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    Mix Science And God Correctly Or Don’t!
    By Sascha Vongehr | April 21st 2011 09:55 AM | 21 comments | Print | E-mail | Track Comments
    About Sascha

    Dr. Sascha Vongehr [风洒沙] studied phil/math/chem/phys in Germany, obtained a BSc in theoretical physics (electro-mag) & MSc (stringtheory)...

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    Mixing Science and Religion is always a hot topic. Recently, there was for example a debate between Sam Harris and Robert Winston in the Guardian, about, you guessed it, science versus faith! Harris is all for science:

    We have Christians believing in the holy ghost, the resurrection of Jesus and his possible return -- these are claims about biology and physics which, from a scientific point of view in the 21st century, should be unsustainable.

    Let me present the “next level” on the question of whether science argues against religion: Yes, modern science disproves traditional deities, However, you should Not use science to argue against religion!


    Yes: Modern science offers a proof against traditional creator deities. Quantum physics decouples “creators” from “their creation”: There is no effect from the possibility of an entity that carries the delusion of being a creator as if you could conceivably add something to totality. You still may possibly live in a virtual reality suit or be a brain in a vat, the lab-technician being your god, but that is no fundamental god.


    However: I will not further argue these claims and support your pseudoskeptic, "new atheist", ridicule the bible-thumpers group! Traditionally religious do not read this, and I have a more important message for those left:


    Stop Using Science as the Main Argument against God!


    In the following, I will firstly argue a little against science being all that important (1), then give examples for how science arguments backfire supporting religiousness (2), and finally I will make "new religiousness" an issue (3).


    1) Science is not that important in Regards to Atheism

    It is wrong to claim that modern science killed god. R. Dawkins holds that it was impossible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist before Darwin; that Hume for example was not, because he did not know genetics and thus could not be a satisfied atheist. But true "life with soul" is phenomenal consciousness, the origin of which is as much answered by science today as the origin of species was before Darwin. In fact, the old atheists have been just as much or even more satisfied than the new ones.


    The concept of god has been shown to be a naïve and inconsistent one long before modern science came along. Science advertises to have the better answer to everything and it teases with having answers especially to “difficult” questions. Given the ubiquity of technology, many are under the impression that indeed science killed the traditional god, and in some ways, it did, except for that it modernized god.


    Proper science has, if it is to be consistent, no choice but to confirm that god is dead. However, proper science is scarce and much of the fashionably “sciency” third culture bohemians make a terribly naïve job at mixing science with religion, to the result that they strengthen religion.


    You should never use fashionable science as the base of your argument against god. Why? You will very likely get it wrong and the religious bigots will cash in on that. Let me give a few examples:


    2) Examples for how Sciency Arguments Backfire

    The Big Bang

    Philosophically naïve scientists like Stephen Hawking have abused the Big Bang solution of general relativity in order to argue that the universe has no boundary, or better, needs no boundary condition, no god. It is a simplification of supreme stupidity for several reasons. Firstly: The singularities of general relativity are obviously incompatible with quantum mechanics, which is why string theoreticians secretly laugh about Hawking for many years now. To them, he is little more than a convenient freak in a wheel chair that attracts media attention to physics.


    Let me shortly get a bit too sciency for a blog - skip this part if you must: The Big Bang that is observed in astrophysics is the so called “reheating” after cosmic inflation, and we simply do not know much more about that inflationary epoch yet. In Einstein’s classical general relativity, the Big Bang is a mathematical singularity that results from an extrapolation that leads outside of the theory’s domain of applicability (namely close to the Planck length and beyond). What does that mean? It means that the theoretical Big Bang is not a reasonable prediction of that theory; it is where the theory has already broken down!


    The religious of course love the distorted Big Bang, the impressive, fiery creation myth on a silver platter: Who made the Big Bang? Jehovah! And many atheists are successfully duped and let themselves be caught in pseudo-scientific debates. However: BB does have nothing whatsoever to do with that god is a dangerous and inconsistent concept! Stop supporting the religious by discussing the BB as if it is some sort of creation event.


    Religious absolutely love this wrong depiction of the early universe that many physicists still propagate in their half baked outreach efforts. Time does not begin at the Big Bang; the Big Bang comes after inflation and we do not know how long before inflation it makes sense to use the same time parameter!


    BB serves as a prime example of how glamor science backfires! Modern physics proves that all the religious who insisted that there must be something before the BB (which they call “god”) have been correct! All those self-righteous sciency atheist types who defended the BB as the origin that does not need another cause have been proven wrong! Do not let the religious set your agenda! Do not argue with science that you do not understand!


    Another Example: “Philosophy of Time”

    Since the traditionally religious are all about creation myths, they of course love the naïve sciency misinterpretation that “origin” is to be understood in temporal or mechanically causal terms. And the sciency smarty pants see their chance to go on driveling about the latest popular science book that they neither understood nor contained anything of value except popularizing the author as super clever. Nonsense about worm-holes and closed time like loops, again, not taken from a theory where it is confirmed, but cherry picked from where it breaks down (!), all in true religious fashion, building up a straw man in order to smash it with some sort of ultra-lame “You know, actually there is no time before time!


    Wooooo – science is so profound! Religious BS! No time outside time has been obvious since Parmenides 25000 years ago and long before him, and it is beside the point! No scientific answer would ever, neither in case there is an absolute t = 0 beginning, nor in case there is an eternally inflating background, satisfy those whose skin shivers when time is mentioned – which would be old and new religious alike. Whatever the most useful description of time, it would not sway the religious one way or another from either denial or twisting it into a proof of their god!


    Forget time; it is nothing more than a parameter used to quantify certain changes. If you are hung up about the mystery of “the flow", just become clear about that if time did anything at all, it better had another orthogonal time direction. I personally worked on quantum gravity with two times. Time has nothing to do with that god is an irrational nonsense concept!


    Ask yourself: If tomorrow science proved that time is whatever (t = 0, infinite, circular, two dimensional, fractal, green with eggs on top), would it change your atheism in the slightest? Of course not! So it is yet another issue that the traditional and the new religious alike force upon us, and enthusiastic science kids fall for it hook, line, and sinker!


    Falling for the Pseudo-postmodern Extreme Skepticism

    Post modernism is largely a valid rediscovery of the young Marx and Feuerbach materialism in sociology about that what we do all day long and the thus stabilized power structures we live in and all of that determine what we hold true. Our historical explanations, religions, the perversely double-faced pseudo-democratic doctrine of the warmongering Westernized societies for example, all are little more than evolved social constructs. This is well applicable to some of science, too, and unsurprisingly, scientists are naturally not inclined to admit this, since their selective perception is evolved to have the blind spot preferably right here.


    There are however dangerously obscurant and clearly anti-scientific extremes among the postmodern. These claim that there is no absolute knowledge at all, that you can be skeptical about everything.


    Of course, when young earth creationists insist on that all the fossils have been planted by god, it is laughed upon. When transhumanist tell us that we are likely all a simulation, that we live in the matrix already, then it comes with so much popular science quackery a la John Smart and Kurzweil that the “new atheists” wet their pants. All of a sudden laughter turns into an awkward stumbling:

    “well, we don’t know, so maybe there perhaps might be a god2.0, and he is us, like in the future you know, with the computers and internets and stuffs, but the future was already yesterday and so I am agnostic and not atheist no more”

    And the creationists sing “Thank you, suckers!


    Do not waste your time reasoning scientifically with people who see reasoning as merely a rhetorical tool. The proper answer to young earth creationism is plainly: “The holy books were planted by the furious Spaghetti Monster to test our beliefs, so burn this church or mosque or whatever the hell you call this dump right now and build a Spaghetti Golden Toilet or the Monster will chop your stupid head off!”


    There are agnostics that opine atheists just believe that there is no god. True, most atheists are religious people; after all, they are human. But some outspoken ones go so far as to say "what you claim to know could conceivably be overturned with some consistent science of god."


    No! There is no such nonsense! Science is not just empirical, it is foremost about logic and self-consistency, which is the basis of science, the core without which nothing can be inferred from any experiment anyway. Logic cannot be overturned! Whatever your "consistent science of god" would be, it would be yet another convenient redefinition of "god" so that the religious can justify perpetuating the promotion of their poison.


    This logical basis of science was once called philosophy (which is a dirty word today sadly because of academic philosophy), and wise people thus have been atheist long before the onset of empirical science.


    Philosophy Killed God, Not Science

    All the good arguments against religion are philosophical. Science can successfully re-express the philosophically obvious. Nevertheless, the scientific proof is at most a re-expression of what has been known for a long while: god does not make any sense; it is a useless and inconsistent concept. One does not need physics to see that, though an education in straight thinking can help.


    A strict disproof of creators is a byproduct of interesting issues in advancing sober quantum theory. It is worth to supply scientific arguments as re-expressions of philosophically self-evident truths, because the vast majority of people are not intelligent enough to grasp philosophy without some intuitive, box/lever/pulley-world picture.


    Many Worlds for example is little more than modal realism as it has been understood since the advent of psychedelic mushrooms maybe 25000 years ago. Even a branching Many Worlds model is NOT a quantum theory. Quantum mechanics formally describes how possible branches interfere. Without this entanglement, Many Worlds are classical descriptions.


    Without the help of a ‘hands-on’ multiverse/many worlds description, most cannot understand the concept of totality or modal realism. Thus, a re-expression of modal realism in form of branching models or “god is dead” in terms of science can be very helpful.


    However, the danger here is the uncritical popularization of simplistic versions of intuitive pictures. The multiverse/many worlds confusion is presented as a real (in the sense of direct realism) structure, but this is totally wrong. The whole point of modal realism’s relative existence is that totality does obviously not in the same sense “exist”. You may think that this is a hairsplitting side issue, but it is the very core on which the multiverse/many worlds confusion has become so religious.


    Only if you distort the quantum physics and present the multiverse as a real structure can you bank in on the intuitive, god like perspective that makes it feel like as if one could somehow count souls in that structure and then argue with probabilities based on that; like as if a god could prune the multiverse tree, or as if Deepak Chopra could let your happy branches grow twice as many if you meditate enough.


    3) Scientism the new Religion

    The misunderstood multiverse leads to Deepak, to “quantum-immortality” nonsense, to a dangerous upsurge in irresponsible religiousness, all the way from the obscurant “singularity” down to Tipler’s salvation promising “omega point”. The Templeton Foundation award 2011 went to Martin Rees. Why? Because the multiverse/many worlds has been distorted enough that it counts as the best bet for the next god of the gaps!


    Why is all this nonsense so popular? Humans are religious! The irony is: Especially the self proclaimed atheists fall for it, because their guard is down. It is a techno world now. You must be techno smart to party with the in-crowd now, but you fear uncertainty just like the next man, and so you desperately want to believe that in science, ideas are well founded.


    Are they? Previously, respected scientists claimed the Big Bang is the big answer, thus feeding the religious. Now they say it is not so, but instead of once slowing down and admitting that established scientists did widely support a wrong, totally naive argument, the next fad is shoved down our throats instead. Now freak quantum science feeds the religious. As always, the establishment, now mostly white geeks with the cool techno flair, laps it up. It is the justification they need, the new religion that nourishes them, their own myths co-evolved along with them.


    And so, usual science blogging/atheism/skepticism/popularization shoots true enlightenment in the foot. It backfires and has as yet done little more but polarize the debate and thus strengthen religiousness, the old ugly one as well as the new sexy one. Today, the religious can conveniently as never before draw on naive misunderstandings under the label of science. That those that love science are naive can be supported with just pointing to the most popular atheism and science blogs. You could not argue for religious nonsense as much with Newton as you can today by drawing on the ramblings by the likes of S. Hawking and M. Tegmark.


    The “new atheists” like to bash the bible thumpers, the Einstein deniers, the hollow earth and moon hoaxers. Easy targets that one can feel superior to, witches to hunt, babies to kick. Skeptics focus on them because skeptics are just as religious; they smell a rival, and modern humans crave enemies and warfare; we are aggressive primates. The new religious fly the colors of science and skepticism, but they are the crusaders of a new dark age. As always, old atheists shake their heads in despair.


    --------------------------------------------

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    Comments

    Sascha. Excellent post, even if I do disagree with some of the points (which is not only fine, but desirable if we are to be scientific).

    Where I agree is that the science of the science and religion shouting match is bad. It is bad science, not to mention prejudice, to put all religious believers in one monolithic category. It is bad science to look for Gods of the gaps.

    But it is also bad science to say that that quantum mechanics is necessary to explain consciousness - it is only needed to the extent that it is necessary to explain atoms and molecules. And it is bad science to to say that science disproves traditional creator deities. Given that traditional creator deities do not have well-defined technical properties, science has no purchase on proof or disproof.

    The elephant in the room - though - is that the so-called scientific arguments against religion are usually bastardized myths and other story-telling religious arguments that folks have given a scientific spin to, and then claim that science answers better than religion.

    Consider the great creation myths - the first two chapters in Genesis or the Aristotelian geocentric universe. These are contrasted with evolutionary theory or modern cosmology and the claim is made that science does it better, therefore religion is outmoded by science.

    What a ridiculous argument! It assumes that religion is all about creation myths, when those are incidental to issues of spiritual growth and transcendence central to religion. The issue, of course, is that there are many folks - Dawkins and Hawkins, for example - who are tremendously attracted to those myths and have invested huge amounts of time in their scientific versions. The larger picture is that these creationistic aspects of Western science are an outgrowth of the creation stories that accompanied the old-fashioned great religions.

    But yes, I loved your post and its approach.

    vongehr
    "bad science to say that that quantum mechanics is necessary to explain consciousness"
    I did not claim that, and indeed, QM is not necessary to explain third person reported consciousness. What I claim, is that phenomenal consciousness implies a quantum description. This is not to be confused with the usual addition of a little quantum goo into a zombie brain to magically switch on the light.
    "it is only needed to the extent that it is necessary to explain atoms and molecules."
    QM was discovered like this, true, but by now, you need it basically everywhere, in cosmology, gravity, EM, ... . The molecules and atoms only tell you more clearly that nature is fundamentally quantum, but the message is, nature is already quantum when you drink a cup of brew in the morning. It does not wait until you arrived in you atomic physics lab. It is quantum throughout right now!
    "traditional creator deities do not have well-defined technical properties"
    By traditional creator deities I mean the ones that are blamed responsible for the whole universe (totality) rather than the "god" that might pull you in a minute from now out of a virtual reality suit exclaiming "ho ho, fooled you all along".
    "those are incidental to issues of spiritual growth and transcendence central to religion."
    This might hold for you personally and for atheistic Buddhists, but for most I think "growth and transcendence" are not the root. Central to religion is how people were brought up, what they are used to, how they maintain a feeling of superiority over others (= opposite of growth) and as some recent research shows, yes also the plain fear of death is still a major reason for people to want god, though first world people are kind of too "cool" to admit that.
    This might hold for you personally and for atheistic Buddhists, but for most I think "growth and transcendence" are not the root. Central to religion is how people were brought up, what they are used to, how they maintain a feeling of superiority over others (= opposite of growth) and as some recent research shows, yes also the plain fear of death is still a major reason for people to want god, though first world people are kind of too "cool" to admit that.
    It's the sad part about religion or any kind of human endeavour.  The really valuable parts---growth and transcendence--require dedication, a great deal of relearning, in short, lots of energy. A path of least resistance is to integrate the package into what the ego is set out to do anyway: fear the unknown, have illusions of superiority, get into conflicts with fellow men and play bingo in the church basement.
    I feel the need to make a couple of corrections on references to the views of a couple of people:

    "R. Dawkins holds that it was impossible to be a reasonable atheist before Darwin;"

    No, he does not. The words he uses are "intellectually fulfilled", meaning that without it being an atheist would not include having an intellectual understanding of life on this planet. He would say it was still perfectly reasonable to be an atheist, which only means not believing any god claims, because proper evidence for gods had still not been provided.

    "Naïve scientists like Stephen Hawking have abused the Big Bang solution of general relativity in order to argue that the universe has no boundary, or better, needs no boundary condition, no god."

    What Stephen Hawking posited is that our knowledge of Big Bang cosmology and quantum physics make a god being involved in the Big Bang redundant - that is, an unnecessary component. He does not outright preclude the possibility, but rather states that based on our knowledge of quantum physics the rules that the rules of quantum physics themselves sufficiently explain the cause of the Big Bang.

    Now, as to the subject of science and religion, here's my take:

    1. Science can only be used to against religion when the specific religious claims in question are demonstrably false according to well established scientifically derived knowledge. On this point I think we agree.
    2. A religious claim that does not meet scientific standards for a claim it can't legitimately be called scientific. By scientific standards I mean that the claim must be testable and/or falsifiable. This actually applies to all claims, not just religious ones.
    3. If a claim has not been been verified scientifically to any degree it is reasonable not to believe it. In fact, I would say if there's no good scientific evidence for a claim the default position should be to not believe it. (NOTE - this is not the same as saying the claim is not true, which is in itself a claim that would also have to be verified in some fashion to be reasonable to believe)

    The use of science against religion in this dynamic is not a matter of using specific knowledge, but rather using the actual methodology that is science to show that the religious claims have not met the standard of evidence to make it reasonable to believe them.

    Gerhard Adam
    The use of science against religion in this dynamic is not a matter of using specific knowledge, but rather using the actual methodology that is science to show that the religious claims have not met the standard of evidence to make it reasonable to believe them.
    There is no "science against religion".  There is one or the other.

    If religious claims are handled as you've indicated then they are no longer religious claims, they are scientific assertions that are subject to testing.  Religion isn't involved.

    Similarly religious beliefs are articles of faith, so they do not require any proof for them to be used as beliefs, only if they are asserted to be scientifically factual.
    If a claim has not been been verified scientifically to any degree it is reasonable not to believe it. In fact, I would say if there's no good scientific evidence for a claim the default position should be to not believe it.
    That's a very strange position to take.  If it has been verified, then belief is superfluous because it has been verified to be accurate and factual.  However, until it has been verified, it almost exclusively depends on "belief" to advance the research or search for evidence to obtain confirmation.  Without such a belief, do we simply discard anything that hasn't been proven?  Are we subject to all manner of pseudo-scientific claims simply because they haven't been specifically refuted?  Belief is not synonymous with religion.  After all, science believes the world is knowable and subject to rules, while religion believes that the world is ultimately not knowable or subject to rules beyond those exercised by divine will. 

    In fact, I would argue that your statement is patently false, since you must live your life with incomplete knowledge and incomplete understanding.  Even at your absolute best, you will never understand or have the majority of scientific knowledge avialable at your disposal.  As a result, it is absolutely incumbent that our belief system operates with limited and inaccurate knowledge, lest we be paralyzed from making difficult choices or take unnecessary risks because we lack complete evidence.


    Mundus vult decipi
    If religious claims are handled as you've indicated then they are no longer religious claims, they are scientific assertions that are subject to testing. Religion isn't involved.

    The context of the word religion here describes the nature of the claim as one pertaining to traditionally religious items such as gods, much as a claim about cells would be a biological claim. I think the word you're looking for here would be "faith" - it would no longer be a faith based claim.

    That's a very strange position to take. If it has been verified, then belief is superfluous because it has been verified to be accurate and factual. However, until it has been verified, it almost exclusively depends on "belief" to advance the research or search for evidence to obtain confirmation. Without such a belief, do we simply discard anything that hasn't been proven? Are we subject to all manner of pseudo-scientific claims simply because they haven't been specifically refuted?

    Not necessarily. You can think a claim sounds plausible and interesting enough to be worth investigation without believing the claim itself. Or you could have two competing hypothesis, neither of which you are convinced are true, and try to verify them because you want to know which one is more likely to be true. Wanting to believe what's true is motivator enough to do science even if you don't necessarily start out believing in the claims you are investigating.

    Belief is not synonymous with religion.

    I never said or implied it was.

    After all, science believes the world is knowable and subject to rules, while religion believes that the world is ultimately not knowable or subject to rules beyond those exercised by divine will.

    I wouldn't paint all religion so broadly. Someone very well could believe that their religion could ultimately be proven by science. In fact, looking in history a number of significant discoveries were made by people trying to do just that, and even if they were religiously motivated we should be glad that faith wasn't enough for them.

    In fact, I would argue that your statement is patently false, since you must live your life with incomplete knowledge and incomplete understanding. Even at your absolute best, you will never understand or have the majority of scientific knowledge avialable at your disposal. As a result, it is absolutely incumbent that our belief system operates with limited and inaccurate knowledge, lest we be paralyzed from making difficult choices or take unnecessary risks because we lack complete evidence.

    I was not mandating having a full or even partial understanding of the evidence, rather I was mandating there actually being evidence. If you don't understand the evidence for something, there can still be good reasons to believe the evidence is valid. For instance, the peer review process in science is helpful in this regard. Even if you can't understand it, there are others who can and will analyze the evidence and decide whether it's good or not. If they've got a reliable track record on verifying the work of others and they vouch for something, I don't think it's unreasonable to trust them and believe the claim in question in that case.

    Gerhard Adam
    The context of the word religion here describes the nature of the claim as one pertaining to traditionally religious items such as gods, much as a claim about cells would be a biological claim.
    Not at all.  If you're going to challenge science, then it is a scientific assertion.  Whatever it's origins in religion, faith, or fairy-land is immaterial.  Any claim which is not scientific cannot be proven or disproven by science.
    You can think a claim sounds plausible and interesting enough to be worth investigation without believing the claim itself. Or you could have two competing hypothesis, neither of which you are convinced are true, and try to verify them because you want to know which one is more likely to be true.
    Of course you "believe" the claim even though you haven't invested in it sufficiently to qualify it as correct.  If you didn't there would be no basis for "believing" that it can explain anything. 
    Someone very well could believe that their religion could ultimately be proven by science. In fact, looking in history a number of significant discoveries were made by people trying to do just that, and even if they were religiously motivated we should be glad that faith wasn't enough for them.
    They may believe it, but it changes nothing.  This is precisely the problem with creationists and ID.  They want to take their religious principles and then twist science around as a "proof" that their religion is valid.  Validating religion negates the entire reason for its existence which is based on faith.
    Even if you can't understand it, there are others who can and will analyze the evidence and decide whether it's good or not.
    ... and this is when it becomes faith and part of a belief system.  My point is that you made the claim that anything that is unverified probably shouldn't be believed, and my response is that that is an impossible standard in real life.  While it may be applicable to abstract ideas that have no bearing on our daily lives, that isn't how people live and consequently such a standard would render us helpless. 
    I was not mandating having a full or even partial understanding of the evidence, rather I was mandating there actually being evidence.
    Sorry, but that's the basis for faith.  Without a full understanding of the evidence, you're simply taking someone else's word for it.  They may be a trusted source or they may be questionable, but, in any case, it is an act of faith.  This is precisely where people get into trouble because they believe something is scientific evidence only to discover that science has since moved on and discredited or discarded what they "believe" to be truth.  That doesn't represent something wrong with science, but it is the nature of how people must live, because we cannot possess full knowledge and experience of events with which to form our belief systems.

    The only difference between scientific "faith" and religious "faith" are the axioms we accept as the basis for such beliefs.  Therefore, from those axioms, science would tend towards expecting a skeptical response to new ideas, whereas religion tends towards acceptance.

    Ideally science strives for self-correction, while religion strives for confirmation.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Hank
    What Stephen Hawking posited is that our knowledge of Big Bang cosmology and quantum physics make a god being involved in the Big Bang redundant - that is, an unnecessary component. He does not outright preclude the possibility, but rather states that based on our knowledge of quantum physics the rules that the rules of quantum physics themselves sufficiently explain the cause of the Big Bang.
    He did just the opposite, though he didn't seem to realize it.  By essentially giving up in his later years and adopting m-theory, he was anthromorphizing physics as surely as any religion anthropomorphized God.
    vongehr
    The words he uses are "intellectually fulfilled"
    Yes, this is what I meant by writing "satisfied". But you are right, I should be closer to the words he actually used, so I improved it now. Thank you.
    What Stephen Hawking posited is that our knowledge of Big Bang cosmology and quantum physics ... states that based on our knowledge of quantum physics the rules that the rules of quantum physics themselves sufficiently explain the cause of the Big Bang.
    He changed his position quite a bit, e.g. admitted that he lost the bet about that black holes preclude unitary evolution, which for many is equivalent to finally taking quantum mechanics seriously instead of just doing semi-classical corrections (Hawking radiation). But this re-interpreting now is basically weaseling one's way out: That the rules of physics are sufficient to explain the cause of the BB is so general that it could not be wrong, so general that it is as empty as "god did it", while before recently, the same statement meant that the BB is the origin that does not need any particular initial conditions before it, because the right conditions could just fluctuate into existence at t=0. That the universe started at t=0 and does not need nothing more there and no time before is what he promoted, that is how he got famous, and many religious love him for this mistake.
    Dick Gordon
    Dear Sascha, Angry post. I’m not sure if you are railing more against believers or the Four Horsemen of Atheism. I note no comments by the former, nor defenders of the latter. As your “bowl of rice” suggests that you are still presently in the Golden Land of State Atheism, it cannot be your surrounds that brought this on. Science proceeds by its own mythologies. I have discussed this explicitly in regards to embryology (Gordon, 1999). These are called paradigms, which used to be consecutively replaced in your “model“ field of physics. In biology we just accumulate them. Paradigms are supposed to be replaced precisely because but only when they are eventually seen as illogical, usually inconsistent with both deduction and observation. Sometimes, like fads, they are just forgotten, rather than disproven.

    The major deficit seems to be lack of humility. We overreach with our explanations, creating religion of the gaps or science of the gaps (Gordon, 2008), either way trying to fill in what we do not know. I would replace your explicative “Humans are religious!” with “Humans are not humble”. Gordon, R. (1999). The Hierarchical Genome and Differentiation Waves: Novel Unification of Development, Genetics and Evolution. Singapore&London, World Scientific&Imperial College Press http://www.worldscibooks.com/lifesci/2755.html. Gordon, R. (2008). Over-confident anti-creationists versus over-confident creationists. In:  Divine Action and Natural Selection: Science, Faith and Evolution. Eds.: R. Gordon&J. Seckbach. Singapore, World Scientific: 216-247. Yours, -Dick Gordon
    Richard (Dick) Gordon, Radiology, University of Manitoba, gordonr@cc.umanitoba.ca
    vongehr
    It is not angry nor am I railing against anything.
    Each time I read about philosophical or scientific debates, I can not prevent me to think about that myths and theolologies have something to do with science. Maybe it is with the way to talk about : Good.-bad ; Right-wrong. And what about maths, where all seems to be guided by a natural order ?...

    At the end, without take off the merits of religions, especially, the Catholic faith, i would say that : Prosperity, laic laws and education are the best drugs to lower side effects of religions...

    blue-green
    <!--[if gte mso 9]> Wild Magic Mushrooms .. I have pictures of amanita muscaria by the hundreds at 11,000’ (tundra) … I wish you would slow down and properly explain with some Dirac notation, how to handle branching .. . I cannot pretend that I understand what you are saying. It all seems to hinge on this notion that possible or plausible worlds are existent on different branches. A colloquial phrase for that was that they are on different “wavelengths” … Yes, my bible thumping mother-and-law is on a different branch. She is quite happy way out on a limb and has plenty of company, but not mine, and never will, even if we are sitting at the same table and pretending to be pleasantly chatting. I have grown quite used to this notion of being a hermit, a minority of one, without even trying to be a recluse. True science is worlds apart from religious spheres of influence. Practitioners from diverse spheres live on the surface of the same planet and pass each other on the street, yet they have nothing in common philosophically. Their worlds collide, since one really cannot live completely isolated from the impacts of others. A doctor can carry on with his work the same regardless of whether the family members are fervently praying for a recovery, chanting or sticking pins in dolls. Yet when the bills have to be paid … there is much collision and collusion. I am not going to call it “entanglement” until someone shows me the right way to do the math.
    blue-green
    What has detained our Leader Out of the Wilderness? Over the years he as conjured modal realities many times 2^3^4, each with a hint that he has followed quantum mechanical branching up a level or two. If there are precursors of the lesson in mushroom experiences from 7000 years ago, then let’s hear them in plain English. A little more “hands-on” multiversing would help with the dialoging here. Meanwhile, I’ll try to get the conversation going on a more mundane level. Back when Feynman et. al. were summing over interaction diagrams and summing over all possible histories … I don’t think they were entertaining Sascha’s sense of modal realities. The Feynman sums can be quite rigorous, and yet, they are for very specific situations, as in, deriving ray theory for optics. When one weights in all possible alternatives …. on a larger canvas ... one has to impose reasonable constraints on what is possible and what is not possible. Today is Easter Sunday, a day in celebration of an impossible resurrection. What is possible and even common, is the cherished hope that we can some how cheat death and overcome sin, devils, bad judgment and guilt. Perhaps one can look for something along Sascha’s transhumanism for that … ~~laughter ~~ What survives is memories … just as what survives for The Church is what it writes down, copies and builds in memoriam … rather boring stuff … and a waste of artistic talent … in my humble opinion. Is there a branch on some level in which I ate a mushroom and died? I don’t think so. As with Schrödinger’s cat, one should not presume that quantum mechanics allows for superpositions of Alive and Dead. It is much more subtle than that, too subtle for the philosophers. It is more like the following: The cat becomes Entangled with a Triggering Device or Gun that has some random chance of being Fired |F> or Unfired |U> . We start off with a Live cat |L> and an Unfired gun |U>. The initial state in Dirac’s notation is |LU>. The transformation to the superposition is written as follows. |LU> becomes x|LU> + y|DF> x and y are complex numbers on a unit circle in the Complex Plane. I have neglected here how long the interference of |LU> and |DF> is maintained ... something for Dr. Higgs to work out. This is how I understand branching. Hopefully, Sascha, like Prometheus, can come down and share the fire (from Olympus, Mount Sinai, his sirens) after he pulls himself away from his burning bush.
    vongehr
    blue-green, why you insist on discussing QM in this place of all? The article is about half baked sciency sounding arguments against religion backfiring. It does not have anything to do with QM - this was just there so that nobody tells me afterward that I am all wrong with claiming that science has nothing to say about religion. Reading skills are at an all time low, and if you do not make it utterly totally obvious that you are not just heaping it on Obama or the republicans, the only message that sticks is that you are either a socialist or suck off people in bathroom stalls. So, I first made it entirely clear that I actually do think science does disprove god, but nevertheless ..., and "..." is the main message here.
    blue-green
    I cannot pretend to understand your “writing”, yet you seem like a fungi. Let’s look again at what you wrote in the main article. Here’s a quote about multiverse, QM and all the misunderstandings that your audience wishes you would make more of an effort to expound. Sascha says, Without the help of a ‘hands-on’ multiverse description, most cannot understand the concept of totality or modal realism. Thus, a re-expression of “god is dead” in terms of science can be very helpful. However, the big danger here is the enthusiastic popularization of a simplistic version of this intuitive picture. The multiverse is presented as a real (in the sense of direct realism) structure. The whole point of modal realism’s existence relative to branches is that totality does obviously not in the same sense “exist”. You may think that this is a hairsplitting side issue, but it is actually the very core on which the multiverse has become religious. Only if you distort the quantum physics and present the multiverse as a real structure … yada yada ... "> ... <" [end quote] Meow. >i< How about a fresh new article about this hair splitting at the core with some real math? OK? Is that too much to ask? There are listeners for what you are trying to say, if you can back it up with QM. There has been enough hand waving and grunting already.
    vongehr
    What do you mean, "enough hand waving and grunting"? The part you quote is related to the measure problem that I discussed somewhat more here; it is somewhat of a different issue from the supervenience of consciousness that I recently wrote about. The main issue in this very article here is clearly yet another one, namely the use of at the core flawed arguments in order to crusade for atheism. If at all, my own arguments failure would even strengthen the main point of this article!
    As a Catholic Christian who accidentally happened upon this blog (you can blame Dawkins), I'm just wondering why scientists are so afraid of God, or so concerned about whether or not He exists. This seems rather like a blog about plumbing suddenly digressing to a discussion about China patterns. I understand biologists worrying about some churches' stance on evolution (although the Catholic Church doesn't argue against evolution). But I don't get the apparent animosity of physicists towards religion. What has God to do with string theory? I understand religious people being concerned about aethists, because everywhere the ACLU seems terrified some poor kid is going to hear or see someone praying, and the popular press and media seem to me to overtly anti-religious, but I sense these are not concerns of yours. If we're just a bunch of buffoons clinging to our guns (I don't own one) and religion (I have a day job and non-religious friends), I don't understand why you as a physicist feel so obligated to defend aethism, when religion and science are distinct spheres. I do understand you have a background in physics and philosophy. (I have a chemical engineering degree, for what it's worth.) So, I wonder, why is God apparently so threatening?

    Hank
    So, I wonder, why is God apparently so threatening?
    I never see what you see.  Only on the fringes of the cultural discourse is anything a threat.   Now, certainly the NCSE, whose mission is to protect science education, will see more militant religious people trying to adapt science classes to a particular sectarian viewpoint than most in science see, and, since you said you came here from the Richard Dawkins website, you might see a lot of terrified atheists.   

    Ignorance is on both sides.   Most religious people don't know much about biology but I know a whole lot of atheists who claim to be 'rational' and more educated, but what they actually know about adaptive radiation I can fit in my sock.   

    If you see threats everywhere, you are simply hanging out in the wrong places.
    Gerhard Adam
    ...when religion and science are distinct spheres
    I suspect if religious people kept their opinions out of science, you'd see science gladly ignoring religion.  However, let's also be clear that if there's an anti-"anything" sentiment in society its the rabid hatred towards atheists that is in the fore-front.  It's the one thing that you can admit to that would guarantee that you never hold public office.  Religious people aren't very tolerant in that respect.
    Mundus vult decipi
    God as an Atheist.
    God as a Scientist : Ten Scientific Commandments.
    ===.
    Can a Rational Individual believe in God ?
    In other words:
    Can God be atheist, governed by scientific laws?
    Of course
    Because if God exists, He/She/It would necessarily
    to work in an Absolute Reference Frame and had set of
    physical and mathematical laws to create everything
    in the Universe.
    If we find and understand this Absolute God’s House then
    is possible step by step to find and understand God’s Physics
    Laws, which Copernicus, Kepler, Newton, Maxwell, Planck,
    Einstein and many others scientists discovered.
    #
    Has God known the formula: E=Mc^2 ?
    If God has known the formula why HE / SHE /IT
    didn't write it in His Bible?
    =========..
    The people created a God.
    No one knows what the external characteristics
    of this God are, a God who made himself known
    with the name " I am who I am ".
    Is it enough for us in the XXIc ?
    Why wasn’t the formula E=Mc^2 written in the Bible?
    ===============. .
    Each religion uses a system of symbols
    (images, metaphors, ancient myths and legends ,
    beautiful stories) to explain its truth.
    But Bernard Shaw wisely remarked :
    “ There is only one religion,
    although there are a hundred versions of it.”
    It means that the source of all religion is one.
    And I try to prove this idea with the formulas and laws of
    physics. I don’t invent new formulas. I use simple formulas
    which ,maybe, every man knows from school.
    Is it possible? Is it enough?
    Yes. Because the evolution goes from simple to the complex.
    So, in the beginning we can use simple formulas and laws.
    For this purpose I explain what the first law of Universe is,
    and second law is and ...........etc.
    Step by step I create a logical system of the Universe.
    ============= . .
    How can God be Scientist?
    Scheme,
    Fundamental Theory of Existence: Ten Scientific Commandments.
    1 The infinite Vacuum T=0K, E= ∞ ,p= 0, t=∞ .
    2 The particle: C/D = pi, R/N= k, E = Mc^2 = kc^2, h = 0, c=0, i^2= -1
    3 The spins: h =E/t , h =kb, h* = h/2pi
    4 The photon, the inertia: h=1, c=1
    5 The electron: e^2 = h*ca, E = h*f , c>1 electromagnetic field
    6 The gravitation, the star, the time and space: h*f = kTlogW
    7 The Proton: (p)
    8
    The Evolution of interaction between Electron and Proton
    a) electromagnetic
    b) nuclear
    c) biological
    9
    The Laws
    a) The Law of conservation and transformation energy/mass
    b) The Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle / Law
    c) The Pauli Exclusion Principle/ Law
    10
    The test.
    Every theory must be tested logically ( theoretical ) and practically
    a) Theory of brain: Dualism of Consciousness.
    b) Practice : Parapsychology. Meditation.
    ========.
    Best wishes
    Israel Sadovnik Socratus
    ============.
    #
    "God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light."
    It means:
    The secret of God and Existence is hidden
    in the ‘ Theory of Vacuum and Light Quanta ‘.
    #
    I want to know how God created this world
    I am not interested in this or that phenomenon,
    in the spectrum of this or that element
    I want to know His thoughts; the rest are details
    / Einstein /
    ==========.