Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Chuckle of the Day: Metaphysics

Recently posted on another forum:
Stephen Hawking, one of the most recognized authorities in physics, recently advanced the illogical and nonsensical argument that universes can create themselves out of nothing. Fortunately, Robert Spitzer and a number of other experts in the field of metaphysics refuted his egregious error.
Note that an expert in metaphysics corrected good professor Hawking.

How does one respond? Ah, yes: with Carl Sagan, from The Demon Haunted World:
At a dinner many decades ago, the physicist Robert W. Wood was asked to respond to the toast, "To physics and metaphysics." By "metaphysics," people then meant something like philosophy, or truths you could recognize just by thinking about them. They could also have included pseudoscience.

Wood answered along these lines: The physicist has an idea. The more he thinks it through, the more sense it seems to make. He consults the scientific literature. The more he reads, the more promising the idea becomes. Thus prepared, he goes to the laboratory and devises an experiment to test it. The experiment is painstaking. Many
possibilities are checked. The accuracy of measurement is refined, the error bars reduced. He lets the chips fall where they may. He is devoted only to what the experiment teaches. At the end of all this work, through careful experimentation, the idea is found to be worthless. So the physicist discards it, frees his mind from the clutter of error, and moves on to something else.

The difference between physics and metaphysics, Wood concluded as he raised his glass high, is not that the practitioners of one are smarter than the practitioners of the other. The difference is that the metaphysicist has no laboratory.


  1. Can you even articulate the cosmological argument?

  2. Why, yes I can. Do you have a particular version that you like?

    Any reason you seem to think I'm inarticulate and/or stupid? Or are you a wounded fan of metaphysics?

  3. Incidentally, thinking about the cosmological argument(s) against that quote by Sagan. A cosmological argument is the kind of idea that can today only be advocated by one who works without a laboratory.

  4. OK explain how the cosmological argument tackles the issue of infinite regress.

  5. Maybe you are new to blogs generally. If you have an argument to make, I suggest you make it. I'm happy to discuss it with you.

    I've talked about various forms of cosmological argument before. Do a search, you'll find my opinions and understandings easy enough.

    But I won't play your silly quiz game. If you're looking for an opportunity to say "I'm smarter than you are, nyah, nyah," then you might start by making a clear assertion and backing it up with strong evidence, preferably something with empirical grounding.

    So, ante up.

    And as a teaser: Is that really the question you want to ask, the cosmological argument "tackling" the issue of infinite regress? Really?

    I hope you're better than your question.

  6. >> And as a teaser: Is that really the question you want to ask, the cosmological argument "tackling" the issue of infinite regress? Really?

    Poor Glenn Beck imitation.

    And you clearly don't understand the cosmological argument. Yet you proceed to make fun of it.

    You may wanna take a course on metaphysics.

    I also bet that if I ask you to articulate the ontological argument you will not be able to.

  7. Poor little troll.

    Again, you need to understand how blogs work.

    If--and at this point, it's a big if--you have an argument to make, then stop sniveling and make it already.

    I have no patience for poseurs like you. Either make a case and defend it or I'll simply delete your childish "challenges" that can be met if you only take the time to search my site.

  8. Right I see how you pick the weakest articulated Cosmological Argument (Kalam) to dump on. Let's see if you can articulate how Aquinas' Cosmological Argument handles the issue of infinite regress.

    Here's the part where you get all defensive and we go back and forth a few posts, and then I articulate it for you, and then, you go "yeah I knew that all along."

    You basically seem to have committed the same fallacy as a man of religion thinking he's an expert in science in the vice versa.

  9. No, SJ, here's the part where I get the last word.

    If you actually had an argument, you would have made it. Perhaps we both would have learned something.

    But you prefer trolling, and you're not particularly good at it. Obviously, you are a bitter and confused person trying to find your way.

    Good luck to you, but I will now just delete your comments.

  10. Rambam8:58 AM

    The cosmological argument has its issues, but I do not think that Hawking is really addressing it. In fact, he writes popular science books for lay people, so I am not sure why anyone cares so much. I guess it has to do with theists absurdly trying to 'claim' hawking for all these years because of some vague statements about some very nontheistic God a while back.

    Hawking says universes can come from nothing because of the laws of physics, but the cosmological argument would simply ask where the laws of physics came from. It is a very childish argument because it just moves the goalposts further and further.

    The story will always be the same. That which we understand suggests no God is present or necessary, and theists will keep saying God is just over the horizon.

  11. By the way, SJ reminds me of the "Jewish Philosopher," except without the charm or humor.


Feel free to comment if you have something substantial and substantiated to say.