Victor J. Stenger is a retired elementary particle physicist who worked on neutrinos and he is author of twelve books including the 2007 New York Times bestseller “God: The Failed Hypothesis. How Science Shows That God Does Not Exist.” His latest book is “God and the Atom: From Democritus to the Higgs Boson.”
The article “No cause to dispute Einstein” from Victor J. (the Physicist-V.J.), which Vincent J. (the Creationist-V.J.) mainly attacks, argues that faster than light neutrinos (FTL-Neutrinos) would not go against Einstein’s relativity, which is good to point out.
Physicist-V.J. however seems to think that “causality” somehow derives from an already otherwise (not by causality) determined direction of time. This makes him then say, contrary to his own title (“No cause to dispute Einstein”), that Einstein’s further statement about cause always preceding effect* would indeed be disputed by FTL-neutrinos! This leads him then to disrespect god in its role as the ultimate cause, kapoof! Do not blame Creationist-V.J. for taking a one-liner too seriously - it is Jerry Coyne’s blog Why Evolution Is True who did that for him: “Vic Stenger on speedy neutrinos – did we cause God?”
Creationist-V.J. responds with a pretty good take-down via an approach to causality that understands causality to be prior to the direction of time. Creationist-V.J. does so via quoting physicists like Sean Carroll and quite extensively yours humbly, Sascha Vongehr. I tried to find something wrong about Creationist-V.J.’s argument, however, he does a pretty good job - after all, Creationist-V.J. officially studied physics and chemistry and computer science and has Bachelors and Master degrees in such fields. He does not cite us out of context, and for example Carroll’s quote does indeed reveal how physicists sometimes do not count the arrow of time as it derives from considerations of entropy to the realm of ‘fundamental physics’ (but rather ‘emergent’ phenomena). I don’t like it, but it is no more than acquired taste in the use of the label “fundamental”.
The first part of the article is worth a read (especially for some physics writers here on Science2.0 – how funny to see FTL physics better understood on Huffington Post and even Uncommon Descent for crying out loud!). However, the article and the whole related mess shows perhaps mainly how people so easily talk past each other and be wrong almost whenever they say that somebody else is wrong; no matter whether it is the silly scientists who throw “crackpot” insults at those who understand modern relativity theory, or New Atheists who scoff at the religious on grounds of naive-scientistic arguments we should scoff at. It all comes down to people defending the meaning of words at the boundaries of their own understanding, where cognitive dissonance is being protected, fearing loss of face!
And thus, Creationist-V.J. goes promptly ahead and joins the club; after having done well on the physics part, he adds a theological one, introduced via an interesting admission:
Stenger is right about one thing: if physics ever manages to destroy the notion of causality, then it’s curtains for theism. Without the notion of God as the ultimate cause, the concept of God becomes redundant.
Curtains indeed, and because the fat lady starts singing, Creationist-V.J. goes on to list different types of ‘causality’ while ending up mixing ‘causality’ with concepts of apriority and metaphysical necessity, all in order to get his ‘god’ back. I won’t comment on it, as it is not about physics or even what I call philosophy**, but I like to point out his smug finish:
“I have always believed that theists and atheists should strive to understand one another’s arguments, for you cannot hope to convert someone to your pint [sic.] of view if you do not understand his/her position.”
That sounds like something that I could have written, smuggalo me, but dear Creationist-V.J., your position is simply the desperation of a religious man.
The ability of learned people to apply their intelligence so selectively under the guide of their beliefs amazes me again and again.
* The “principle of Einstein causality”, namely that cause must always precede effect, can be taken as a further assumption or as the defining of local direction of time, either allowing or not allowing closed timelike loops - all up to your own preferences about words - take your pick and start hitting the inter-tubes - ha ha ha.** Creationist-V.J. has a PhD in philosophy; read his dissertation if you need to be reminded that academic philosophy is nothing but a degree mill. I looked at it because the title “Anatomy of a Minimal Mind” reminded me of my Simplest Suffering System. However, it is a bunch of misinterpretations of big names’ droppings, all in big words and under one main facepalmer of an assumption: That only “alive” things are conscious because, ahh… , they are alive, and alive is, well, you know, the alive stuff.