Thursday, February 21, 2013

Tegmark annoys the angry atheists

I just criticized Max Tegmark, and now he is stirring up more trouble:
I'd been warned. A friend cautioned me that if we went ahead and posted our MIT Survey on Science, Religion and Origins, I'd get inundated with hate-mail from religious fundamentalists who believe our universe to be less than 10,000 years old. We posted it anyway, and the vitriolic responses poured in as predicted. But to my amazement, most of them didn't come from religious people, but from angry atheists! I found this particularly remarkable since I'm not religious myself. I have three criticisms of these angry atheists:

1) They help religious fundamentalists: ...

2) They could use more modesty:
If I've learned anything as a physicist, it's how little we know with certainty. In terms of the ultimate nature of reality, we scientists are ontologically ignorant. For example, many respected physicists believe in the so-called Copenhagen Interpretation of quantum mechanics, according to which a fundamentally random process called "wavefunction collapse" occurs whenever you observe something. This interpretation has been criticized both for being anthropocentric (quantum godfather Niels Bohr famously argued that there's no reality without observation) and for being vague (there's no equation specifying when the purported collapse is supposed to happen, and there's arguably no experimental evidence for it).

Let's compare the ontological views of Niels Bohr to those of a moderate and tolerant religious person. At least one of them is incorrect, since Bohr was an atheist. Perhaps neither is correct. But who's to say that the former is clearly superior to the latter, which should be ridiculed and taunted? Personally, I'd bet good money against the Copenhagen Interpretation, but it would be absurd if I couldn't be friends with those believing its ontology and unite with them in the quest to make our planet a better place.

3) They should practice what they preach: ...
One of those angry atheists, leftist-atheist-evolutionist Jerry Coyne, writes:
I’m curious to hear Richard’s answer to Krauss’s question, “Richard, what’s more important in some sense: if you had a choice — to explain science or destroy religion?”

That would be a tough one for me. How do you think Dawkins answered? And how would you have answered if you possessed Dawkins’s proficiency at explaining evolution as well as his enormous public profile as an atheist?
Really? I would have guessed that nearly all science professors would rather explain science than destroy religion, especially since many religions are supportive of science.

Tegmark is correct that most Christians accept evolution and most of the rest of modern science. Yes there are some ontological differences, but you can also find those within physicists discussing quantum mechanics.

That being said, Tegmark slanders the Copenhagen Interpretation. The interpretation is an explanation of how we perceive the world, and how we can update our knowledge of atomic phenomena. I would not call the collapse a fundamentally random process. But I don't want to nitpick here. His point is that physicist disagree about quantum ontology, and that is certainly correct.


  1. Belief in superstitions is never supportive of science.

    1. The fine tuning of the universe is data not superstition. It points directly to a designer--so much so that atheists have latched on to a comic book explanation of an infinite universe maker machine.
      So these attempts at ridicule just appear desperate. Scientific data that was suppose to prove the world only "appears" designed has done exactly the opposite to monumental degrees--120 places to the right of the decimal point--confirming what most of the humans who have ever lived throughout history have believed.You can call that superstition--but I call it NORMAL.

      It must hurt to not see something that all other humans have--in all of 3 seconds--but hiding behind the atheist company line is not an argument...its the actions of a drone.

  2. "Once a belief system has been set up all Truth is then derived from that belief system and therefore it follows that everything else that contradicts this belief system is either false or has not been properly elucidated under the existing belief system. Most scientists believe that there is an underlying reality that is true for the entire Universe. The problem with this is that everybody has a different perception as to what this reality is which is based upon their own belief system."

    Just trotting this out to show you can find your philosophy of science even on martial arts web sites. (it was lifted from the Shadowhand Taijiquan site).

    As Rog has pointed out, "consensus is the lowest form of truth-verification", something like that. Science is based on achieving consensus -- hmm, isn't that politics? -- and as the Taijiquan master assizes, everyone sees things differently. He refers to it as "the" problem, so I run with that as follows. Assuming a physicist does someday drum up a perfect GUT theory he or she may find the arduousness of that exercise trivial as compared to reeducating even one fellow scientist as to its correctness. Paraphrasing Ayn Rand: "In order for their to be one great man there needs to be two great men, the second one being he who is able to understand what the first one has accomplished."