Significance of science 

Within this website I explore whether there is a spiritual realm, a supernatural realm, containing God, mind, souls, consciousness with its contents (ideas, emotions, love, reason, etc) — this, from a purely philosophical and unreligious point of view.
In this article, I first assume there is a spiritual realm so as to explore the implications; then I present my conclusions elsewhere.

Related article, the scientific method:

The first cornerstone of my view is: that scientific claims about the universe are true. This includes: evolution, the first modern humans appeared around 200,000 years ago, tectonic plates, and etc.

The second cornerstone of my view is: I assume as untrue, the claim by materialist physicalists that consciousness is, in some way, merely physical.

Mathematics itself is a property of mind, not of matter. Therefore, (according to my hypothesis), mathematics resides within the spiritual realm, not the physical realm. This spiritual mathematics controls the movement and interactions of matter in the physical realm.

But this implies someone is calculating the position of each particle instant by instant for every particle in the entire universe! Why would God want to do such a thing? And based on the indeterminism of: (1) Heisenberg uncertainty, and (2) quantum mechanics, and (3) chaos theory; is such a thing even possible?

What is the scope of science? Does it consist in all of knowable knowledge, or is it limited to the hard sciences (physics, chemistry, biology, etc.)? I adopt the view that science is a branch of philosophy.

Regarding emergent properties: Consider the wetness of water, for example. We can construct mathematical equations describing the wetness of water, but the water molecules themselves are not "obeying" those equations. Rather, they are "obeying" other more fundamental equations, the equations of physics.

Some lesser embraced views of science and philosophy and religion:

  1. That there is such a thing as scientific religion (=secular humanism).
  2. All knowable knowledge is part of science using the scientific method; this, including philosophy and mathematics and social sciences.

Foundations of science

There are two:

  1. Philosophy, including: (1) the scientific method, (2) how to generate provable knowledge, and (3) the limits of science.
  2. Science is carried out by the conscious observer, the scientist.

The limits of science

The scientific method can only be used to generate trustworthy knowledge when used in its proper domain, which is limited to the physical realm, the universe. It can't therefore say anything about the spiritual realm.

Seems to me that scientists speculating about: many-worlds interpretation (MWI) multiple universes of quantum mechanics, or a multiple universe multiverse, or events before the big bang; these scientists are indulging in philosophy, not science.

Another limit of science is the subjective experience of consciousness which cannot be studied via the scientific method. Merely demonstrating tight coupling with brain functioning says nothing about the subjective experience itself.

Are these things part of science: (1) philosophy, (2) social science (sociology, economics)? Seems to me they should be considered as philosophy. Social facts are not scientific facts: social facts should be used with philosophical argumentation; scientific facts should be used as part of the scientific method which is itself philosophy.


Randomness

Three kinds:

  1. Of evolution: random mutations operated upon via natural selection.
  2. Of quantum mechanics: the location of the electron (for example) upon wave function collapse is random.
  3. Even if the path of a moving particle (for example) is fully determined by previous cause and effect, when observing it at some randomly chosen time, its location (for example) is random, because you can't construct the cause and effect chain back to the big bang.

Multiple universes vs. multiverse

Two very different concepts, often confused:

  1. Many-worlds interpretation (MWI) multiple universes — when the quantum mechanics wave function collapses, a universe appears for every possible outcome.
  2. Multiple universe multiverse — our universe is one of many "bubble universes" that condensed after the inflationary stage after the big bang.

Both are outside the domain of science, in my opinion. They are philosophy.


Who are scientists?

Two options:

  1. If you believe that consciousness is: (1) imaginary, or (2) an illusion, or (3) an emergent property of matter caused by the neural network of the brain; then, scientists are imaginary, they are pure imagination, purely illusion.
  2. If the only things that exist are material physical stuff and their interactions, then scientists are of this stuff: Scientists are of atoms, and energy, and space, and time — scientists are the very thing they are studying. The functioning brain is the scientist.

In either case, there is no actual person, just collections of molecules and their interactions.

Maybe you could say that the scientist is matter/energy/information operating in space-time, as a process unfolding in time. But this is exactly what scientists study using science, so this does not help the counter argument.

Therefore, I postulate that there is an independent realm of life, the spiritual realm. (This is a variety of mind-body dualism.) The scientist is the soul and mind of the person doing the science. The scientist has a body which interacts in a two-way interaction with this soul.


Classical electric fields

Classical electric fields don't exist.

What exists are the actual forces exerted on charged particles. A classical electric field is merely a map of what the force would be if the electron (for example) were located in such and such a location. Yet these fields can be described mathematically and perfectly match what actually happens as you move the electron around.

This mathematical description doesn't actually exist in the physical realm, rather mathematics exists as a mental construct in the spiritual realm.


4 kinds of space

How do forces operating at a distance affect particles?

Thinking about the standard model with its quantum particles for both particles and forces.

With gravity you have mass which warps spacetime. Seems like you need 4 kinds of space, one for each kind of fundamental force (gravity, electrostatic, strong, weak). Yet no one has discovered the other three kinds of space.

How would particles (gravitons) mediate the gravitational force between particles if they were added to the standard model?

The 4 kinds of space, the 4 kinds of quantum fields:

  1. Gravity — warped spacetime. Has only attraction (gravitational wells), only for mass. (It is uncertain whether gravity is a quantum field.)
  2. Electrostatic — electric space. Has attraction and repulsion (hills and valleys), only for electric charge.
  3. Strong force — strong space. Only for "color".
  4. Weak force — weak space.

All 4 spaces are overlaid into the one space of reality, like a digital photo having layers.

Wondering whether the extra dimensions of string theory are suitable since they curved so tiny. You need a flat sheet the size of the universe like with the spacetime of gravity. Massive objects all dent this same flat sheet creating a single gravitational field the size of the universe.


Three kinds of science

Three kinds of science:

  1. You can do repeatable experiments, and you can use the knowledge to build bridges and computers and to fly to mars. We have no choice but to believe these; they are provably true (by "proof" I mean very likely probabilistically).
  2. You can't perform repeatable experiments. You merely find a compelling story that explains the observations. Perhaps you can even predict that you will find such and such evidence in the future. When there is a huge amount of evidence, this limits the stories that can be used; you must jettison stories that just don't work. Whether there is only one story though (proposed as true); who can say?
  3. Visionary science.

Examples of #2 (can't do repeatable experiments):

  1. Anything in the past, such as evolution, the geological history of the earth, the early universe with its big bang or multiple universe multiverse.
  2. Tiny things defying scientific probing, such as, the mind interacting with the brain.

If there are multiple compelling stories, there is no way to choose between them, except by analysis of which stories don't match the observed data (and rejecting these). In other words, you can prove certain of these stories to be untrue.

But always, people can say, you haven't proved evolution (for example) because of such and such reasons, and then they display all the gaps in the story.

This kind of knowledge should not be believed with certainty, with fervor.


Examples of #3 (visionary science):

  1. Multiple inflationary universes.
  2. Extrapolating mathematical theoretical models backward into earlier time to see what the ramifications are. For example, there must have been a previous universe which "bounced" and became this one in a big bang because there is no allowance for time to not exist before the big bang, and therefore time did exist before the big bang,... this kind of thing....

These are not science at all, in my opinion. Probably not religion either (but similar). They are philosophical proposals and should be judged based on considerations such as:

  1. The limits and proper domain of the scientific method.
  2. Whether you can extrapolate mathematical-based theories into the distant past.
  3. Whether repeatable experiments are required for something to be considered science.

Limits of the physical realm

Considering that which is knowable and provable by science, such as atoms existing: you don't have to observe every single atom to know about the whole set of them. Anything outside of provability by science, such as God for example, is not part of the physical realm, but rather resides in the spiritual realm.

But why should we assume that anything outside of the possibility of human knowledge is also outside of the physical realm? We are limited, and our senses are limited, and our minds are limited.

Therefore, God, at least as the idea of God if not the actual God himself/herself, resides in the spiritual realm.

But what about things that seem physical but can't be known by science? This, because they are too far away or too far in the past or require too much energy to do experiments with. Seems like much of what we know about today, such as electron orbitals in atoms, weren't known about at all 500 years ago, yet our learning about them did not make them become physical.

Of course, for materialists, this question is stupid because, for them, everything is physical.


Folding proteins

When the molecules (amino acids) comprising a protein join together in forming a protein, this resultant protein folds up into a specific shape.

This occurs under the influence of the various electric forces acting from instant to instant.

Scientists try to model this folding process using the mathematical equations of the forces to determine the final resultant shape. Solving problems like this are extremely difficult or even impossible. (I wonder whether God can even solve them?)

Therefore, the atoms themselves are not calculating their positions using mathematics, rather, they are merely responding to the forces.

What are we to make of this? The forces can be described in great detail using mathematics, and yet, the atoms don't use this mathematics in "choosing" their movements.

It's as if the mathematics (discovered by science) was used only in originally creating the universe. The universe no longer uses this mathematics, but at every instant conforms to this mathematics. The mathematics is embedded within the nature and structure of the universe.

This implies that God doesn't interact with the universe anymore. In fact, he/she has no way to do so because it's impossible to do the mathematical calculations necessary to cause the desired effect.

But there is a way for a spiritual entity residing in the spiritual realm (soul, God, mind) to interact and affect change in the physical realm; this via quantum mechanics, by guiding the location of where an electron will appear upon wave function collapse. But this does not result in perfect control; it's kind of like using a long 4x4 wood plank to move a marble around from place to place on the ground — good luck getting it to go exactly where you wish.

What good is a God limited in this way? This kind of God who can't prevent conscious suffering of creatures he/she created? And who is unable to interact with the conscious creatures he/she created?


String theory

Physicists are excited about finding a unified theory to unify general relativity (gravity) and everything else (quantum mechanics). Some propose string theory (I am, for the moment, assuming string theory is correct).

But even string theory doesn't ever explain why the universe is like it is, nor does it address the fine tuning of the fundamental constants of nature. These questions are forever outside of human knowledge.

These theories are always expressed mathematically. Unless you assume that the universe is somehow mathematical in its essence, then these mathematical theories don't get us any closer to understanding the true nature of the universe.

These "why" questions are unknowable: Why there is a universe at all? Why can it be described mathematically? Why are the laws of physics as they are? Why are the fundamental constants as they are? The answers to all these questions are unknowable.


Zero entropy at the big bang

If entropy always increases with time, then the entropy just before the big bang must have been less than it is now, perhaps even zero. This means that each individual particle had fewer options for where it could move. These particles were confined by the intense pressure of the tiny universe. (I am aware that very early, the particles didn't exist, but I'm using this terminology by way of analogy.)

Perhaps what triggered the pre-big bang universe to "bang" was the instantiation of the law of entropy. Once the particles had to obey the law of entropy, they all tried to increase entropy by moving in new ways. This sudden interest of every particle in energetically moving resulted in the "bang".

Perhaps this pre-big bang universe had been just sitting there motionless for a long time previous to the instantiation of the law of entropy? (because there was no "force"of entropy to cause it to move, or of allowing it to move).

I wonder whether entropy increases over time at a steady rate? Certainly at the end of the universe it will not be possible for entropy to increase as fast as it does now. Perhaps when entropy can no longer increase at this steady rate; perhaps something else occurs. Maybe matter disappears or maybe the universe disappears.

In order to energize the big bang, it must be that the entropy of the universe "must" increase from instant to instant, otherwise it could not have "pushed" the matter outward generating the big bang. And at the end of the universe, perhaps this requirement that entropy must increase from instant to instant; perhaps this will push the universe into some new configuration?


Misc

Science yields truth but: (1) is limited to the physical realm, and (2) is limited to the time period starting after the end of the cosmological inflation of the universe, and (3) is limited to making predictions about the next several dozen of billions of years.

The cosmological inflation of the universe occurred for the first fraction of a second after the big bang. I think anything before this is speculation, and nothing can be known for certain about the big bang itself. And certainly nothing can be known about the time before the big bang or about anything beyond our universe (such as a multiple universe multiverse).

The truth of the scientific method relies on philosophy which is needed to demonstrate that the scientific method generates truth.

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If gravity is quantized (via a graviton), then: if the universe were smaller than this minimum quantum size, there would be no gravitational force in operation. But if some of the matter drifted apart to larger than this minimum quantum size, suddenly gravity would be present and a gravitational force would appear. Perhaps this would set up a chain reaction of turbulence within the tiny tiny blob of matter consisting of the entire universe, causing an "explosion" — the big bang.