Quantum mechanics, Reality, Vedanta and the nature of 'scientific method'
#1
Quote:Moderator note: Moved from here.

Dear moderators!

I am bit confused about 'scientific method' which needs to be followed in order to prove the claim of some religions say 'Vedanta'.

Someone stated me "Quantum fluctuations states that the sum total of energy in this universe is zero. What we see is simply a feedback mechanism that results in this variation". If it is so what we feel as 'real' is no more a real thing! It's simply a 'mechanism' which gives the sense of 'reality' and there isn't anything as 'real' in the universe.

In the light of this what is the significance of 'scientific method' that you expect 'Vedanta' to follow? Isn't that 'scientific method' a non-reality? Vedanta says exactly the same that 'Jaganmithya' i.e. World is 'Mithya' i.e. appears to be real but not exactly so and never contradicts the science.

I am putting it here since I was banned on 'debate corner' and no access to other groups for asking the very question as above in different versions.

Please let me know whether above statement is worth discussion or not? why and I am sorry.
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#2
Mod note: Post moved from here.

Just interesting!!

One atheist told me that quantum fluctuations states that the sum total of energy in this universe is zero. What we see is simply a feedback mechanism that results in this variation.

If it is really so then is there anything which is real? What we see as real should not be real and just be a 'feedback mechanism'! Since 'sum total energy in the universe is zero' means that there exists nothing absolutely!!

Vedanta states the same thing that 'Jaganmithya brahma saty' i.e. what we see as universe simply appears to be real and not true. It is simply the Brahman (feedback mechanism devoid of energy and which never can be quantified) that is true.

How do you all feel about it?

In the light of this I am doubting the conditions laid by atheists for Vedanta etc to prove their claim in terms of 'scientific method' which itself turns out to be 'void' in the light of above observation of quantum mechanics.

Is there anybody who can clear this doubt of mine?
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#3
Let's make it rather simple here. Say you suspect your milkman is adding water to your milk and thinning it down way beyond what has been promised to you. How do you check it? You observe that when you have thick milk, you get more cream. When you have watered milk, you cream content is less. You take that milk, measure the fat content (cream=fat). If he is promising you whole milk, and the fat content is measured out to 2%--then you rightly know that he is short-changing you. You do this several times over just to make sure that it isn't just the cow putting own thinner milk. You test it several times and you figure out that this is something he does every day.

This process of you ascertaining something by observing and testing and repeating it till surety is what one would term a "scientific method."

Do you understand now?
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#4
(12-Dec-2011, 09:16 PM)ramesh Wrote: I am bit confused about 'scientific method' which needs to be followed in order to prove the claim of some religions say 'Vedanta'.

Firstly, you are making the mistake of deciding beforehand what your conclusion is. We all know what it is you want to prove as real. The first rule about exploring something using the scientific method is wanting to find out whether something is true or false. Wanting a certain conclusion leads to confirmation bias, something that scientists guard for using experimental protocols such as blinding.

Quote:Someone stated me "Quantum fluctuations states that the sum total of energy in this universe is zero. What we see is simply a feedback mechanism that results in this variation". If it is so what we feel as 'real' is no more a real thing! It's simply a 'mechanism' which gives the sense of 'reality' and there isn't anything as 'real' in the universe.

This is
1. Irrelevant,
2. A non sequitur.

Quantum effects are as of yet irreconcilable with questions at the scale of the sum total of the energy of the universe.
Quantum effects have not been scientifically linked to "what we feel as "real""
Perception is getting a sense of reality, but by the highly successful process of inductive reasoning we conlude that the more reasonable explanation for our intersubjective perceptions, often mathematically ergo objectively verified, is that reality is real. Woo, is also real.

Quote:In the light of this what is the significance of 'scientific method' that you expect 'Vedanta' to follow?


In the light of your misunderstanding, here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientific_method
But the requirement is not that that ancient book of stone age peoples be scientific. The requirement is that modern people who live in the modern age, using modern scientific inventions everyday, be able to qualify the beliefs they draw from this primitive text, using the reasonable standards set by the scientific community.

Quote:Isn't that 'scientific method' a non-reality?


No. Its a method for exploring the universe. Of course its real.


"Fossil rabbits in the Precambrian"
~ J.B.S.Haldane, on being asked to falsify evolution.
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#5
(12-Dec-2011, 09:16 PM)ramesh Wrote: I am bit confused about 'scientific method' which needs to be followed in order to prove the claim of some religions say 'Vedanta'.

Suppose someone were to tell you "Physics holds the key to understanding the observable Universe across all orders of magnitude from quarks to quasars. The fundamentals of Physics are all stated in a simple form in Concepts of Physics I and II by Prof. H. C. Verma. Physics is based on the principle that the Universe is governed by laws that we can comprehend." , it is but natural to expect that you will not immediately accept the person saying this as a physicist, or refrain from asking any more questions about the fundamentals and the laws of Physics. You are entitled to, and in fact encouraged to, ask questions like "How did physicists figure out what the speed of light is? What is the best available estimate of the age of the Universe?"

How then, can you expect an endorsement of authenticity and even authority by simply saying something to the effect: "Vedanta holds the key to understanding the Universe both observable and unobserved. The fundamentals of Vedanta can be found in a simple form in 'Vichar Sagar' by Nishchal Das. Vedanta is based on the principle that the world is only apparent and not real in any profound sense." ? When pressed about their hypotheses and provisional conclusions, scientists are able to provide a method based on Physical Evidence and Reasoned Logic (also check a previous similar discussion here). Now, even when a claim about the physical universe, say about the speed of light, is made by supposed supporters of Vedanta, then those claims too are examined by these standards by us, as can be seen in this thread.

In short, the scientific method examines specific claims empirically rather than by granting exemptions based on the history of beliefs in the claim or by the erudition of the claimant. These posts (1 and 2) should serve to make this clear. So in other words, you are welcome to present individual testable claims, which participants here will be glad to examine using the scientific method.

(12-Dec-2011, 09:16 PM)ramesh Wrote: Isn't that 'scientific method' a non-reality? Vedanta says exactly the same that 'Jaganmithya' i.e. World is 'Mithya' i.e. appears to be real but not exactly so and never contradicts the science.

This dismissing of all science as belonging to the 'Mithya' or 'Vyavaharika' world and merely the realm of 'Apara Vidya' whereas Vedanta concerns itself with the 'Paramarthika' world of 'Para Vidya' is a standard objection raised by religious apologists, as in this instance. Responses to this from a naturalistic perspective can be read here (1 and 2).

(12-Dec-2011, 09:16 PM)ramesh Wrote: Please let me know whether above statement is worth discussion or not?

It would have remained worth discussing but for the fact that so many similar claims have already been repeatedly debunked in the past and that there is such a wealth of material available that can readily pre-empt such misconceptions about the scientific method.





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#6
@Kamal:

A) Re: Firstly, you are making the mistake of deciding beforehand what your conclusion is. We all know what it is you want to prove as real.

May I know what I have decided beforehand according to you? Please crosscheck if it is the same as I am going to state in this reply.

I base my arguments on the following points:-

1. Energy cannot be created nor can be destroyed. Still there exists energy. What explanation science has to offer to this?

2. I am not sure: One atheist told me that quantum fluctuations states that the sum total of energy in this universe is zero as an reply to the point 1. What we see is simply a feedback mechanism that results in this variation

To this you replied that: Quantum effects are as of yet irreconcilable with questions at the scale of the sum total of the energy of the universe. Quantum effects have not been scientifically linked to "what we feel as "real""

I understand your reply like this, let me know if it is correct: Science is yet to find the explanation to the existent energy which can’t be created as per 1st law of thermodynamics. Kindly let me know if the fact is otherwise! Please.

B) Re: Perception is getting a sense of reality, but by the highly successful process of inductive reasoning we conlude that the more reasonable explanation for our intersubjective perceptions, often mathematically ergo objectively verified, is that reality is real. Woo, is also real.

** My logic and reasoning states that ‘inductive reasoning’, ‘perception’, mathematics’, ‘objectivity’ etc are defined only after the assumption of existence of ‘reality’ and which in turn turns out to be ‘real’ only after knowing ‘everything’ (origin, total amount etc) about the ‘existing energy’ which however, as per my present understanding about science is ‘yet to be explained.’

Thus all items which constitute ‘scientific method’ is a result of the human perception which itself is yet not understood for existing energy is unexplained till now. This is my line of argument.

Now since ‘Vedanta’ deals only with ‘how the universe (energy) came into being for the first time’ and nothing else this is how I conclude that my point is quite ‘relevant and a sequitur’ unlike your conclusion. If Vedanta is to put its proof in terms of ‘scientific evidence’ it would amount to ‘assuming beforehand the reality of the perceptions sensed by human sense organs which are made up of ‘energy’ origin of which is unexplained by the same science just to prove how ‘univere/energy’ is beyond reality (and not exactly as unreal either). Thus how do you people expect Vedanta to assume beforehand (the items constituting the scientific method and which science itself is yet to know exactly as above) which it wants to prove otherwise? Is it logical and according to the reasoning? **

Please I am serious and most curious only about ‘how the universe or energy came into being for the first time’ and nothing else. ‘Vedanta has offered me satisfactory answer based on its reasoning and logic dealt in details at ‘Vichar Sagar’. However, Please!, also note that I am most interested in knowing “how all this ‘Vedanta’ is unscientific and against the critical reasoning” as all the atheists, agnostics and most of the scientists think. It is quite possible that I will become the most ardent ‘atheist’ like you subject to satisfaction of all my doubts based on simply ‘logic, reason, critical thinking’ as argued above. Also my English is not that standard and knowledge of science is limited but can learn all that is needed. ( I am just BSc graduate). So help me guiding where I go wrong in above thinking.

Have I been able to explain my point clearly and to the point? I have referred all the links given by you and by arvindiyer. But I am afraid those do not satisfy the above quest put up by me within ** marks. So help me please on the points raised by me EXACTLY. Forgive any inadvertent and unintentional negligence of your guidance in the course.
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#7
(13-Dec-2011, 09:00 PM)ramesh Wrote: Energy cannot be created nor can be destroyed. Still there exists energy. What explanation science has to offer to this?

Prof. Wadhawan in his blog post on the Big Bang offers an explanation how mass/energy are 'created out of nothing' that is compatible with the conservation laws.

(13-Dec-2011, 09:00 PM)ramesh Wrote: Thus all items which constitute ‘scientific method’ is a result of the human perception which itself is yet not understood for existing energy is unexplained till now. This is my line of argument.

The scientific method has inbuilt mechanisms to compensate for certain inherent limitations and the error-proneness of human perception as is explained in this clip. Without those measures and precautions any speculation to explain universal phenomena would not be reliable.

(13-Dec-2011, 09:00 PM)ramesh Wrote: Vedanta has offered me satisfactory answer based on its reasoning and logic dealt in details at ‘Vichar Sagar’....I am most interested in knowing “how all this ‘Vedanta’ is unscientific and against the critical reasoning” as all the atheists, agnostics and most of the scientists think.

I am not sure if this is a suitable forum for literary exegesis of spiritual texts. Textual criticism of the said text has been offered elsewhere (1, 2, 3) and such approaches aren't the preliminary pre-occupation of members here. Of course, this would change if it is shown that the text contains scientific predictions which scientists aren't yet aware of and result in discoveries that were not possible by other means. In other words, all spiritual texts are subject to the challenge outlined here.



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#8
(13-Dec-2011, 09:00 PM)ramesh Wrote: ** My logic and reasoning states that ‘inductive reasoning’, ‘perception’, mathematics’, ‘objectivity’ etc are defined only after the assumption of existence of ‘reality’ and which in turn turns out to be ‘real’ only after knowing ‘everything’ (origin, total amount etc) about the ‘existing energy’ which however, as per my present understanding about science is ‘yet to be explained.’

Thus all items which constitute ‘scientific method’ is a result of the human perception which itself is yet not understood for existing energy is unexplained till now. This is my line of argument.

That there exists a real world and that inductive reasoning will hold good are assumptions, but assumptions which haven't failed us. There isn't any absolute certainty that those assumptions will continue to not fail us. So "We don't know" is an answer that comes very easily to an atheist, as they know the epistemic limits of human knowledge.

But that is a view that most religious people find extremely hard to accept because they have been indoctrinated that absolute certainty exists. They want certainty that those assumptions (or another set of assumptions) are true. They use various mechanisms like god or brahman to believe that such absolute certainties exist.

And here is the answer to your question. The epistemic limits apply for all knowledge systems. They are all probabilistic. Be it science or Vedanta. However science makes the limits known explicitly, but Vedanta demands that it be accepted on faith that it has no such limits. An assertion like that is in the same category as that of a scientologist asserting that Xenu is real. This is simple logic, a proof by contradiction. When you justify Vedanta, using the very same premises, absurd conclusions can be arrived at. Science does not lead to contradictions because it accepts that it can be wrong, is amenable to correction and it relies on the assumptions mentioned earlier which have to be false in order for it to lead to contradictions.
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#9
(13-Dec-2011, 09:00 PM)ramesh Wrote: @Kamal:

A) Re: Firstly, you are making the mistake of deciding beforehand what your conclusion is. We all know what it is you want to prove as real.

May I know what I have decided beforehand according to you? Please crosscheck if it is the same as I am going to state in this reply.

I base my arguments on the following points:-

1. Energy cannot be created nor can be destroyed. Still there exists energy. What explanation science has to offer to this?

The explanation can be quite complicated if you are new to physics. http://www.astrosociety.org/pubs/mercury...thing.html can be one source. Lawrence Krauss has written this book to answer this question. You might want to look into that.

(13-Dec-2011, 09:00 PM)ramesh Wrote: 2. I am not sure: One atheist told me that quantum fluctuations states that the sum total of energy in this universe is zero as an reply to the point 1. What we see is simply a feedback mechanism that results in this variation

To this you replied that: Quantum effects are as of yet irreconcilable with questions at the scale of the sum total of the energy of the universe. Quantum effects have not been scientifically linked to "what we feel as "real""

I understand your reply like this, let me know if it is correct: Science is yet to find the explanation to the existent energy which can’t be created as per 1st law of thermodynamics. Kindly let me know if the fact is otherwise! Please.
If you are referring to Big Bang then yes there are some aspects that are currently mystery for Science.

(13-Dec-2011, 09:00 PM)ramesh Wrote: B) Re: Perception is getting a sense of reality, but by the highly successful process of inductive reasoning we conlude that the more reasonable explanation for our intersubjective perceptions, often mathematically ergo objectively verified, is that reality is real. Woo, is also real.

** My logic and reasoning states that ‘inductive reasoning’, ‘perception’, mathematics’, ‘objectivity’ etc are defined only after the assumption of existence of ‘reality’ and which in turn turns out to be ‘real’ only after knowing ‘everything’ (origin, total amount etc) about the ‘existing energy’ which however, as per my present understanding about science is ‘yet to be explained.’

Thus all items which constitute ‘scientific method’ is a result of the human perception which itself is yet not understood for existing energy is unexplained till now. This is my line of argument.

This is totally incorrect. For laws to exist, entities are not required, just like a cake recipe can exist independent of a cake. Mathematics is certainly not dependent on reality as it is pure logic based discipline.

And Scientific method is not "perception". It is an approach suited to human ways of learning.

(13-Dec-2011, 09:00 PM)ramesh Wrote: Now since ‘Vedanta’ deals only with ‘how the universe (energy) came into being for the first time’ and nothing else this is how I conclude that my point is quite ‘relevant and a sequitur’ unlike your conclusion. If Vedanta is to put its proof in terms of ‘scientific evidence’ it would amount to ‘assuming beforehand the reality of the perceptions sensed by human sense organs which are made up of ‘energy’ origin of which is unexplained by the same science just to prove how ‘univere/energy’ is beyond reality (and not exactly as unreal either). Thus how do you people expect Vedanta to assume beforehand (the items constituting the scientific method and which science itself is yet to know exactly as above) which it wants to prove otherwise? Is it logical and according to the reasoning? **
A lot of gibberish in here. What do you mean by assuming reality? Science asks for observable effects, period. Is there any such evidence to corroborate Vedanta's claims?
By the way not knowing the "origin" of something doesn't tantamount to not knowing the thing at all.
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#10
Dear all,

Before I could proceed let me get one clarification about the reality.

“Whether misery, respect, hatred, happiness, joy, sorrow, emotions, love, attachment, values, judgments as to right or wrong in these respects etc are real, non-real or otherwise and why so?”

a) If real: Are they measurable and whether they can be detected using the ‘scientific method’ and thus provable?

b) If non-real: What is the whole purpose of scientific advancement and exactly where it would take the human being by the end?

Please note kindly that I hate spirituality, faith, belief etc and love only science since it is based on logic, reason and critical thinking. I find Vedanta no different from this at all but instead advanced for sincere reasons. Therefore I am trying to ascertain the difference between these two sciences to my full satisfaction.

After I get few insights into the answers to the above query I plan to proceed to ascertain the views given by all of you in the previous comments of which only the following two references are alone relevant and the rest irrelevant to the issues I originally raised.

Ref from Lije: “The epistemic limits apply for all knowledge systems. They are all probabilistic. Be it science or Vedanta. However science makes the limits known explicitly, but Vedanta demands that it be accepted on faith that it has no such limits”

Ref from Kanad Kanhere: If you are referring to Big Bang then yes there are some aspects that are currently mystery for Science”

I would be judging these statements after I get some insights into your thoughts (i.e. science) in respect of the quest cited in the first para of this comment.

I request all of you not to find this comment one as alien to the main subject and oblige. It may help me make my original issue precise and clear one for your objective observation.
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#11
(15-Dec-2011, 02:06 PM)ramesh Wrote: “Whether misery, respect, hatred, happiness, joy, sorrow, emotions, love, attachment, values, judgments as to right or wrong in these respects etc are real, non-real or otherwise and why so?”

All of the above behavioral phenomena can be addressed in a naturalistic framework, particularly using the evolving methods of neuroscience. The Mind's Matter series in Nirmukta can be a useful resource in this regard.

(15-Dec-2011, 02:06 PM)ramesh Wrote: Please note kindly that I hate spirituality, faith, belief etc and love only science since it is based on logic, reason and critical thinking. I find Vedanta no different from this at all but instead advanced for sincere reasons.

Firstly, most of us with a naturalistic worldview do not exactly 'hate' spirituality but are simply unconvinced about its validity and utility. Vedanta's claim about a consciousness pervading the Universe, both animate and inanimate, is an unsubstantiated claim resulting in consequences that are at variances with established science. In particular, the worldview that a consciousness, comparable to human consciousness, pervades the universe is called 'biocentrism' and scientific objections to the same are explained in detail in this article.

(15-Dec-2011, 02:06 PM)ramesh Wrote: I request all of you not to find this comment one as alien to the main subject and oblige. It may help me make my original issue precise and clear one for your objective observation.

The 'origin of the Universe' and the 'human mental states' are both phenomena that can be addressed within a naturalistic framework with the scientific method, and positing supernatural entities like an all-pervading 'Consciousness' add no explanatory or predictive power to the scientific treatments of these phenomena.
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#12
(15-Dec-2011, 02:06 PM)ramesh Wrote: “Whether misery, respect, hatred, happiness, joy, sorrow, emotions, love, attachment, values, judgments as to right or wrong in these respects etc are real, non-real or otherwise and why so?”
You need to first provide a definition of what you consider as real and what not. Emotions that you have mentioned are detectable (again ofcourse based on definitions used for them). In that sense they are very much real.

(15-Dec-2011, 02:06 PM)ramesh Wrote: a) If real: Are they measurable and whether they can be detected using the ‘scientific method’ and thus provable?
Experts in neuroscience of this group can comment more on this part, but will add one thing from my side. Emotions are typically considered to have qualia attribute to it.

(15-Dec-2011, 02:06 PM)ramesh Wrote: b) If non-real: What is the whole purpose of scientific advancement and exactly where it would take the human being by the end?
The purpose of scientific method is to understand the laws, which obey cause-effect relationship, that govern our universe. What humans would do with that knowledge is upto humans.
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