Could Dark Energy Be Caused By A Reaction To What’s In The Universe? (Synopsis)

“Another very good test some readers may want to look up… is the Casimir effect, where forces between metal plates in empty space are modified by the presence of virtual particles.” -Gordon Kane

If you ask what the zero-point energy of space itself is, you can sum up all of the quantum fluctuations you can that arise in quantum field theory, and arrive at an absurd answer: 120 orders of magnitude greater than the observed. Yet if you assume that there’s an incredible cancellation and you get exactly zero, that removes the one thing our Universe needs to explain its expansion: dark energy.

The four possible fates of our Universe into the future; the last one appears to be the Universe we live in, dominated by dark energy. Image credit: E. Siegel.
The four possible fates of our Universe into the future; the last one appears to be the Universe we live in, dominated by dark energy. Image credit: E. Siegel.

Yet the Universe has matter, radiation, the Hubble horizon and other forms of artificial boundaries in it, and we know that boundaries (like metal plates in electromagnetism) can cut off some of the allowed modes of quantum fluctuations, and lead to a real force: the Casimir effect. Could this same effect — which exists for all the forces, not just electromagnetism — be responsible for dark energy?

An illustration of the Casimir effect, and how the forces on the outside of the plates are different from the forces on the inside. Image credit: Wikimedia commons user Emok, under a c.c.a.-by-s.a.-3.0 license.
An illustration of the Casimir effect, and how the forces on the outside of the plates are different from the forces on the inside. Image credit: Wikimedia commons user Emok, under a c.c.a.-by-s.a.-3.0 license.

Come find out what the possibilities are over at Starts With A Bang today!

95 thoughts on “Could Dark Energy Be Caused By A Reaction To What’s In The Universe? (Synopsis)”

  1. “Could Dark Energy Be Caused By A Reaction To What’s In The Universe?”

    That question is somewhat like a question of
    “Could extraterrestrial life be caused by [whatever]?”

    Do you see the problem?

  2. Ethan, this seems an appropriate place to put this:

    I’m sorry, the paper I thought linked higher dimensionality with inflation that I read recently wasn’t. It took me a while to remember that I had recently read Hawkins” Brief History of Time”, and then I found the paper I had recalled as being relevant (when it isn’t). That was Alan Guth’s paper on symmetry breaking producing inflation.

    However, why it’s relevant to bring it up here is that for the moment I’ll have to give the words I recall and reformed as to the content of the paper I do definitely remember:

    Imagine the casmir plates half a universe apart. The energy density is lower inside, right? And as the plates get closer, the energy inside gets lower.

    Now imagine that these plates are “unit metric” in the multidimensional universe of string theory.

    Where all dimensions have the same metric, the energy is equally distributed in all dimensions. As the three dimensions expand, the higher dimensions “roll up”, and the “size” of the universal dimension shrinks and excludes more and more wavelengths, reducing the energy in those smaller dimensions.

    However the energy goes SOMEWHERE, energy isn’t destroyed or created, it’s a constant total.

    That energy goes into the remaining three dimensions.

    —-

    Those are my words explaining it. I WILL keep looking for it. But maybe you’ll know someone who recognises the account from an abstract (even if the paper was concluded incorrect because the change would be insufficient).

    It took me some time to run through several books I read recently and not finding the reference to remember Hawking’s book

  3. However the energy goes SOMEWHERE, energy isn’t destroyed or created, it’s a constant total.

    Why? In Newtonian physics and flat GR spacetimes it is, but its not conserved in curved GR spacetimes. Once you start talking even higher dimensional spacetimes, I’d say its unwarranted to assert the whole shebang must fulfill the special case requirements where conservation holds.

  4. But maybe you’ll know someone who recognises the account from an abstract (even if the paper was concluded incorrect because the change would be insufficient).

    Memory is a funny thing. I have occasionally looked up old references and found that they didn’t say what I thought they said. Instead, my mind had slowly shifted what I remembered about it into something more consistent with the point I was trying to make or defend at the (later) time. Consider the possibility that you already found the reference you were thinking of before, it just didn’t contain the argument you thought it contained. You would not be the first person that’s happened to.

  5. To eric #2:

    Me: “That question is somewhat like a question of
    “Could extraterrestrial life be caused by [whatever]?”
    Do you see the problem?”

    You: “Nope, I don’t, because your analogy is poor; red shift is observable.”

    Red shift? I thought we were talking about *dark energy*, as in that thing that has never been observed directly. Also, a thing which some physicists question the very existence of – for example, Santiago, Mena, and Carroll of the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory http://www.rense.com/general72/exis.htm

    Anyway, my point, of course, was about putting the cart before the horse – debating the *cause* of something which isn’t certain to even *exist*.

  6. for example…. rense.com….

    Ahem.

    We can revisit the ban question if there’s enough outcry, or if you want a better way to vote besides Twitter. (Which I chose because it was easy to setup, embed and use.)

    Hey, S.N., what’s the deal with all this fuss about the so-called “square root of −1”? Imaginary numbers??!? HAR HAR HAR, amirite?

  7. ^ More directly, the horse’s ass is complaining about the fact that somebody might be trying to figure out where to look to explain an observed phenomenon. G-d help us if someone were, say, to go so far as to concoct a theory that actually invented things that were utterly fanciful?

    S.N.’s only saving grace [sic] here is that he has once again accidentally thrown theology under the bus in its entirety. Sorry, Vatican.

  8. I thought we were talking about *dark energy*, as in that thing that has never been observed directly.

    So what? I haven’t observed you directly; so is my belief that you exist as ridiculous as a belief in space aliens?

    Anyway, my point, of course, was about putting the cart before the horse – debating the *cause* of something which isn’t certain to even *exist*.

    Well then to be consistent, you should go visit theology websites and tell them we should be shutting down all theology departments.

  9. To eric #9:

    “I haven’t observed you directly; so is my belief that you exist as ridiculous as a belief in space aliens?”

    Probably not, for you.
    You’ve probably dialogued with many space aliens, as you have with me.

    ………
    Me: “Anyway, my point, of course, was about putting the cart before the horse – debating the *cause* of something which isn’t certain to even *exist*.”

    You: “Well then to be consistent, you should go visit theology websites and tell them we should be shutting down all theology departments.”

    That would be ridiculous in so many ways. Let me *begin* to count them:
    – Theology isn’t science, and so is not ruled by empirical data and testing, as *real* science (as opposed to Ethan’s stuff above) is *supposed* to be.
    – As anyone with even a basic introduction to Christian theology would know, the subject of the theology (i.e. God), is without “cause”; He is the “causeless cause” of existence itself.

    Get some sleep, eric.
    (If you need some help, try counting space aliens.)

  10. @Wow #3,

    Do you realize yourself how crazy that is, that’s even more far out than my waves shaking up surrounding matter unto a bursting point. 🙂

  11. Habitual liar and integrity free poster at 11: you are assuming that your God exists when there is no evidence supporting it. Very hypocritical for you to ignore that fact about your mythology while asserting similar things about science.

  12. SN:

    Theology isn’t science, and so is not ruled by empirical data and testing,

    You didn’t limit your cart-before statement to things ruled by ’empirical data and testing,’ you said ‘something which isn’t certain to even exist.’ Gods are not certain to even exist, even if we ignore empiricism and use deduction. So theology is discussing the nature of the divine before it knows whether the divine exists, yes?

    I do, however, agree that theology isn’t science and doesn’t rely on empirical evidence.

    as *real* science (as opposed to Ethan’s stuff above) is *supposed* to be..

    I already noted that the concept of dark energy is supported by the empirical data of red shifts. You responded by making up a requirement for direct observation, but that requirement isn’t part of science. I’d say, in fact, that most of today’s instrumental methods in physics and chemistry don’t use direct observation; a lot of science moved beyond what direct observation could tell us in the early 19th century. Crick and Watson, as one famous example, didn’t directly observe two polymer chains wrapped around each other. What they observed was the pattern x-rays made when they bounced off a crystal. This pattern was consistent with what we would expect from a double helix structure, the same way the observed amount of red shift is consistent with what we would expect from a nonzero cosmological constant.

  13. SN,

    In a very real sense, we don’t directly observe ANYTHING to exist. What we call “direct observation” is really just a series of photon scattering experiments (assuming that observation means seeing). Our eyes detect photons scattered from various objects in the universe. If certain entities are assumed to exist, we predict certain patterns in the scattered photons. That’s the process we call “direct observation”, even though we haven’t directly observed the entity in question.

    The same is true with just about all observations in science. We don’t directly observe that the earth orbits the sun, for instance, but few doubt that this is true. We observe that a large number of photons comes from a certain area of the sky. This area moves according to certain regular patterns. We call this area of high photon emission “the sun”. We infer from the pattern of motion of this area that the earth must be orbiting the sun. We don’t really know that the sun even exists; all we directly observed is that there is a bright patch of sky every day.

    Of course such musings are counterproductive and therefore not worth engaging in. Similarly, your skepticism is likewise counterproductive. If an entity is thought to exist, we determine what effect its existence will have on other entities in the universe. We look at those other entities to see if we find the effect. If we find the effect, then we assume that our postulated entity exists, at least until we find alternate explanations that fit the data better or we find other data that contradict the existence of our postulated entity. That’s where we are with dark energy. We postulated its existence to explain the accelerating expansion of the universe. We question what effects dark energy will have on other observations. For example, dark energy’s existence will cause the spectrum of the CMB to differ from what it would be without dark energy. We then make observations to see if our predicted consequences hold true. For dark energy, we find that they do, so we accept the existence of dark energy.

  14. I’m guessing sn did not read the article

    NEWS & PRESS
    Durham astronomers’ doubts about the ‘dark side’
    Last Updated on Tuesday, 15 June 2010 18:02
    Published on Tuesday, 15 June 2010 17:48
    Durham astronomers’ doubts about the dark side (RAS PN 10/44, EMBARGOED)

    New research by astronomers in the Physics Department at Durham University suggests that the conventional wisdom about the content of the Universe may be wrong. Graduate student Utane Sawangwit and Professor Tom Shanks looked at observations from the Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP) satellite to study the remnant heat from the Big Bang. The two scientists find evidence that the errors in its data may be much larger than previously thought, which in turn makes the standard model of the Universe open to question. The team publish their results in a letter to the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.
    CMB
    Credit: NASA/WMAP plus Durham University

    Launched in 2001, WMAP measures differences in the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB) radiation, the residual heat of the Big Bang that fills the Universe and appears over the whole of the sky. The angular size of the ripples in the CMB is thought to be connected to the composition of the Universe. The observations of WMAP showed that the ripples were about twice the size of the full Moon, or around a degree across.

    With these results, scientists concluded that the cosmos is made up of 4% ‘normal’ matter, 22% ‘dark’ or invisible matter and 74% ‘dark energy’. Debate about the exact nature of the ‘dark side’ of the Universe – the dark matter and dark energy – continues to this day.

    Sawangwit and Shanks used astronomical objects that appear as unresolved points in radio telescopes to test the way the WMAP telescope smoothes out its maps. They find that the smoothing is much larger than previously believed, suggesting that its measurement of the size of the CMBR ripples is not as accurate as was thought. If true this could mean that the ripples are significantly smaller, which could imply that dark matter and dark energy are not present after all.

    Prof. Shanks comments “CMB observations are a powerful tool for cosmology and it is vital to check for systematic effects. If our results prove correct then it will become less likely that dark energy and exotic dark matter particles dominate the Universe. So the evidence that the Universe has a ‘Dark Side’ will weaken!”

    In addition, Durham astronomers recently collaborated in an international team whose research suggested that the structure of the CMB may not provide the robust independent check on the presence of dark energy that it was thought to.

    If dark energy does exist, then it ultimately causes the expansion of the Universe to accelerate. On their journey from the CMB to the telescopes like WMAP, photons (the basic particles of electromagnetic radiation including light and radio waves) travel through giant superclusters of galaxies. Normally a CMB photon is first blueshifted (its peak shifts towards the blue end of the spectrum) when it enters the supercluster and then redshifted as it leaves, so that the two effects cancel. However, if the supercluster galaxies are accelerating away from each other because of dark energy, the cancellation is not exact, so photons stay slightly blueshifted after their passage. Slightly higher temperatures should appear in the CMB where the photons have passed through superclusters.

    However, the new results, based on the Sloan Digital Sky Survey which surveyed 1 million luminous red galaxies, suggest that no such effect is seen, again threatening the standard model of the Universe.

    Utane Sawangwit says, “If our result is repeated in new surveys of galaxies in the Southern Hemisphere then this could mean real problems for the existence of dark energy.”

    If the Universe really has no ‘dark side’, it will come as a relief to some theoretical physicists. Having a model dependent on as yet undetected exotic particles that make up dark matter and the completely mysterious dark energy leaves many scientists feeling uncomfortable. It also throws up problems for the birth of stars in galaxies, with as much ‘feedback’ energy needed to prevent their creation as gravity provides to help them form.

    Prof. Shanks concludes “Odds are that the standard model with its enigmatic dark energy and dark matter will survive – but more tests are needed.

  15. “Dark energy” is just a “scientific” term for an *unseen*, *unknown*, *un-understood* *something* to try to explain scientists’ claim of an accelerating expansion of the universe.

    “Dark matter” is just a “scientific” term for an *unseen*, *unknown*, *un-understood* *something* to try to explain scientists’ puzzlement at why the universe holds together.

    Many years ago, before anyone even contemplated the possibility of an accelerating expansion of the universe, someone wrote:
    “Bless the LORD, O my soul!
    O LORD my God, thou art very great!
    Thou art clothed with honor and majesty,
    who coverest thyself with light as with a garment,
    WHO HAST STRETCHED OUT THE HEAVENS like a tent” [Psalm 104:1-2].

    And long before anyone even contemplated the possibility of a “dark matter” holding the universe together, someone wrote:
    “He is before all things,
    and IN HIM ALL THINGS HOLD TOGETHER.”
    [Colossians 1:17].

    Like dark energy and dark matter, He has never been seen (although His Son has been).

    Why then, *at this point in time*, could He not be considered the explanation for an accelerating expansion of the universe and why the universe holds together?

  16. “although His Son has been”

    Well no, not at all, but if you enjoy spreading that lie I’m sure you won’t stop.

    “Why then, *at this point in time*, could He not be considered the explanation for an accelerating expansion of the universe and why the universe holds together?”
    Because the “idea” that led to the writing of your chosen mythology came before the notion of science existed, before people had the capability to work for understanding of the world and universe around them. Religion is simply a dead end, that leads to no expansion of understanding, it is not a system conducive to education or personal betterment.

  17. SN:

    Why then, *at this point in time*, could He not be considered the explanation for an accelerating expansion of the universe and why the universe holds together?

    Because, according to you,

    Theology isn’t science, and so is not ruled by empirical data and testing,

  18. To eric #21:

    Me: “Why then, *at this point in time*, could He not be considered the explanation for an accelerating expansion of the universe and why the universe holds together?”

    You: “Because, according to you, “Theology isn’t science, and so is not ruled by empirical data and testing””

    Could some truth be beyond empirical data and testing?

    Or do you think empirical data and testing determine *all* truth?

  19. Could some truth be beyond empirical data and testing?

    Somehow, S.N.’s sudden assertion that the expansion of the universe is expanding is Truth seems not to jibe with his previous comments.

    It’s pretty amusing to watch it frantically digging, though.

  20. Could some truth be beyond empirical data and testing?

    Sure.

    But when you asked “why can’t He be considered an explanation…” I thought you were asking why scientists can’t consider God a scientific explanation and investigate this as a potential scientific hypothesis. And the reason He doesn’t is, as you said, “God did it” has no empirical basis. Its not science.

    Now if you’re asking why philosophers, theologians, or lay people can’t consider God as an explanation for the universe and consider it in their non-empirical thought processes (deduction, revelation, etc…), my answer is that they can, and that they are more than welcome to do so.

    Do you agree with that more nuanced response? Of do you want to continue to ask why God isn’t considered a viable scientific hypothesis while simultaneously claiming theology is not science?

  21. To eric #25:

    “Do you agree with that more nuanced response?”

    Yes, I think so.
    However,
    in the context of explaining the alleged accelerating expansion of the universe and of the universe holding together,
    you would agree, at least, that
    *on the basis of empirical data and testing*,
    dark energy/dark matter and God score equally well/equally poorly.

    Yes?

  22. No sn, no agreement at all on your stupid attempt to place your God on equal footing with science. Are you really stupid enough to think that your attempt makes sense?

  23. What we’re gonna do right here is go back, way back, back into time.
    When the only people that existed were troglodytes…
    Cave men, cave women, Neanderthal, troglodytes.
    Let’s take the average cave man at home, listening to his stereo….

    “Could Photons Be Caused By A Quantization Of Electromagnetic Fields?”

    S.N: That question is somewhat like a question of
    “Could extraterrestrial life be caused by [whatever]?”

    Intrepid Reader: Your analogy is poor; the effect of ultraviolet light on spark gaps is observable.

    S.N.: “Sparks”? I thought we were talking about *photons*, as in that thing that has never been observed directly.

    Intrepid Reader #2: When something unexpected like the Hertz effect is observed, scientists look for a cause. If an entity is hypothesized to provide an explanation, we look to confirm its predicted effects elsewhere, too.

    See Noevo: In the context of explaining the alleged ionization of gases and of the production of rays, you would agree, at least, that *on the basis of empirical data and testing*, photons and God score equally well/equally poorly. Yes?

  24. @ SN #19

    Simple answer SN. Your god does not exist, ergo difficult to have a ‘son’. End of story. Cut the crap, get back on track and topic. You have had your fun, so time to go back to some ‘religious’ site & confess your ignorance there.

  25. ” However the energy goes SOMEWHERE, energy isn’t destroyed or created, it’s a constant total.

    Why? In Newtonian physics and flat GR spacetimes it is,”

    Because the energy has each dimension as a free direction. Look at the derivation of the black body for how we decompose the three dimensions of orthogonality to get the total energy.

    Indeed in thermodynamics, that factor for specific heat capacity gets its terms because of the dimensions of free movement: three space at minimum (monatomic), vibration and rotation taking it to five at triatomic systems, and so on as each available “resevior” for energy can be occupied.

    See “Equipartition of energy”.

  26. “WHO HAST STRETCHED OUT THE HEAVENS like a tent”

    Goodness. Goatherders living in tents thought that the universe was a tent, and god “lived” outside it.

    Totally not reality.

    It’s as relevant as claiming that the milky way is the back of a god who holds up the sky.

    Yet somehow you don’t whinge about that being dismissed out of hand because of a lack of evidence for it.

  27. “Memory is a funny thing. I have occasionally looked up old references and found that they didn’t say what I thought they said. Instead, my mind had slowly shifted what I remembered about it into something more consistent with the point I was trying to make or defend at the (later) time”

    Yeah, it’s no different from vision: almost everything you don’t see. The shapes are formed and constructed and sent separately long before the signal gets to the optic nerve. You reconstruct most of what you see by filling it in with what you remember. You “remember” a red car and stitch that one in. Only if you concentrate on detail there will you fill in things like the driver, number of occupants, or license plate number. But because they weren’t even passed to the brain until you concentrated on it, there’s no discrepancy, and no issue arises from it, unless you are asked a question long after, in which case you may fill in some things based on what memory is triggered.

    It’s why even eyewitness accounts are a terrible way to get at the truth in a crime investigation. Even a few days can ruin the actual truth, even if it were seen at the time, and there’s no difference between remembering what you recorded at the time and remembering what you filled in the gaps at the time from another memory.

    Interesting and an embuggerence both!

  28. eric, what I DO know I remember is the pleasant “Goodness, that’s neat!” reaction when I read about the higher dimensions curling up releasing energy.

    I have other ideas somewhat relevant but orthogonal. Quantum indeterminacy means that there’s an “extended here” where two points can be “traversed” instantaneously *because there’s no real difference in the location*.

    I then conjectured that the orbitals are an extended “here” that is much much larger, caused by the interaction of the fields then present, and the “orbit” is just where the actual electron experiences as “the same point in space”, therefore appearing at any location in that region requires no distance to be traversed.

    How to manage that?

    Those higher dimensions.

    They twist and turn based on the energies at the 3d location in “real space” and are the connective between each “quantum here” that would be present sans atomic nucleus.

    This would have some interesting changes to atomic structure at very high energies, where the spaces could be unrolled locally to a region that begins to separate out these places into a discrete and physically distant “here”.

    I also considered the possibility that the masses of the particles are all the same, but they are more or less “in” these three visible dimensions, from which we calculate a different rest mass for a particle that is “in reality” (at the full dimensionality of its existence) the same mass.

    This may also be why we have different strengths of force: the “weaker” the force, the less of it is in the three dimensions of our reality, and the more of it is stuck in the higher dimensions rolled so tightly that they don’t affect our 3d reality. This, however, would presume that the strong force would actually be excluded from these rolled up dimensions, and GUT energies would unroll them to make them disperse into these dimensions and reduce the effect on the three dimensions we accord to reality.

  29. “although His Son has been”

    So has Harry Potter. Aliens (and their anal probes), MIBs, King Arthur and Zeus.

    All have textual insistences that they exist and have existed for real, some of which did magic, therefore are supernatural entities.

    Krishna actually lived and arose to godhood according to his believers.

    Therefore Krishna IS a god????

  30. SN,

    Re: your post 17, as I stated in my post if an entity is hypothesized, and the consequences of that entity are found to actually occur, we will hold that the entity in question exists, pending further data to the contrary. The last part of that is important. The links you provide may be “further data to the contrary”. If so, then further investigation will be necessary to determine if dark energy really does provide the best explanation for observation or not. If not, we will no longer hold that dark energy exists.

    That’s science. That is the way it works. Conclusions are always provisional based on further evidence becoming available. It would be very poor science that did not revise conclusions when the evidence warranted.

    That’s not to say that conclusions change regularly or easily. It really depends on how much explanatory power an idea has. If it’s a speculative idea that was proposed to explain a single phenomenon, then it would be abandoned quite easily. If it’s a fundamental theory that explains a wide range of phenomena, such as general relativity or quantum mechanics in physics, evolution in biology, or atomic theory in chemistry, then it would take multiple observations that leave little alternative to abandoning the theory to cause it to be abandoned. Think, for instance of observations like the Pioneer anomaly or the FTL neutrinos as CERN. Both of those were apparent contradictions to relativity, but neither were sufficient to seriously cause relativity to be questioned. As it turns out, this is a good thing since explanations other than the incorrectness of relativity were found for both observations.

    I’m no expert, but I would guess that dark energy falls somewhere in the intermediate range between these extremes. I would think that work such as that you linked would lead to further investigation, but would be insufficient to cause a complete abandonment of dark energy.

  31. To Sean T:

    eric never responded to my question from July 30.
    I’ll pose the same thing to you:

    In the context of explaining the alleged accelerating expansion of the universe and of the universe holding together,
    you would agree, at least, that
    *on the basis of empirical data and testing [to date]*,
    dark energy/dark matter and God score equally well/equally poorly.
    Yes?

  32. SN,

    Again, your ignorance is showing. It’s not a question of whether God scores as well as the scientific theory. That’s comparing apples to oranges. God is just not a scientific theory. I suppose you could postulate whatever properties for God (It’s His will and we cannot hope to understand) such that for ANY phenomenon, God explains it better than the science does. The problem is that we cannot test whether the God hypothesis is actually true or not, whereas we can for dark energy or any other scientific idea.

    The very example of dark energy points this out. If the data you linked to proves out and no other explanation is forthcoming, dark energy will have been eliminated as a scientific hypothesis. The fact that this could potentially happen is in fact what makes it scientific in the first place. This constitutes a true test of dark energy. It could well show that dark energy doesn’t exist.

    Now tell me, how can you do that with an omnipotent God? What observation would lead one to conclusively state that God does not exist? You can’t do it; an omnipotent God is by definition capable of making any observation you choose come out any way He wants. You can make the argument that God doesn’t want to reveal His existence, so your observation that you think disproves God really does not. God is consistent with ANY observation. That’s not a strength, like you might think it is. That is a weakness. It means we cannot ever gain confidence that God exists because nothing we do could ever lead us to the opposite conclusion.

    You also seem to have this notion that if you can just disprove the prevailing ideas in science, then those evil scientists will be forced to admit that Goddidit. Of course, as the above points out, nothing could be further from the truth. If dark energy does not pan out, I am sure there will be some other scientific idea put forward to explain the accelerating universal expansion. We won’t just say Goddidit and quit all this scientific research.

  33. you would agree, at least, that
    *on the basis of empirical data and testing*,
    dark energy/dark matter and God score equally well/equally poorly.

    No, this is clearly not true. My response is similar to Sean’s. You’ve agreed “God” is not even a scientific explanation. OTOH the concept of dark energy is scientific, because as either Einstein’s cosmological constant or something that looks a lot like it, we can quantify its effects and make predictions about how – if this idea is correct – observations of the physical universe should align with it. And if observations do not turn out to be consistent with it, we can use that to rule it out (or modify it).

  34. To Sean T and eric:

    Thanks, but the correct, objective answer is YES.

    In the context of explaining the alleged accelerating expansion of the universe and of the universe holding together,
    *on the basis of empirical data and testing to date* (with dark energy and dark matter as yet *unseen*, *unknown*, *un-understood*, and quite possibly non-existent),
    dark energy/dark matter and God score equally well/equally poorly.
    Yes?
    YES.

  35. In the context of explaining the alleged accelerating expansion of the universe and of the universe holding together

    Has anybody bothered trying to extract from S.N. what the boldfaced words are supposed to “mean”? Why does the script juxtapose it with the “alleged [sic] accelerating expansion” line?

    Is he actually stupid enough to have arrived at some sort of “gotcha” formulation in which the balloon analogy is extended to the point that the universe must “pop” in this case?

    There’s no shortage of Impossible Because Would Spoil Second Coming material that he’s ginned up, but this would be truly impressive.

    P.S. to S.N.: I hate to break this to you, but you yourself are not, in fact, the “scorer.” This is why you’ve been long devoid of female companionship.

  36. @40: repeating your assertion does not support it. The answer is no. We told you why.

    Basically, what you’re trying to argue is that all possible ideas are equivalently acceptable to science if they haven’t yet been strongly confirmed through observation. This is simply untrue. Empirically testable but unsupported hypotheses are considered stronger than the untestable ones. The empirically testable hypotheses with a little support are considered stronger than the ones with more support. And so on. Likewise with disconfirming observations: the fewer of those you have, the stronger your hypothesis is going to be considered to be. The hypothesis (or theory) of dark energy makes claims about how the universe should look, and the universe does indeed look mostly that way. So its testable, and has some support, and doesn’t have a lot of disconfirming evidence. “God did it”, on the other hand, is not even empirically testable. You’ve agreed that this is the case, that theological explanations are ‘not ruled by empirical data and testing.’ So no, they aren’t equivalently good explanations.

  37. Ack, typo. In the middle my sentence should read “The empirically testable hypotheses with a little support are considered stronger than the ones with no support.”

  38. SN,

    Maybe to help you understand the answer a bit better. Consider the hypothesis that my cat is omnipotent. He created the universe and is responsible for its accelerating expansion. That hypothesis is equivalent to God as far as an explanation of the phenomenon of the accelerating expansion goes. It scores equally well with the pseudo-explanation that God did it. Why do you not take it seriously? (I am assuming that you don’t; I truly hope you don’t take seriously the idea that my cat is responsible for the expansion of the universe).

    Before you hit me with all the normal objections, I found an ancient scroll in my back yard. It says that it was written by people inspired by my cat (who’s also immortal). It says that my cat wants to remain hidden and not have anyone else know about him. Since he’s omnipotent – and I know he is because my scroll says so – I know he is capable of doing this. He is the one who actually wrote the Bible so that everyone would believe that this God actually exists and created the universe. My cat just wanted to be left alone and not be worshipped and be bothered with prayers and such.

    You can no more prove this wrong than I can prove that your beliefs in God are wrong. We have equal justification for our beliefs; namely some old writings. My cat and God provide equally good explanatory power for natural phenomena. Hopefully, you can see that my cat does not provide a good scientific explanation, and in similar fashion, God does not provide a good scientific explanation either.

  39. Consider the hypothesis that my cat is omnipotent. He created the universe and is responsible for its accelerating expansion

    Well, a constantly expanding universe is sort of like demanding the door be left open yet choosing not to go outside.

  40. To Sean T #44:

    “Maybe to help you understand the answer a bit better. Consider the hypothesis that my cat is omnipotent. He created the universe and is responsible for its accelerating expansion. That hypothesis is equivalent to God as far as an explanation of the phenomenon of the accelerating expansion goes. It scores equally well with the pseudo-explanation that God did it. Why do you not take it seriously?”

    I don’t take seriously the hypothesis that your cat did it, because, in this context,
    unlike dark matter and dark energy and God the Father,
    the cat is NOT *unseen*, *unknown*, *un-understood*.
    The cat IS seen, known, understood.
    Cats have never been seen/known/understood to do such things.
    ……….

    “… I found an ancient scroll in my back yard. It says that it was written by people inspired by my cat (who’s also immortal). It says that my cat wants to remain hidden and not have anyone else know about him. Since he’s omnipotent – and I know he is because my scroll says so …
    He is the one who actually wrote the Bible so that everyone would believe…”

    If your cat
    – predicted he’d rise from the dead,
    – and did so,
    – to the witness of many people who later submitted to excruciating deaths for refusing to deny their witness of that physical bodily resurrection,
    – and the Church, the “pillar and bulwark of the truth”, established by the cat, vouched for the divine truth of the scroll,

    then, I would seriously consider believing in that cat scroll.

  41. – predicted he’d rise from the dead,
    * No, people wrote that he did – he didn’t exist
    – and did so,
    * No, people wrote that he did
    – to the witness of many people who later submitted to excruciating deaths for refusing to deny their witness of that physical bodily resurrection,
    * Again, purely false
    – and the Church, the “pillar and bulwark of the truth”, established by the cat, vouched for the divine truth of the scroll,
    * The church was not established by your jesus, and has never been a “pillar and bulwark” of any truth

    What a complete failure you are.

  42. to the witness of many people who later submitted to excruciating deaths for refusing to deny their witness of that physical bodily resurrection

    “Submitted”?

    Anyway, thank goodness that there were all these martyrs* and the Nazarene nailed to a cross in order to justify expressing this sort of proudly disgraceful behavior as one would with an inflamed natal-cleft cyst.

    * Hey, wait, wasn’t I the first one to bring up the topic? Ouchies for the “Do Not Call/No Fly” idiocy.

  43. SN’s statements in @47 would seem to indicate that Arianism, Marcionite, or Gnostic Christianity is the right religion while Catholicism and Protestantism are false. After all, the five sects share every single point on his list, but the first three had more martyrs suffer/die for their beliefs. Going by his more martyrs = more truth argument, that would make them more theologically correct.

  44. SN

    That’s what my cat said you’d say. Like I said, he made up all this Jesus/God stuff to attract those who want to believe in something so that he doesn’t have to be bothered with all of you. He knows I am not really the worshipping/praying type so he let me in on the secret.

    See how it is when you start bringing omnipotent beings into the picture. You can’t falsify anything that is claimed about them. That’s rather the point of this whole exercise, but I’m not surprised that you missed that point and tried to falsify my example anyway.

  45. Why do you Godbotherers feel the need to keep bringing religion into a SCIENTIFIC topic. It has no place.

    If you want to spout your religious crap, then do it on a religion website. I have no problem with that. I start to have a problem with it when you deluded nutters come to a SCIENTIFIC topic that has nothing to do with religion and basically turn it into a religion debate. It’s retarded quite frankly.

  46. Now I know that someone is going to point out that I am basically encouraging more sparring by posting that comment, but I wouldn’t post it if the religious people didn’t come and change the subject quite dramatically.

    P.S. The first full stop should be a question mark, not a full stop. Silly me.

  47. To PJ #49:

    “Hijacked again !!!”

    If you’re referring to me, what is your definition of “hijack”?
    I’m wondering if someone who had 10 of the first 54 comments (<19%) would be considered a hijacker.
    ………………….
    To MeMe #53, #54:

    “Why do you Godbotherers feel the need to keep bringing religion into a SCIENTIFIC topic. It has no place.”

    I didn’t bring up religion here.
    However, eric did. See #9.

  48. See Noevo

    After it was mentioned you started rambling on about it and contradicted yourself.

    “Theology isn’t science”
    “dark energy/dark matter and God score equally well/equally poorly.
    Yes?” Therefore implying that God is a scientific hypothesis that is more credible than Dark Energy/Dark Matter.

    Is that a contradiction?
    YES! Big time.

  49. *Not more credible, rather equally as credible. My mistake.

    Also, may I mention you led up to Theology being mentioned.

  50. I’m wondering if someone who had 10 of the first 54 comments (<19%) would be considered a hijacker.

    This extremely stupid routine, BTW, is something that S.N. came up with after Jason Rosenhouse told him to rate-limit his comments, shortly before banning him for the first time, e.g., here.

  51. Narad

    After seeing some of S.N.’s stuff, I am honestly not sure why they aren’t banned off this site yet since it’s obvious that he is a troll.

  52. @55: well technically Narad beat me to it in @8. You’re right, there was a spate of theology-talk from @8-14. Then Sean and Dean brought back with two solid science posts. Then you jumped the shark in @19 by quoting a whole paragraph of scripture.

    @59: Ethan just recently ran a vote on the subject; the results were a ‘stay.’

    While I’m certainly one of the ‘main offenders’ in terms of feeding, I think SN is at worst a mixed bag. The occasional good question typically elicits one of the scientists on the board to expand on point in a way that might be useful to lurkers. And when it comes to the fundie trolling, well, call be a cynic but I can’t think of a better way to sway fencesitters towards a scientific worldview than seeing what its rejection looks like.

  53. To MeMe2:

    “@59 … And when it comes to the fundie trolling, well, call be a cynic but I can’t think of a better way to sway fencesitters *towards* a *scientific worldview* than seeing what its rejection looks like.”

    If you need any help understanding what eric is advocating with “scientific worldview”,
    try looking up “scientism”,
    another form of philosophy or religion.

  54. If you need any help understanding what eric is advocating with “scientific worldview”,
    try looking up “scientism”
    another form of philosophy or religion.

    I guess Guy Consolmagno is going to be in a world of trouble when the S.N. Inquisition finally gets rolling.

  55. Thanks Narad – I’m making popcorn now in anticipation of sn’s rebuttal to that post.

    Since he has repeatedly stated that he is more knowledgeable about catholic dogma and theology than the current pope, and would love to “meet him and set him straight”, I’m sure his discussion of Guy Consolmagno will be equally enlightening.

  56. It’s not the first time that I’ve brought up Brother Consolmagno, and S.N.’s not going to reply anyway.

  57. “It’s not the first time that I’ve brought up Brother Consolmagno, and S.N.’s not going to reply anyway.”

    Still a win. My dog and I have popcorn.

  58. To MeMe2 #66:

    “S.N.
    Science isn’t a religion you absolute idiot. You sound extremely stupid.”

    You either didn’t read what I wrote or are yourself extremely stupid.
    I never said science is a religion.
    I said “scientism”, essentially what eric advocates, is another form of philosophy or religion.
    And so it is.

    If the “religion” part is tripping you up, try reading Merriam-Webster:
    3) “an interest, a belief, or an activity that is very important to a person or group”.

  59. If the “religion” part is tripping you up, try reading Merriam-Webster:
    3) “an interest, a belief, or an activity that is very important to a person or group”.

    Oh, dear. I mean, “argument” from dictionary cut-and-paste ought to be mortifying to any reflective person, but S.N.’s choice, which reduces his (weakly) purported Roman Catholicism to the overall level of the model-train hobby is priceless.

  60. SN: please tell me how the opinion I stated (roughly, ‘I personally think SN’s posts convince more people to accept science than reject it’) is scientism. As far as I can tell, it’s not really a comment on the validity of science or other fields at all, its really just a comment on my opinion of your skill at writing and argument.

  61. To eric #69:

    “SN: please tell me how the opinion I stated (roughly, ‘I personally think SN’s posts convince more people to accept science than reject it’) is scientism.”

    The “roughly” statement directly above is NOT scientism.
    But that “roughly” statement is NOT the statement of yours which I was commenting on. And you should know it isn’t.

    I’ll re-run the statement of yours which I WAS commenting on (with *MY EMPHASES*):
    “And when it comes to the fundie trolling, well, call be a cynic but I can’t think of a better way to sway fencesitters towards a *SCIENTIFIC WORLDVIEW* than seeing what its rejection looks like.”

    To Merriam-Webster again:
    Scientism: “2) an exaggerated trust in the efficacy of the methods of natural science applied to all areas of investigation (as in philosophy, the social sciences, and the humanities).”

    Wiki is probably more to the point:
    Scientism: “Scientism is a belief in the universal applicability of the scientific method and approach, and the view that empirical science constitutes the most “authoritative” worldview or the most valuable part of human learning—to the exclusion of other viewpoints.”

    This entire website should be renamed as
    “ScientismBlogs”.

    Or maybe “AtheistScienceyBlogs”.

  62. I’ll re-run the statement of yours which I WAS commenting on (with *MY EMPHASES*):
    “And when it comes to the fundie trolling, well, call be a cynic but I can’t think of a better way to sway fencesitters towards a *SCIENTIFIC WORLDVIEW* than seeing what its rejection looks like.”

    That’s exactly the quote I was paraphrasing. The point of that statement was: I think your arguments are so poor they actually drive people into accepting science rather than rejecting it.

    Are you claiming I’m confessing my secret scientism because I used the word “worldview”? Is that your whole argument?

  63. And in response to #70, it should be obvious to anyone that your Wiki quote doesn’t support your argument. I said your arguments get people to accept a scientific worldview. This clearly is not the same as saying it’s the only worldview that matters. Analogy: telling people “SN drives people to become democrats” is not the same thing as saying “democrats have the only valid opinions.” See the difference?

  64. This entire website should be renamed as
    “ScientismBlogs”.

    Or maybe “AtheistScienceyBlogs”.

    So you’ve been reduced from making and then running away from stupid comments about, e.g., the conservation of energy, are are now just bitching generally? Nobody’s forcing you to visit.

  65. To eric #71:

    “Are you claiming I’m confessing my secret scientism because I used the word “worldview”? Is that your whole argument?”

    No. It’s only part of my argument.
    The rest of the argument is founded on many of the other posts you make.

  66. No. It’s only part of my argument.
    The rest of the argument is founded on many of the other posts you make.

    I, for one, am greatly entertained by S.N.’s stumbling into a new philosophical subject that he doesn’t understand.

    Perhaps his golf caddy could explain methodological naturalism to him, unless they’ve all been too creeped out on the links to get anywhere close.

  67. @75: please quote an example.

    I consider myself more of a provisional, willing-to-change-my-mind-should-new-evidence-arise methodological naturalist. I don’t think I’ve ever promoted philosophical naturalism on this site or any other. So I’ll be interested to see what you come up with.

  68. To eric #77:

    “@75: please quote an example.”

    Here are some examples, from http://scienceblogs.com/startswithabang/2016/06/13/from-nothing-to-you-in-12-easy-steps-synopsis/#comment-570632
    with [my commentary tonight]

    Post #7
    Me to Michael Kelsey: “not surprising that the ONLY hypotheses you consider are “entirely materialistic.””

    You: “I’m willing to consider other testable scientific hypotheses. But I don’t see how “an omnipotent God who is consistent with all possible observations miracle-poofed animals into existence one day” is one of those.”

    [Sounds like you’ll consider not just other testable scientific hypotheses but ONLY other TESTABLE SCIENTIFIC hypotheses.]
    …………….
    #14:
    “No observed phenomena is inconsistent with an omnipotent God. That’s the problem: you either give up source omnipotence or you give up hypothesis testability and usefulness, because they are mutually exclusive. At least as I see it.”

    [Sounds like you give up on “source omnipotence” and will consider ONLY “hypothesis testability and usefulness.”]
    ………
    #19:
    “I’m happy to consider non-material/un-natural hypotheses, if they’re testable.”

    [Again, you’ll consider ONLY the testable.]
    ………….
    #54:
    “If someone tells me their religion demands a literal miracle which science says couldn’t have happened, then I’ll be clear and say that according to our best understanding of science, that miracle couldn’t have happened.”

    [No further comment needed.]
    …………….
    #65:
    Me: “would you say that walking on water and turning water into wine and rising from the dead CANNOT happen and NEVER HAVE happened?”

    You: “With the standard science caveats about provisional tentative understanding, yes.”

    [No further comment needed.]
    …………….
    ……………….
    But given you’ve here identified yourself as a “methodological naturalist”, perhaps the above examples weren’t even necessary.
    As Conservapedia notes: “Methodological naturalism is a strategy for studying the world, by which scientists choose not to consider supernatural causes – even as a remote possibility.”

    Practically speaking, methodological naturalism = scientific worldview = scientism.

  69. I don’t think I’ve ever promoted philosophical naturalism on this site or any other.

    It’s probably not going to matter, but I hope you did that before midnight EDT.

  70. Practically speaking, methodological naturalism = scientific worldview = scientism.

    Now, that’s what I call begging the question. Everything is in first two, meaningless words.

  71. [Sounds like you give up on “source omnipotence” and will consider ONLY “hypothesis testability and usefulness.”]

    This seems apropos.

  72. [Sounds like you’ll consider not just other testable scientific hypotheses but ONLY other TESTABLE SCIENTIFIC hypotheses.]

    Yes, for consideration by science I will only consider scientific hypotheses. But this is not scientism – scientism is claiming no other disciplines count or matter or should be used. Saying I won’t consider non-scientific hypotheses within science says nothing about how I view other disciplines. .

    [Sounds like you give up on “source omnipotence” and will consider ONLY “hypothesis testability and usefulness.”]

    I stand by my claim that an omnipotent God is basically untestable because the idea is consistent with any outcome. But your claim that this equals scientism rests on the fallacy of the false dilemma; theology positing a creationist omnipotent God is not the only non-scientific way of knowing out there. So when I reject your theology as not leading to knowledge, that doesn’t make me a scientism-ist, any more than someone who doesn’t eat chicken is a vegetarian. That person could eat beef, even if they refuse chicken. Likewise, I can reject your particular ‘other way’ as bunk while still accepting that some other ways are possible and useful.

    For your #19, #54, and #65 quotes, see my first response, its the same. Saying that the field of science excludes non-scientific ideas and that the field of science provisionally concludes that miracles didn’t happen is not scientism. Scientism would be saying other fields of study don’t matter or shouldn’t be used, and I’ve never said that.

    You are confusing statements of the type “1+1=2 isn’t History, its Math” with “anything not History sucks.” I’ve said the former to many of your claims: they aren’t science. I’ve never said anything not science sucks.

    As Conservapedia notes: “Methodological naturalism is a strategy for studying the world, by which scientists choose not to consider supernatural causes – even as a remote possibility.”

    Well, let’s just use your own source here then. Conservapedia also says “Scientism is the belief that the scientific method has no (or few) limits and can successfully be applied to almost all aspects of life.”

    Since “not considering supernatural causes” is not the logical equivalent of “believing science applies to all aspects of life,” then even going by your own cited source, methodological naturalism isn’t scientism.

  73. To eric #84:

    So, you’re not a scientism-ist.
    Great.

    “Saying I won’t consider non-scientific hypotheses within science says nothing about how I view other disciplines…
    some other ways are possible and useful…
    I’ve never said anything not science sucks.”

    At bottom, science explores only the WHAT of the universe.
    Any scientific explanations on the how, who, where, when, and even the WHY, are really just explanations of the WHAT, WHAT IS.

    Science does not and can not answer the ultimate WHYs.

    In a sense, whatever science comes up with, a reasonable thoughtful response could well be:
    “So WHAT?”
    (A good album, by the way… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ImT76wD1ikc&list=PLoXOsFrcJYQklzNLsk-qB9Nz8OgwnyOqi)

    So, in addressing the ultimate WHYs of life, including the why/meaning of your life, what non-scientific disciplines in your view don’t “suck”?

  74. So, you’re not a scientism-ist.
    Great.

    Dawn breaks over Marblehead. Or, rather, S.N. tries to change the subject again after something sinks in, naturally garnished with some sort of attempted Y—be distraction.

    The original “reasoning,” of course, has been faux-disappeared in the process.

  75. Narad, Eric and Dean,

    I guess at some point if you keep feeding a troll, you are becoming a troll yourself. It is like adding fuel to a fire. If sn has some mental issues, than fine so be it, but if you keep on engaging after all these months, than I honestly have to say that it are you guys that are starting to look really stupid, unto the point that I’m now really considering that you guys are as dumb. Ethan already made the wise call to stop reacting, but still you guys continue going after him and being tricked into meaningless debates. What part of your brains are not getting it and keep on being fooled, is it like a gambling addiction thet you keep on having the need to respond? Haven’t you guys got any papers to read that are far more interesting, or does it makes you feel smart to beat up a retard? Either way there is definitly something wrong with you guys as well.

  76. To Paul Dekous #87:

    “I guess at some point if you keep feeding a troll, you are becoming a troll yourself.”

    I’m happy to see that at least you don’t abide by the more common, and false, understanding of “troll” at ScienceBlogs. Authors and posters here label someone a “troll” if he posts a comment which *disagrees with* or *questions/challenges* the positions of the ScienceBlog authors. But you’re saying these other folks are trolls, or becoming trolls, even though they agree with the positions of the SB authors.
    How refreshing!

    And if I post multiple such comments, I’m labeled a “hijacker”!

    Speaking of which, the comment count here, for those you mention:
    Eric: 20
    Narad: 20
    Me: 17
    Dean: 9
    All others: 20
    Total: 86

  77. Authors and posters here label someone a “troll” if he posts a comment which *disagrees with* or *questions/challenges* the positions of the ScienceBlog authors.

    No, sustained attention-whoring as evidenced by running away from reasoned responses and then repeating the stupid exercise over and over are more than adequate.

  78. @59: Ethan just recently ran a vote on the subject; the results were a ‘stay.’

    The plurality was for “banned forever,” but a supermajority was required.

  79. This entire website should be renamed as
    “ScientismBlogs”.

    Or maybe “AtheistScienceyBlogs”.

    As sure as the rising of the sun, S.N. can’t help but recycle when he thinks he’s made a clever:

    I can’t count the number of times I’ve been called “troll” over at ScienceBlogs. (It could just as well be called ScientismBlogs or ScienceyAtheistBlogs.)
    To them, a “troll” is anyone who posts comments which *disagree with or challenge* the viewpoint of the author and his like-minded commenters.
    I’ve been banned by at least two or three of the blogs authors there.

  80. I’ve been banned by at least two or three of the blogs authors there.

    a) Considering how hard he tries to get banned, that’s a pathetic return on his time
    b) I feel rather certain that in the circles he runs in on a regular basis that admission is seen as a badge of honor. Anti-knowledge folks hang out together.

  81. “I guess at some point if you keep feeding a troll, you are becoming a troll yourself. ”

    While pointing fingers at others, you have four folded back and pointing to yourself.

    Paul, you’ve posted drek and are a troll. Complaining about others, even an arsehole like See Nowt doesn’t hide that fact.

  82. “So, in addressing the ultimate WHYs of life, including the why/meaning of your life, what non-scientific disciplines in your view don’t “suck”?”

    WHY is there an “ultimate WHY of life”?

    WHY must there be meaning to life at all?

    If all beings MUST have a meaning for their life, what’s the meaning of your god’s life????

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