Monday, October 12, 2015

SURT notes I.1.2 p.18

The Singular Universe, Roberto Unger

The First Cosmological Fallacy

[in the Newtonian paradigm] The observer stands, both in principle and in fact, outside the configuration space. Conceptually, his relation to it resembles the relation of God to the world, in the Semitic monotheisms . . . : not as creator but as observer. He looks upon it, to use an astronomical metaphor, from the vantage point of the stars. The laws go together with this ideal observer. They govern what happens inside the configuration space. They have, however, no history of their own within that space--or anywhere else.
This is the understanding of science that has led people of my acquaintance to see God as equivalent to the laws of nature. It is also the understanding of science that leads Alvin Plantinga and others to claim that mysteries of science are evidence of God. The failure of cosmologists to truly explain things like fine tuning (instead of explaining they create unobservable values and universes) is easily co-opted as support for the kinds of Gods that are outside of time. All this confirms my long held prejudices against believing in such a God.
Deaf to Newton's warning no to feign hypotheses, we may appeal to the idea of multiple, parallel universes in an effort to rescue the cosmological uses of the Newtonian paradigm. . . . this conjecture will amount to no more than a vain metaphysical fantasy disguised as science.
Unger really isn't nice to multiverse interpretations of cosmology.

[in real time] The observer can no longer stand outside the configuration space, and claim to adopt the godlike view from the stars; all the stars, and everything around them, are dragged down into the field of explanation.
Transcendent science and religion both set arbitrary limits beyond which humanity may not pass without departing from nature. While I believe in an (at least effectively) infinitely complex nature, I don't like the imposition of untested limits.
Thus, every feature of the Newtonian paradigm fails when its subject matter ceases to be a region of the universe and becomes the entire universe. The denial of this failure . . . corrupt[s] the practice of scientific inquiry and prevent cosmology from remaining faithful to its vocation to be a master science rather than a sideshow.

It is as if the jump from the finite to the infinite provided a generic license for the ideas that, in the absence of such license, would readily be dismissed as untenable.
I'm pretty sure he is referring specifically to infinite energy density--the mathematical singularity we know as the Big Bang, or as black holes. He later claims no beginning to time, so some quantities may be infinite without creating the logical license he says others have taken. I need to check this and see if my arguments using infinities hold up or can be replaced with large and growing quantities.

The Second Cosmological Fallacy

Presentism is a problem in cosmology, not just history. Pastism is a problem in assessing the progress of evolution as influenced by humans. Assuming that technology cannot or should not influence evolution at rates beyond what was effected by nature in the past is misguided.
The discovery that the universe has a history, and so therefore must everything within it be historical, has implications for the practice of science. We have so far failed to acknowledge them.
The same is true of theology. Joseph Smith started us (in modern times) with thinking about God as being historical, but we've largely lost it even in Mormonism. It is a big deal.

Accepting singularities as real (the Big Bang had infinite energy density, as do black holes) makes them beyond exploration or explanation (at least in some important ways). Believing these energy densities are large but finite implies "no insuperable obstacle of principle exists to investigating and explaining" the Big Bang or black holes. A singular God (omnipotent, omniscient, etc.) is closed to exploration. A large but finite God we may be able to understand.
The second cosmological fallacy is the disposition to take account of only the [current] state of nature while disregarding the [big bang], and to do so in our methods as well as in our theories. When we succumb to this fallacy, our conception of how to practice science, as well as our view of the workings of nature, allows itself to be shaped by an intellectual engagement with only one set of the variations of nature. It becomes in a sense the science of a special case. It consequently remains limited in the reach of its insight even into that special case. The deepest enigmas of nature escape it.
I am placing Gods into a broader state of nature than our current one, and even into a state beyond our (currently) observable universe, but not beyond nature.
everything is emergent--everything comes and goes--except time.
Gods are emergent. From what? How?
[In] many of the most influential cosmological theories . . . the alternative traits of nature remain hidden under the veil of the infinite.
An infinite God is unknowable unless we are infinite in the same way god is.
Such a science--the science that we in fact have--will be bereft of the cosmological equivalent of the physics of phase transitions: an account of the transitions from one state of nature to another.
Special case science with assumed transcendent laws is incapable of speaking to the reproduction of universes.

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