You may have to think out of the normal ‘down-to-earth’ ways you are accustomed to thinking.
PETER: Yep I can see that.
My current voluntary immersion into the world of relativity is akin to my previous unwitting immersion into the spiritual world. In both worlds one is encouraged to abandon common sense and accept presumption as being fact. Both are closed-loop belief systems in that you are taught that what they are saying is the truth.
I found by experience that the only way to free oneself from such beliefs is to dare to question everything and, most especially, the fundamental premise upon which they are founded.
RESPONDENT: I am not advocating big-bang cosmology – merely focussing on the fact that you often misrepresent it.
PETER: That’s becoming clearer to me now. No 60 essentially ran the same argument, he refuted any criticism of relativistic cosmology as being unfair and ill-informed whilst simultaneously declaring himself to be agnostic with regard to the nature and extent of the physical universe.
It is beyond me how anyone can settle for being agnostic towards the universe – this world of people, things and events. The very challenge presented by Richard’s discovery is that anyone who so desires can make sense of the universe and can do so to the point of becoming actually free of the human condition. It is a challenge that I, for one, could not and cannot turn away from.