A couple months ago when I was shocked to realize how close to reality my April Fool’s parody had been, I’d unsuccessfully tried to find out some more information about the Templeton conference at Stanford that Mark Trodden had mentioned here. There’s now something about it on the Templeton website. It was part of Templeton’s Humble Approach Initiative which has as its goal “to bring about the discovery of new spiritual information.”
The conference was called Multiverse and String Theory: Toward Ultimate Explanations in Cosmology, and brought together various landscapeologists (including most of the Stanford theory group). One of the other participants was the Rev. Dr. Rodney Holder, an Anglican priest who believes that science supports Christian belief, and that “modern cosmology has reinvigorated the traditional argument for the existence of God from design”. He has written an article on miracles that won an award from the Templeton Foundation, and has a new book out entitled God, the Multiverse and Everything: Modern Cosmology and the Argument From Design, which argues for Intelligent Design.
Peter, thanks very much for your honest statement that you are opposed to “… right-wing extremists …” such as Templeton who you view as “… mixing fundamentalist religion and politics in a dangerous way …”.
Although I cannot prove it by a rigorous poll or such, it is my opinion that most (probably almost all) of the academic landscape/superstringers have similar views.
Assuming for the purpose of discussion here that such is the case, it raises the questions:
Why would academic landscape/superstringers try to jump into bed with Templeton?
Is their current 90% of the usual theoretical physics funding not enough for them?
The obvious answers are that 90% is not enough and they want further funds so badly that they will sell their souls to get it.
Why is 90% not enough?
Probably because the system is designed to produce landscape/superstring PhDs each year at an exponential rate (if the number of PhDs produced is proportional to the number of current faculty, and the new PhDs become faculty), and the usual funding does not have corresponding exponential growth.
Therefore, even 100% of conventional funding would not be enough to satisfy the exponentially growing landscape/superstring appetite.
The resulting greed explains such superstringer actions as:
selling their souls for Templeton money;
Witten’s attempt (through Griffiths) a few years ago to grab Piet Hut’s IAS post.
With respect to the latter, see an 11 October 2000 statement by Richard Muller at http://muller.lbl.gov/pages/MullerStatement.html saying: “… I am very sad to see the lawsuit between the Institute for Advanced Study and Piet Hut … the Institute for Advanced Study … is doing enormous damage to itself by attempting to terminate him. …”.
and a Science magazine article by Constance Holden, dated 27 October 2000, at http://www.sns.ias.edu/~piet/lawsuit/science.html that says: “… Hut dismisses the negative job assessments, saying that there has been no formal evaluation of his work and that the visiting committee had little regard for his field of computational physics. He says the problem started with a 1993 dispute with string theorist Ed Witten over Hut’s desire to buy an expensive supercomputer. Witten has declined to comment. …”.
PS – The links about Piet Hut above were roughly contemporary with the events around the year 2000, and may no longer be live links.
I have not a machine for knowing that people is thinking when say phrases. I cannot know that Einstein mean when asked
“Had God any choice in the creation of the world?”
A joke? Perhaps a redundant question (Einstein was determinist)? I don’t know. He also said that time was an illusion, but in the last years of his life, he appeared to sustain a different view. I simply don’t know. If he was living now I could ask to him, but I cannot do it.
I wonder is that scientist are discussing about things that science cannot say nothing and the hot debate here.
Was Universe created by God:
– Yes. It is possible
– No. It is possible
Science cannot say nothing. Therefore Rodney Holder’s claims are undecible according to logical calculus. I cannot see serious problems with that (when my above opinion is explained). Quoted above Holder’s claims are not antiscience, but some people here is anxious.
What IS antiscience is the mainstream belief of that SM or GR are explained by experiment. That is a great MISTAKE
After of several replies, manuscripts, sci posts, etc. still nobody has demonstrated to me that SM and GR are correct.
In SM the supposed proofs of my contenders (e.g. Weinberg) usually don’t pass of the elementary stuff S-matrix theorems (many are wrong when one study the details).
In GR, nobody (including of course active workers as Carlip, Ehlers, Will…) has demonstrated rigorously that GR even fits to solar system data.
Had I been present at the creation, I would have given some useful hints for the better ordering of the universe. 
Carlyle says, in his “History of Frederick the Great,” book ii. chap. vii. that this saying of Alphonso about Ptolemy’s astronomy, “that it seemed a crank machine; that it was pity the Creator had not taken advice,” is still remembered by mankind,-this and no other of his many sayings.
Did you know “Although much of the public controversy over intelligent design has focused on the application of design to biology, it’s important to remember that design theory itself reaches well beyond biology, and that some of the strongest evidence for design comes from such fields as physics, astronomy, and cosmology.”
Brought to you by the Discovery Institute.
“Had God any choice in the creation of the world?”
Probably the god had no choice on a lot of things that is needed to create this world. For example mathematics rules. For a very specific example, the numerical value of PI, 3.14159265…., you can list all the decimal digits of PI to infinity and it is a sequence that contains infinite amount of information, more than what the whoole universe can register and hold. But once you lay down the definition what PI is, all of its digits are completely fixed, even the god is powerless to alter even one digit of PI out of the infinite number of digits! You can not create a universe in which the PI is even slightly different from ours!!!!
On other things, maybe it’s just a matter of the way our thinking works. For example Newton’s second law. It is actually just a Newton’s second convention. Because that Newton’s second law/convention actually gives the definition what is force. Without a definition of what is force, you can not lay out a relationship how force is related to other quantities. The same equation, F=MA, can not serve on two purposes simutaneously, one to give a definition what is force, one to define the relationship between force and mass and acceleration.
So in that sense, force is really just a necessity of human thinking, not a necessity for how things works in this universe. The god could well create the universe using just mass, spacetime and movements, with no reference whatsoever to the notion of force.
Now the question is, the 4-D spacetime, is it by choice or is it a mandatory like PI is? If it is mandated, then, certainly, only 4-D universe is possible, and the 11-D super string theory is not going any where.
Juan, I like your posts. But I think Einstein was being cute when he said
“Had God any choice in the creation of the world?”
Different ethnics have different funnies. English humor is not easily explained to French wit.
It is utterly charming how Einstein put it, but it is not, I think, about God or choice.
It is about the logical and mathematical form of physical laws. Can they only be of this form (but maybe with different constants?)
If only Immanuel Kant had been a jew as well as a german he could have been more provocative and amusing and we might all have benefited.
In “A man’s ethical behavior should be based effectually on sympathy, education, and social ties and needs; no religious basis is necessary. Man would indeed be in a poor way if he had to be restrained by fear of punishment and hope of reward after death.”
[Albert Einstein, “Religion and Science”, New York Times Magazine, 9 November 1930]
Einstein was talking about usual religion.
“Religion without science is blind. Science without religion is lame.”
i simply don’t know if he was talking about religion, in general, or about his own view of “religion” (phylosophy).
I think that Einstein would not agree with many Templeton questions but, in some sense, he asked about “antrophic” questions in his famous query
“Had God any choice in the creation of the world?”
Sorry Scott, I cannot post a link to that here. I follow rigorous Peter Woit’s guidelines in what can be posted and what cannot be.
I was glad to see Scott’s quote of Einstein:
[[It was, of course, a lie what you read about my religious convictions, a lie which is being systematically repeated. I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly. If something is in me which can be called religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it.]]
I looked for the source and found something about the quote in
Wiki says it comes from:
Letter to an atheist (1954); Albert Einstein: The Human Side (1981) edited by Helen Dukas and Banesh Hoffman, Princeton University Press
Must add agreement and approval for the distinction Scott draws between Einstein’s view and Templeton’s. Judging from the quote of Sir John, that gentleman wishes people to acknowledge an “intimate”, actively interfering Creator-person, an idea I find mildly disgusting. The thought of an affectionate busybody transgressing laws of nature for personal reasons is something of comedown from the unqualified admiration for physical law expressed in Einstein’s letter.
“It was, of course, a lie what you read about my religious convictions, a lie which is being systematically repeated. I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly. If something is in me which can be called religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it.” -Einstein
“From a theological perspective it is indeed tempting to see this remarkable self-organizing tendency … of the cosmos … as an expression of the intimate nature of the Creator’s activity and identification with our universe.” -Templeton
Peter has already pointed out the difference of their views but I thought I would pick another more blunt quote of Einstein’s to really drive it home. Templeton talks of the universes principles being an expression of the creator’s “activity and identification” with the universe while Einsein is simply in awe of the nature of the world and for lack of a better word that awe can be termed religous. These are in no way the same thing and in no way indicative that Einsein would approove of templeton’s actions. God was simply Einsteins word for order/harmony/ect in physical law.
“Religion without science is blind. Science without religion is lame”
knowing what Einstein considered religous, “a feeling of awe at the scheme that is manifested in the material universe,” this means the second part indicates that the life of science is sucked out if you have no awe for the principles that define the universe.
“Phys. Rev. on a generalization of S-matrix theory to chemical dynamics for example? (Molecules are not in the infinite past and scatter to the infinite future :-)”
I for one would appreciate a link to that.
“It is really interesting that Einstein would not have approved research in quantum field theory. It is well-known that his valuation of quantum field theory (QED) was more radical than Dirac own one.”
“The situation of quantum field theory at the present time is very different than it was more than fifty years ago back during Einstein’s lifetime.
Similarly the threats to the scientific enterprise are different. Whether or not he would have approved of a lot of the Templeton verbiage…”
I posted extensive quotes of Einstein and his own ideas about physics and religion. You are open to interpret words of others in your own benefit, but his phrase “Religion without science is blind. Science without religion is lame.” is simple and clear for understanding.
It is also clear that Einstein hated relativistic quantum field theory (as said his words were “hard”) and when results of experiments show “coincidence” at eleven (?) figure he remained impassible. Why? Eccentricity of an old man? Of course, no. Einstein was not an engineer, he was a physicist a pure physicists searching “true” and “elegance”.
He knew that relativistic quantum field theory (then QED) was an ugly subject (and still is). The words of Peter are not true. The situation of quantum field theory (e.g. QED) at the present time is the SAME than it was more than fifty years ago back during Einstein’s lifetime.
There are two types of physicists: “real” (authentic) physicists and “engineers” (most of particle physicists). Unfortunately, a deep understanding of nature cannot be achieved from relativistic quantum field theory (a theory that does not work in molecular chemistry as is well-known) Would I post here a recent Phys. Rev. on a generalization of S-matrix theory to chemical dynamics for example? (Molecules are not in the infinite past and scatter to the infinite future ðŸ™‚
From a guy called Dirac
… When one tried to solve it, one always obtained divergent integrals… Rules for discarding the infinities [(renormalization) have been developed]. Most physicists are very satisfied with this situation. They argue that if one has rules for doing calculations and the results agree with observation, that is all that one requires. But it is not all that one requires. One requires a single comprehensive theory applying to all physical phenomena. Not one theory for dealing with non-relativistic effects and a separate disjoint theory for dealing with certain relativistic effects. Furthermore, the theory has to be based on sound mathematics, in which one neglects only quantities that are small. One is not allowed to neglect infinitely large quantities. The renormalization idea would be sensible only if it was applied with finite renormalization factors, not infinite ones. For these reasons I find the present quantum electrodynamics quite unsatisfactory. One ought not to be complacent about its faults. The agreement with observation is presumably a coincidence, just like the original calculation of the hydrogen spectrum with Bohr orbits. Such coincidences are no reason for turning a blind eye to the faults of a theory. Quantum electrodynamics … was built up from physical ideas that were not correctly incorporated into the theory and it has no sound mathematical foundation. One must seek a new relativistic quantum mechanics and one’s prime concern must be to base it on sound mathematics.”
When one studies QFT seriously, one knows WHAT is computed and WHAT is ignored. When one seriously studies quantum field theory onw know WHY quantum field theory being wrong offers the correct answer to scattering experiments and wrong answers in other questions.
As said in other posts in this blog, one would not take seriously Weinberg manual ðŸ™‚
Here are some clarifications about what I think.
First of all about politics: there are plenty of other blogs on the web with similar politics to mine, so I’ve tried to stay away from political topics. But, like a lot of people, I’m very unhappy about what I see happening to this country as its politics is taken over by right-wing extremists. One of them is John Templeton Jr., president of the Templeton foundation and chairman of “Let Freedom Ring”, a right-wing political organization. These people are mixing fundamentalist religion and politics in a dangerous way. See for example:
I don’t think it is a coincidence that they also are trying to inject religion into science and to promote pseudo-science.
Sure, the main sources of funding of string/M-theory remain universities and government grants, and this is the biggest problem. But I think it is remarkable and worth making a fuss about that leaders of the field of particle theory are getting in bed with foundations run by people whose agenda in life is promoting extreme right-wing politics and trying to increase the influence of religion over all of American life, science included.
1. I apologize for placing comments on GR that did not directly pertain to the discussion that you have in mind.
2. However, it is the cosmological consequences of GR with its insistence on dark matter, energy and other mysteries that gave fodder to Templeton foundation and the like cults. These people did not get their agendas from the Bible. They’ve got it from the popular press that, in turn, reflects the
current state of cosmology. The best way to deal
with the problem is to seek for physical theories
that do not invoke the forces of darkness.
Once more, please, accept my apology for bespotting
Peter, you say that you are opposed to “… the unholy alliance of a well-financed right-wing organization and string-theory/multiverse pseudoscience …”.
You choice of words puzzles me. “unholy” indicates a religious judgment. “right-wing” indicates a political judgment.
If “superstring/multiverse pseudoscience” does indeed threaten to bring about what Feynman called “a degeneration of ideas” that causes “vigourous philosophy …[to]… disappear”, and I agree with you that such a threat is real and serious, then it seems to me
that ANY funding of “superstring/multiverse pseudoscience” enhances that threat,
and it is irrelevant whether the funding comes from “unholy” or “holy” sources or from “right-wing” or “left-wing” sources.
In fact, I would guess that the most serious problem is not that “unholy” “right-wing” Templeton money might go to “superstring/multiverse pseudoscience”, but
that 90% of the academic (predominantly left-wing) and government (holy or not, I don’t know) funding for theoretical physics might continue to go to superstring theory and that superstring theory might morph entirely into “superstring/multiverse pseudoscience”, thus leading to Feynman’s “degeneration of ideas”.
The situation of quantum field theory at the present time is very different than it was more than fifty years ago back during Einstein’s lifetime.
Similarly the threats to the scientific enterprise are different. Whether or not he would have approved of a lot of the Templeton verbiage, I think he would have recognized the threat to what he held most dear embodied in the unholy alliance of a well-financed right-wing organization and string-theory/multiverse pseudoscience.
It is really interesting that Einstein would not have approved research in quantum field theory. It is well-known that his valoration of quantum field theory (QED) was more radical than Dirac own one.
“If it is one of the goals of religions to liberate maknind as far as possible from the bondage of egocentric cravings, desires, and fears, scientific reasoning can aid religion in another sense. Although it is true that it is the goal of science to discover (the) rules which permit the association and foretelling of facts, this is not its only aim. It also seeks to reduce the connections discovered to the smallest possible number of mutually independent conceptual elements. It is in this striving after the rational unification of the manifold that it encounters its greatest successes, even though it is precisely this attempt which causes it to run the greatest risk of falling a prey to illusion. But whoever has undergone the intense experience of successful advances made in this domain, is moved by the profound reverence for the rationality made manifest in existence. By way of the understanding he achieves a far reaching emancipation from the shackles of personal hopes and desires, and thereby attains that humble attitude of mind toward the grandeur of reason, incarnate in existence, and which, in its profoundest depths, is inaccessible to man. This attitude, however, appears to me to be religious in the highest sense of the word. And so it seems to me that science not only purifies the religious imulse of the dross of its anthropomorphism but also contibutes to a religious spiritualisation of our understanding of life.”
[Albert Einstein, “Science, Philosophy, and Religion, A Symposium”, published by the Conference on Science, Philosophy and Religion in Their Relation to the Democratic Way of Life, Inc., New York, 1941]
The religion of the future will be a cosmic religion…
“All religions, arts and sciences are branches of the same tree. All these aspirations are directed toward ennobling man’s life, lifting it from the sphere of mere physical existence and leading the individual towards freedom.”
“Religion without science is blind. Science without religion is lame.”
Had God any choice in the creation of the world?
Peter, you said “… Look not at what the Templeton people say (which is relatively innocuous), but at what they do. …”.
OK, and when I do, I see things like providing publicity and support for things like landscape and failure to fund things like Smolin’s suggested Einstein fellowships that might actually advance our understanding of physics (and, therefore, from an Einstein/Spinoza viewpoint, God/religion), so I see your point and agree with you.
If the superstring/landscape people prevail, then I think that we will indeed be entering an era of what Feynman called “…a degeneration of ideas, just like the degeneration that great explorers feel is occurring when tourists begin moving in …” and “… it gets very dull … the vigorous philosophy … will … disappear …”.
Please stop posting comments here about whether or not General Relativity is correct. This has nothing at all to do with the topic of the posting. Please stop using this weblog as a forum for this kind of discussion and do this elsewhere. I’m deleting all the comments about this.
First of all I read that quote differently, not as saying “Creator=Universe”, but as saying whoever the Creator is, he/she/it “identifies” with the Universe and its problems, i.e. she/he/it feels our pain or something, is not detached, but remains involved on a day-to-day basis. But much of this religion/sciences stuff is all so ill-defined that you can make pretty much what you want out of it.
That’s not what’s objectionable. Look not at what the Templeton people say (which is relatively innocuous), but at what they do. They explicitly refuse to support serious science, and instead fund an incredible array of attempts to inject religion into scientific practice. In theoretical physics, they aren’t ever going to fund serious research into quantum field theory, mathematics related to quantum field theory, or any serious work of the sort Einstein would have approved of. Instead they are heavily funding the one part of the field that most people consider dangerous pseudo-science and a serious threat to the whole concept of what it means to do science. I don’t think this is a coincidence.
Peter, you said “… Templeton and the intelligent designers believe there is some sort of intelligent “Creator” out there… who continues to intervene in the universe and the affairs of humans …”.
Is that consistent with the plain meaning of the Templeton quote about “… the Creator’s … identification with our universe …” ?
If Templeton says Creator = universe, then isn’t that more consistent with Einstein/Spinoza, or pantheism, than with a human-father-type external Creator/God who built our universe as our playhouse and might from time to time punish us if we don’t play nice in our playhouse ?
Further, Templeton’s quote about “remarkable self-organizing tendency” seems to me to be far more consistent with Einstein’s “rational nature of reality” than with the landscape view “that there is no mathematical reason for … fundamental facts about physics”.
Templeton’s actual words still seem to me to be pretty much consistent with the Einstein view.
Do you think that it is possible that Templeton himself is reasonable but that some people who purport to follow Templeton, and to try to get money from him, are not so reasonable ?
For instance, those known as fundamentalist Christians seem to me to insist that only their religious path is the correct one and that those who fail to follow that path will suffer in eternal literal hell,
while the web page at http://www.templeton.org/sir_john_templeton/index.asp indicates that Templeton himself “espouse[s] a non-literal view of heaven and hell” and “a multi-faith framework of … the diversity of gifts within the major religions of the world,” … including “Buddhism, Christianity, Confucianism, Hinduism, Islam, Jainism, Judaism, Sikhism, Taoism, Zen and Zoroastrianism.”.
Perhaps your disagreement is not so much with Templeton himself, but with some who purport to be his followers and try to get his money ?
I think the two quotes you give represent quite different views. Einstein is emphasizing the “the rational nature of reality”, that with hard work we can discover and understand the deep mathematical structures that govern how the world works. As far as I know he had no interest in “anthropic” explanations, or any sort of belief that the universe is designed the way it is in order to make human life possible. He didn’t place human beings and their concerns at the center of things.
Templeton and the intelligent designers believe there is some sort of intelligent “Creator” out there who has set up the universe to produce human beings, one who continues to intervene in the universe and the affairs of humans. I don’t think Einstein believed anything like this. The intelligent designers, together with the anthropic landscapeologists, are happy with the idea that the explanation for many fundamental facts about physics is that there is no deep mathematical reason for them, they just are the way they are because they make our existence possible. I think Einstein would have found this completely noxious, and most serious theoretical physicists still feel this way.
From a Templeton web page at http://www.templeton.org/science_and_religion/index.asp :
“… From a theological perspective it is indeed tempting to see this remarkable self-organizing tendency … of the cosmos … as an expression of the intimate nature of the Creator’s activity and identification with our universe.
– Sir John Marks Templeton …”.
“I believe in Spinoza’s God who reveals Himself in the orderly harmony of what exists … I have not found a better expression than ‘religious’ for the trust in the rational nature of reality that is, at least to a certain extent, accessible to human reason. …”.
I don’t see much if any difference between the views stated above by Templeton and Einstein.
Also, I don’t see much if any difference between Templeton’s phrase “self-organizing tendency” and the usual meaning of the term “evolution”.
So: Why can’t we all just get along ?
The fact that there is even a “debate” on teaching Intelligent Design angers me.
There have been some comments mentioning Feynman’s 1965 book The Character of Physical Law. Here are some relevant excerpts from that book:
“… The age in which we live is the age in which we are discovering the fundamental laws of nature, and that day will never come again. It is very exciting … but that excitement will have to go. … in the future either … all the laws become known … or … experiments get … more and more expensive, so that you get 99.9 percent of the phenomena … and it gets slower and slower and more and more uninteresting …
… ultimately, if it turns out that all is known, or it gets very dull, the vigorous philosophy … will … disappear … There will be a degeneration of ideas, just like the degeneration that great explorers feel is occurring when tourists begin moving in …”.
To me, it seems that since GR plus the standard model does describe nature pretty well, and each advance in collider energy only produces data that is substantially consistent with GR plus the standard model, that superstring theory is a clear example of what Feynman called “a degeneration of ideas”.
In my view, the only realistic way to get out of the degenerative rut of superstring theory is to try to construct a new model that embraces and extends GR plus the standard model. The same Feynman book gives his prescription for constructing such a new model:
“… ‘guess – compute consequences – compare with experiment’ … When you get it right, it is obvious that it is right … because … more comes out than goes in …
… we need … imagination in a terrible strait-jacket. We have to find a new view of he world that has to agree with everything that is known, but disagree in its predictions somewhere … and in that disagreement it must agree with nature. If you can find any other view of the world which agrees over the entire range where things have already been observed, but disagrees somewhere else, you have made a great discovery. …”.
In my opinion, superstring theory fails to meet Feynman’s criteria because it is not constructed by his ‘guess – compute consequences – compare with experiment’ method.
I feel Feynman’s method can lead to a more fundamental unification of GR plus the standard model, and that my work is an example, because I constructed my model using Feynman’s ‘guess – compute consequences – compare with experiment’ method, and every time I found a flaw in my construction, I found that the flaw was correctable and that each correction produced more and better results, so that as of now my model is in pretty good agreement with all accepted experimental observations, with one exception: the T-quark mass, which is the disagreement required by Feynman’s criteria. My view about the T-quark mass is set out in my comment on Peter’s 9 June 2005 blog entry about the “Future of Fermilab”, so I will not repeat it here.
It was said,
“Feynman hinted at the end of his 1965 BBC lectures, The Character of Physical Law, that when a radical revision occurs next it may be quite different from what is wanted by today’s practitioners.”
Humm, it sounds like “string theory is not the Final formulation” since ST is just modified QFT and its practitioners use just traditional physics like S-matrix, Hilbert-Fock space, wavefunctions, armonic strings, reductionism, etc.
Joao: they have to turn out speculations because they work in theoretical physics. John Horgan’s claim in “The End of Science” (1997) that science has ended, just because there is the big bang and standard model, pushes them into stringy multiverses.
If Horgan is right, even in just the sociology of physics, then the enlightenment really is over. We then have to dig deep in the history to discover what happens when the lights go out in science.
Everyone who claimed that the elegant theory of phlogiston was rubbish was laughed off stage. Dead end science claims it is right because it fiddles its theory to fit all the facts. You can’t debunk it. You cannot get anyone to listen to a radical, simpler and more accurate approach.
Feynman hinted at the end of his 1965 BBC lectures, The Character of Physical Law, that when a radical revision occurs next it may be quite different from what is wanted by today’s practitioners. He referred to an influx of tourists, the silly guys on the outside always making silly comments. To him, it would be tragic for tourists to pollute prestine mountains by looking for easier paths to the top.
Those ID people are pathetic: they lack the science to “prove” their creeds, and lack the faith to believe their creeds without “scientific proof”.
Bad “science” and worse “religon”…