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Blunderov
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Science Cannot Fully Describe Reality, Says Templeton Prize Winner
« on: 2009-03-18 09:34:40 »
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[Blunderov] Is it just me or is this just the so-called "God of the Gaps" reheated and served with a sprinkle of quantum flapdoodle?

http://www.3quarksdaily.com/3quarksdaily/2009/03/science-cannot-fully-describe-reality-says-templeton-prize-winner.html

Science Cannot Fully Describe Reality, Says Templeton Prize Winner


From Science:

What is reality? French physicist Bernard d'Espagnat, 87, has spent a lifetime grappling with this question. Over the years, he has developed the idea that the reality revealed by science offers only a "veiled" view of an underlying reality that science cannot access, and that the scientific view must take its place alongside the reality revealed by art, spirituality, and other forms of human inquiry. In recognition of these efforts, d'Espagnat has won this year's Templeton Prize, a 1 million ($1.4 million) award sponsored by the Templeton Foundation, which supports research at the intersection of science, philosophy, and religion.

In classical physics, what you see is what you get: Any measurement is presumed to reveal an intrinsic quality--mass, location, velocity--of the thing measured. But in quantum mechanics, things aren't so clear-cut. In general, the measurement of a quantum object can yield a range of possible outcomes, so that the original quantum state must be regarded as indefinite. More perplexing still are "entangled" states in which, despite being physically separated, two or more quantum objects remain linked, so that a measurement of one affects the measurements of the others (ScienceNOW, 13 August 2008).

Albert Einstein and others objected to the implications of these lines of thought and insisted that quantum mechanics was an incomplete theory precisely because it did not support old-fashioned literal realism. But that's a lost cause, says d'Espagnat, who studied particle physics early in his career. Instead, he has concluded that physicists must abandon nave realism and embrace a more sophisticated philosophy of reality. Quantum mechanics allows what d'Espagnat calls "weak objectivity," in that it predicts probabilities of observable phenomena in an indisputable way. But the inherent uncertainty of quantum measurements means that it is impossible to infer an unambiguous description of "reality as it really is," he says. He has proposed that behind measured phenomena exists what he calls a "veiled reality" that genuinely exists, independently of us, even though we lack the ability to fully describe it.*

[Bl.] This does not seem to me to be a startling new conclusion. There is "that of which we cannot speak". This has been well known for quite some time. What science does is speak about the things that it can rely upon to make accurate predictions. To bombast that "reality" means also those things about which we can never know seems unnecessarily skeptical. A veiled reality may, or may not, exist. So what?That does not mean there is a god, or for that matter, gods just in case that is what The Templeton Institute is attempting to imply.




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Re:Science Cannot Fully Describe Reality, Says Templeton Prize Winner
« Reply #1 on: 2009-03-18 10:45:13 »
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The facts are that he is a Catholic, his personal theology is clearly compatible with the Templeton Foundation, and like other particle physicists before him, he descends into mysticism when he runs out of notions.

There really is no forgiving institutions that allow people like this to use their tenure as a pulpit. A moderately competent opponent would be devastating to his confused concepts, but his position shields him from this; leaving lazy thinking to multiply in the gaps. A moments consideration of his claims will show that he is baffled by evolution and, like Bohr (and other mystics) is describing a "veiled reality," based in "quantum mystics" to try to explain the origins of ideas.

A quick Google for "Quantum mysticism" will show that there is absolutely nothing new in his articulation and that he conforms to all the stereotypes of both quantum mystics and Templeton awardees.

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« Last Edit: 2009-03-20 03:35:53 by Hermit » Report to moderator   Logged

With or without religion, you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion. - Steven Weinberg, 1999
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Re:Science Cannot Fully Describe Reality, Says Templeton Prize Winner
« Reply #2 on: 2009-03-24 22:37:41 »
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otoh PZ Myers notes:

The physicist Bernard d'Espagnat has won the Templeton Prize. I don't think much of the Templeton; I think it's a rather devious organization that's trying to sidle in support for superstition under the guise of science. However, in this case I have to commend their choice for the nice remark he made on receiving the award.

Quote:
In a statement d'Espagnat said "I feel myself deeply in accordance with the Templeton Foundation's great, guiding idea that science does shed light [on spirituality]. In my view it does so mainly by rendering unbelievable an intellectual construction claiming to yield access to the ultimate ground of things with the sole use of the simple, somewhat trivial notions everybody has."

Oh, snap.
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Re:Science Cannot Fully Describe Reality, Says Templeton Prize Winner
« Reply #3 on: 2009-03-25 14:15:03 »
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While it is clearly a matter of interpretation, after reading altogether too much  written by d'Espagnat before writing my previous opinion, I think that Pharyngula has it precisely the wrong way around. To me it seems as if d'Espagnat was merely reiterating his opinion that the "sole use of the simple, somewhat trivial notions" of nature as explained through the scientific process does not "yield access to the ultimate ground of things ."

While leaving open the "ultimate ground of things" (life, the universe, and everything?) a meaningful question for d'Espagnat is, "what things other than the "simple, somewhat trivial notions" of nature as explained through the scientific process are required to "yield access to the ultimate ground of things ."  I think that the reason that he was awarded the Templeton prize is that his answer is "religion".

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With or without religion, you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion. - Steven Weinberg, 1999
Blunderov
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Re:Science Cannot Fully Describe Reality, Says Templeton Prize Winner
« Reply #4 on: 2009-03-25 15:52:11 »
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Quote from: Hermit on 2009-03-25 14:15:03   

...While leaving open the "ultimate ground of things" (life, the universe, and everything?) ...

[Blunderov] Yes, what does that mean? It makes my tail go all bushy too. It seems to be a circumlocution for that "first cause" special pleading to which we all have been so relentlessly subjected. And this, some might argue, is precisely why religion is so universal in human culture; we are unable to conceive of anything that is "uncaused" because our experience contains no violations of that principle. But, as has now been discovered, at the quantum scale it is simply not possible to speak in terms of cause and effect. Following from this, it is not obvious to me that there necessarily is an "ultimate ground of things" in any way of which it is sensible to speak.

(Oh, and anyway, I'm not at all sure that science has in fact ever claimed to provide access to such a thing as "the ultimate ground of things". This seems to me to be very dubious assertion. Sly, even.)
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