The ridicule of Cliven Bundy (the rancher trying to claim free use of land that is not his) should give pause to a number of scientists and ‘believers’ in science. One cannot base something on a rule without tacitly admitting the implications of that rule, as well as the implications of anything that rule itself is based on. This goes for the unary origin of anything, for Occam’s Razor, for nominalism, reductionism, and bottom up explanation, just to name a few favourite ‘scientific’ notions that are directly based in either specific theology or onto-theological metaphysics in general.
Just as Bundy’s claiming constitutional rights implies the very acceptance of the federal government he wants to deny, basing scientific explanation on the onto-theological, metaphysical rule that an origin is always unique inevitably creates the problems cosmologists are having with their own creation myths.
If the ‘red-shift’ is assumed to mean reality is expanding, and expanding from one unique point, that unique point (and, by extension, reality as a whole) is only projectable from precisely where the theorist in fact is, contradicting the Copernican Principle. Moreover, that unique point, by definition, was a creator-being. If you then argue with creationists, all you’re doing is debating the nature of the creator-being you’ve already structurally admitted to. Einstein of course knew this perfectly well, his ‘cosmological fudge’ of assuming the universe is a fixed size is necessary not just for his particular theory of general relativity, but for the enterprise of cosmology in general. When you consider the simple logical issues universal inflation raises:
- if something is not in itself measurable, then there’s no way to know how big in fact it is
- there can no point outside reality from which to measure it
- there can be no observation of the rate of expansion from within that isn’t dependent on the observer’s location
- the observer’s location cannot be determined relative to the whole from within the whole
- there is no temporal simultaneity that would allow a specific point in time to be set as the ‘time’ of first and second measurement and agreed two by two observers who were not in precisely the same location, and in that case they could not be different observers
- there is no simultaneity of locality that would allow fixed points to be set and agreed upon by different observers as the basis of the measurement, any observers sufficiently distant from one another, or moving significantly relative to one another would perceive the location of any given thing differently, with no way to distinguish one as ‘more correct’ than any other
It quickly becomes apparent why Einstein simply made the assumption that reality was a fixed size, and went on with his calculations. Relativity of motion on its own raises significant enough onto-logical problems without compounding them. Bohr was of course dead on when he said that anyone who isn’t shocked by quantum mechanics hasn’t understood it, but the same is true when the assumptions and implications of relative motion are thought through:
if there is no privileged vantage point, neither is there an invalid vantage point, neither, finally, is there a neutral vantage point
every observer will, unless in the process of self-propelled locomotion, regard itself as still and any relative motion as movement of the other
since there is no invalid vantage point, each observer’s view of itself as still is as true as the inverse
without a neutral vantage point, nothing can in fact be said to properly be in motion at all, something can only be perceived as being in motion, and only that by observers with different relative motion
Aristotle invented the prime mover precisely to solve the basic paradox of relative motion. If all motion is relative, how can it be said that anything is ‘really’ in motion. Now quantum mechanics can, with some justification, work with equations that are simply next to impossible to visualize imaginatively, however relativity, since it affects our perceptions as much as any other, cannot resort to unverifiable metaphors. Aristotle’s prime mover solves the paradox, but at the price that a highly improbable being is rendered necessary (which, granted, does remove it from the need of being probable) specifically the prime mover, with its specific features. The prime mover must observe from all possible viewpoints. It may not however affect reality in any way, because affecting anything requires taking a specific perspective, which it precisely cannot do. The idea many have that Aristotle’s prime mover is the same as, for example, the Christian god, is obviously false given the second requirement. However, it can be said that at least intuitively for most people, Aristotle’s prime mover is even more of a cosmological fudge than Einstein’s ‘steady-state’ assumption. Aristotle in fact also made the same steady state assumption as Einstein, and unfortunately for general relativity, Einstein found no way around assuming some variation on Aristotle’s prime mover. As a theist, but not one that jumped to the naive assumption that ‘god’ was in any of our senses a being, this wasn’t probably a big issue for Einstein himself, like most astronomers and cosmologists before him Einstein had no difficulty accepting that certain aspects of reality could only be known from outside all reality, which requires of course some sort of non-being that is outside reality without thereby simply extending reality.
Worse, because theologians have thought through these types of problems far more than cosmologists, cosmologists have the disadvantage, for instance, that the posited singularity is temporally tensed, whereas the god of the theologians is not. Put simply, while the singularity is as improbable (mathematically as well as conceptually) as the god of the theologians (and is so precisely because it takes the structural place of that god in effectively the same projection of reality, in order to do so, it must have exactly the same required features), since that god is by definition not a being, and not part of reality, it doesn’t itself require explanation, nor is it subject to probability. Anything with a temporal tense (which the singularity has, since it no longer is) has to in some sense originate. The difficulty with the notion of the origin of the singularity is the same difficulty early Christian apologetics had with their notion of the creator-being as still a being, albeit the highest and first, as a being it had to be part of reality, but that put it in the realm of having to satisfy pesky things like probability and origin. Ironically, Stephen Hawking’s specific response to those who questioned the notion of reality having an origin more mathematically improbable than anything in known reality was exactly the same argument Christian apologetics first used – that given something as wondrously improbable as reality, is it surprising that its origin is even more wondrous and improbable? That it’s not a particularly good response is part of the reason that Aquinas, as Scotus had partially done before him, abandoned the notion of creation as a specific temporal event, and treated reality as the infinite expression of God. (Those who think that Catholics are creationists, which unfortunately includes many Catholics themselves, should note that the infinity of reality is not only a tenet of the Roman Catholic church, it is stated as such in every Mass).
In what seems to have been the ‘next-to-last’ straw for the inflationary universe theory, given the fudging required in the 1980’s to ‘save’ it from its own calculations not adding up, the lack of ‘inflatons’ in current reality provokes the necessity of creating a potentially infinite set of ‘universes’, which contradicts the very definition of ‘universe’ as ‘reality-as-a-whole’, admitting in the process the negation of the very possibility of universal (in the proper sense) cosmology.
Unfortunately for cosmology, that possibility (that we can in some way project reality as a whole) is itself an onto-theological assumption, and one that is evidentially invalid. If the basis for cosmology’s own existence is invalid, what does that say about its particular theories?
The latest ‘news’, that we have seen as far ‘back’ as we will ever be able to, given the tiniest shred of evidence on which it is based, and the number of possible other reasons for that evidence, smells suspiciously like a way of getting out of the well established evidence that when we look back far enough, i.e. look at reality at a distance that would put the time lag significantly closer to the projected beginning, reality looks much the same as it does close, which already destroys every prediction of universal inflation. Virtually every major modification (other than the ‘inflaton’ theory) of inflationary theory has been made to try to cope with evidence that, as we gain the ability to observe further, and therefore further back, reality doesn’t look the way inflationary theory says it should. What it does look like, in each further observation, is much as reality closer looks. And how reality looks, on the grand scale, is peculiarly antagonistic to inflationary theory: over the whole of what we are able to observer reality is far more homogeneous than inflationary theory (not to mention thermodynamic law) would predict so soon after the origin; when things are more localized (but still on a galactic scale) reality is much more ‘lumpy’ than it should be, i.e. reality shows an overall low level of structural energy, combined with a local level of structural energy magnitudes higher than the inflationary theory (again using thermodynamic law as an arbiter) predicts it would be this long from the origin. And no matter how far we are technically able to observe (in one or another way, not necessarily visually) reality shows approximately the same picture of large scale homogeneity and smaller scale complexity of structure.
Generally when science runs into a difficulty, particularly a technical difficulty, it works for years and years before finally admitting defeat. Yet cosmologists are champing at the bit to claim they can *theoretically* never see reality closer to the posited origin, even though technologists apparently see no difficulty in doing so, given improvements in technology already for the most part accomplished that just need to be combined in new observational instruments, instruments already planned and budgeted for.
When it looks and smells like a rat …
Of course, technologists have no allegiance to the metaphysical, onto-theological basis of cosmology, and will happily demonstrate that, sooner more likely than later, by simply doing what cosmologists are currently attempting to deny as possible. As always, those who claim something is impossible should not interrupt those who are already doing it … nor will this particular claim be likely to impress any of the technologists involved.
It will be interesting to see the reactions, not by scientists themselves who have too much invested in empirical evidence to hold on to an assumption obviously invalidated by such evidence, but by those that ‘believe’ in science, to observations that show reality further back and closer to, or even beyond, the posited origin. Given the precedents in biology and zoology, I wouldn’t expect it to be much different from the responses by creationists who believe the world is 5000 years old, to archaeological evidence, itself rather difficult to deny, that demonstrates clearly that agricultural civilization is more than double that age, never mind reality in sum. The old saw of “well, it’s the past, so it’s not really evidence because it’s no longer there” doesn’t fly for creationists, and it won’t fly for scientific creationists either, it’s too easy to point out that the observations, like archaeological evidence, is itself not past, but very much exists in the present (or in this case, very likely in the near future). While the evidence may be historical, i.e. it’s about the past, the evidence itself exists in the present. Just as it’s not difficult, once understood conceptually, to recognize that the sound triggered by lightning is triggered simultaneously with the light as one event. The timing has to be measured in this case from its perspective (since the two perceptions are triggered by the same event), and although there may be a significant delay from ours, we do not have a situation of relativity due to the common event of which the two appearances are a record. In much the same way, despite relative motion and the lack of simultaneity, we are not in a relativity-bound situation when looking for evidence of an event, evidence should point to the same event in all observations, although the specific observations may differ.
As such, I would expect one of two reactions, depending on the individual:
1. a refusal to believe newer evidence
2. an admission that the chronology was wrong, but a clinging to the idea that changing the chronology doesn’t fatally damage the theory.
We’ll just have to wait a bit longer to find out, since plans are already in place to build (and in one case launch) new instruments that technically should be capable of seeing further, and sufficiently further, that unless a very different reality at that distance / time emerges, which given the observations made to this point looks more and more unlikely, the inflationary universe theorists will simply have to admit that they were wrong.
Interestingly, from the perspective of actual scientists, of the two that originally came up with the ‘inflaton’ theory, when one was told that one (out of four) observations’ data fit the theory, he appeared somewhat bemused, the other flatly denied any possible validity of the theory – that it had already empirically fallen apart in a number of ways. Yet the single observation that fits the theory has been popularized as ‘proof’ of the theory.
Nobody with even the slightest investment in empirical testing of theories could be impressed that one out of four tries got close to the prediction, when the other three (which were in agreement with each other) contradicted the prediction, because confirmation bias would only make one out of four the more likely if it contradicted the prediction. Since the means by which the experimental observations are devised, and particularly the means by which local distortions are assumed to be removed, are inevitably going to favour confirmation than contradiction.
Generally, observations which require complex technology, as these did, require such technology precisely because local distortions are apt to overwhelm what is under observation, often due to distance or other factors its effects are liable to be very slight and easily misapprehended if found at all. However nobody invests significant time, effort and expense in such technology without having a fairly strong belief that the theory’s predictions will bear out, hence the tendency to confirmation bias, and the need for multiple confirmations before it can be accepted that there is no current reason to doubt the theory.
In this particular case, the assumption that local magnetic field distortions would be neutralized by performing the observations from the pole is the major suspect, since magnetic field observations are liable to be affected by local distortions other than the Earth’s magnetic poles, and there was no significant attempt to isolate the observation from other potential distortions. At sufficient distance from the Earth, its magnetic field would generally resemble a simple binary magnet. at the Earth’s surface though there are a myriad of other magnetic fields that can affect observation, and if one is close enough to any such disturbance, it can partially or even completely obscure the overall picture. Anyone who has taken a simple compass near a source of electromagnetism can attest to this problem. Not testing significantly for local sources of electromagnetism is a massive confirmation bias inherent in the observations, yet science popularizers have taken the results as concrete proof of a theory when its inventors no longer think it holds any water.
It’s also probable that in this particular post the solution to the problems of cosmology in a more localized sense has already been mentioned. Once the ability to project reality as a whole is dropped, cosmology can only refer to local cosmology, since it cannot assume that how things are locally is the same elsewhere, nor can it assume it is different, it cannot say anything at all about it beyond what is at any point observable, precisely because there is no vantage point from which a valid projection could be made. This means that such meaningless and presumptive assumptions such as the quantity of matter/energy being absolute can be seen as limited truths, valid, for instance in this case, to closed systems. That makes it no more than a simple tautology since constancy of the quantity of energy/matter is what defines a system as closed to begin with, but that ‘law’ is ascribed to reality-as-a-whole because an ability to project such a reality implies (since we cannot observe it) that reality-as-a-whole be systemic,, and since it is a whole, it cannot be anything but a closed system. The difficulties that arise when attempts are made to make local cosmology ‘fit’ with quantum mechanics (for instance the now fairly well confirmed prediction that a quanta of vacuum would produce a constant energy release, a spill-over, calculable and predictable since the amount it can hold at a given time can be subtracted from the amount it in fact does hold – any infinite quantity of anything, put into a finite container, must generate a calculable surplus. This surplus of energy “spilling over” from every quanta of non-matter causes as many problems with cosmology’s constancy law as do particles that appear, interfere with real ‘things’, i.e. observable bodies, and disappear again as if they never existed. And those are only issues with specific oddities of quantum behaviour that, so far as we are able to tell, must be the case in order for reality to appear as it does on the macro level (has nobody noticed, as an aside, that the use of the laws of thermodynamics as an arbiter of micro and macro physics is precisely a Kantian transcendental deductive proof?). The more difficult problem is to resolve the basic ontological differences, for instance, how does the above mentioned law of constant energy/matter fare with reality that, in order to move (which involves any type of change whatsoever) must be potential and not actual? The cosmological ‘law’ doesn’t distinguish between the two, but applied to either alone it appears nonsense, since what is potential can actualize at any time, yet applied to both precisely what it says is difficult to even determine.
The solution that I hinted at, is to be found in the notion of ‘event’. It’s only in the absoluteness of an event that anything can be determined absolutely, whether what is wanted is a determination of movement, change, locality, simultaneity, etc. The absoluteness of an event is precisely that it is experienced in a shared way as the same event out of its uniqueness, rather than out of a common perception of it. Simple appearance of what appears, the presentation of the present, is always in itself a unique event, and can be shared as such with others that experience it. What science is looking for, not only cosmology but in a sense all of the natural sciences, is a chimera. It is looking for an impossible objectivity, not due to an epistemological issue with the subject vs object or any other nonsense that arises out of invalid assumptions, but because it is trying, in every case, to view reality as a real that is not itself would view it. The first fundamental nonsense of science is that this is in any way a possible task. Real bodies “out there” are certainly real, ask any Cartesian to truly doubt the reality of external bodies within a minute of stubbing his toe on a hard mahogany table leg and it will be extraordinarily difficult for him to do so. The leap from that statement to the idea that reality is the same for different beings (even of the same type, never mind of completely different types) is a non sequitur. What we experience as reality is a construction, a projection of relations between ‘real’ bodies. Which is where we get to the second fundamental nonsense of science: its assumptions of mechanism, mechanical causality, and physicalism, and conflation of materiality with physical manifestation, and conflation of the temporally prior with the ontologically prior. This second fundamental nonsense will require a different post, however.