Monday, October 24, 2016

Can the laws of physics be explained?

Paul Davies thinks that we shouldn't stop asking this question, as some have suggested.

27 comments:

John Moore said...

Can God's existence be explained? I mean, why is there a God and not no-God?

Theologians have various responses to this, and I generally agree with those answers. I just want to point out that the same explanations for God work just as well when talking about the universe as a whole.

The laws of physics weren't caused by anything, and they aren't arbitrary or random. Instead, the laws of physics are necessary. The laws of physics are an inseparable aspect of existence itself.

What if we had different laws of physics? Well, what if God were a different kind of God? See, the question makes no sense. There's only one concept of God, and in the same way there's only one law of physics.

grodrigues said...

"I just want to point out that the same explanations for God work just as well when talking about the universe as a whole."

And as was already pointed out to John Moore numerous times this is not only false but provably so.

"The laws of physics weren't caused by anything, and they aren't arbitrary or random. Instead, the laws of physics are necessary."

There is something missing here. An argument.

"There's only one concept of God, and in the same way there's only one law of physics."

It is natural theology 101 that there is indeed only one God. There is no such parallel argument for the laws of physics neither there can be any such parallel argument. So much so, that the strategy that people follow is not to say that the laws of physics are necessary, but rather that all possible physical laws are instantiated.

But let us assume the impossible, namely, that I am wrong (grin). What then could this mean? Well it means at least this much. If the laws of physics are necessary then they hold true in all possible worlds, from which it follows there is only one possible nomological world -- a stunning conclusion, for which we, or at least I, await the argument with baited breath.

Laws of physics are, currently, written down by fixing the lagrangean (*). There are some guiding lines in choosing the right lagrangean (e.g. symmetry principles) but the space of lagrangeans is huge. What John Moore is telling us, is that out of this huge space there is a single point, a single lagrangean, that correctly describes the physical laws and furthermore, that this lagrangean correctly describes all the possible worlds, even the possible worlds in which there are no physical beings. Since the latter is a manifest impossibility, it follows that immaterial beings are impossible. We and the philosophical world at large is awaiting for the clincher argument.

Furthermore, from the fact that there is a single necessary lagrangean, it follows that it is in principle possible to find it by pure thought with absolutely no experimental input. Quite obviously, finding it would be the most spectacular advance in theoretical physics. Even the more modest proof, which I am sure John Moore will soon be sharing with us and the world at large, that there is a single correct lagrangean is nobel-prize worthy. I have already told this more than once, but I will repeat it: John Moore's talents are wasted here on us poor ignorant slobs.

(*) technically, this is not correct, as what has physical significance are the Euler-lagrange equations not the lagrangean, so I should speak of an equivalence class of lagrangeans. But this technicality does not alter my main point.

Joe Hinman said...

Can God's existence be explained? I mean, why is there a God and not no-God?

that may be unanswerable but it is not a brute fact, why is there q universe if the world is Godless is a brute fact (no answer) but it'snot a brute fact to say God "just is." why? because God has a purpose he is his own purpose,

Theologians have various responses to this, and I generally agree with those answers. I just want to point out that the same explanations for God work just as well when talking about the universe as a whole.


I disagree for the reason stated above

The laws of physics weren't caused by anything, and they aren't arbitrary or random. Instead, the laws of physics are necessary. The laws of physics are an inseparable aspect of existence itself.

you doesn't know that, science doesn't known that. we can't know it because we would have to know about all reality to know that,

calling laws of physics necessary is nonsense, first because they are not even laws hey descriptions and what they describe is law-like but science only admits it when they need to ,The whole thing is a big mess, philosophers of science are seeking alternative to the concept of law


What if we had different laws of physics? Well, what if God were a different kind of God? See, the question makes no sense. There's only one concept of God, and in the same way there's only one law of physics.

that does not mean the questions are analogous. All it means is that you are repeat the same sentence structure substituting words, That doesn't make it meaningful.

i we had a different kind of gov he would not be God so you can't have one, like if we had a contingent God? not God., God can't be contingent, it;'s part of the basic definition

Joe Hinman said...

grodrigues, excellent post! you reminded me of another point, laws of physics are not prescriptive the descriptions so they are laws, They are necessary because they derived from human observation not a prori,

grodrigues said...

One correction:

"that this lagrangean correctly describes all the possible worlds, even the possible worlds in which there are no physical beings. Since the latter is a manifest impossibility, it follows that immaterial beings are impossible."

The last sentence is quite obviously wrong; the correct reading should be clear. Apologies, don't know what I was thinking when I wrote it.

Ilíon said...

^ Still, you *could* explicitly write what you had meant to write. Doing so might even lead you to expand upon it.

John Moore said...

grodrigues is right that I haven't actually made an argument - I have just made a suggestion that is perhaps worth considering. It's interesting when you realize that scientists themselves just assume there could be many universes, and the scientists also make no particular argument that many universes must be possible.

Paul Davies makes a careful distinction between the original high-temperature universe and the low-temperature "frozen out" laws of physics. He writes, "It is those deeper, universal, ultimate, laws that are taken to be immutable." So let's keep this distinction in mind. Davies suggests there was only one way for the very early universe to be. That's interesting, isn't it?

Then Davies suggests that the low-temperature "laws" of physics might have "frozen out" in various different ways. He writes, "If the Big Bang were replayed, the low-temperature laws that emerged next time could be different." Does he make an argument for this, or does he merely state it?

Ilíon said...

^ Are you intending to connect this thread to the motives thread? We all know *why* "scientists" "just assume there could be many universes" and we all know *why* these "scientists" "also make no particular argument that many universes must be possible"

B. Prokop said...

I personally find the multiverse theory quite attractive, but for totally opposite reasons than why most atheists prefer it. As far as I'm concerned, why shouldn't an infinite God create an infinite number of universes?

That said, there is absolutely ZERO evidence, either for or against the multiverse concept, and many competent cosmologists insist that it is inherently impossible to ever obtain any.

Gyan said...

The question posed by Davies

"what are these ultimate laws and where do they come from?"
is not a question in physics. Thus, physicists are free and self-consistent in dismissing it as irrelevant to their discipline.

Gyan said...

Physics can never decide that it has reached the level of "ultimate laws". It is a mirage along with the Theory of Everything. See Stanley Jaki article (available online) on the lesson of Goedel Theorem for modern physics.
Thus, the question of ultimate laws does not belong to physics, properly speaking.

Joe Hinman said...

my Dyslyxia is always betraying me, the post above should read:



laws of physics are not prescriptive the descriptions so they are NOT laws, They are NOT necessary because they derived from human observation not a prori,

sorry;


see Metaacrock's blpg

Does POE warrant Unbelief?

Joe Hinman said...

Paul Davies makes a careful distinction between the original high-temperature universe and the low-temperature "frozen out" laws of physics. He writes, "It is those deeper, universal, ultimate, laws that are taken to be immutable." So let's keep this distinction in mind. Davies suggests there was only one way for the very early universe to be. That's interesting, isn't it?

you talk like Davies has some special knowledge no one else does.we don't know that, the whole nature of "laws" of physics and nature is a big contradictory mess right now. where did the laws of physics come from what made them laws? are they platonic forms?

Ilíon said...

"That said, there is absolutely ZERO evidence, either for or against the multiverse concept, and many competent cosmologists insist that it is inherently impossible to ever obtain any."

Definitionally, any cosmologist who does not insist that it is inherently impossible to ever obtain scientific evidence that there are other universes is not a "competent cosmologist".

Aron Zavaro said...

Ilion,

Are you saying that it is in principle impossible to have evidence of other universes? If so, I must disagree. Of course, we could never have direct observational evidence of another universe. But "scientific" evidence is not limited to direct observational evidence (if it were, much of physics would need to be discarded as pseudoscience). It is entirely possible, at least in principle, to have indirect evidence of other universes. For example, if there was a theory that predicted that many other universes must exist, and we have evidence that this theory is true, this would count as indirect evidence of other universes. In fact, there are scientists who think that this is precisely the case. They say that we have evidence that eternal inflation is true, and if eternal inflation is true, then there must be a multiverse.

In other words, even if we can't directly confirm the multiverse, we can directly confirm other theories which either entail a multiverse or make a multiverse probable.

Gyan said...

Aron Zavaro,
"we have evidence that eternal inflation is true,"
A curious use of the word "true". In fact, inflation is not an observed thing but something that has been posited to help get rid of certain theoretical problems.

Joe Hinman said...

it was invented to answer fine tuning then it had to use fine tuning to work sooneof the founders gave up on it for that reason.

Joe Hinman said...

Aron Zavaro said.

Are you saying that it is in principle impossible to have evidence of other universes? If so, I must disagree. Of course, we could never have direct observational evidence of another universe. But "scientific" evidence is not limited to direct observational evidence (if it were, much of physics would need to be discarded as pseudoscience). It is entirely possible, at least in principle, to have indirect evidence of other universes. For example, if there was a theory that predicted that many other universes must exist, and we have evidence that this theory is true, this would count as indirect evidence of other universes. In fact, there are scientists who think that this is precisely the case. They say that we have evidence that eternal inflation is true, and if eternal inflation is true, then there must be a multiverse.



there is mathematical evidence but that's not empirical . Empirical evidence is impossible, if I had a dollar for every time an atheist has told me empirical evidence is all that matters i would have a dollar for about 90% of the atheists I've argued with,

Ilíon said...

Aron Zavaro,
You can disagree all you want; I'm still right and you're still wrong.

Whether you're doing in intentionally or not, your claims (for they are not arguments) trade on equivocation and elision. Gyan has already mentioned one elision you've employed.

"It is entirely possible, at least in principle, to have indirect evidence of other universes."

No, it isn't.

If someone claims to have evidence of other universes, whether direct or indirect, what he is doing is employing a custom "definition" of 'universe' so that he can pretend that some other part of *this* universe is "another universe".

"For example, if there was a theory that predicted that many other universes must exist, and we have evidence that this theory is true, this would count as indirect evidence of other universes."

You need to get over your 'Science!' worship. This is the most common, and most intellectually dangerous, elision people make.

'True' is not a scientific property or principle; what we now call 'science' (as distinct from how that word was meant 200 years ago) does not deal in truth. If a scientific statement is true, it is almost always by happenstance.

That same 'evidence' that can be fitted into this hypothetical theory that demands that other universes exist can also be fitted into a different hypothetical theory that demands that only one universe exists. There is no ground upon which to claim that only the one theory can make use of it.

Aron Zavaro said...

"If someone claims to have evidence of other universes, whether direct or indirect, what he is doing is employing a custom "definition" of 'universe' so that he can pretend that some other part of *this* universe is "another universe"."

Sure. I don't really care whether you want to refer to these as other universes or different regions of the same universe. My point is that there can potentially be evidence of theories that are commonly referred to as multiverse theories, such as inflationary multiverse scenarios. Your point seems to be that these theories don't deserve to be called "multiverse" theories. Maybe you're right. But is that all you are arguing? Or are you also arguing that theories like inflation cannot possibly have evidence in their favor?

Aron Zavaro said...

Joe,

How would you define mathematical evidence vs. empirical evidence. When I use the word "evidence" this is what I mean: an observation increases the probability that a theory is true. Using this definition of "evidence" there could be evidence in favor of a multiverse. If some hypothesis H entails or predicts a multiverse, and some piece of evidence confirms H, then that evidence is also evidence of a multiverse.

If the conception of evidence I'm appealing to is merely "mathematical" evidence, then so be it. That type of evidence is routinely appealed to in both science and probability theory.

Joe Hinman said...

How would you define mathematical evidence vs. empirical evidence. When I use the word "evidence" this is what I mean: an observation increases the probability that a theory is true. Using this definition of "evidence" there could be evidence in favor of a multiverse. If some hypothesis H entails or predicts a multiverse, and some piece of evidence confirms H, then that evidence is also evidence of a multiverse.

If the conception of evidence I'm appealing to is merely "mathematical" evidence, then so be it. That type of evidence is routinely appealed to in both science and probability theory.


I didn't say the math is not evidence but it is not empirical evidence, the atheist contradiction what most atheists claim to value because they quite comically say only emprical evidence matters.

I don't think math alone ie strong enough to prove Mv

Joe Hinman said...

Inflationary theory is the idea that the universe expanded to huge size from a single point very quickly, almost instantaneously, like a balloon being blown up with a single breath.


quote>>"(a period of accelerating expansion in the very early Universe) is now accepted as the standard explanation of several cosmological problems. In order for inflation to have occurred, the Universe must have been formed contaiInflationning some matter in a highly excited state. Inflationary theory does not address the question of why this matter was in such an excited state. Answering this demands a theory of the pre-inflationary initial conditions. There are two serious candidates for such a theory. The first, proposed by Andrei Linde of Stanford University, is called chaotic inflation. According to chaotic inflation, the Universe starts off in a completely random state. In some regions matter will be more energetic than in others and inflation could ensue, producing the observable Universe."

Inflation explains the large scale structure of the universe.ii But it does not explain hierarchical order. There's nothing in inflationary theory that proves inflation to be totally naturalistic in origin. Moreover, the statement above clearly demonstrates that inflation assumes the preexistence of matter, laws, and some kind of excitation. That would mean hierarchical order, organizing principles, and physical conditions already existed, so inflation can't explain them.
Physicist Paul Steinhardt, one of the originators of the theory, had doubts about it as early as his first paper on the subject (1982). He admits that the point of the theory was to eliminate fine tuning (a major God argument), but the theory only works if one fine tunes the constants that control the inflationary period. “The whole point of inflation was to get rid of fine-tuning – to explain features of the original big bang model that must be fine-tuned to match observations. The fact that we had to introduce one fine-tuning to remove another was worrisome. This problem has never been resolved.”iii Nor is inflationary theory backed by observation. Many great observations have been made to back up the original theory. But as Steinhardt points out the theory has evolved such that, “we no longer believe that inflation makes any of those predictions so that none of the magnificent observations made over the last 30 years can be viewed as supporting inflation.”iv What's more one prediction that has not worked out is gravitational waves, predicted before '83, that should have been detected by WMAP and Planck satellites and was not.v

John Horgan, “Physicist slams Cosmic Theory he Helped Conceive,” Scientific American Blogs, December 1, 2014. on line, URL http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/cross-check/physicist-slams-cosmic-theory-he-helped-conceive/ accessed 10/5/15.
Horgan interviews Steinhardt.


October 27, 2016 8:28 PM Delete

Gyan said...

A quote that explains proliferation of universes in cosmology--By Fr Stanley Jaki:

Application of quantum mechanics by scientific cosmologists rest on a non-sequitur, voiced by Heisenbery as early as 1927,
that an interaction that can not be measured exactly, can not take place exactly. This non-sequitur is the jump from the operational to the ontological-a fateful jump indeed, because if its bearing is extended from from the level of alpha-particle emission from the radioactive atoms to the universe itself, it enables the physicist to create the entire universe itself out of nothing by his mere fiat.

Aron Zavaro said...

Joe,

I don't care what your atheist friends say about empirical evidence being the only thing that matters. My point was merely that it is theoretically possible for there to be evidence for a multiverse. You appear to agree with this.

Yu then provided some quotes sayin. That inflation has been disconfirmed. This supports my point. I have no opinion on whether the evidence supports inflation. My only point is that there are things we could observe that WOULD be evidence of inflation if we observed them. Your quote listed gravitational waves as one such observation.

JBsptfn said...

Joe: there is mathematical evidence but that's not empirical . Empirical evidence is impossible, if I had a dollar for every time an atheist has told me empirical evidence is all that matters i would have a dollar for about 90% of the atheists I've argued with

Hinman is right. Here's an example:

Metacrock's Blog: Children of the Lack of Reading the Material They Criticize

At this link, he is debating Skeppy, an old "friend" of this site.

In the comments section, Ryan (a commenter on Skep's site) said the looniest comment of all-time:

Ryan M: You use "scientism" as a buzzword without understanding it, and frankly you seem to only post on this blog to say shit about I'm-skeptical. All you really show is that he intimidates you intellectually.

IMS intimidate someone intellectually? Child please.

Joe Hinman said...

I don't care what your atheist friends say about empirical evidence being the only thing that matters. My point was merely that it is theoretically possible for there to be evidence for a multiverse. You appear to agree with this.

Yu then provided some quotes sayin. That inflation has been disconfirmed. This supports my point. I have no opinion on whether the evidence supports inflation. My only point is that there are things we could observe that WOULD be evidence of inflation if we observed them. Your quote listed gravitational waves as one such observation.

(1) You are right in thinning I agree some evidence could be had. Weather or not this is strong enough to beat an argument like FT is another matter.

(2) I know you are not beating the drum for Dawkins and company but i can't helP assailing them old habits die hard.

(3) I don't know if the evidence for inflation being disconfirmed can be udsed to prove that it's theoretically possible to have it, but that is academic since I agree with its theoretical possibility,

the reason it may not be is because they could not make the math work without fine tuning that makes the mathematical eviodemce more probleamtic.