The Logic that Suggests all Serious Physicists Believe in God

In summary, the physicalness we observe in our universe is the result of the presence of mass. No mass, no observed gravity or relativity. No mass, no observable quantum effects. No mass, no stars or planets. No mass, no biology. No mass, no human beings. If physicists believe in God, and mass is a thought, then it follows that God is the thinker who proposed powerful enough to manifest the universe.
  • #1
Les Sleeth
Gold Member
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Most of the physicalness we observe in our universe is the result of the presence of mass. No mass, no observed gravity or relativity. No mass, no observable quantum effects. No mass, no stars or planets. No mass, no biology. No mass, no human beings.

No energy, no mass.

Mass and energy are equivalent. Mass can be converted to pure energy, and so if mass has an “essence,” energy is it.

I’ve quoted science writer Paul Davies before writing in his book Superforce about energy, “When an abstract concept becomes so successful that it permeates through to the general public, the distinction between real and imaginary becomes blurred. . . . This is what happened in the case of energy. . . . Energy is . . . an imaginary, abstract concept which nevertheless has become so much a part of our everyday vocabulary that we imbue it with concrete existence.”

Energy is a concept. No existential properties are allowed to be assigned to it.

If energy is an imaginary concept, the essence of mass is an imaginary concept.

A concept is a thought.

If energy is a thought, mass is a thought. A thought requires a thinker. The thinker proposed powerful enough to manifest the universe is God.

No serious physicist doubts E=mc^2.

Therefore, all physicists who believe mass and energy are equivalent, and who believe energy is only a concept also are stating, intentionally or not, that mass is a thought. And if mass is a thought, that suggests God thought it (Lifegazer was right afterall).

Physicists believe in God!

Anyone see a problem with my logic?
 
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  • #2
Les Sleeth said:
Most of the physicalness we observe in our universe is the result of the presence of mass. No mass, no observed gravity or relativity. No mass, no observable quantum effects. No mass, no stars or planets. No mass, no biology. No mass, no human beings.

No energy, no mass.

Mass and energy are equivalent. Mass can be converted to pure energy, and so if mass has an “essence,” energy is it.

I’ve quoted science writer Paul Davies before writing in his book Superforce about energy, “When an abstract concept becomes so successful that it permeates through to the general public, the distinction between real and imaginary becomes blurred. . . . This is what happened in the case of energy. . . . Energy is . . . an imaginary, abstract concept which nevertheless has become so much a part of our everyday vocabulary that we imbue it with concrete existence.”

Energy is a concept. No existential properties are allowed to be assigned to it.

If energy is an imaginary concept, the essence of mass is an imaginary concept.

A concept is a thought.

If energy is a thought, mass is a thought. A thought requires a thinker.

The physicist ...? :rolleyes:


The thinker proposed powerful enough to manifest the universe is God.

Nope.You lost the objectivity with this sentence.

Daniel.
 
  • #3
dextercioby said:
Nope.You lost the objectivity with this sentence.

Nope back atcha. :smile: If the massive universe is a thought, nothing I've ever heard suggested that could think things into existence has been other than God.
 
  • #4
Being part of a Universe you can not define what the Universe is

so this whole conversation, in fact, never took place.
 
  • #5
cronxeh said:
Being part of a Universe you can not define what the Universe is

so this whole conversation, in fact, never took place.

Well, maybe occasionally I get to be part of God when he/she/it sucks me into that realm . . . and from that purely objective standpoint, I have formulated this question.
 
  • #6
This proof seems to rely on the fact that matter equals energy which is a thought of God. Without matter then there is no energy and no God. There is always the question of where did the matter come from in the first place?
 
  • #7
Huckleberry said:
This proof seems to rely on the fact that matter equals energy which is a thought of God. Without matter then there is no energy and no God. There is always the question of where did the matter come from in the first place?

No, I don't claim my reasoning rises to the level of a proof. I said "suggests."

But, what I said was that since physicsts themselves claim that energy is only a concept, and matter is composed of energy, then matter too must be a concept. Who/what could think a concept with such force that it creates a universe?
 
  • #8
"The thinker proposed powerful enough to manifest the universe is God"
How do you come to claim this statement? As humans we have looked towards the stretches of our universe...and if we can do that...doesn't that imply that humans are the most powerful thinkers?
 
  • #9
neurocomp2003 said:
"The thinker proposed powerful enough to manifest the universe is God"
How do you come to claim this statement? As humans we have looked towards the stretches of our universe...and if we can do that...doesn't that imply that humans are the most powerful thinkers?

Looking, observing, admiring, analyzing, figuring out . . . that ain't creating is it? Do you equate art critics with Picasso? It's one thing to see, and another to create.
 
  • #10
Just for clarification, according to the suggestion the existence of God is not reliant on the existence of matter and energy? These are just concepts that he created and he exists seperately from them?
 
  • #11
Huckleberry said:
Just for clarification, according to the suggestion the existence of God is not reliant on the existence of matter and energy? These are just concepts that he created and he exists seperately from them?

I can't say. I am not trying to say anything about God, I am trying to focus on the logic of energy and it's equivalency to mass. I think it's a mistake to move this to metaphysics, I am not trying to make a metaphysical statement at all. Just because I try to make the point tongue in cheek doesn't mean there isn't something worthwhile to consider. :cry:
 
  • #12
Not saying anything about God will make any discussion difficult because it is included in your conclusion. Is there a more complicated term we should refer to other than God? It may be better if a longer term is used because people can form an immediate opinion upon seeing the word God and have difficulty being objective to logic. Maybe supreme thinker would be more appropriate?

By the logic of your argument are mass and energy required for the existence of a supreme thinker, or just as evidence of one?

I believe that I can think(some would argue this point :wink: ), and yet I cannot create energy or mass.
 
  • #13
Huckleberry said:
Not saying anything about God will make any discussion difficult because it is included in your conclusion.

Not really. I was trying to tease. If you read Paul Davies explanation of energy that I quoted, that pretty well sums up the physicist's theory. My logical sense is majorly disturbed by the fact that energy is said to be only a concept, yet without energy there is no mass, and we know that no mass, no universe. So how can it be that a concept is foundation of the universe?

Physicists generally deny the need for God to explain the existence of the universe. So I am teasing them with this thread by suggesting that if the entire foundation of the universe is just a concept ... well who/what else has been said to be powerful enough to conceptualize things into existence but God?

This is a logic question, and not anything about God (which is why I don't understand why it's been moved to metaphysics).


Huckleberry said:
By the logic of your argument are mass and energy required for the existence of a supreme thinker, or just as evidence of one?

No. Again, I am just questioning the logic of energy.


Huckleberry said:
I believe that I can think(some would argue this point :wink: ), and yet I cannot create energy or mass.

Well, that's tempting to answer, but if I do then I admit this topic into the realm of metaphysics. As I said, I am on a different track.
 
  • #14
I think I see a problem: the conservation of energy. If "Mass can be converted to pure energy", and energy is an abstract object or property, where did the energy go? It would seem to have vanished. So how are you using "energy"? By "pure energy" do you mean kinetic energy or another form of energy? Also, isn't mass a form of energy? (I don't know much about physics.)

I would add though that I think mass and energy are concepts in the sense that they are mathematical objects which are eventually applied to physical observations. But mass and energy being concepts doesn't imply that the things to which they're applied are also concepts.
In a stronger sense, you could hold that mass and energy are measurable properties of physical objects. Is this the relationship you mean to bring out? Also, your argument seems to amount to mass being ontologically dependent upon energy. Do you think so, or am I misreading things?
 
  • #15
honestrosewater said:
By "pure energy" do you mean kinetic energy or another form of energy? Also, isn't mass a form of energy? (I don't know much about physics.)

It doesn't matter what form energy takes as long as it isn't mass. It's interesting that mass is sometimes called a "form" of energy. That suggests, as I've proposed, that energy is commonly thought of as the "essence" of mass.


honestrosewater said:
I would add though that I think mass and energy are concepts in the sense that they are mathematical objects which are eventually applied to physical observations. But mass and energy being concepts doesn't imply that the things to which they're applied are also concepts.

True. But try to see my point. All that we think about is done by conceptualizing. We understand that our concepts represent something with substance in reality, and we understand that the concept itself isn't the aspect of reality it stands for.

Some things we conceptualize are calculating tools, as energy is said to be. But calculating tools are not then said to compose anything substantial. So how can energy be both merely a conceptual calculating tool AND be the essence of matter? If it is only a concept, then it can't be what constitutes matter.

honestrosewater said:
In a stronger sense, you could hold that mass and energy are measurable properties of physical objects. Is this the relationship you mean to bring out? Also, your argument seems to amount to mass being ontologically dependent upon energy. Do you think so, or am I misreading things?

My argument is that ultimately there is no concept for the constitution of things. That makes no sense to me.
 
  • #16
Les Sleeth said:
It doesn't matter what form energy takes as long as it isn't mass. It's interesting that mass is sometimes called a "form" of energy. That suggests, as I've proposed, that energy is commonly thought of as the "essence" of mass.
I don't know that mass is considered a form of energy; I just think it might be- which makes sense to me. My point about energy conservation is that it seems your argument is fallacious because you're using "energy" in different ways. In one sense, energy and mass are both concepts. In another sense, they are things that can actually be measured. Is it wrong to think of energy as the ability to do work? When one form of energy is converted to another form of energy, doesn't it just mean such and such measurements were taken and such and such values resulted? In that case, energy is not merely a concept but a measurable property. Just as, in a similar way, mass is not merely a concept but a measurable property. Say mass is a form of energy and the mass of some object can be completely converted to "pure energy". If "pure energy" is not a measurable property, then energy may not have been conserved in the process, right? I think scientists would be quite concerned about this. Does it ever happen? When it's said that mass can be converted to energy, isn't energy, in this sense, a measurable property? Where are the physicists when you need them?
If it is only a concept, then it can't be what constitutes matter.
I think I see your point, and I agree with the implication. But I don't think energy is only a concept. At least, not in the sense you're using it. It seems you're thinking of mass as a measure of how much matter some object contains. I could see a problem then in thinking that matter can sort of disappear or change into something else ("pure energy") which isn't matter. Is that it? (I don't know that pure energy wouldn't also be considered matter though.)

BTW, nice to see you again- it's been a while. :smile:
 
  • #17
honestrosewater said:
BTW, nice to see you again- it's been a while.

:smile:


honestrosewater said:
My point about energy conservation is that it seems your argument is fallacious because you're using "energy" in different ways. In one sense, energy and mass are both concepts.

They are both concepts, but mass is considered substantial, while energy is, as Davies put it, an "imaginary concept" used to measure the amount of work done . . . energy is assigned no substantial or existential qualities.

I asked Hypnagogue to leave this in the Logic area because it seems illogical to me that mass is what makes the universe substantial, but mass is composed of nothing but a measurement concept. Let me see if I can explain this more clearly. It seems simple to me, but then I’m simple minded. :rolleyes:

Whatever is substantial has mass, and I’ve argued (in another thread) that you really can’t find much in the way of a physical effect that isn’t related to mass somehow. When something becomes less massive, it surrenders energy. How do we know energy? By it’s capacity to do work, to move things, so we gauge the amount of energy by how much change and movement takes place. We are told by physicists that energy is therefore merely a measuring concept, it is not real. Yet something is causing movement and change because we can see at least that much even if we can’t see what’s doing it.

So here’s what I don’t understand about the energy idea. Why aren’t there theories about what is actually doing the moving? If we see leaves blowing across the yard from inside our house, even though we can’t see the wind, do we believe the movement is being caused by an idea? No, we believe there is an energized substance (the atmosphere) which is invisible to us that is pushing the leaves around.

But in the case of energy, no one seems to want to hypothesize that there is some substance present causing the movement. Instead, theorists are content with just describing the behavior of mass-energy transitions. How hard is it to inductively postulate something?

For example, there are a few things about the behavior of energy that gives us clues. The most important of these IMO is the fact that energy disperses. As P.W. Atkins explains in his book The 2nd Law, Energy, Chaos, and Form, “The natural tendency of energy to disperse—that is, to spread through space, to spread the particles that are storing it, and to lose the coherence with which the particles are storing it—establishes the direction of natural events.”

If something were to surrender all its energy, there would be no mass left at that spot where the object was. If you could return the energy now dispersing to that spot, mass would appear again. So, isn’t it clear that energy potential is the result of compression? Could it possibly be anything else?

The concept is supported by several important facts, and contradicted by none. Looking at atoms we see that the elemental chart, beginning with hydrogen, is one of more energy concentrated into the next element up (i.e., increasing mass). Decompression not only explains energy dispersion, it accounts for the Big Bang and the expansion of the universe now. Another supportive fact is that the higher the energy of electromagnetic radiation the shorter its wavelength; if energy is the result of compression, then we’d expect the wavelength of EM to lengthen as it loses energy, which is exactly what it does.

But compression is only part of the deal because there has to be “something” to compress. Now, isn’t that exactly what physicists resist hypothesizing about? Is it because of the Michelson-Morely experiment? If that’s it, there is an explanation for that. If all mass is the result of the compression of some unseen substance, call it xx, if no aether is detectable, and if mass is what produces physical effects, then it suggests that xx is a massless substance which only manifests what we term “physicalmess” when it’s compressed.

In such a theory, energy then actually does become “nothing” since it stands for the degree of compression at a particular point (potential energy, that is). Yet it wouldn’t be quite correct to say energy is doing work because decompression alone isn’t all that’s present, it is decompressing xx, or xxE, that explains the complete situation. It gives us a substantial basis for mass instead of a conceptual basis, and thereby saves physicists from having to admit they believe in a grand thinker. :-p
 
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  • #18
Les Sleeth said:
They are both concepts, but mass is considered substantial, while energy is, as Davies put it, an "imaginary concept" used to measure the amount of work done . . . energy is assigned no substantial or existential qualities.

Les, I think you are making a basic mistake here. It's not mass that is considered substantial, it's matter. Matter has mass and energy, but both mass and energy are "imaginary concepts", to use your description. Mass, as you may well know but somehow didn't mention, is as much a product of measurement as energy is, and that was true even before Einstein discovered their equivalence.

it seems illogical to me that mass is what makes the universe substantial, but mass is composed of nothing but a measurement concept.

I may be wrong, but I think what makes matter substantial is the fact that two bodies of matter cannot occupy the same position in space. It's that exclusive property which gives matter the character of "substance". It's certainly not "resistance to acceleration", the classical definition of mass and the mere result of a measurement.

I can't really understand how you got so confused, unless I'm missing something, for which I apologize in advance if it turns out to be the case.
 
  • #19
Faust said:
Les, I think you are making a basic mistake here. It's not mass that is considered substantial, it's matter. Matter has mass and energy, but both mass and energy are "imaginary concepts", to use your description. Mass, as you may well know but somehow didn't mention, is as much a product of measurement as energy is, and that was true even before Einstein discovered their equivalence.

It doesn't solve the problem to say mass and energy are both measurements (which is true) because matter is nothing but mass and energy. You've merely pushed the problem away one step. In other words, is matter merely two types of measurements?

What is massing, and what is causing mass to move and change? In neither case do you have a substance that composes matter.


Faust said:
I may be wrong, but I think what makes matter substantial is the fact that two bodies of matter cannot occupy the same position in space. It's that exclusive property which gives matter the character of "substance".

You aren't wrong about two bodies occupying the same space, but that has nothing to do with the question. The only reason two bodies of matter cannot occupy the same space is because it possesses mass/energy in the first place. The inability to occupy the same space doesn't tell us anything about the composition of what mass and energy are measuring. "It" weighs, "it" moves . . . but what is "it."


Faust said:
I can't really understand how you got so confused, unless I'm missing something, for which I apologize in advance if it turns out to be the case.

I'm not confused (yet). I have been trying to ask this question here for a long time and have never gotten a logical defence of a substance-less energy/mass concept yet (at least, that's my opinion). It a logic thing that really bugs me.

My view is that the mass/energy concept works well enough for the practical purposes of applied physics, so nobody is very concerned that the universe, theoretically speaking, has no foundation. That's half the reason why you are always seeing that question "can something come from nothing" come up in threads. The universe arose out of nothing, and after you break it all down, there's still nothing there! Does that make sense to you?

It makes more sense that mass and energy are conditions of "something" so subtle we can't see it until it compresses, and then it shows itself. Virtual particles are like that, popping in and out of existence almost like there's an ocean of "something" there whose ebb and flow causes that.
 
  • #20
so your saying that the concept of "thought" or "thinking of the universe" is a creation by god...not an evolutionary or experience/learning creation?

oh yeah and could you believe that "substance"(i don't like to use the word matter because its associated with mass) or "time"(the dimension of motion)
could have existed forever?
 
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  • #21
neurocomp2003 said:
so your saying that the concept of "thought" or "thinking of the universe" is a creation by god...not an evolutionary or experience/learning creation?

I was just teasing the physics guys to see if I could get them to think about this. Traditionally, if the universe is "thought into existence," then God is seen as the thinker.

I think the universe is an evolutionary creation, and that if there is some sort of universal consciousness associated with it, then it is a learning creationary force (i.e., not all knowing).


neurocomp2003 said:
oh yeah and could you believe that "substance"(i don't like to use the word matter because its associated with mass) or "time"(the dimension of motion) could have existed forever?

I do believe there could be a substance that was never created, cannot be destroyed, and which has and will forever exist. In fact, that's what I've been hinting at in this thread. Such a substance solves a lot of theoretical problems. All it needs is to possesses the dynamics (such as compression-decompression dynamics) and the characteristics (such as vibrancy which is accentuated by compression to become vibration, and from that, polarity/symmetry) to produce the conditions we find here in our universe.
 
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  • #22
Les Sleeth said:
Energy is a concept. No existential properties are allowed to be assigned to it.

Yes energy is a concept, but the state variables that determine the energy of a system represent real, physical objects and events. These state variables are things such as displacement, velocity, temperature, electric charge, electric current, etc.

If mass is created/destroyed there is a corresponding decrease/increase in the values of the aforementioned state variables. The decrease or increase is observed to be constrained to occur in such a way that that this thing defined to be "energy" is conserved. Energy is undoubtedly a concept, but it is not unconnected to things that are not merely concepts.

And if mass is a thought, that suggests God thought it (Lifegazer was right afterall).

Good grief man, I think you need to double your dosage!
 
  • #23
Les Sleeth said:
It doesn't solve the problem to say mass and energy are both measurements (which is true) because matter is nothing but mass and energy.

That is not entirely correct. Besides mass and energy, matter also has volume, which is also a measurement. I fail to see how you can argue that just because volume is a measurement we can't say that voluminous entities lack substance. The same holds true for mass and energy.

You've merely pushed the problem away one step. In other words, is matter merely two types of measurements?

I mentioned volume, but matter has even more properties, such as opacity, color, elasticity, electrical resistance, thermal conductivity, magnectic permissivity, and so on and on.

OK, OK, I can hear you saying I've merely pushed the problem away a few more steps. But I still insist that matter is not merely a certain number of measurements, but the characteristic of not sharing its position in space with more matter. That is not something which depends on measurement, although it certainly depends on observation.

What is massing, and what is causing mass to move and change? In neither case do you have a substance that composes matter.

If I push a toy with my finger, essentially the toy moves for the very simple reason that the toy and my finger cannot occupy the same position in space. I still don't understand why you fail to see this exclusivity as the fundamental characteritic of matter. It's the very thing which allows us to measure mass and energy in the first place. If two bodies could occupy the same position in space then nothing would move as a result of physical interaction, therefore mass and energy could not be measured.

This is so simple to me, I'm still puzzled as to exactly where is the problem you're seeing.

You aren't wrong about two bodies occupying the same space, but that has nothing to do with the question.

If you think it has nothing to do with the question, then it doesn't answer it, right? But I think it has everything to do with the question, which is why I consider the question trivial.

Hopefully we can reach some agreement. I'm not closed to the possibility I'm missing your point.

The only reason two bodies of matter cannot occupy the same space is because it possesses mass/energy in the first place.

No, no, no. The reason two bodies of matter cannot occupy the same space has nothing to do with the fact that they have mass or energy. It's the other way around. It happens that this stuff which does not share space with other stuff usually exhibit the properties of mass and energy.

Energy and mass are relative measurements; the same object has different mass and different energy depending on your frame of reference; The exclusiveness of space is absolute, it doesn't change with your frame of reference. I can't possibly see how they can be the same thing.

The inability to occupy the same space doesn't tell us anything about the composition of what mass and energy are measuring. "It" weighs, "it" moves . . . but what is "it."

Well, that's another question entirely. My point was that "it" is not mass and "it" is not energy; "it" is that which cannot occupy the same position in space as another "it". It only happens that such "its" do things which allow us to measure mass and energy.

I'm not confused (yet).

How can you possibly not be confused if you claim that matter only exists as a concept, because it depends on a measurement? That is certainly a very foreign notion to most people.

My view is that the mass/energy concept works well enough for the practical purposes of applied physics, so nobody is very concerned that the universe, theoretically speaking, has no foundation.

Actually, I think a lot of people are aware, and some are concerned, that the universe lacks a foundation. It is an extremely difficult problem. In the end, even though I disagree with your premises, I might agree with your conclusion that the only possible foundation for the universe is a universal mind. Of course that is an extremely counter-intuitive notion, which even people who are skeptic of the power of intuition are not willing to embrace.

That's half the reason why you are always seeing that question "can something come from nothing" come up in threads. The universe arose out of nothing, and after you break it all down, there's still nothing there! Does that make sense to you?

No, it doesn't make sense. When I think about it, the only sensible thing I can conceive as existing is a timeless, dimensionless void. Even if the whole universe were just a grain of dust floating in empty space, it would still mystify me. But I take that to mean I'm thinking about things the wrong way, since the universe obviously exists.

It makes more sense that mass and energy are conditions of "something" so subtle we can't see it until it compresses, and then it shows itself. Virtual particles are like that, popping in and out of existence almost like there's an ocean of "something" there whose ebb and flow causes that.

That is one way of trying to try and solve the problem. Given the limitations of my imagination, I prefer to approach the problem from a different perspective.
 
  • #24
heh les...now i get it your arguing for the sake of arguing...i like your style it confused me at first because i study cs/math/psych/physics...and seeing that your a philosophy guru I was curious to know how you could deny learning/experience/evolution.
 
  • #25
neurocomp2003 said:
heh les...now i get it your arguing for the sake of arguing...
Many philosophers do. That's probably why many end up in law school. :smile:
neurocomp2003 said:
i like your style it confused me at first because i study cs/math/psych/physics...and seeing that your a philosophy guru I was curious to know how you could deny learning/experience/evolution.
He doesn't. He never rules out the possibility of a learning/experiencing/evolving creator.

But playing devil's advocat, Les, if we did finally agree that matter is a concept- is it possible that a concept/thought could be forever-existing and need not require a thinker? Which would be a better explanation for the stuff that makes up the universe - that it is a thought/concept that simply existed forever, or that an entity thought it into existence? If we choose the latter (a thinker), it seems it is a more complicated explanation that than the former, because now we must explain the entity that caused the existence of matter, rather than just the matter itself. Aren't we only adding a layer of complexity?

Just curious about how you resolve this. It came up in my philosophy classes a few times.
 
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  • #26
Les Sleeth said:
Anyone see a problem with my logic?

Yes , loads. And with Davies' statement. Do you want the details ?
 
  • #27
les: Looking, observing, admiring, analyzing, figuring out . . . that ain't creating is it? Do you equate art critics with Picasso? It's one thing to see, and another to create.

Are you saying picasso didn't think about what he did? it is obvious that thought can have an effect on matter/energy/mass, but it may not be necessary.


Anyway, all this talk of creating and everyone assumes scientists do not create, but observe. but to model an idea in ones own mind is an act of creation (although i prefer the word construction, as creation implies something from nothing). if thought is deliberate (ie. consciously done) then by simply philosophising or speculating one is manifesting in the realms of mind. but that probably sounds all 'pseudo bollocks'. :smile:


back to the topic. Surely energy/matter/mass (btw i thought matter was outdated terminology, due to all the sub-atomic stuff which ends up being more and more energy) are all the same thing in different forms. in fact consciousness could easily be reasoned as a form of energy, albeit an unprovable one. As far as i understand, most religions equate consciousness to the spiritual side of us, and universal consciousness as the mind of god.

it seems to me that anyone who believes in one fundamental 'substance' like matter etc. is in the end stating that 'all is one*'. I'm pretty sure this is exactly what any religious scholar will say too. and why should this be a problem?

Thinking manifests differences, and therefore contradictions. :wink:

*note: the one is infinite.
 
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  • #28
how can thought or concept exist wihtout a brain =]
 
  • #29
how can thought or concept exist wihtout a brain =]

but how did you find the brain? :smile:
 
  • #30
Tournesol said:
Yes , loads. And with Davies' statement. Do you want the details ?

Since my opening post was largely tongue in cheek, I wouldn’t want you to waste your time with the details of my logic. It was the overall logic of the lack of an absolute foundation theory that I was interested in challenging.

I’ve decided that the way I am arguing this is unclear, and creates confusion. Also, I worry I’m going to get into trouble for messing with accepted physical principles, and of course I want to be good PF member. o:)

Since this thread has turned metaphysical anyway, I’ve decided to start a new thread where rather than criticize the lack of an absolute foundational concept in physics, I’ll suggest what possible benefits to theorization the absolute foundational concept might offer.

I have a busy day, but I'll try to post it by this evening. In the meantime, if anyone wants to bone up on the idea my own suggestion is akin to, neutral monism, an excellent article can be found here.


Math is Hard said:
Which would be a better explanation for the stuff that makes up the universe - that it is a thought/concept that simply existed forever, or that an entity thought it into existence? If we choose the latter (a thinker), it seems it is a more complicated explanation that than the former, because now we must explain the entity that caused the existence of matter, rather than just the matter itself. Aren't we only adding a layer of complexity?

MIH, your question will be the first one I address in that thread.
 
  • #31
But aren't photon pure energy and don't photons exist? Aren't electromagnetic waves pure energy yet they too exist? So how can Davies or anyone rightfully say that energy is just a concept? It can be shown to exist and have physical effects on physical matter. We may not know what it is or how to define it, but surely we know that it is?
 
  • #32
Energy exists in much the same way that redness exists. Neither is, strictly speaking, a real property of objects. Redness, as such, is not 'out there in the world,' but rather exists only in our minds. We label as "red" objects that have a propensity for reflecting the particular waves of light that incite the sensation of redness in our minds. That isn't to say that energy exists only in our minds - in fact, this might not even be the best analogy, but it was the best I could think up in five seconds. Nonetheless, the analogy can be useful. There are real actions that material objects take, such as translational and rotational motion. Insofar as all energy can be reduced to either kinetic energy or potential energy, what we call "energy" is simply our labelling of the capacity of material objects to undergo translational and/or rotational motion. This "capacity" does not have a real existence; its existence is conceptual. It is a useful mathematical quantity that can be placed into equations to help us predict the behavior of physical systems.

It should be noted that my description here is a gross oversimplification and is based somewhat on outdated Newtonian views of physical systems. The reduction of all of physics to a science of motion probably began to die all the way back with Hobbes. Nonetheless, the reasoning remains the same whatever name you substitute in for "motion." Energy is simply a way in which we track the capacity for certain tranformations that a physical system can undergo.

The flaw in the logic of the original post is twofold. First, the concept energy is a concept insofar as it is thought by men. The capacity for transformation itself is generally agreed to have pre-existed intelligent thought, but the concept of energy as a quantification of this capacity did not. The second flaw in the logic is in the assumption that all of physics rests on a notion of substance. While men such as Aristotle and Spinoza were able to utilize this notion to suggest or prove the existence of God, modern physics does not rely upon this notion. Modern physics relies simply upon relations. The terminology of physics can be thought of as referring to the propensity for mathematical quantities to behave in a predictable manner when measurements are taken. Science can essentially be thought of as instrumentalism in this sense. It describes systematic regularities in our perception and theoretical entities such as electrons and photons and energy give illustrative effect to these regularities. That said, just about every physicist probably believes that physical theories do correspond in some meaningful way, aside from predictive power, to objective reality. The fact remains, however, that such a belief, as reasonable as it may be, is a metaphysical proposition that cannot be proven within physics. The belief in a material substratum that acts as one of the foundational elements in a physical ontology is also a metaphysical belief, even if physics textbooks do seem to teach this belief.

Now actual physicists may or may not be instrumentalists, but the fact is that instrumentalism is a viable view of physics. Looked at in this way, the initial premise that all of physics is grounded upon the existence of matter and energy is false and the conclusion that physics presupposes God is also false. There are other flaws that occur to me prima facie even in thinking that a belief in a material substratum presupposes God, but I will not explore those, as this should be sufficient.
 
  • #33
Royce said:
But aren't photon pure energy and don't photons exist? Aren't electromagnetic waves pure energy yet they too exist? So how can Davies or anyone rightfully say that energy is just a concept? It can be shown to exist and have physical effects on physical matter. We may not know what it is or how to define it, but surely we know that it is?

I have previously argued here that photons are not pure energy. If you energize a photon, it vibrates faster, it's wavelength shortens . . . if it loses energy, just the opposite happens. Because of those variables, one might imagine that once a photon yields all it's energy, it would cease to exist as an entity.

However, how do you explain the fact that a photon, no matter what you do to its energy, travels at c? If a photon were nothing but energy, then c should decrease when energy decreases, but it doesn't. Therefore, it appears a photon has properties (or one anyway) distinct from its energy. It is "something" which can take on or yield energy, but it isn't only energy.

Regarding energy being just a concept, don't take that too seriously. I was teasing, as I've said several times. What I am trying to point out is that energy is a measurement of movement/change/work done; mass is a measurement too.

The energy-mass dynamic seems to pretty much determine what we get to observe in the universe. But what is it that is moving and has mass? No concept there. All I'm pointing out is that we don't have a concept for that, and wondering why.

Thinkers like Spinoza, Mach, Bertrand Russel and William James all seemed to recognize the same problem, which is why I am trying to change the question of this thread (for a new thread) to something ontological. I'm working on that concept now, maybe you'll comment.
 
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  • #34
loseyourname said:
The flaw in the logic of the original post is twofold. First, the concept energy is a concept insofar as it is thought by men . . . the second flaw in the logic is in the assumption that all of physics rests on a notion of substance.

Is that what you think I'm saying, "[it is] a concept insofar as it is thought by men"? If I thought that insightful I'd be too embarrassed to admit it. And your second statement, "the assumption that all of physics rests on a notion of substance" . . . well, I didn't say that, but it does seem that physicists tend to insist they are describing the real "substantial" world, and anything nonphysical is insubstantial and/or unverifiable speculation.

Consider it from this angle. Isn't the basis of empiricism observability? Do you think anything would be observable if it didn't have substance? If you disagree, then give me one example, just one, of something observed that doesn't involve substance. And if you are going to insist substance isn't a central requirement of physics, then explain how you are going to do science without observation.


loseyourname said:
Energy exists in much the same way that redness exists. Neither is, strictly speaking, a real property of objects. Redness, as such, is not 'out there in the world,' but rather exists only in our minds. We label as "red" objects that have a propensity for reflecting the particular waves of light that incite the sensation of redness in our minds. That isn't to say that energy exists only in our minds - in fact, this might not even be the best analogy, but it was the best I could think up in five seconds. Nonetheless, the analogy can be useful. There are real actions that material objects take, such as translational and rotational motion. Insofar as all energy can be reduced to either kinetic energy or potential energy, what we call "energy" is simply our labelling of the capacity of material objects to undergo translational and/or rotational motion. This "capacity" does not have a real existence; its existence is conceptual. It is a useful mathematical quantity that can be placed into equations to help us predict the behavior of physical systems.

It should be noted that my description here is a gross oversimplification and is based somewhat on outdated Newtonian views of physical systems. The reduction of all of physics to a science of motion probably began to die all the way back with Hobbes. Nonetheless, the reasoning remains the same whatever name you substitute in for "motion." Energy is simply a way in which we track the capacity for certain tranformations that a physical system can undergo.

The flaw in the logic of the original post is twofold. First, the concept energy is a concept insofar as it is thought by men. The capacity for transformation itself is generally agreed to have pre-existed intelligent thought, but the concept of energy as a quantification of this capacity did not. The second flaw in the logic is in the assumption that all of physics rests on a notion of substance. While men such as Aristotle and Spinoza were able to utilize this notion to suggest or prove the existence of God, modern physics does not rely upon this notion. Modern physics relies simply upon relations. The terminology of physics can be thought of as referring to the propensity for mathematical quantities to behave in a predictable manner when measurements are taken. Science can essentially be thought of as instrumentalism in this sense. It describes systematic regularities in our perception and theoretical entities such as electrons and photons and energy give illustrative effect to these regularities. That said, just about every physicist probably believes that physical theories do correspond in some meaningful way, aside from predictive power, to objective reality. The fact remains, however, that such a belief, as reasonable as it may be, is a metaphysical proposition that cannot be proven within physics. The belief in a material substratum that acts as one of the foundational elements in a physical ontology is also a metaphysical belief, even if physics textbooks do seem to teach this belief.

Now actual physicists may or may not be instrumentalists, but the fact is that instrumentalism is a viable view of physics. Looked at in this way, the initial premise that all of physics is grounded upon the existence of matter and energy is false and the conclusion that physics presupposes God is also false. There are other flaws that occur to me prima facie even in thinking that a belief in a material substratum presupposes God, but I will not explore those, as this should be sufficient.

LYN, I am going to take this opportunity voice my objections, not to your points, but to your tone. You write like you are majorly educated in any subject you take on, and that we should accept your views as authoritative.

But isn't the truth that you are 20-something and not even out of college yet? Why do you present yourself as an all-knowing expert when you are a student both academically and of life? Geez, at 58 I still think of myself as a student, so it is hard to tolerate your condescending tone. Too often it seems like you state your opinions like they are facts, and you name/concept drop without explaining to us their relevance or what terms mean . . . almost like you are throwing out undigested stuff from your textbooks and websites you visit.

I'd be far more open if rather than trying to present yourself as the top genius of PF philosophy, you exhibited a bit of humility with your otherwise intelligent comments.
 
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  • #35
Les Sleeth said:
Energy is a concept. No existential properties are allowed to be assigned to it.

If energy is an imaginary concept, the essence of mass is an imaginary concept.

A concept is a thought.

If energy is a thought, mass is a thought. A thought requires a thinker. The thinker proposed powerful enough to manifest the universe is God.

The prevalent view among physicists/philosophers is that mass and energy are two equivalent properties of physical systems (considered real properties, at least provisionally), in the vast majority of philosophical accounts 'energy' is not seen as a 'substance' (this view is much more difficult to defend). Strictly speaking mass does not transform into energy, they are merely two equivalent properties of 'physical systems'.

The concept proved very frutiful so far so that, at least provisionally, scientists are fully entitled to think at energy as being a real property of physical systems. Anyway even if energy were only a mere fruitful theoretical concept (and strongly that all concepts in physics/science are frutiful conventions) this in no way implies that a personal God creates the universe.

Indeed anti-realism does not necessarily imply ontological idealism of the Berkeleyan/lifegazer type which needs God, see the kantian epistemological idealism (strong epistemological anti realism) for example, which retain realism/naturalism only that we cannot perceive the 'noumena'/reality in itself.

Now an interesting question is what are 'physical systems' ultimately? The best model for 'physical' systems we have so far is given by the so called 'quantum fields', which synthesize both the wave and particle aspects. Well there are now good prospects to develop this program further and explain even why physical 'things' have mass.

Grand Unified Theories (GUT, there are more slightly different variants possible, the actual data cannot yet indicate a single one) postulate that the observed diversity, the different properties of the atomic particles are due to the so called symmetry breaking process which occurred immediately after Big Bang when the temperature lowered enough (there are more breaking points, gravity split first and later the other fundamental 'forces'). Above a certain energy (GUT theories postulate) there is no difference, unification appears.

The process of symmetry breaking is postulated to be due to the so called Higgs fields, in the majority of GUT no less than 24 Higgs fields (each with its own 'quanta of field', there are more Higgs particles postulated to exist) are needed to account for this symmetry breaking (the fields accounting for inflation, the so called inflaton fields are Higgs type fields but are different from the Higgs fields responsible for symmetry breaking).

Still early days but GUT (or superunification at which loop quantum gravitation and string theories attempt) seems to be a good path, a promising step ahead in our quest to find a TOE (theory of everything) without free parameters (if this is accomplished then the only intepretation of 'bon sens', to quote Duhem, were to say that such a TOE is approximately true).

As a final conclusion merely speculating the fact that science is always provisional, that we do not even have the definitive answers to such simple, common sense at first sight, questions like 'what is physical?' (the 'quantum field' approach is only the best existing model so far, having a fallible epistemological privilege, provisionally accepted as scientific knowledge) is far from being enough to claim that God exists and that all would be rational people should believe this (as unfortunately lifegazer do[es]-by the way he's very active now on a skeptic site I frequent trying to persuade them, in vain of course :-) ). This by no means amount to say that a God does not exist or that people do not have the right to believe, as an entirely personal choice, in a personal God.
 
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