Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Paper: Gravity from Quantum Non-Linearity

The above paper can be downloaded in PDF format from here.

Some years ago, quite by accident, I found myself making a foray into the arcane world of quantum gravity. At the time I had no grandiose intention of looking into this problem; the whole thing seemed well beyond me. I could not, however, avoid circumstances that conspired to ping into my head some ideas that looked to me as though they were worth pursuing and I just couldn’t resist following them into the unknown! I ended up writing this self-published book about my explorations [published Nov 2004]. I saw little point in my wasting a lot of emotional effort and time trying to get the book published by unwilling established publishers. I wanted to get the project off my desk and clear that desk for my next project. Print On Demand provided the solution. Thanks to AuthorsOnline I got my ISBN number at break neck speed  and now my ideas are well and truly committed to the one way street of history. 

The story of just how all this came about can be found in an essay I posted as one of my very first posts of this blog

The paper I have linked to above is a much shorter rendition of the book. In 2011 I revisited the arguments in the book and found a cleaner and more direct approach to the subject. The paper is only 18 pages long – about 8300 words, as opposed to the book’s 48,000 words and 300 equations. (However, the book does contain many insights that I was unable to incorporate into a short paper.)

I have no connections with academia and have little familiarity with the paths they are treading. I’m an independent hobbyist with enough time on his hands to escape the humdrum exigencies of existence by exploring some fascinating trails into the unknown. Understandably, academia can be affronted and even hostile toward  independents outside of their culture who have the audacity to dabble in their very own subject.  After all there are, as we well know, many anti-establishment cranks and conspiracy theorists out there on whom academia should not be wasting its precious time. Consequently, I've kept my contact with them to a bare minimum. But as I remember Fred Hoyle once putting it so well: Some people regard a domain of knowledge as their personal property! That kind of all too human fault can be found on all sides and even academia has its own eccentricities 

It is unlikely that I’ve “solved the problem”, so to speak. I'm sure there are professional academics out there who could tell me why my proposed "solution" doesn't work. In the meantime ignorance is bliss; I have to admit that I still find the basic ideas I stumbled upon neat and compelling (I suppose I would say that!). No new gravitational particle has to be invented: Gravity is a fairly natural outcome of relativistic quantum mechanics. The quantum waves of matter naturally affect one another via a nonlinearity that modifies the space-time metric. I was even inexorably lead into the subject of dark matter and and dark energy. I touch upon these subjects in the paper, thus blazing a trail (or a garden path more like) from the micro world of quantum theory to the macro world of the cosmos!

Note: The picture published above comes from

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Planet Narnia: Part 2

 As we saw in the first part of this series the primary theme of Michael Ward’s book (“Planet Narnia”) is to show that C. S. Lewis’s Seven Chronicles of Narnia were intended to recreate the touch and feel of the mediaeval seven planet astrological cosmos. In this second part I want to trace a secondary theme found in Ward’s book: That is, with the coming of the Copernican revolution there followed a sense of disenchantment and apparent demystification of the once sacred cosmos. Let Ward set the scene: 

Looking up at the heavens now, Lewis argues, is a very different experience from what it was in the Middle Ages. Now we sense that we are looking out into a trackless vacuity, pitch-black and dead cold. Then we would have felt as if we were looking into a vast lighted concavity P23.

 For obvious reasons Lewis refers to the Ptolemaic astrological cosmos as a “Discarded image”: Lewis revelled in this image says Ward: 

Lewis makes no effort to hide the pleasure he derives from this view of the cosmos. He remarks the human imagination has seldom entertained an object so sublimely ordered; the medieval universe was ‘tingling with anthropomorphic life, dancing, ceremonial, a festival not a machine’. P24 
And it was because he thought it beautiful that Lewis so revelled in the pre-Copernican cosmos. P27 

In a quote taken from Lewis’s Ransom Trilogy Ward conveys to us the contrast in mood invoked by the old and new cosmologies respectively: In the following passage we find Lewis putting his thoughts about these cosmologies into the head of his main character, Ransom: 

A nightmare, long engendered in the modern mind by the mythology that follows in the wake of science was falling off him. He had read of ‘Space’: at the back of his thinking for years had lurked the dismal fancy of the black, cold vacuity, the utter deadness, which was supposed to separate worlds. He had not known how much it affected him till now – now that the very name ‘Space’ seemed a blasphemous libel for this empyrean ocean of radiance in which they swam. He could not call it ‘dead’; he felt life pouring into him from it every moment. How indeed should it be otherwise, since out of this ocean the worlds and all their life has come? He had thought it barren; he now saw that it was the womb of worlds whose blazing and innumerable offspring looked down nightly even upon the Earth with so many eyes – and here, with how many more. No: space was the wrong name. Older thinkers had been wiser when they named it simply the heavens – the heavens which declared the glory – the “Happy chimes that ly. Where day never shuts his eye. Up in the broad fields of the sky.” He quoted Milton’s words to himself lovingly, at this time and often. P25 

Lewis is telling us here that our understanding of the meaning of the modern cosmological picture is deficient of much needed emotional vitamins; that understanding fails to fully satisfy our appetite for majesty and mystery and, I suspect, above all, it apparently fails to give humanity that centrality of purpose and position which is implicit in the Ptolemaic universe. But, in my view, modern science is beginning to offer a new kind of empyrean that acts as the hook for our deep seated need for the harmony and purpose that stirs our passions. “Space”, so called, is filled with the quantum ferment of possibility and pervaded by the high temperature medium of gravity; “Space” is the forge in which worlds are formed. (See my posts here for my efforts at trying to make human sense of the cosmic perspective) 

According to Ward, Lewis’s writing of the Ransom trilogy was motivated in part by a desire to address the problem of the disconsolate reaction to the modern cosmological model: 

Following the Copernican revolution, astronomy and astrology became gradually distinct and the former prospered while the latter fell on hard times. P 29 
Milton straddled the old and new views of the cosmos; he marked the transition to the new disenchanted model of the universe from the traditional one which stretched back in time immemorial. The Ransom trilogy… is in large part an attempt to rehabilitate that traditional conception. P26 
There has been no delight (of that sort) in “nature” since the old cosmology was rejected. No one can respond in just the same way to the Einsteinian, or even the Newtonian, universe. P235 

There is still, of course, delight and wonder in nature, but according to Lewis, (according to Ward) that delight is no longer supplemented by an overarching sense of a sublime purpose or belief that the cosmos is  a wonderful magical and mystery show and as such part of a higher context that imbues it with meaning. Ward quotes Lewis as follows: 

By reducing Nature to her mathematical elements it substituted a mechanical for a genial or animistic conception of the universe. The world was emptied, first of her indwelling spirits, then of her occult sympathies, finally of her colours, smells and tastes (Kepler at the beginning of his career explained the motion of the planets by their anima motrices; before he died, he explained it mechanically) The result was dualism rather than materialism. The mind, on whose ideal constructions the whole method depended stood over against its object in ever sharper dissimilarity. Man with his new powers became rich like Midas but all that he touched had gone dead and cold. This process, slowly working, ensured during the next century the loss of the old mythical imagination; the conceit, and later the personified abstraction, takes its place. Later still, as a desperate attempt to bridge the gulf which begins to be found intolerable, we have the Nature poetry of the Romantics. Page 241 

Very telling I think is Lewis suggestion here that dualism is a product of the mind’s alienation and estrangement from its cosmic setting; this is something I myself have been aware of. And when it is not dualism it is an out and out materialism. As Ward himself adds: 

The seeing eye that has stared through the Telescopes in the post-Copernican period has typically been an eye with ‘single vision’, one which notices matter and mechanism and little or nothing else. P243 

Much of the material I have quoted from Ward I find very reminiscent of William Irwin Thompson’s reaction to modern science. Thompson’s reaction can be gauged in the two posts I did on his two books “At the Edge of History” and Passages about Earth. If Lewis calls for the rehabilitation of the medieval mystical regard for the Cosmos (although not for the mediaeval cosmological model itself) then Thompson looks for the re-establishment of a “Pythagorean” science: 

We somehow have to outflank the ignorant armies of the Left and Right to find the space and time to convert our industrial technology to new kind of Pythagorean science. (At the Edge of History P75) 

As we have seen in the quotes above Lewis talks about the relation between the loss of the old mythological imagination and man’s resulting sense of alienation from his home in the cosmos, and this in turn leads to a dualistic philosophy of spirit vs. matter. (Either that or a monistic philosophy of materialism). Thompson’s views resonate with Lewis here: 

There is indeed a “mythopeic mentality”, but it is not restricted to precivilised man, but is to be found in geniuses as different as Boehme, Kepler, Blake, Yeats, Wagner, Heisenberg, and that student of Boehme’s theory of action and reaction, Isaac Newton. Myth is not an early level of human development, but an imaginative description of reality in which the known is related to the unknown……(At the Edge of History P170) 
Birth and death are ultimately confusing; to make sense of them we will have to make our peace with myth…. At the edge of history, history itself can no longer help us and only myth remains equal to reality. ……(At the Edge of History P205) 

A mythos vs. logos tension is chronic in our culture today; when this tension doesn’t end with a sense of emptiness and meaningless attempts are made to resolve it with pathological religious responses such as the gnosticism of the Jesus swoon-ins or the corrupted and caricatured science of the young earth creationists. In their dissonance and inconsonance Christian fundamentalists are returning to geocentrism in order to make human sense of the cosmos: From Gerardus Bouw, through John Byle to Answers in Genesis, we have here fundamentalists whose perverse science of cosmology is leading to some kind of geocentricsm – very directly sense in the case of Bouw and indirectly in the case of other YECs who inexorably move toward geocentric cosmologies. (As a result of geocentrism being implicit in their handling of time) The intellectually pathological state of fundamentalist Christianity as it thrashes over failed cosmological models, has, I propose, a lot to do with the difficulty in coping with the disconsolate feelings invoked by the symmetries that science is uncovering. be continued...


Some posts  where I have touched on material relevant to the above can be found using these links :

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Jason Lisle Replies?

I have just had an anonymous reply to my critique of Jason Lisle's attempt to solve the Star Light problem. The point made by "anonymous" is in error and perhaps I will deal with it in detail in due course.

If you're out there Jason can you first claim the responsibility for your post and your error? (Or who ever it is). Frankly, it is time ill spent explaining in detail  to every anonymous YEC who comes along and who has convinced themselves of an error just where they have gone wrong. If you want a proper discussion unveil yourself. If not the clue is: "Think cones" and you will begin to see where you have badly erred. And next time, can you do me the curtsey of reading my post properly rather jumping to an erroneous conclusion? I find your righteous tones hard to take given that you can't even be bothered to engage with the material properly and instead furtively lurk unidentified..


PS See the link below for the new comment, which as a working hypothesis I'm going to assume is from Jason Lisle.

PPS If I am are dealing with Jason Lisle here I bear in mind one thing: He has a heck of lot to lose in terms of his YEC standing. So if it is him who has replied that may be why he wishes to remain anonymous. I don't want to pander to that kind of social vanity.

28/05/12: Latest Bulletin: I have had a second reply from the person signed in as anonymous (Follow link above). The person claims not to be Jason Lisle. That may be good news: The person signing on was clearly unaware of the gravitational field that Jason's "ASC" model generates. Thus, it is still possible that for Jason the realisation has dawned, although he is not broadcasting it if it has! I have advised the person concerned to take the problems back to Jason himself. 

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Six Feet Above Contradiction

I recently got an alert that "Quantum Non-Linearity" had been linked to from a site named “”, the blog of none other than Jason Lisle the author of one of the latest attempts to solve the Young Earth Creationist starlight problem. The link from Lisle's blog was to my critique of Lisle’s theory and was made in the comments section of a blog entry entitled “Research at ICR” dated April 20th. The person making the link is an astrophysics student named Jacob Harper who generally criticizes YEC, but includes the starlight problem in his criticism:

“The Starlight Problem” is your biggest problem. I’ve looked into it, and you claim to propose a solution. You infer a *changing* speed of light over time.
I’m not much of a physicist as of yet and even I can see the problems with such a baseless assertion. Just by googling this, I found quite the eloquent response:

Yes, I think Jacob is right in saying that this is their biggest problem, but my guess is that he seems to have confused my reference to “metric differentials” with a changing speed of light. One of Lisle's admirers who signs on as “Nick L”, does Lisle’s job for him and attacks Jacob’s points. In particular he defends Lisle on the starlight problem:

The supposed problem involving distant starlight is really not the ‘problem’ it is often presented to be by secular scientists. You said that you’ve researched Dr. Lisle’s stance on this subject, but you mistakenly attribute to him the theory of a change in the speed of light. If you’re interested in a more plausible explanation that Dr. Lisle has written on in depth, I recommend looking up his article on Anisotropic Synchrony Convention in the Answers Research Journal. I think you will find the ARJ more instructive on this particular point than Google.

Lisle backs up his supporter:

Nick – that was an excellent reply. Thanks for chiming in. Jacob apparently hasn’t read much on this issue or given it much thought, and you gave some great starting points for him to begin to study it.

Clearly Lisle isn’t going to enlighten Nick L as to the weaknesses of his starlight “solution” thus helping to perpetuate the general impression amongst YECs that the problem has been ameliorated.  At the end of my original article I wrote:

In the YEC community the scientific quality of its papers is less crucial than the role they serve in the wider YEC culture. The average fundagelical supporter who doesn’t understand science can, if challenged on the issue of Star light travel time, simply point to papers such as Lisle’s with the misplaced confidence that the matter is in hand. From his perspective this paper comes out of the stable that runs the impressive Ken Ham Creation Museum, a museum where no expense has been spared and whose lavish (if tacky*) exhibits must stun and awe the average Christian fundamentalist. When one is immersed in such a heady patriarchal culture it must feel that it just can’t be wrong. Any challenge to such an awe inspiring source must look as though its coming from somewhere near the gates of hell and need not be engaged; after all, it’s in the hands of people like Jason Lisle and his AiG reviewers – what better authority and assurance can one ask for? Thus, whether right or wrong, Lisle's work serves to act as an important community myth.

We therefore see the very process I have described in action: Nick L remains profoundly ignorant as long as his faith in Lisle remains steadfast. Nick L believes he has no need to consider the starlight problem because he is so sure Lisle has it sorted or at least ameliorated. And Lisle connives with this false impression by his failure to disabuse Nick L of his faith.

Jason Lisle has since left AiG and joined the Institute of Creation Research. His original blog space on AiG now has just this terse message:  “This user has elected to delete their account and the content is no longer available”. As there appeared to be no fond farewells accompanying this career move by Lisle it looks quite likely that some kind of acrimonious bust-up occurred; not an uncommon occurrence amongst fundamentalists who, on all sides, are so sure they know the voice of God and are in His Will. The gloss given this matter, as with the starlight problem, is all part of the general field of blarney and sophistry that surrounds and permeates YEC culture, attracting the ignorant and keeping them in their place.

* "Kitschy" may be a better description.

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Atheist Theology

The Blank Slate Atheist is a rarity, even in the secular West.

I've been following with interest the atheist testimonies that PZ Myers has been publishing on his blog. Some of these testimonies, in a strange inverted sort of way, parallel the confessions of many Christians; there is a period of inconsonance and angst running up to a crisis that is ultimately resolved by some kind of final realization, peace of mind and sense of freedom. In fact if one swapped a few terms one might be able to pass off some of these atheist conversion experiences as Christian conversions. 

Recently, one of PZ’s testimonies caught my eye because it was a good example of what I refer to as Hunter’s Maxim (See the end of this post ): 

It is perhaps one of the great enigmas in religious thought that one can profess to be an agnostic, skeptic, or even atheist regarding belief in God yet still hold strong opinions about God. 

Below I publish some extracts from a confession found on PZ’s blog, dated 28th April 12. My main point is that this testimony is loaded with theology in Hunter’s sense; that is, it evidences a great deal of presumed knowledge about God. I don’t intend to give any quality responses to the theology expressed here; I’ll leave that to the theologians; it suffices to point out an example of Hunter’s maxim. 

However, there is one other point I would like to make. It is ironic that the question of God’s existence is a through and through empirical issue and the atheist confession below is a fine example of this: For it is plain that an implicit concept of God is being juxtaposed with the observed world in order to facilitate judgment on whether or not the God concept provides a framework which makes sense of that world. Now, we must not be naive enough to think that God is empirical in the formally testable sense that the elementary and low level objects of the physical sciences are; rather, the empirical “test” for God revolves around the question of whether God is the background narrative that connects the samples of one’s experience into a coherent frame work; from an epistemic angle God has always been a far more a-priori explanatory object than an inductive a-posteriori object. 

Atheists have a choice of either:

a) Accepting they have a sufficient conception of God to use this concept abductively against the empirical world in order to decide whether or not the “God narrative” makes sense of experience. 


b) Using a purely inductive approach which declares “God” to be an unintelligible idea until such a time that “he” can be constructed a-posterior from observation. 

Some atheists may find themselves between a rock and a hard place on this one: Either they have to accept Hunter’s maxim or they are thrown back onto the philosophically flawed practice of constructing narratives about the world purely inductively. Many atheists are instinctively drawn toward b) simply because they are very wary of getting into theological arguments they don't understand; they much prefer the idea that induction from observation rules OK; an approach that, generally speaking, is an epistemic non-starter. 

The author of the atheist testimony in question seems to be in category a) above; that is, one of having a lot of knowledge about God, but finding this knowledge fails to make sense of her perception of the world. Below are some excerpts from this correspondent interleaved with my own comments: 

 Because the universe and everything in it, and everything we know about how it works, makes much more sense if there is no god than if there is one. 

My Comment: Well, there you go! Ergo this person is working to some a-priori conception of God. This comment immediately draws the person into questions about the nature of God and his relationship with the cosmos. 

Because there is not and never has been any argument or “proof” of the existence of god(s), etc. that stood up to ANY honest, thorough, logical scrutiny. EVER. Not. Even. One. (And it’s not as if believers haven’t had *thousands* of years to come up with one, either.) 

My Comment: I don’t think anyone can expect to prove God’s existence any more than one expects to provide “proof” of evolution, say. The latter, for example, is a complex object entailing a history that is a highly disordered pattern of twists and turns (albeit under the constraint of fundamental laws). We are only ever likely to have a limited set of observational samples derived from this history. Evaluating the truth of evolution has much more to do with weight of evidence than proof. Moreover, much of evolution’s appeal is down to its retrospective interpretive success; many will claim that it makes sense of the diversity of species. Moreover, witness evolutionary psychology which majors on post-facto sense making narratives and is accordingly highly controversial. The same, but only more so, goes for the idea of God. But having made this comparison I must add that Theism, which deals with an even higher level object than evolution, is a lot less formally testable than the latter and proportionately a lot more controversial. 

Because of all the good things that religion does, *not one* requires religion or belief in god in order to happen. I don’t believe, yet I treat people ethically, I give to charity, I’m kind to animals. But there’s plenty of evil things that religion does that are either a direct result of religion, or are justified or made worse by it: misogyny, homophobia, racism, war, etc. 

My Comment: Here an observation to do with people’s ability to behave morally is being compared with expectations about what religion should entail. 

 Because “throughout history, every mystery ever solved has turned out to be NOT MAGIC.” (Thank you, Tim Minchin.) 

My Comment: Well, yes by definition! If we understand something it no longer looks like magic! Magic could be defined as “what you don’t understand”! 

Because the whole notion of the universe being created by a perfect being is nonsensical and self-contradictory. Perfection means no lack of anything, ergo no reason to create anything. And supposing such a being *did* create a universe and us, how did it manage to screw up so royally on so many things? I mean, putting our airway and esophagus right next to each other with just a little valve to stop food going down the wrong way? Really? That’s the best it can do? (True fact: I once damn near choked to death on an M&M. Not even a whole M&M, a fucking half-chewed fragment of an M&M. Tell me that’s not a design flaw.) 

My Comment: A highly theological argument! In fact the first part of it is pure theology in the sense that it concerns the internal consistency of the notion of God. Notice also how those observations on the configurations of life have a very important bearing on the assumed nature of God; the implicit concept of God being worked to here appears to be that of humunclus intelligent design.

Because, also supposing a perfect being created the universe and us, why would that supposedly perfect being give a flying fuck what we thought of it, or what we wanted? Ooh, what’s that? It loves us? Then why doesn’t it regrow amputated limbs? Why do kids die of cancer, etc.? Because their parents didn’t grovel just right? Why is my best friend a prisoner of crippling pain leaving her barely able to walk while evil assholes get to run around completely healthy all their lives? 

My Comment: The problem of pain and suffering! Highly theological and yet highly empirical at the same time! (Empirical in the sense that it revolves around the significance of those observations of seemingly pointless suffering) 

Because no one can agree on what this perfect creator being is, or what it looks like, or how it behaves, or what it wants. No one has seen it or heard it, so no one knows, and therefore they’re all just guessing. Billy Graham is just guessing. The Pope is just guessing. Imams and ayatollahs are just guessing. Rabbis are just guessing. And they’re all guessing based on their own culture and prejudices, not evidence. 

My Comment: This opens up the deep subject of divine revelation and grace; is religion just a guessing game or has it been aided by the revelation from a God who cares? If so where is that revelation? Presumably this person feels that nothing measures up to what would classify as a revelation.

Because “I feel it in my heart” sucks as an argument. 

My Comment: “feelings” are part of the pattern of observations one makes which are incorporated into one's world view narrative. But as an attempt at a gnostic killer argument based on a resort to inner light I would agree; it does suck as an argument!

Because “if you believe and you’re wrong you lose nothing, but if you don’t believe and you’re wrong you’ll go to hell” sucks as an argument. 

My Comment: Rather caricatured so I’ll have to agree. (Pascal's wager was a caricature as far as I'm concerned)

Because “god moves in mysterious ways/it’s not for us to question/it’s all for the best, we just can’t see it yet” all suck as arguments

My Comment: I agree. This evasion of challenging observations can be very frustrating to deal with.

Because if I tortured someone forever for not worshipping me — or actually for ANY reason — I’d be rightly considered a monster, a bully, an evil sick fuck… anything BUT a loving parent.

My Comment: I’ll concede that the attempts I have seen to justify the concept of a universal eternal hell are rubbish (Universal hell: the view that all but a small religious remnant who assent to a finicky system of beliefs and/or inner enlightenment will go to hell) 

Because if any set of beliefs demands that you NEVER question it under ANY circumstances, that is a *huge* red flag that it is a shitty belief system that you should get away from as fast as you can. 

My Comment: Although it would be wrong to charge all theists with such an accusation there are Christian sects out there who, to vary degrees of approximation, can be justifiably caricatured with the foregoing.


I've touched on the subject of atheists with a theology (or "atheology") in several posts - See below. In particular Larry Moran has been one of may favourites targets. In fact in the last of the posts linked to below I was honoured that he made an appearance in person!