Monday, July 31, 2017

A Theory Of Everything


 In last week's post, I defended the dogma of Transubstantiation against pseudo-scientists who believe religion is the result of contact with extraterrestrials. However, there are many people who feel that legitimate science has rendered God "obsolete." God was a human invention to explain things we didn't understand, but now we know better. For many, science is the new "religion," and scientists the "priests."  One of the primary reasons the majority of scientists are agnostics or atheists is because of their attempted application of science to areas where science has nothing to say, for example, morality or metaphysics. Science cannot be used to determine right from wrong in morals. What experiment or equation "proves" adultery to be wrong? You can claim you disapprove of it, or you don't think it's advantageous, or you think you should treat others the way you want to be treated, but it's all subjective on the atheistic point of view. There can be no objective morals (i.e., right and wrong actions that would be that way no matter what anyone thought) unless there is a transcendent God.

 The "chief priest" among today's scientific establishment is Dr. Stephen Hawking, considered the most brilliant scientist alive (and one of the greatest geniuses ever). Born in 1942, Hawking is a theoretical physicist, having received his PhD in applied mathematics and theoretical physics from Gonville and Caius College in 1966.  In 1974, he made a theoretical formula and argument for radiation predicted to be released by black holes, due to quantum effects near the event horizon. This radiation has subsequently been named Hawking Radiation. Should it be verified experimentally, he will receive a Nobel Prize. He taught at Oxford where he held the Lucasian Professorship, a chair once held by Sir Issac Newton. He has a plethora of academic honors and awards that would yield a list pages long. Most incredibly, he lost all control of his body as a result of ALS, a degenerative disease of the nervous system. He is confined to a wheelchair and speaks through an electronic voice synthesizer.

 Hawking has brought physics to the dinner table in the form of popular books such as the bestselling A Brief History of Time, published in 1988. His life was turned into a 2014 movie The Theory of Everything. Indeed, that is what Hawking wants to do; in his own words, "My goal is simple. It is a complete understanding of the universe, why it is as it is and why it exists at all." As Hawking is a professed atheist, his answer will not be found in theism in general or a particular religion. He thinks science can explain our purpose. His 2010 book, The Grand Design (co-authored by Leonard Mlodinow, a fellow scientist and author), claims the laws of physics are the real explanation as to how the universe came into being.

 My purpose in this post is not to engage Dr. Hawking in a debate on science; as a former NYC science teacher, I'm woefully unqualified for the task. He's an expert in the highest degree, and I'm not. What I hope to show is that it is a categorical mistake to try to apply the scientific method to queries outside its field of competence. It's analogous to asking your medical doctor for legal advice; the doctor could be brilliant, but you can't diagnose a problem in contract law using medical knowledge. The Grand Design (hereinafter "TGD") asks many questions, several of which are beyond the scope of science to answer. These logical mistakes and flaws will be put forward to demonstrate that Hawking's thesis of a "self-caused universe" must fail.

Posing Questions Science Can't Answer

 In TGD, Hawkins asks some questions that humanity has thought about for ages, many of which science can answer. However, there are three queries that are outside the scope of empirical verification and have no place being answered by physics, to wit:

  • Why is there something rather than nothing? 
  • Why do we exist? 
  • Why this particular set of laws and not some other? 

Attempting to answer these questions scientifically is absurd. I believe that my father and mother (God rest their souls) loved me. How can science prove or disprove if they loved me? It can't. I can offer many and good logical reasons for thinking they did love me, and I'm not being irrational for holding this belief.

Hawking states on page 180 of TGD that, "Because there is a law of gravity, the universe can and will create itself out of nothing." That sentence caused me to do a double take. (For an amazing response to Hawking please see God and Stephen Hawking by Dr. John C. Lennox, a mathematician and professor at Oxford. Dr. Lennox is Protestant and has debated atheists publicly. Many of these insights I owe to him).  My training as a lawyer helps me spot a bad argument and faulty premises. I studied Constitutional Law for part of a semester under the great Associate Justice Antonin Scalia. He was fond of saying, "Just because a law is stupid doesn't make it unconstitutional. Don't think that anyone is immune from making stupid arguments or doing stupid things." The same holds for the brilliant Dr. Hawking.

 What, exactly, does Hawking mean by "nothing"? He can't mean non-being as in Neo-Scholastic  philosophy. The law of gravity is obviously something. Secondly, how can a law of physics, such as gravity, create anything? A scientific law is descriptive of the universe. This presupposes a universe that exists and is capable of description in the first place. Descriptions have no causal power. The laws of mathematics tell me 100 + 100= 200. I would be a fool to think if I have $100, and put it in my dresser drawer, the law of arithmetic will somehow cause my money to increase by $100.

Hawking's statement that "the universe can and will create itself out of nothing," is self-contradictory nonsense. It is a logical axiom known by all that "out of nothing, nothing comes." Many times when scientists speak of "nothing" they mean a quantum vacuum. Again, a quantum vacuum is not non-being, it is something! So the universe (which is something) was created by "nothing" which he identifies as gravity, and gravity is something, not non-being. The very statement is self-contradictory; the universe creating itself presupposes the universe had existence in order to give itself existence (if your head is spinning with all this illogic, it should be!). Poor Dr. Hawking isn't doing too well in making a case for a "self-creating universe."

 Kinds of Causation

 In Neo-Scholastic philosophy, we distinguish four kinds of causes, first expounded by Aristotle. 

1.  Material Cause. Think of a statue of The Most Sacred Heart of Jesus. The material cause would be, for example, marble. It's the material stuff out of which things are made. 

2. Formal Cause. This would be the image carved in the marble of the Sacred Heart. It tells us what the object is. 

3. Efficient Cause. This would be the sculptor. It is that by which the effect is produced.

4. Final Cause. That for the sake of which the activity is performed. In this case, to foster love and devotion to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus Christ. 
(See An Introduction to Philosophy, by Fr. Daniel J. Sullivan, The Bruce Publishing Company, Milwaukee, [1957], pg. 194)

 Hawking reduces all causes to material and formal causes, as scientists want to know what things are; this is the basis of experimentation. However, it would be ridiculous to think that a statue of the Sacred Heart appeared that way without a sculptor (efficient cause) and for no reason (final cause).  Since science cannot by its very nature of inquiry, answer questions pertaining to efficient or final causes, questions like "Why do we exist?" are not within the realm of the competence of science. Many scientists believe that only physics, chemistry, etc,  can answer questions about the world, therefore they will either dismiss the questions or answer on an atheistic point of view. Hawking claims God does not exist, nor are there any spiritual entities. The belief in life after death, he says, is a "fairy story for people afraid of the dark." And again, "We are just an advanced breed of monkeys on a minor planet of a very average star. But we can understand the Universe. That makes us something very special." Hawking believes we are devoid of purpose and have no Creator because of the limitations of science to answer metaphysical questions. 

Does God Need A Creator?

 Hawking has rejected God as Creator. Inevitably, people who so reject God somehow find the idea of "nothing creating something" as more intellectually satisfying than God Who always Is ("I AM WHO AM"). Someone will always ask, "who created God?" If the clear and convincing evidence points to God (which it does and I cannot go into it in a short post), then it must be so. 

Once I had a bad case of vomiting and diarrhea. Every few weeks, I would get another episode. I went to my beloved family doctor, who sent me for all kinds of tests, which revealed nothing. I went to specialists who were perplexed. Finally, a brilliant gastroenterologist asked me a strange question; "Have you ever been to a river in Africa?" I assured him that I had not. He thought I might have a rare bacteria (found in the Dark Continent) in my colon that would only respond to a certain powerful drug. I took the drug and was cured! I asked him how I got the bacteria. His response was, "I don't know, but who cares? You're better, so we got to the cause." Just because we can't explain the origin of the bacteria doesn't mean that it wasn't the cause of my illness. Likewise, even if we can't explain God's existence, that doesn't mean He didn't create the universe. 

 Hawking's Strange Views

 God seems needless and irrational to Dr. Hawking, but just like the "Raelian scientists" I wrote about last week, he seems to be fascinated (and frightened) by extraterrestrial life. Hawking claims he is more certain than ever that highly evolved aliens exist, but we shouldn't make contact. 

Theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking has once again opened up about his fears and warned the world to be hesitant about making contact with alien life. He said planet Gliese 832c potentially had alien life but said humans needed to be wary."One day, we might receive a signal from a planet like this, but we should be wary of answering back," he in the documentary, Stephen Hawking’s Favourite Places. "Meeting an advanced civilization could be like Native Americans encountering Columbus. That didn’t turn out so well." He claimed alien life could be "rapacious marauders roaming the cosmos in search of resources to plunder, and planets to conquer and colonize". His fears have not changed since he first spoke out about it on the Discovery Channel in 2010. He said as he grew older he became more convinced humans were not alone. "After a lifetime of wondering, I am helping to lead a new global effort to find out," he said.

(See http://www.foxnews.com/science/2017/07/28/stephen-hawking-is-deathly-afraid-aliens.html). 

Hawking also claims that "global warming" necessitates looking for another planet where we can all go and live (maybe with the aliens who colonize us?). 

Conclusion

God and science do not conflict when rightly understood. You cannot answer metaphysical questions by the scientific method. Hopefully, Dr. Hawking will realize that the answer to the "Theory of Everything," i.e., the cause and purpose of the Universe, lies in God. Then maybe he will find the true Faith before he dies. Unfortunately, because of his intelligence and prestige, many will think that atheism is the only rational worldview. People would do well to remember the words of Justice Scalia, "Don't think anyone is immune from making stupid arguments..."

I'll end with the following anecdote. In France, at the end of the 19th century, a young scientist was on a train seated next to an elderly gentleman praying the Rosary silently. The young scientist couldn't contain himself. He said, "Pardon me, sir. I can't help but notice those superstitious beads you use to pray." "Superstitious?" responded the old gentleman with shock. "Yes. You must understand that science has shown us there is no God." The old man still looking shocked said, "There isn't a God?" "No. I'm a scientist, and I know this to be true. I realize that you're old and were raised to believe in these things but they're just made-up stories and nonsense. You wouldn't understand the latest scientific theories, like me, but if you'd like I can send you some literature written in simple language so you'll understand that God, Rosaries, and Catholicism are all superstition and not real." "I would like that very much," said the frail older gentleman, still clutching his beloved Rosary.  "Great, please give me your address, so I can mail it to you."  The gentleman put down his Rosary and took out a business card, handing it to the young scientist. "This has my name and address on it."

As the young scientist read the card, a shiver went down his spine. He hung his head in shame, left his seat, and never came back to that seat for the rest of the trip. And who could blame him? The card read, "Dr. Louis Pasteur."


22 comments:

  1. I love reading your posts each week. Another excellent one!

    After all their accusations against us for being superstitious, I think we can turn the argument back against the atheist.

    One way to summarize superstition is simply to to believe that an effect can exceed its efficient cause.

    My wife's grandmother always said, "Stir with a knife, stir up strife". She really believed that stirring coffee with a knife instead of a spoon, would bring trouble. A fine example of and effect (strife) being caused by something that is not a proportionate efficent cause, i.e the stirring of coffee. Or carrying a rabbit's foot to bring good fortune.

    So, the atheists posit a universe being brought into existence by an efficient cause (the law of gravity, or even nothing at all) which does not have the capacity to do such a thing. This is superstition in a nutshell.

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    1. Well stated Mike! For all the noise the "New Atheists" and their associates make, they are the real superstitious ones, not believers. Thank you for your comments!

      God bless,

      ---Introibo

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    2. This is also one of the reasons why I don't buy evolution. It requires a belief in an effect being greater than its cause.

      A cause must exist in an act, not in potency. A thing in potency cannot cause another thing to be in act. For evolution to happen, a higher and more complex life form must exist - in act, not in potency - in the lower life form. Believing this to be possible seems like another case of superstition to me.

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  2. I believe that the modern Thomist Dr Feser exposes the absurdity of evolution in his works and talks. He is conservative novus ordo, but the best modern Thomist.

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    1. Why someone as brilliant as Feser stays in the Vatican II sect is a mystery to me. He is probably the only real Neo-Scholastic philosopher left. His book against the so-called "New Atheists" entitled "The Last Superstition" is amazing to read. Pray for his conversion!

      ---Introibo

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    2. I don't believe that Dr. Feser is a neo-Scholastic. According to Msgr. Paul Glenn, the specific difference between the new Neo-Scholasticism and classical Scholasticism is its engagement with modern science (History of Philosophy, p. 359). But the Neo-Scholastic typically does so from a position of privilege, because the higher sciences are generally considered competent to judge the lower.

      For an instructive example, let us see how Dr. Feser interprets Newton's law of inertia:

      "Now, some Aristotelians have gone so far as to insinuate that the principle of inertia really has only an instrumental import, with the Aristotelian philosophy of nature alone providing a description of the reality of motion. Hence Joyce writes that 'the mathematician may for practical purposes regard motion as a state. Philosophically the concepts of movement and of a state are mutually exclusive.' And Garrigou-Lagrange claims: 'That the motion once imparted to a body continues indefinitely, is a convenient fiction for representing certain mathematical or mechanical relations of the astronomical order.'

      "But the Aristotelian need not go this far, and I think most Aristotelians would not. A mathematical description of nature is not an exhaustive definition, but it can capture real features of the world. And that the principle of inertia has been especially fruitful in physics is reason to think that it does capture them. . . . In short . . . the Aristotelian [need not] take an instrumentalist or otherwise anti-realist approach to the Newtonian principle. They can be regarded as describing nature at different but really equal levels" (Feser, "The medieval principle of motion and the modern principle of inertia," Proceedings of the Society for Medieval Logic and Metaphysics, Volume 10, 2012, pp. 9-10. http://faculty.fordham.edu/klima/SMLM/PSMLM10/PSMLM10.pdf )

      In the foregoing quote, we can see Dr. Feser explicitly distancing himself from the Neo-Scholastic treatment of Newton's mechanistic theory of matter as represented by Thomists such as Fr. Garrigou-Lagrange. He overstates the success of Newton's theory, and it leads him to accept philosophical conclusions that Newton himself tied to his observations, but which the Neo-Scholastic would rightly condemn as metaphysically absurd, e.g., that a finite mover can in principle produce an infinite movement.

      Now the difficulty with Hawking is partly the same. On the one hand, you are right to criticize Hawking for attempting to overgeneralize from physical explanations of phenomena to the metaphysical. He certainly uses his terms in an equivocal sense, taking the formulations of philosophical problems and applying to their words unfamiliar meanings from a different field of science. On the other hand, though, it is not even that Hawking is jumping irrationally from physics to metaphysics -- it is that sound philosophy ought to be competent to judge that his conclusions *in cosmology* are not really warranted by the facts with which he is dealing.

      I studied under some very smart modernist Thomists as a philosophy major in college. My primary complaint with them was that, like Dr. Feser, they appeared to take the conclusions of modern physics more seriously and unquestioningly than they took the conclusions of their own field of inquiry. This is especially unfortunate in light of what more than one member of the theology department explained, that since Newtonian mechanics has outmoded Aristotelian physics, we cannot take the medieval definition of Transubstantiation at face value but must search for a more "current" understanding of the Real Presence.

      The result of this "scientific pusillanimity" (for lack of a better term) is to be forced into the kind of doublethink that is so typical of conservative Novus Ordos -- at first in matters of philosophy, but eventually it must extend to matters of faith.

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    3. Daniel,
      As an undergrad philosophy major myself, I thank you for your most intriguing insights. I learn from my readers! How would you classify Feser? I agree with much of what you stated.

      ---Introibo

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    4. Feser has a pretty great rundown of the different schools of 20th century Thomism on his blog:

      http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2009/10/thomistic-tradition-part-i.html
      http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2009/10/thomistic-tradition-part-ii.html

      At the end of Part II, he says that his main influences are the Neo-Scholastics, the River Forest school, and the so-called "Analytical" Thomists. His CV suggests that, like me, he's a do-it-yourself Thomist who converted after being trained in modern philosophy at a public school; so it would be difficult to pin him down, but perhaps "Analytical Thomism" would be closer to the truth than Neo-Scholasticism. I would hesitate to call myself a Neo-Scholastic for the same reason, because although I am not aware of any respect in which I depart from the Neo-Scholastics, my background is eclectic and my schooling quite incomplete.

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    5. Thanks for the information Daniel!

      ---Introibo

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  3. The Theory of Everything would not be the unification of quantum mechanics with the theory of relativity? Does Hawking extend it to the explanation of the entire universe without God?

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    1. Yes. The universe is self-caused and God is eliminated from the equation.

      ---Introibo

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  4. Stephen Hawking reminds me of this Biblical verse
    "The more your knowledge increases,the more your sorrow will increase"

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    1. True. Perhaps the old saying, "Ignorance is Bliss" holds true is some cases! LOL


      ---Introibo

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  5. I have to say once again, what a great blog, and what great contributiuons from the readers. Thanks for that, Introibo.

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    1. Thank you for the kind words, Mike. I never thought that when I started this blog 7 years ago, it would build up to where it is today! I have an ever growing readership, and the vast majority are people like myself, trying to make their Catholic way through these extraordinary times of the Great Apostasy.

      To inform of the evils and dangers of both the V2 sect and modern society, as well as discussion of the Truths of the Faith and problems unique to our times has always been my goal.

      Whatever good has come from this blog, I give all credit and glory to God. I receive no money from my writing and my ID is strictly secret, so I get no fame (or infamy as some would claim!). Not only do I keep my family and friends safe from the repercussions of my outspoken beliefs, but there is no room for personal attacks. The arguments stand and fall on merit alone, and no credit is given me; except, I hope, by Christ in the next world.

      Traditionalists have here a forum to learn from each other. I have learned a lot from my readers.

      It's the good people like you, Mike, and the contributions you make by commenting, that keep me writing!

      God bless,

      ---Introibo

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  6. Do you trust their Holy Orders?
    http://tridentinerite.org/episcopal-succession/

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    1. No. Without more evidence provided than that which is on the web page, I would stay away. Bishop Hnilica was ordained in September of 1950 and consecrated in January of 1951 by Cardinal Korec---a mere 4 months later by order of PopePius XII. Bp. Hnilica's job was to work behind the Iron Curtain.

      His alleged Consecration of Emmanuel Korab in 1999 is suspicious (to say the least). Bp. Hnilica always remained in the good graces of the Modernist Vatican, something that NEVER would occur had he consecrated a Traditionalist Bishop. Bp. Hnilica died in 2006 at the age of 86. I would need to see a declaration signed and sworn by him that such a consecration took place. Were there witnesses as was the case with Bps. Thuc, Lefebvre, and Mendez? The site speaks of consecration "sub conditione"---I.e., conditionally given. Was Korab a properly trained and previously a bishop? In the V2 sect or some other sect? Was he conditionally ordained a priest first in case those orders were invalid? The site is very unclear and mentions "sub conditione" more than once.

      I have never heard of Bp. Hnilica so acting until recently. Without a lot of hard core evidence, I wouldn't accept their orders as valid.


      ---Introibo

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    2. They claim Bp.Gaston-Lopez ordained Bp.Korab in 1994.

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    3. Do they have PROOF? I can claim anything---whether or not I can substantiate it is another story! It also doesn't even begin to answer the other problems I pointed out!

      ---Introibo

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  7. The anecdote concerning Louis Pasteur sounds nice, but I've been told it's apocryphal, that Pasteur did not refer to the incident in any of his journals or speeches, and the "young scientist" has never been identified. There are several versions of the story anyhow. One has the young atheist remaining seated next to Pasteur until the latter got off the train at his station.

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    1. It maybe apocryphal, but it teaches us a great lesson; science and God are not in conflict. Our Lord spoke to us in Parables. We don't know if there was a literal Good Samaritan or not, but the timeless truth the story conveyd is what really matters.

      I can see it being true concerning Dr. Pasteur. The 1913 Catholic Encyclopedia has this to say concerning him:

      "Pasteur's faith was as genuine as his science. In his panegyric of Littré, whose fauteuil he took, he said:

      Happy the man who bears within him a divinity, an ideal of beauty and obeys it; and ideal of art, and ideal of science, an ideal of country, and ideal of the virtues of the Gospel.
      These words are graven above his tomb in the Institut Pasteur. In his address Pasteur said further "These are the living springs of great thoughts and great actions. Everything grows clear in the reflections from the Infinite". Some of his letters to his children breathe profound simple piety. He declared "The more I know, the more nearly is my faith that of the Breton peasant. Could I but know all I would have the faith of a Breton peasant woman." What he could not above all understand is the failure of scientists to recognize the demonstration of the existence of the Creator that there is in the world around us. He died with his rosary in his hand, after listening to the life of St. Vincent de Paul which he had asked to have read to him, because he thought that his work like that of St. Vincent would do much to save suffering children."

      Quite a man of science AND faith, whether that particular story turns out to be a pious legend or not!
      God bless,

      ---Introibo

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  8. Read the latest entry at Rad Trad blog entitled "Irish Piety".
    It's my belief that any association with the Novus Ordo will eventually lead to personal corruption and demonic scoffing at others.
    "Evil has a way of betraying itself in plain view,even if unintentioned."
    -Bishop Louis Vezelis

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