Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Christian Dogma Gone "Deepak Chopra"

It's normal in the course of dealing with creationist dimwits that people are going to reject science and pretty much all facts.  Hell, the entire Republican party is about that.  Even those right-wingers who seem to have some semblance of sanity like Ron Paul throw their hats into the crazy ring on scientific matters.  All the members of the CSE, DI, or whatever fountainhead of creationist stupidity you can imagine all have some fundamentally anti-science bend to them.  Science and intellectual formality are illegal in their minds.  So that's why you always hear these sorts of self-defeating arguments like saying that "science always changes, but the Bible remains the same"...  which in turn only demonstrates that religion is all about never learning from mistakes and simply digging your heels deeper in the mud after the mud has been smeared on your face.

Hinduism and many of its offshoots have always seemed to have had a different approach to taking on scientific discovery.  Rather than taking some new discovery and shouting "that's HERESY!! BURN THE FOUL WRETCH!!!", Hindu apologists always seem to reinterpret some bit of religious literature (or create new literature on the spot) to say that ancient philosophers knew it all the time.  One thing about Hinduism, being what I call "disorganized religion", is that people create random tales all the time that just become accepted as canonical within a localized community, and in essence, everything becomes ancient and traditional because nobody remembers how these legends made their way into the ether of random noise.  As such, it is very easy to just find one or twist its otherwise vague meaning to match what science says and posture in that "I told you so" kind of way.  A good example of this would be how people twist the Dasha Avatara (10 avatars) of Vishnu into something that shows ancient people already knew about evolution...  citing that the order of the avatars vaguely resembles the evolutionary line of humans (fish, aquatic reptile, terrestrial mammal, half-man-half-beast, pygmy/hobbit, followed by a series of homo sapiens)...

Modern scientific knowledge, especially quantum mechanics, happens to get a lot more detailed, and thus a lot more specific, and a lot more difficult to comprehend, which makes it hard to really fit it in so nicely with ancient pseudo-intellectual ramblings.  But then you have guys like Deepak Chopra who found that because it's so difficult to grasp and even serious scientists will tell you its virtually impossible to explain in layman's terms, you can pretty much make anything sound right by taking advantage of the general public's lack of understanding.

Well, it seems Christians are also taking a page out of Chopra's playbook.  Apparently, quantum theory proves everything Jesus ever said...

When you've removed your palm(s) from your face, I advise you to prepare yourself to lather, rinse, and repeat.

My personal experiences and observations suggest to me that teachers of the Christian faith have an opportunity now, as never before, to inspire the faithful to alleviate and ultimately to eliminate the wanton consumption of non-renewable energy resources, the growing shortage of which is causing social and political upset throughout the world.
I wouldn't say this is false, but rather that this has been true for a very long time, and in the future, the ability to have some such impact will be greater still.  Of course, it has nothing to do whatsoever with religion and entirely to do with science, but that's no reason why religious institutions couldn't make use of those benefits as of now.  Instead, they choose to spread more disinformation, undo more human advancement, and aid in the spread of disease (especially if you're gay, black, poor, and/or have 2 X chromosomes).  So, sure...  teachers of Christianity (just like everyone else) have some more power to help people than ever before.  So what do they do with it?  Often times, the polar opposite.  (note : emphasis mine)
My life has been filled with many wonderful gifts of exceptional and inspiring experiences, and recent familiarization with modern science's quantum physics theory has helped me to realize that we now have a scientific belief system that supports Jesus' promises, such as written in Mark 11.23: "Truly I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, 'Be taken up and cast into the sea,' and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him." (RSV) And in John 14.12: "Truly, truly I say to you, he who believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do." (RSV)

Ummmm...  Okay....  Scientific belief system?  We're already off to a horrible start.  Scientific belief system?  If you actually already begin by thinking that science is a systematic construct of beliefs, then you've shown conclusively not only that you have not familiarized yourself with any modern scientific theory, but that you haven't even familiarized yourself with science itself.  Scientific theories are tested falsifiable models that have passed through countless cycles of scrutiny with a goal of explaining specific sets of established facts.  Everything that is called a scientific theory* is necessarily known to be true, but cannot be said to be complete.

Secondly...  the Bible verses you quote have mostly to do with being blindly faithful and proclaiming that miraculous things will happen so long as you believe hard enough.  There is nothing in all of quantum physics about belief, so where is this moron going with this?  I smell a "Deepak Chopra" moment coming on.
The Newtonian physics the-ory (sic) describes most day-to-day physical phenomena well, but does not support concepts of intuitive, spiritual or other "nonphysical" phenomena, such as electricity and field theories.
Ummmm...  what?  That Newtonian physics describes common day-to-day physical phenomena is correct...  But since when is electricity non-physical?  Try sticking your tongue in an electrical socket and determining just how "non-physical" it is.  That, too, the writer is apparently a retired electrical engineer, which means that he's not really at the luxury of not knowing any better.  But even that aside...  Newtonian mechanics doesn't deal with spiritual concepts...  why the hell should it?  It doesn't have any place in doing so!  You're complaining that something which is meant specifically to be a model of mechanics has no role to play in things which are not mechanical, and largely made up.  Should we also be complaining that a wrench can't sing all of Handel's oratorios?
Quantum physics theory sees the universe as an infinite, interactive field of energy patterns (quantum holograms) in which the true intentions of humankind influence the application of infinite sources of energy in our physical world.

And there it is!  The Chopra school of quantum physics!  The one in which the double-slit experiment proves that people have psychic powers!

Seriously, though...  This guy claims to have familiarized himself with quantum theory, and yet he comes up with the position that quantum mechanics is interactive with human intentions.  This is right up there with the kind of Deepak-Chopra-Fred-Alan-Wolf-JZ-Knight/Ramtha-TheSecret crap out there which equivocate observer effect in quantum mechanics with observer effect in human psychology.  They have the same name, and are therefore the same thing!

If anything, the quantum mechanical observer effect has more similarity to the observer effect in software development/IT where adding mechanisms of observation/debugging affect the program enough that bugs appear or disappear (this is often related to timing issues and race conditions or being cut off from I/O due to observation).  Unlike the Deepak Chopras of the world, though, we're not the ones who claim these concepts for ourselves.  Rather, we take it as analogy and nothing more.  If anything, we software engineers pay our homage to quantum mechanical pioneers by referring to these sorts of behaviors that alter upon debugging as "Heisenbugs."

The observer effect in quantum mechanics is one that occurs because fundamental particles are probabilistic.  Trying to observe them involves mechanisms (such as magnetic field induction) that creates an interaction which causes a probabilistic convergence onto one particular state.  In other words, there is no way to observe these particles without interacting with it, and thereby causing some change in its state.  This is not at all similar to the observer effect in psychology which is a result of the fact that our perceptions are always colored according to certain cognitive biases that defeats objectivity.  That in essence, often takes the form of a "believing is seeing" effect, and in experimental situations makes for an effect where the perception changes when expectation is introduced.  But the thing about the observer effect in psychology is that it only affects what one thinks to be real, not what actually is real.  Trying to link the two is a sort of wishful thinking that tries to say that perceptions can actually manifest in reality.  You just have to wish for the electron to act like a particle and it will!

Woo-woo artists like the Law of Attraction crowd seem to think that observation of fundamental particles using all variety of instruments is the same as looking with your own eyes, and therefore your mind as well... In reality, I think some of them might know better (Fred Alan Wolf, for example, definitely knows better), but simply choose to lie about it.  I think this Robert Radford fellow who wrote this article for the Times Colonist doesn't know better.  He definitely didn't study anything about quantum physics.  He probably just watched What the Bleep Do We Know? and thinks that's intense study.

* It can get confusing because theoretical frameworks such as string theory and M-theory have "theory" in their names, but they are not really treated as scientific theories, but more in line with the colloquial term "theory."