[Marxism] Fwd: Physicists and Philosophers Debate the Boundaries of Science | Quanta Magazine

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Thu Dec 17 06:13:22 MST 2015


The crisis, as Ellis and Silk tell it, is the wildly speculative nature 
of modern physics theories, which they say reflects a dangerous 
departure from the scientific method. Many of today’s theorists — chief 
among them the proponents of string theory and the multiverse hypothesis 
— appear convinced of their ideas on the grounds that they are beautiful 
or logically compelling, despite the impossibility of testing them. 
Ellis and Silk accused these theorists of “moving the goalposts” of 
science and blurring the line between physics and pseudoscience. “The 
imprimatur of science should be awarded only to a theory that is 
testable,” Ellis and Silk wrote, thereby disqualifying most of the 
leading theories of the past 40 years. “Only then can we defend science 
from attack.”

full: 
https://www.quantamagazine.org/20151216-physicists-and-philosophers-debate-the-boundaries-of-science/


 From the January Harper's (behind a paywall):

"Before the Big Bang: The physics and metaphysics of the creation of the 
universe"

By Alan Lightman

The quantum cosmologists are aware of the vast philosophical and 
theological reverberations of their work. As Hawking says in A Brief 
History of Time, many people believe that God, while permitting the 
universe to evolve according to fixed laws of nature, was uniquely 
responsible for winding up the clock at the beginning and choosing how 
to set it in motion. Hawking’s own theory provides an explanation for 
how the universe might have wound itself up — his method of calculating 
the early snapshots of the universe has no dependence on initial 
conditions or boundaries or anything outside the universe itself. The 
icy rules of quantum physics are completely sufficient. “What place, 
then, for a creator?” asks Hawking. Lawrence Krauss, a physicist, 
reaches a similar conclusion in his book A Universe from Nothing, in 
which he argues that advances in quantum cosmology show that God is 
irrelevant at best.

One would expect most quantum cosmologists to be atheists, like the 
majority of scientists. But Don Page, a leading quantum cosmologist at 
the University of Alberta, is also an evangelical Christian. Page is a 
master computationalist. When he and I were fellow graduate students in 
physics at Caltech, he used to quietly take out a fine-point pen 
whenever confronted with a difficult physics problem. Without flinching 
or pausing, he scribbled one equation after another in a dense tangle of 
mathematics until he arrived at the answer. Although he has collaborated 
with Hawking on major papers, Page parts ways with him on the subject of 
God. He recently told me, “As a Christian, I think there is a being 
outside the universe that created the universe and caused all things. 
God is the true creator. All of the universe is caused by God.” In a 
guest column on Carroll’s blog (which is called The Preposterous 
Universe), Page sounds simultaneously like a scientist and a theist:

	One might think that adding the hypothesis that the world (all that 
exists) includes God would make the theory for the entire world more 
complex, but it is not obvious that is the case, since it might be that 
God is even simpler than the universe, so that one would get a simpler 
explanation starting with God than starting with just the universe.



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