Saturday, December 31, 2016

The Argument From Core Theory

The most successful scientific theory ever that gives us the most accurate predictions in all of science is quantum field theory. It says that particles and forces arise out of fields. When the fields vibrate, we observe those vibrations in the form of particles. Particles are made up of two kinds of fields, fermions and bosons. Bosons make up force fields. An example would be the Higgs field, which gives particles matter. Fermions make up the objects of matter that you and I are made of.

There are basically only three kinds of matter particles and three forces that you and I are made up of. Protons and neutrons, which make up the nucleus of atoms, and orbiting electrons, are the three matter particles. Then there are the three forces in the Standard Model: the strong and the weak nuclear force and electromagnetism. The strong force binds the nucleus of atoms together (and the quarks that make up protons and neutrons), the weak force allows interaction with neutrinos and are carried by W and Z bosons, and electromagnetism binds electrons with the nucleus.

Then there's gravity, for which we use the General Theory of Relativity to describe. Gravity is a very weak force and is very simple: everything pulls on everything else. It could be said that gravity isn't really a force per se, but is rather the curvature of spacetime. Regardless, it's just easier to describe it as a force. There are two other generations of fermions but they decay rather quickly and aren't particularly relevant for describing the stuff that you and I are made of and interact with.

So that makes up everything you experience in your everyday lives, without exception. When we combine all this knowledge into a single theory, we get what is called Core Theory. It was developed and named by Nobel Laureate Frank Wilczek. And there's an equation that describes Core Theory:

Within this equation lies the physics of everyday human experience: eating, exercising, sleeping, dreaming, using a computer, driving a car, flying an airplane, reproducing, making decisions, meditating — everything you've ever done, ever seen, or ever will do (so long as you don't travel into a black hole), and every scientific experiment that has been performed is fundamentally described by, and compatible with, this equation. There are no exceptions.

The key word above is fundamentally. That means that whatever you experience yourself doing or seeing in your everyday life is going to be either reduced to and explained by, or emerges from, the fermions and bosons described by this equation. But this means there are consequences to this equation. As all-encompassing as Core Theory is, what it restricts is perhaps the most important.

One of its consequences is that psychic phenomena like telekinesis is ruled out. There are no forces or particles that your mind can produce that can bend spoons or move objects. In other words, we don't need to test the claims of every self-proclaimed psychic and mentalist. Core Theory unambiguously rules out such abilities. There's no way for there to be forces that can produce the kinds of effects mentalists claim they can cause. There's no room with in Core Theory to allow that. It isn't that we don't know of possible forces that might still exist "out there" waiting to be discovered that can allow spoon bending with one's mind, rather it's that we know all the relevant particles and forces and how they interact that are involved with the physics of everyday human experience, which telekinesis would be a part of. Any new force or particle that exists would be far too weakly interacting with the atoms that make up spoons or you and I to be able to effect them in any way like the mentalists claim they can do. This is why no psychic phenomena has ever been able to be demonstrated under any competent scientific scrutiny.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Timeline Of The World's Revelations

If theism (which is the belief in a creator god that has revealed itself to us via revelation) is true, and especially if Abrahamic theism is true, then this graphic below depicts how the all-knowing, all-powerful, and wise creator chose to reveal its authentic messages to us to ensure humanity wouldn't get confused over it.

Newly Updated 'Scale Of Belief' Charting The Relationships Between Atheism, Agnosticism, & Theism

I've updated a chart that maps out the basic relationships between atheism, agnosticism, and theism, and their respective statements or beliefs. Atheism is sub-categorized into gnostic and agnostic forms, and further sub-categorized into strong, moderate, and weak forms, along with agnosticism and theism, which allows for a 9 point scale of belief from atheism to theism.

No chart will ever satisfy everyone though. While atheism and theism are generally about belief, agnosticism is about knowledge. But gnostic atheism and theism both make claims to knowledge, and that's why they both come in gnostic and agnostic forms.

This chart also doesn't include other isms like pantheism and deism, so believers in those views might be disappointed in this scale. It isn't supposed to cover every possible god option, just the scale between atheism and theism.

So where do you fall in this category? Feel free to link or share this chart.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Watch PBS Space Time

I'm a big fan of the PBS Digital Studios series Space Time. If you're a physics geek like me you catch pretty much every episode that's come out. And if you aren't, you should. The series covers the numerous areas of physics from classical mechanics, to special and general relativity, to quantum mechanics and its various interpretations. Some episodes get a little deep into the equations, but that's the good part. It's fun to challenge yourself a bit. It's a great educational video series. This episode covers a bit of special relativity, which is my favorite scientific theory. Watch it. Enjoy. Get addicted.

A Critique Of "Why I Am Not an Atheist Anymore"

I came across a recent blog post called Why I Am Not an Atheist Anymore and I decided to write a critique of it here since the site it's on doesn't allow comments. It's interesting to see where and how an atheist becomes convinced that god exists. Since I've written before on Why I'm An Atheist and I know the arguments for and against god very well, I can see where this post goes wrong. What I'm going to do is just take certain quotes from the piece and offer my thoughts and criticisms, exactly as if I was leaving a comment. So here we go. It starts out with criticism of atheists themselves:

One of the first things that bothered me about Atheists is how they would often act like they had proven something, when all they can and have ever done is try to do dismantle arguments and discredit evidence for Theism. A classic question is, ‘What proof or evidence can one give for Atheism?’. Seriously, try to think of one and you’ll be stuck.

I can think of one. It's not true that you can't prove a negative, although most people don't realize this. There is at least one way to prove a negative: demonstrate that the idea or thing is self-contradictory. I attempted to do just that in my piece Why I'm An Atheist with god. I don't think god is a fully coherent concept. Not many atheists are aware of such an argument. But an atheist is just someone who at the bare minimum lacks belief in any gods. It's what I call "bare minimum atheism." Once you meet that classification, you're an atheist. So an atheist doesn't have to prove god doesn't exist. An atheist merely has to say at a bare minimum, "The existence of god is unlikely, so I'm willing to say I don't believe in god," whereas the agnostic says, "I have no idea if god exists. It is unknowable." In other words, atheism is a claim to belief, agnosticism is a claim to knowledge.

As Neil Degrasse Tyson said, “There is no Anti-Golf… why is there Anti-God?” He’s an agnostic, which is really what most Atheists really mean when they say they don’t believe in God.

No, Tyson is technically an atheist, not an agnostic. Tyson has repeatedly said he remains "unconvinced" there is any god, and lacking belief in a god is the very definition of an atheist. He calls himself an agnostic but that's because he doesn't like the label "atheist" due to its perceived negative connotations. You see, agnostics are actually atheists. Since agnostics do not positively believe in a god, they lack belief, and lacking belief in a god is atheism. Agnosticism is really a form of weak atheism. See Agnosticism vs Atheism for more information and this scale of belief:

Saturday, December 24, 2016

'Tisn't The Season

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

This Season Give In A Way That REALLY Matters

With the Trump cabinet shaping up to be a secular liberal's nightmare, this holiday season it's more important than ever to give the gift that really matters. And what gift is that you ask? That gift is donating money to any of the leading secular or atheist organizations that fight for our rights as atheists so that we're treated equally and free from discrimination, and that maintain the wall of separation Jefferson wrote of.

So just the other day I got out my credit card and I donated to three of the nation's leading secular organizations dedicated to keeping America secular and promoting and advancing the secular worldview. They need your money now more than ever. Secularists might be facing in the next presidential administration the toughest legal and policy battles they've ever had to fight in more than a generation.

These organizations will need money for lawyers, for outreach, for educational campaigns, and for fighting the numerous legal battles that are surely going to happen once Trump takes office on January 20th. I do my small part on my little corner of the web but the real soldiers on the front line maintaining the wall of separation are the activists in organizations like these.

So please consider donating even just a small amount of money, $10 or so, to help them fund the many challenges that the Religious Right, under Donald Trump and Mike Pence, are going to push.

This season please give the gift that really matters.

What's American Atheist's mission? From their site:

American Atheists, Inc. is a nonprofit, nonpolitical, educational organization dedicated to the complete and absolute separation of state and church, accepting the explanation of Thomas Jefferson that the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States was meant to create a "wall of separation" between state and church.

Their mission is to increase the visibility of and respect for nontheistic viewpoints in the United States, and to protect and strengthen the secular character of our government as the best guarantee of freedom for all.

You can even donate in Mike Pence's name by clicking here.

What's the FFRF's purpose? From their site:

The purposes of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, Inc., as stated in its bylaws, are to promote the constitutional principle of separation of state and church, and to educate the public on matters relating to nontheism.


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