A Scientific View of the God Delusion and it’s Implications

Written by July 26, 2009 7:03 pm 107 comments

(March-June 2008)picture-1

This article is an outcome of an email discussion I had with members of my extended family. I initiated this discussion soon after my first grandchild was born. The fact that I had become a grandfather had a strong effect on me. I had been instantly catapulted to the next senior generation. I started wondering about what is the best gift I can give to her and to other yet-to-be-born children in our extended family. I could think of nothing better than the creation of conditions in the family in which a child can grow to become an independent thinker, unencumbered by the views her/his parents or teachers may hold.

Credulity in a child is an evolutionary necessity. It suits the child as well as the parents. But every child has a right to be exposed to all streams of thought before making a choice. This article presents the scientific viewpoint. There is no dearth of opportunities for children to hear the opposite viewpoints!

The photograph at the end of this article was taken by Prof. Claude Boulesteix of the University of Aix-Marseille, France, in 1991. All other photographs were taken by me.

1. THE LOGICAL FALLACY OF THE GOD CONCEPT

1.1 In science there is no place for any unquestionable authority. Only logical and verifiable propositions are relevant. Einstein was a brilliant scientist, and we humans can take pride in the fact that we belong to the same species as he. But his views on quantum mechanics were wrong, and he was shown his place on that issue. So we should never quote the scriptures or any ‘wise’ or ‘noble’ person when we want to argue about some FACT. Facts are established by evidence, not by opinion or preferences or desirability.

1.2 Intuition and inspired guesses, even traditional empirical information and folklore, are fine when it comes to building up a model for explaining a set of data, but the real test of that model will always have to be hard-core and repeatedly verifiable evidence.

1.3 We shall certainly discuss morality, the public good, and the desirability of a sense of service to others. But later. Let us get the hard facts first. As Mark Twain said: ‘Get your facts first. Then you can distort them as much as you please!’

1.4 The first thing to note is that, by adopting a strictly logical, honest, and objective approach to data, humanity has been able to achieve so much. To appreciate this properly, and to take pride in our scientific heritage, we should understand the basics of this approach. In particular, we must admire the indomitable human spirit which, in spite of the hostile conditions in which it had to progress, came up on top by adopting THE SCIENTIFIC METHOD of interpreting natural phenomena.

1.5 ‘Science is the process that takes us from confusion to understanding in a manner that’s precise, predictive and reliable – a transformation, for those lucky enough to experience it, that is empowering and emotional’ (Brian Greene).

1.6 There can be no place for reverence for authority in the scientific method. Just imagine, if we humans had taken Einstein’s word on quantum mechanics seriously (overawed by his giant intellect), the progress of science and technology would have been pushed back by several decades.

1.7 If you are not familiar with the basics of information theory, you may have a mental block about some of the statements below, but I shall try to explain. You all have an intuitive idea of what we mean by ‘information’. It can be measured in terms of strings of 0s and 1s (bits).

1.8 Entropy is a measure of disorder. It is thus just the opposite of information. Information means knowledge, and entropy or disorder is a measure of absence of knowledge. Thus ‘negative entropy’ and information have similar connotations.

1.9 In science the term ‘complexity’ has a technical meaning. In particular, it is not the same thing as complicatedness. The ‘degree of complexity’ of a system can be viewed as the amount of information needed to describe the structure and function of that system. A living organism is far more complex than, say, a crystal of common salt. The amount of information needed to describe the structure of a crystal of common salt is not much compared to the degree of complexity of a living organism.

1.10 Energy drives all change. Energy is the engine of evolution. Our Earth (an ‘open’ system) receives most of its energy from the Sun, and the Sun produces it by thermonuclear reactions (conversion of mass into energy).

1.11 The influx of solar energy into our ecosphere drives it away from equilibrium. Any system away from equilibrium will naturally tend to move picture-2back to equilibrium and (concomitantly) towards a state of higher entropy (as dictated by the second law of thermodynamics). Thus a pushing of a system towards a state of disequilibrium (by solar energy in our case) can be thought of as an influx of ‘negative entropy’. And remember, negative entropy means information.

1.12 Thus what the Sun has been doing all the time is to increase the information content of Mother Earth. This perpetual increase of information content is what drives evolution of various kinds. Evolution is not only biological; it can also be chemical, or even cultural.

1.13 The basic concept of biological evolution (higher chances of survival and propagation of the fittest; and adaptation and evolution of species (even emergence of new species) by the consequent processes of cumulative natural selection) was introduced by Charles Darwin over 150 years ago. His basic idea has stood the test of time (in spite of all the vicious attacks by vested interests). In fact, there is even a flourishing new subject called ‘artificial evolution’. In it, you program your computer in terms of notions very similar to Darwinian or Lamarckian evolution, and use it to solve a huge variety of highly complex scientific and technical problems. The evolution of problem-solving capabilities in intelligent robots is also achieved by this remarkably powerful approach. And the best is yet to come!

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1.14 Chemical evolution preceded biological evolution. Molecules of increasing complexity (or information content) evolved with the passage of time. In due course metabolism and self-replication properties appeared (either together or separately), and the emergence of ‘life’ was simply inevitable. Life just had to appear in the conditions prevailing on Earth, and, after it had appeared, biological evolution did the rest. There is nothing miraculous about that. Thus, the so-called ‘creation’ of life is a non-issue in science, whereas theologians make a huge issue out of it. Cool. Just chill!

1.15 And now about the God concept. The universe has a huge amount of information content, or complexity. How did the universe get created? Suppose you say that God created it. Now I appeal to your common sense and ask a question: If God created the universe, how did God get that information-content and complexity which must be at least equal to the information content of the universe? Anything simple or complex cannot have the capability to create something more complex than itself. So the God concept is no help whatsoever (it is redundant), so far as explaining the existence of the complex universe is concerned. Come with something else. Or simply say that we do not yet have certain answers.

1.16 But we still want a God up there, for emotional and ‘moral’ reasons, and for feeling secure in this utterly hostile set of natural conditions, right? Let us not mix objectivity with desirability. We can discuss these things separately, and we shall certainly do so below.

2. THE ATHEIST’S WORLDVIEW

2.1 Since there is no sensible God concept that I can take seriously, I have to manage without it.picture-4

2.2 As of now, life is known to exist only on Earth. And in this life chain, we humans have evolved to be at the top. This means that in the present scheme of things in Nature, we occupy a highly privileged position. We can feel a great sense of pride in that, but with privileges come responsibilities. Mother Earth is our collective responsibility. There is no ‘God’ around who can be depended on to take care of our habitat by his benign intervention, in spite of our follies. ‘Whatever is done is done by man and judged by man’ (Maxim Gorky).

2.3 My life can survive only in a narrow range of temperatures and pressures. It is extremely vulnerable and fragile. This is bound to give me a sense of insecurity, and a yearning for a father-figure I can turn to for solace and reassurance. Unfortunately, that wish cannot be fulfilled, no matter how desperate I am about it. Therefore I have no choice but to be a brave, rational, and responsible citizen of the world I live in.

2.4 I take genuine pride in the fact that my ancestors developed the scientific method of interpreting information. I accept nothing without evidence. This gives me a great sense of liberation and power. Elitism? Yes. And why not? All the accumulated scientific knowledge that humanity possesses is verifiable knowledge, and my proud heritage. And yet I have no sense of attachment to it. If tomorrow new evidence is found, which demands a change in the way I look at Nature, I shall have no trouble abandoning even my pet theories. This is intellectual humility, and in sharp contrast to what happens in theology. You are not permitted to question certain statements there. How stultifying that must be for the intellect. Such an approach can kill the spirit of free enquiry, and deny the pleasure of discovery. I am glad that I do not suffer from that terrible handicap. Come join the elite club.

2.5 Selfishness and a sense of self-preservation is built into my evolutionary history, and therefore into my genes. But it is not individual selfishness necessarily. My brain has evolved to a state where I understand the benefits of collective self-interest.

2.6 I am a good and charitable person because it feels good to be so. If I am good to others, it is beneficial for my mental health. If I am good to others, I am being a responsible world citizen. I pity a person who is good only because of the fear of punishment/retribution by an
imaginary ‘God’ for bad actions. My morality comes from within, because it is sensible to be moral and ethical. Being a moral person feels good. Why should I be moral and upright only because I am a ‘God-fearing’ person? And what is God anyway?

2.7 Since Mother Earth is my responsibility, I should do nothing that harms the ecosphere unnecessarily. That is a matter of simple self-interest (collective self-interest). Just look at the pollution caused by Hindus with all the burning they do in their havans and pujaas. Mindless burning of picture-5precious resources is a crime, and it is happening because of an irrational belief system. Look at their contribution to global warming when they burn their dead. The three ‘Abrahamic’ monotheistic religions, namely Christianity, Islam, and Judaism, are more environment-friendly on that score, but they are worse in many other matters. The depredations of these three religions have been discussed in detail by Richard Dawkins (RD) in his book ‘The God Delusion’ (TGD) (2007).

2.8 I feel sad about the immense damage done by practically all organised religions to Mother Earth and to humanity: wars, terrorism, meaningless rituals and wastage, inter-religious hatred and animosity, atrocities on women and children; the list is very long indeed. ‘Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities’ (Voltaire). ‘With or without religion, good people will do good, and evil people will do evil, but for good people to do evil, that takes religion’ (Steven Weinberg). It is our duty to raise our voice against all irrational acts and thinking.

2.9 Buddhism preaches non-violence and emphasizes the importance of service to others. It is also quite Godless; that is why it was hounded out of India by the Vedic Hindus of that time.

2.10 Many people create a God because they want one. Their upbringing has been such that they would have withdrawal symptoms if their God were taken away or demolished by logical and responsible reasoning. In fact, they exhibit arrogant or even violent behaviour when this happens. Does that ring a bell? The symptoms are the same as those of drug addicts. ‘Religion is the opium of the masses.’ The C.M. of West Bengal cannot give up smoking because he cannot cope with the withdrawal symptoms. But can that justify his addiction? No addiction can be justified. I feel good about the fact that I do not suffer from God-addiction.

2.11 Free from the God-created-everything syndrome, I can indulge in a great sense of wonder at the way complexity has evolved in Nature, starting from simple inanimate matter. The pictures I have inserted in this write-up are some examples of that, and there is nothing ‘Godly’ about their beauty. There is a great sense of accomplishment when I or any of my fellow humans discovers one more ‘secret’ of Nature. And I keep thanking the scientific method for this, which is a great accomplishment of the human intellect. I should do nothing to insult the scientific spirit and the scientific method. And I am grateful for the ever-mounting fallouts of this method of discovering the secrets of Nature. I am proud of the scientific and technological heritage of humankind, a triumph of the human mind, particularly the collective human psyche (leaving out the irrational believers, of course).

3. VISIONS, DREAMS, PREMONITIONS, COINCIDENCES, AND ALL THAT

3.1 Interactions or forces operative between any two or more objects have to be from one or more of the following:picture-6

  • The electromagnetic interaction.
  • The gravitational interaction.
  • The nuclear interaction.
  • The electro-weak interaction.

No other interactions or forces are known to us at present.

3.2 No object can move with a speed greater than that of light (Einstein again).

3.3 The past is dead, and the future cannot be predicted. Therefore, all astrology is utter nonsense, as also numerology and all that.

3.4 No macroscopic object can be at two different places at the same time.

3.5 If you take seriously some of the claims made by yogis, babas etc. (regarding clairvoyance, premonitions, predictions, dreams coming true, and all that), you have to postulate the existence of at least one more interaction (in addition to the four mentioned above), with mutually contradictory properties, and in clear violation of the known laws of science. Science does not have all the answers, but we are trying to get more and more answers. If anybody can establish the existence of this completely crazy-looking interaction I just mentioned, he/she will surely be honoured with a Nobel Prize, and may become more famous than Einstein. Science, of course, always welcomes new knowledge and insights.

3.6 Brain science is a very challenging science, and there is a lot we do not understand at present. But we are trying. There are various views on the meanings of dreams, if at all there are meanings. The feel-good factor, as also the feel-bad factor, plays huge tricks on the brain. We tend to remember what we like or cherish, and tend to forget or ignore what we do not like or do not find interesting. Our upbringing and mental conditioning since childhood has a major role to play in this.

3.7 We all want to feel important. What can feel better than being close to ‘God, the almighty’, even an imaginary God?! But it is nothing more than a self-imposed delusion, the God delusion. Just make-believe.

3.8 Some of the great names among the classical psychologists are: Freud, Jung, and Adler. Adler built on the idea that much of our frustration and mental disorders come when we cannot have control over situations or domination over others. People go to extraordinary lengths to achieve this control. In the case picture-7of ascetics, this aggression is turned inwards, and they try to control their bodies and thoughts. It makes them feel good, and in control. A stage comes in their penance and meditation when their brain starts imagining things; they interpret it as ‘divine revelation’, ‘flashes of insight’, and what not.

3.9 Being of service to others certainly rebounds on you in various ways, and you are always a gainer in the long run. The ‘spiritual’ leaders, knowingly or unknowingly, do things which often amount to charity and social service, but there is an additional bonus for their ego: They exercise huge control over the minds of large numbers of people. Adler again.

3.10 Ascetics and ‘spiritual’ leaders are called ‘holy’ men or women, whatever that term means. A nonscientific ascetic does little more than torture himself, apart from influencing others with his irrational and therefore false beliefs. A scientist, on the other hand, improves the quality of our physical, mental, and cultural life by his discoveries and inventions, by strictly following the tenets of the scientific method. Who is the ‘holier’ of the two: the ascetic or the scientist? Who is more deserving of our gratitude and reverence?

4. WHY IS THERE SO MUCH IRRATIONAL BELIEF AROUND?

4.1 Blame it on the upbringing of children. Parents impose their beliefs on their little children. This is not fair. Every child has a right to be exposed to all streams of thought. In particular, it is our duty to ensure that we do not shield our children from the scientific approach to things. We want our children to grow into fearless truth-seeking individuals, no matter how harsh the truth may be. The whole truth, and nothing but the truth. We do not want that any of them should move around in life like a zombie, repeating certain statements parrot-like, without pausing to think about their veracity or logic.

4.2 Some of the scientific arguments and theories are not for the intellectually meek. By contrast, it does not require any intelligence to have blind faith in something. But even a moderately intelligent child can develop a scientific outlook on life if brought up in an atmosphere in which all types of questions are encouraged, and no idea is treated as unchallengeable or taboo.

4.3 It is necessary to have a basic understanding of statistical theory for a correct interpretation of many of the coincidences, ‘premonitions’, ‘miracles’, etc. Unfortunately, even among the trained scientists there are many who lack this understanding. ‘Statistical significance’ and ‘level of confidence’ are technical terms. How many educated persons actually bother to think in terms of these parameters when they come across ‘miracles’, ‘strange’ coincidences, dream-realisations, etc.? Not many. This happens because they have been brainwashed

4.4 It is worth repeating and emphasizing that a high degree of intellectual prowess is not a necessity for a child to develop a rational view of things, provided he/she grows up in an environment of rationality and free enquiry. This is a birthright of your children. Do not deny it to them. Be a reasonable and responsible parent, who sets a good example for his/her children by having an open mind on every issue, including the ‘God’ issue. Parents do want to give good sanskars to their children. They usually do this by their own example. Give your children the sanskar that they should not be afraid of facing the truth. In fact, they should have a proactive approach, whereby they go seeking the objective truth, and not just sermons of ‘wise’ people or pronouncements in ‘sacred’ texts. ‘Mere scholarship will not help you to attain the goal. Meditate. Realize. Be free‘ (Swami Sivananda; emphasis added).

4.5 To the young generation I want to say this: It is nice to see how ‘cool’ you can be regarding all the ‘in’ things and the latest trends. Show me how cool you are capable of being when it comes to knowing the basics of what science is all about, and why is it that the scientific method has been so remarkably successful in engendering so many achievements of the human intellect. Should you not be curious about that? How about showing off your knowledge in that area also?

4.6 The scientific method is not the exclusive possession of scientists. The scientific method of interpreting information is the crowning glory of the collective human intellect, and is available to all of us for applying in our day-to-day lives. Don’t miss out on it. A whole new world of good science is waiting for you to explore and wonder about. There is poetry in good science. And deep philosophy too. Rational philosophy. Scientists seek truth, and have the ever-present humility to admit their mistakes in science. What can be nobler than that? How about joining their ranks, at least as informed members of the public? That would be really cool! No?

5. QUESTIONS AND ANSWERSpicture-8

5.1

Q: No matter what science or scientists say, my faith in the existence of a prayer-answering God is unshakeable. Do you have any problem with that?

A: As I was sitting in my chair,
I knew the bottom wasn’t there.
Nor legs nor back, but I just sat,
Ignoring little things like that.

(William Hughes Mearns)

5.2

Q: What is prayer?

A: Prayer means ‘to ask that the laws of the universe be annulled in behalf of a single petitioner confessedly unworthy’ (Ambrose Bierce).

5.3

Q:How can all knowledge be acquired only by physical, objective, ‘scientific’ means? Is it not possible that some types of knowledge can be obtained only by ‘experiencing’ it in your head?

A: How can we humans be sure that such ‘knowledge’ is correct and universal? How dependable can such ‘subjective knowledge’ be, whatever that picture-9term means? Even such knowledge is bound to lead to some predictions (say about God) which are in the physical realm, and therefore amenable to objective scientific verification. That has not happened. Why not wait till science can make more progress? What is the hurry?! In any case, what can you achieve by hurrying?

5.4

Q: I have experienced God. How can you challenge that?

A: Please take the trouble of gaining a mastery over the science of modern psychology. Also, read up some good books on evolutionary theory. You will change your views.

5.5

Q: But if my God-concept is demolished, I shall feel utterly lost and forlorn. How can I cope with that?

A: Please be brave and mentally strong, and try to face reality. There are a huge number of atheists or irreligious people out there. Establish contact with them, and share your thoughts with them. There is strength in numbers.

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5.6

Q: But religion has given rise to so much art and literature. Should we abandon all that?

A: No. That is also our heritage. Nothing prevents you from enjoying good poetry or music. I enjoy Sufi music, as also bhajans sung by Jagjit Singh (yes bhajans, and not just ghazals). The Ramayan and the Mahabharat are great stories. But only stories. They were aptly described by Nehru as a curious mixture of fact and fiction. The point is that we humans must move on as we acquire more and more knowledge and understanding. In the beginning there was no science; only ignorance or some fragmentary pieces of information. And there were superstitions, born out of the fear of the unknown. Our perspective must change in the light of new insights and knowledge. As more and more people come round to the rationalist’s view of things, a new kind of art, music, and literature would emerge. Things change with time. Don’t be afraid of change.

5.7

Q: Einstein’s famous remark ‘God does not play dice’ shows that he believed in the existence of God. Right?

A: Wrong. This issue has been discussed in great detail in the very first chapter of the book ‘The God Delusion’ by Dawkins (2007). Einstein made this remark in the context of his opposition to quantum mechanics as formulated at that time. Recently a letter written by Einstein in January 1954 (just one year before his death) was auctioned for $400,000. Here is an excerpt from that letter: ‘. . the word God is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weaknesses, the Bible a collection of honourable but still primitive legends which are nevertheless pretty childish’.

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Dr. V. K. Wadhawan is the Raja Ramanna Fellow at BARC (DAE), Mumbai and the Associate Editor of PHASE TRANSITIONS. He is also the Ex-Head, Laser Materials Division at the Centre for Advanced Technology (DAE), Indore.

This post was written by:

- who has written 36 posts on Nirmukta.

Dr. Vinod Wadhawan is a scientist, rationalist, author, and blogger. He has written books on ferroic materials, smart structures, complexity science, and symmetry. More information about him is available at his website. Since October 2011 he has been writing at The Vinod Wadhawan Blog, which celebrates the spirit of science and the scientific method.

107 Comments

  • Hello sir!

    This was an absolutely impressive article. It seemed like a summary of the cumulative intelligence of all mankind passed on through the generations, except the particulars! And, the article indeed is! So, congratulations and thanks!

    I’ve a vague qualitative idea of second law of thermodynamics, and felt that when sunlight hits the Earth, a heat energy gets dissipated in the atmosphere (conduction, convection and radiation), which should rather increase the entropy (disorder). Kindly explain how my interpretation is flawed in this regard.

    I’m an atheist, and have drawn almost identical conclusions about life, humans and the Universe in general, as have been very eloquently laid down by you in this particular article, so incidentally, I’ve dealt with the same individual issues in many of my articles. Would be glad and honored if you find time and I could have your views on the said issues:

    1. A link to a very good article that had spawned an elaborate debated on interference of religion with human development: here (click)

    2. A blog post dealing with how possibly prominent religious leaders are manipulating the public opinion, and are possibly themselves atheists(!): here (click)

    3. A fantasy-based post on possible incentives to live in a simulated world. The latter comments also dealt with natural factors favoring survival of life on the Earth, including thermodynamic considerations: here (click)

    4. Two posts related to morality–first, dealing with my personal bases of morality, and second, with how morality based solely on authority (religious, communist, dictatorial, etc.) could be flawed: here (click) and here (click)

    5. A post dealing with implications of uncertainty principle on human free will: here (click)

    Congratulations, again!

    • Dr. V.K. Wadhawan

      In thermodynamics, any system must belong to one of three possible categories: isolated, closed, or open.

      An isolated system is one which cannot exchange energy (e.g. heat) or matter with the surroundings. For such a system, the second law of thermodynamics says that its entropy can never decrease.

      A closed system can exchange energy, but not matter, with the surroundings. For dealing with the entropy question for such a system, the relevant quantity is the free energy F (= E – TS). Here E is the internal energy of the system, T is its temperature, and S the entropy. The version of the second law applicable to such systems now deals with F, rather than S. The law says that F can never increase for a closed system. But you see from the definition of F that entropy S can indeed decrease in this case, provided the decrease in E is by a larger magnitude that the decrease in TS. This ‘loophole’(!) in the second law is something we humans exploit in a variety of technological applications. Suppose I want to grow a crystal of common salt (NaCl). I shall first prepare its saturated solution. Note that the entropy (a measure of disorder) of NaCl in solution form is higher than in the crystal (a crystal has a highly ordered or low-entropy atomic structure). So why should the crystal grow at all? It happens because I create a closed system, rather than an isolated system, by putting the sealed beaker containing the aqueous solution of NaCl in a water bath for which I can control the temperature accurately. I start at a temperature, say, 50oC; of course, my solution of NaCl must have a saturation level corresponding to 50oC. Now I cool the water bath slowly. Naturally, at any temperature below 50oC, the solution has more NaCl than the saturation level for that lower temperature. This excess amount of NaCl crystallizes out from the solution. More and more NaCl leaves the solution as I continue to cool the bath, resulting in a bigger and bigger crystal. Now, a crystal not only has more order and less entropy, it also has a large amount of binding energy (we have denoted it by E). It so happens that, in this example, the E term dominates over the TS term, resulting in a lowering of the free energy F for the crystal. As the atoms were attaching themselves to the growing crystal, some heat was liberated (because of the binding of free atoms to the crystal), and this heat was dissipated (through conduction and convection) to the water bath surrounding the beaker. Also note that, the beaker plus the bath can be taken as an isolated system, and for this the entropy has indeed increased. The second law is never violated in any situation whatsoever.

      An open system (like our Earth) exchanges both heat and matter with the surroundings. In particular, it receives solar energy. Some of it is intercepted by the green vegetation. It gets trapped in the form of chemical energy in leaves. As you know, such reactions are mediated by chlorophyll. This trapped chemical energy is ‘food’, eaten by animals. This trapping of energy is another example of LOCAL decrease of entropy, even though the total entropy in an appropriately defined isolated system is never decreasing.

      Our Earth is a ‘complex system’. I am currently writing a book on complexity (my third book). There is a relationship between entropy and information. I have explained this in an article written for students. Please see the August 2009 issue of Resonance: Journal of Science Education.

    • Ajita Kamal

      Hi Ketan,

      I’m glad you’re questioning the idea of ‘free-will’. I have studied and written about subject for a while now. This is a topic that has been studied extensively by philosophers but has been ignored steadfastly by scientists. The semantics are dicey and most philosophers are compatibilists. I suggest you read what Tom Clark at the Center for Naturalism has written on the subject: http://centerfornaturalism.blogspot.com/2009/07/freedom-from-free-will.html
      Hint: Quantum indeterminism is a red herring when it comes to contra causal free-will. It has nothing to do with it. I say ‘contra causal free-will’ because that is the popular notion of free-will that is pervasive in religion and culture. Compatibilists re-define free-will to a point where it is not what most people mean by it (eg, Daniel Dennett). Others, like Susan Blackmore, are steadfast defenders of the idea that free-will is neither real not useful.
      Here is Tom Clark’s latest interview on Point of Inquiry: http://www.pointofinquiry.org/tom_clark_scientific_naturalism_and_the_illusion_of_free_will/
      If you’re interested in the naturalism movement and in the thoughts of others on the subject of free-will from a naturalistic perspective, you may be interested in joining the applied naturalism forum and the naturalism philosophy forum on yahoo groups. The discussion there is of an exceptionally good quality.

      • Vinod K. Wadhawan

        I am a physicist by training, and I have been devouring the literature on complexity for the last few years. I am convinced that the vexing question of ‘free will’ will get a proper explanation only when we humans acquire a better understanding of the evolution of complexity in the cosmos. Scientists have certainly been trying to tackle the free-will question via the complexity approach. See, for example, the last chapter of the fifth edition of the book THINKING IN COMPLEXITY: THE COMPUTATIONAL DYNAMICS OF MATTER, MIND, AND MANKIND by Klaus Mainzer (2007).

        The occurrence of free will (mainly in humans) violates the causality principle. If reductionism and constructionism are valid ‘isms’, then why is it that I cannot predict what a human being will do during, say, the next one second? Nonvalidity (or, only partial applicability) of reductionism and constructionism is the subject matter of the field of complexity.

        It appears that quantum indeterminism is really not the big issue it is made out to be. At least that is the impression I got on reading the book THE END OF CERTAINTY: TIME, CHAOS, AND THE NEW LAWS OF NATURE by the Nobel laureate Ilya Prigogine (1996).

        • Ajita Kamal

          Dr Wadhawan,

          I didn’t mean to imply that all scientists have completely ignored free-will, so I apologize if that’s the way it sounded. The fact is that given the vast influence of this belief in human culture, and that there is no evidence for it’s existence, contra-causal free-will has not been addressed in the scientific literature as much as it should have been. I am aware that a few scientists have addressed the subject.

          Most of the scientific work that I know of consists of experiments in neuroscience, so I am grateful for your input on the physics approach. In fact, although all of science can essentially be reduced to physics and mathematics, I have never thought of addressing free-will as a complexity problem. I must read up on it. From a biological perspective, some fascinating new research is coming out, and it is indeed ground breaking for many in the field. For many philosophers of mind, the science is finally catching up.

          Here are two excellent recent experiments in the field of neuroscience:

          1. http://www.wired.com/science/discoveries/news/2008/04/mind_decision

          2. http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/abstract/sci;324/5928/811

          Regarding quantum indeterminism, I’m not sure what Prigogine’s analysis is. The prevailing idea among many naturalists I have spoken to about this is that determinism and indeterminism are not how free-will should be approached.They claim (and I must agree) that the way free-will is understood in society is as causal control of one’s choices. It is clear that whether the events that lead to the choices we make are deterministic of not, we have no actual control over them. In other words, free-will does not imply that a omnipotent universe cannot control our mind, but that the sentient self can. Regardless of whether neuronal events are deterministic or not (and I think that evidence for quantum events influencing sentience is lacking) the kind of dualistic thinking that free-will requires nullifies the idea.

          I have read people equating indeterminism with randomness and claiming that free-will exists at the quantum level because consciousness involves quantum brain events. Even disregarding the flaw inherent in their re-defining of free-will as a ‘will’ that is beyond the control of the universe, their error in categorizing indeterminism as randomness invalidates their argument. If I understand this right (please correct me if I’m wrong), the probabilities of a quantum event are determined by the probabilities of previous quantum events, and would be accessible to a computer that can compute a wave function that describes the entire universe.

          In any case, there is no need to go into this because even if quantum events were totally random, free-will ( the contra-causal kind that is popular in culture and religion) would still be untouched. In fact, the ‘will’ would become even less free if it was being affected by random events!

          • Vinod K. Wadhawan

            This is heady stuff indeed! I must confess that my understanding of terms like ‘free will’ or ‘consciousness’ is next to nil. I have hardly done any reading on these things, but the interaction with this website has indeed motivated me to do some catching up. The level of discussion is high, and I wish to compliment the Editor, Ajita Kamal, for the commendable job he has been doing. I record here a few helpful facts, basing my response on the complexity way of looking at things.

            Causality is not always the most important thing to worry about when one is dealing with a complex system like a human being or his/her brain and ‘mind’. Causality breaks down again and again as the degree of complexity of an open system increases successively. Such systems are far-from-thermodynamic-equilibrium open systems, always exchanging energy and matter with the surroundings. When a system is driven sufficiently away from equilibrium, it undergoes a ‘bifurcation’. The idea of bifurcations was developed by Ilya Prigogine and coworkers. A bifurcation is a more general version of a phase transition, and is a very common phenomenon in nonlinear dynamical systems pushed far away from equilibrium. At a bifurcation point in phase space, the system has two choices (the so-called ‘pitchfork bifurcation’), and the choice actually made is purely a matter of chance (it is rather like whether in a ferromagnetic phase transition, a particular portion of a crystal will opt for a spin-up configuration or a spin-down configuration). Even the most minor of thermal or other fluctuations can push the system to one bifurcation branch or the other. Since the nature of the fluctuation (including a quantum fluctuation) that may happen to occur at the moment of the bifurcation point cannot be predicted, the evolution of complexity becomes unpredictable. And this is true even for fully deterministic systems.

            Bifurcations can occur repeatedly if the system is pushed more and more away from equilibrium. The history of our universe is one grand saga of the successive bifurcations that happened to have occurred. A different set of bifurcations would have led to a totally different universe. And many people still want to think in terms of a God!

            In my opinion, one of the most important results in the theory of complexity was first arrived at by Chris Langton of the Santa Fe Institute (in 1985 I think), when he came up with the notion of the EDGE OF CHAOS existence of most complex systems. This notion has been confirmed, or independently invented, or reinvented, or strengthened by a number of other workers; for example, Per Bak, Stephen Wolfram, Doyen Farmer, John Holland, Stuart Kauffman, and quite a few others. It is now generally agreed that most complex systems tend to approach a configuration at the edge of chaos, and then tend to stay there. The edge of chaos can be imagined as a thin membrane in phase space which separates chaos on one side from order on the other. Most complex systems are in a state that is neither too ordered, nor too chaotic. Thus there is room for exploration and perpetual novelty, which is not possible when there is either total chaos or excessive order. Chaos is of central importance for understanding complexity.

            The word randomness has been mentioned more than once in Ajita’s note. One must make a distinction between chaos and randomness. To the extent that we can ignore noise in a system, classical chaos is fully deterministic. Information is a measure of complexity, and chaos has the largest (but FINITE) degree of complexity. Entropy has been defined in a variety of ways. The one best suited for identifying chaos, and for providing a quantitative measure of it, is the Kolmogorov-Sinai (K-S) entropy. K-S entropy has the property that it requires the computation of sequence probabilities (i.e. probabilities for all the various routes that the system will follow over time). Moreover, it represents a rate. I skip details, and give only some results here. The K-S entropy is zero for all nonchaotic ‘attractors’ (of any period). Such attractors represent systems which do not evolve with time. The K-S entropy for them remains constant with time. No new information is generated or gained over time. By contrast, in the chaotic regime there is continuous evolution with time. At any future time the system can be in a totally unpredictable state, providing a steady supply of new information. That is why the K-S entropy for a chaotic system is found to be some positive constant.

            The K-S entropy also illustrates the difference between chaotic data and random data. By ‘random’ we mean that determinism, if any, is practically negligible. The K-S entropy for a random system works out to be INFINITY (at least for uniformly distributed data), unlike the finite but large values it has for chaotic systems. No wonder, I am more comfortable with chaos than with randomness! And chaos theory is quite good for understanding a number of features of complex systems. Chaos is deterministic, and yet unpredictable.

            I am quite ignorant about what quantum indeterminism really means. Quantum theory has been tremendously successful in helping us understand so many things in Nature. But do we really understand quantum theory? I quote Richard Feynman: ‘I think that I can safely say that nobody understands quantum mechanics’. Although Einstein had his reservations about the quantum mechanics of his time, his objections were brushed aside. Then we lived with the well-known Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics (supported by Bohr and others), till Hugh Everett came on the scene with his ‘many worlds’ idea. Even this has been replaced by some brilliant new pieces of work. For example, Feynman used his well-known path-integral approach and introduced the idea of ‘parallel histories’ of the universe. Another approach is Murray Gell-Mann’s coarse-graining recipe for interfacing the quantum-mechanical microscopic world with the classical macroscopic world. Even ‘quantum Darwinism’ has been postulated. It appears that the last word has still not been said.

            I am attracted by Prigogine’s reformulation of quantum mechanics. He pointed out that the so-called Poincaré resonances occur in both classical and quantum physics. Therefore, as in classical physics, one has to go beyond Hilbert space for formulating a statistical theory applicable to quantum ‘large Poincaré systems’ (LPSs). The Copenhagen interpretation had to be introduced in quantum mechanics in the past because measurement breaks time-symmetry, and is therefore not in conformity with the time-symmetric Schrödinger equation. The LPSs considered by Prigogine already break time-symmetry, and thus blur the distinction between microscopic and macroscopic quantum physics. My hunch is that quantum indeterminism is perhaps not the real thing to chase when grappling with the question of free will.

            ‘Consciousness’ is at best an ill-defined term. Horgan (1994) defined consciousness as ‘our immediate, subjective awareness of the world and of ourselves.’ Hawkins (2004) put forward his ‘memory and prediction theory’ of human intelligence: ‘The brain uses vast amounts of memory to create a model of the world. Everything we know and have learnt is stored in this model. The brain uses this memory-based model to make continuous predictions of future events. It is the ability to make predictions about the future that is the crux of intelligence’. The cortex is the portion of the brain wherein most of these actions of remembering and predicting occur. According to Hawkins, ‘consciousness is simply what it feels like to have a cortex’.

          • Dr Wadhawan,

            Thank you for your detailed reply. I found it very enlightening, especially the part about K-S entropy and chaos. The scientific perspective that you bring to the conversations can help a lot of us understand more about these subjects that we discuss here at Nirmukta.

          • R K Khardekar

            Dear Ajita,

            On Free will, I understood something from reading UPADESH SARAM of RAMAN MAHARISHI.

            As you know, the ‘KARMA SIDDHANT’ is primary and basic in Indian Philosophy when they try to understand Human Conditions.

            So while in first stanza Raman Maharishi alludes to Ishwar’s command ruling our lives, within third or fourth stanza itself he clarifies the role of Karma too.

            Mahirishi poses a question : Karma Kim Param?

            and gives a definitive answer : Karma tat Jadam.

            Implying that Karma is just a jadam static rule book. It does not bind in any way ‘the Chaitnya’ (which is Human essence as per the Indian Philosophy) .

            Rest of the Upadesha Saram is too deep and too involved for a mere scientifically trained person to even attempt to grasp.

            From the realm of experiencing directly, the infinite energy that is this universe ( same as the Vaidik GOD of which we humans are integral part), to mere speculation based on observations on manifest material world ( however consistently done) there will always remain a chasm.

            Do we have free will? Sure we have it. That is the main thing we have that allows us to choose the Ethical path. Even if ethical path appears counter-intuitive.

            Even an athiest congratulates himself on this premise — “I am a good human being and I dont need a GOD to tell me to be good”

            To be utterly selfish is simpler in contrast. Even if it means being oblivious to the harm we may cause to any thing other than ourself.

            So not for fear of backlash of Karma, that we are good. We are good because we have freewill to resist our built-in instinct of self preservation from over-shooting its mandate. And to become some-thing maginificient that we truly are.

            One does not need to be an athiest to realise one’s full potential. Perhaps an athiest is deluding about himself too, after all.

            Sincerely,
            Ravi Khardekar

      • Dear Ajita Kamal,

        I am a physicist busy doing some interesting applied physics work.

        I however have stomach for theoretical physics too.

        The cosmologists, and particle physicists are striving very hard to get a hold on to what makes the universe go. The string theories are meticulous way of explaining complex phenomenon associated with each varifiable paarmeter in high energy physics and they have landed with a universe which has eleven dimensions.

        With big bang occuring as fluctating colloision between some very high dimensional membranes.

        This way they try to get over the fact that big bang as a singularity ( what was before the big bang occurred?) is not philosophically an appealing concept.

        The complexity theories are fine, each in their own domain, but the universe itself is the greatest of complexity. Kudos to human courage that we at all try to grapple with these matters.

        ( It is much simpler to try and organise our economic and political theories to make the world a comfortable place for Flora, Fauna and various human Ethnic diversities. And live happily ever after.

        But it is not ordained.

        Economists invariably turn dishonest to spring surprises like sub-prime on unsuspecting fellow beings.

        They are not worried either about welfare of smallest economic element the ‘consumer-customer’ nor are they worried about ‘finite nature of resources’.

        The end result is needless complexity.

        So apparantly the economic and political class has infinite amount of free will. The consumer class has none whatsoever.

        But this is a different topic …)

        As for myself, I am not averse to seeking models and theories in vedantic thought, because the vedantins were even more courageous.

        They had little means of interpersonal communications ( nothing like Internet which is akin to a giant collective brain for us the modern human beings.), yet they had some startlingly fresh theories about universe.

        I hope we can moderate our agnostic egos a bit to at least appreciate the greatness of our ancestors on this count.

        Ravi Khardekar

  • Thank you sir, for your patient explanation of the concepts!

    So, am I right in infering that in ecosystems (which are practically open systems), the entropy apparently decreases when simpler elements present as atoms and small molecules like oxygen, carbon, nitrogen, hydrogen, etc. are converted to
    more complex and organized molecules like glucose, amino acids (the monomers of proteins), etc., entropy is actually decreasing. But the same organisms that accomplish the above also increase entropy in some other way–for instance, breathing out carbon dioxide into the atmosphere (which is my conjecture plus possibly a vague recollection). Also, that this reduction in entropy is sustainable only because the internal energy of the organisms is increasing?

    I would like to point out, sir, that I am less than half your age, and there’s a possibility you will find my ideas in the aforementioned posts quite amateurish!

    Also, it would not be possible for me to access the ‘Resonance’ journal where I am living currently.

    Am very pleased to know that I am having the honor to interact with a published author!

    All the best for your upcoming book!

    Thanks, again!

    Take care.

    • V. K. Wadhawan

      Dear Ketan:

      Our Earth, an open system, has been receiving a large input of information (as Gibbs free energy), mainly from the Sun. Most of this input into the biosphere of the earth dissipates as heat, or is re-emitted back into the cosmos. But a small fraction gets stored as cybernetic information.

      The cybernetic information (also called semiotic information) is stored in our ecosphere in the form of simple or complex molecules. Some of the energy-rich simple molecules in which the free energy from the Sun gets stored are: H2S, FeS, H2, phosphate esters, HCN, pyrophosphates, and thioesters. In the history of chemical and biological evolution on Earth, such simple molecules contributed to the evolution of complex molecules characterising life. When food is consumed by a living organism, its processing by the organism builds up a high information content for the organism, even though there is always a net rise in the global entropy (as demanded by the second law of thermodynamics).

      The nonbiological versions of this build up of information or complexity are called social progress or cultural evolution.

      Biological evolution involves survival and reproduction. Biological evolution was preceded by chemical or molecular evolution. The latter involved ‘autocatalytic’ sets of molecules, which consumed energy-rich molecules (‘food’) to reproduce. These complex molecules evolved by processes involving cumulative natural selection.

      The journal Resonance is accessible online, and it is free of cost. Just google on “Resonance magazine”. You can download any article you want.

  • Very good article. I enjoyed reading this.

    However, I have to comment on one aspect of the article. We need to define “God” before we can debate whether it exists or not. Unlike “Horse”, “God’ has no universal meaning. It means different thing to different people. If you for example define “God” as wind, you can prove easily that God exists. But such as god will have only limited influence over humans, and will not serve the objectives of most humans! On the contrary, if you define God as a “ten headed monster that has the habit of swallowing large celestial objects”, it is tough to prove its existence!. But such a God will attract humans to a large extent!

    The fundamental problem is we make a sweeping statement like “God doesn’t exist” and the society brushes you off. Instead, the right approach is to ask people to define “God”. It is the starting point to get people to think. You can then explain to them why their idea doesn’t make sense and the implications.

    • Vinod K. Wadhawan

      Hello Raj,

      The basic problem most people have is: If there is no God, how did everything get created? It is really no use asking such people: ‘If God created everything, how did God get created?’ Their mental conditioning has been such that they do not feel the need to get an answer to this difficult question. I have three suggestions about what we should try to do.

      1. Focus on children.
      2. Make people aware of THE ANTHROPIC PRINCIPLE.
      3. Try to answer the question of how the universe got created out of nothing.

      I take the last point first. Our universe is believed to have begun with the Big Bang, 10-15 billion years ago. The singularity at the moment of the Big Bang was of such small spatial dimensions that quantum-mechanical effects in general, and the Heisenberg uncertainty principle in particular, were extremely dominant. There is a viewpoint that the universe arose because the fluctuation in momentum and kinetic energy permitted by the Heisenberg principle (because of the vanishingly small spatial dimensions at the moment of the singularity) was large enough to account for the immense amount of the energy in the universe. Space and time were strongly twisted in the beginning. Space itself exploded, its dynamics explained later by Einstein’s geometrical laws of general relativity.

      How can energy be created out of nothing, and how is it continuing to increase as the universe expands? Apart from what I have said above, here is a possible answer, given by Seth Lloyd (2006) in his book PROGRAMMING THE UNIVERSE: ‘Quantum mechanics describes energy in terms of quantum fields, a kind of underlying fabric of the universe, whose weave makes up the elementary particles – photons, electrons, quarks. The energy we see around us, then – in the form of Earth, stars, light, heat – was drawn out of the underlying quantum fields by the expansion of our universe. Gravity is an attractive force that pulls things together. . . As the universe expands (which it continues to do), gravity sucks energy out of the quantum fields. The energy in the quantum fields is almost always positive, and this positive energy is exactly balanced by the negative energy of gravitational attraction. As the expansion proceeds, more and more positive energy becomes available, in the form of matter and light – compensated for by the negative energy in the attractive force of the gravitational field.’ Lloyd emphasizes the complementary roles of energy and information in the cosmic evolution of complexity: ‘Energy makes physical systems do things. Information tells them what to do.’

      I agree with you that we should goad people into making sensible statements like ‘I define God as . . . ’. But the answer you will get most often is: ‘There has to be a force, a power, which created everything. I call that power ‘God’’. Many people find justification for that kind of reasoning from all the ‘miracles of creation’ they see around them which make their life possible and sustainable. The fact is that many of these just-right facts of Nature can be easily explained by the Anthropic Principle. I describe it here in some detail, drawing substantially from Richard Dawkins’ (2007) book THE GOD DELUSION.

      The anthropic principle epitomizes the relentless evolution of complexity in Nature, exemplified by the emergence or evolution of humans, who are not only living but also conscious entities with a free will. It is instructive to first consider some terrestrial or planetary manifestations of the principle before taking up a description of the (controversial) ‘strong’ or cosmological version of the principle.

      In particle physics and cosmology, we humans have had to introduce ‘best fit’ parameters (fundamental constants) to explain the universe as we see it. Slightly different values for some of the critical parameters would have led to entirely different histories of the cosmos. Why do those parameters have the values they have? The ‘weak’ or ‘terrestrial’ or ‘planetary’ version of the anthropic principle answers this question. This version says that: the parameters and the laws of physics can be taken as fixed; it is simply that we humans have appeared in the universe to ask such questions at a time when the conditions were just right for our life.

      This version suffices to explain quite a few ‘coincidences’ related to the fact that the conditions for our evolution and existence on the planet Earth happen to be ‘just right’ for that purpose. Life as we know it exists only on planet Earth. Here is a list of favourable necessary conditions for its existence:

      Availability of liquid water is one of the preconditions for our kind of life. Around a typical star like our Sun, there is an optimum zone (popularly called the ‘Goldilocks zone’), neither so hot that water would evaporate, nor so cold that water would freeze, such that planets orbiting in that zone can sustain liquid water. Our Earth is one such planet.

      This optimum orbital zone should be circular or nearly circular. Once again, our Earth fulfils that requirement. A highly elliptical orbit would take the planet sometimes too close to the Sun, and sometimes too far, during its cycle. That would result in periods when water either evaporates or freezes. Life as we know it needs liquid water all the time.

      The location of the planet Jupiter in our Solar system is such that it acts like a ‘massive gravitational vacuum cleaner’, intercepting asteroids that would have been otherwise lethal to our survival.

      Planet Earth has a single relatively large Moon, which serves to stabilize its axis of rotation.

      Our Sun is not a binary star. Binary stars can have planets, but their orbits can get messed up in all sorts of ways, entailing unstable or varying conditions, inimical for life to survive and evolve.

      Most of the planets of stars in our universe are not in the Goldilocks zones of their parent stars. This is understandable because, as the above list of favourable conditions shows, the probability for this to happen must be very low indeed. BUT HOWSOEVER LOW THIS PROBABILITY IS, IT IS NOT ZERO: THE PROOF IS THAT LIFE DOES INDEED EXIST ON EARTH.

      The story of the incredible-looking set of favourable conditions for our existence does not stop here. What we have listed above are just some necessary conditions. They are by no means sufficient conditions also. With all the above conditions available on Earth, another highly improbable set of phenomena occurred, namely the actual origin of life in the existing watery conditions. This origin was a set of highly improbable (but not impossible) set of chemical events, leading to the emergence of a mechanism for heredity. This mechanism came in the form of emergence of some kind of complex genetic molecules like RNA. THIS WAS A HIGHLY IMPROBABLE THING TO HAPPEN, BUT OUR EXISTENCE IMPLIES THAT SUCH AN EVENT, OR A SEQUENCE OF EVENTS, DID INDEED TAKE PLACE. Once life had originated, Darwinian evolution of complexity through natural selection (which is not a highly improbable set of events) did the rest and here we are, discussing such questions.

      Like the origin of life, another extremely improbable event (or a set of events) was the emergence of the sophisticated eukaryotic cell (on which the life of humans is based). We can invoke the terrestrial anthropic principle again to say that, no matter how improbable such an event was statistically, it did indeed happen; otherwise we humans would not be there. The occurrence of all such one-off highly improbable events is explained well by the anthropic principle enunciated above.

      It is not only that the planet we live on is conducive to our existence; even the universe we live in (with its operative set of laws of physics) is so. The cosmological or ‘strong’ version of the anthropic principle says that our universe is what it is because we humans exist. Had it been different, we would not be here, discussing the anthropic principle.

      The chemical elements needed for life were forged in stars, and then flung far into space through supernova explosions. This required a certain amount of time. Therefore the universe cannot be younger than the lifetime of stars. The universe cannot be too old either, because then all the stars would be ‘dead’. Thus, according to the anthropic principle, life can exist only when the universe has just the age that we humans measure it to be, and has just the physical constants that we measure them to be. Nothing ‘divine’ about that.

      It has been calculated that if the laws and fundamental constants of our universe had been even slightly different from what they are, life as we know it would not have been possible. Rees, for example, has listed six fundamental constants which together determine the universe as we see it. Their fine-tuned mutual values happen to be such that even a slightly different set of these six numbers would have been inimical to human emergence and existence. Consideration of just one of these constants, namely the strength of what is called in nuclear physics the strong interaction (which determines the binding energies of nuclei), is enough to make the point. It is defined as that fraction of the mass of an atom of hydrogen which is released as energy when hydrogen atoms fuse to form an atom of helium. Its value is ~0.007, which is just right (give or take a small acceptable range) for any known chemistry to exist, and ‘no chemistry’ means ‘no life’. Our chemistry is based on reactions among the 90-odd elements. Hydrogen is the simplest among them, and the first to occur in the periodic table. All the other elements in our universe got synthesised by fusion of hydrogen atoms. This nuclear fusion depends on the strength of the strong or nuclear interaction, and also on the ability of a system to overcome the intense Coulomb repulsion between the fusing nuclei. The creation of intense temperatures is one way of overcoming the Coulomb repulsion. A small star like our Sun has a temperature high enough for the production of only helium from hydrogen. The other elements in the periodic table must have been made in the much hotter interiors of stars larger than our Sun. These big stars may explode as supernovas, sending their contents as stellar dust clouds, which eventually condense, creating new stars and planets, including our own Earth. That is how our Earth came to have the 90-odd elements so crucial to the chemistry of our life. The value 0.007 for the strong interaction determined the upper limit on the mass number of the elements we have here on Earth and elsewhere in our universe. A value of, say, 0.006, would mean that the universe would contain nothing but hydrogen, making impossible any chemistry whatsoever. And if it were too large, say 0.008, all the hydrogen would have disappeared by fusing into heavier elements. No hydrogen would mean no life as we know it; in particular there would be no water without hydrogen.

      Similar considerations hold for the other finely-tuned fundamental constants of our universe. It is meaningless to ask why the constants have the values they have. Or, if you insist on getting an answer to that question, here it is: The ‘reason’ why they have the values they have is that we humans exist; that is the essence of the cosmological anthropic principle. We can possibly discuss the values of these fundamental constants only in a universe that is capable of producing us. Our existence therefore ‘explains’ or rationalizes the measured values of these cosmological constants.

      I think there is not much point in wasting too much time and energy trying to change the thinking of grown-ups. The only hope for rationalism lies in focusing on children. Catch them young, before their usual indoctrination gets irreversibly embedded in their way of thinking.

  • Wadhawan sir,

    Thanks again! Just one more doubt. The information content of the Earth and organisms that you have talked of above, is it quantifiable, or is it a qualitative concept?

    • Vinod K. Wadhawan

      Dear Ketan,

      Complexity has many definitions. Naturally, there are more than one ways of quantifying it. Here is a general definition of a complex system: A complex system usually consists of a large number of simple ‘members’, ‘elements’ or ‘agents’, which interact with one another and with the environment, and which have the potential to generate qualitatively new collective behaviour, the manifestations of this behaviour being the ‘spontaneous’ creation of new spatial, temporal, or functional structures. Thus the characteristic feature of complex systems is the emergence of UNEXPECTED or UNPREDICTABLE properties or behaviour.

      A simple-minded way of defining the DEGREE OF COMPLEXITY of a system is in terms of the amount of information needed for specifying its structure and function. I cannot go into too many details here. Suffice it to say that information, in terms of which one may try to quantify the degree of complexity of a system, has a certain anthropocentric aspect; it is not independent of ‘who is talking to whom’.

      A very important way of defining the degree of complexity has been introduced by Eric Chaisson (2001) in his book COSMIC EVOLUTION: THE RISE OF COMPLEXITY IN NATURE. He emphasizes the importance of a central physical quantity for understanding cosmic evolution, and I outline his arguments here. The physical quantity is FREE- ENERGY RATE DENSITY, or the SPECIFIC FREE ENERGY RATE, denoted by Φ (capital phi). Chaisson emphasizes the fact that ‘energy flow is the principal means whereby all of Nature’s diverse systems naturally generate complexity, some of them evolving to impressive degrees of order characteristic of life and society’. The FLOW refers to a rate of input and output of free energy. If the input rate is zero, a system would sooner or later come to a state of equilibrium, marking an end to the evolution of complexity. Equally importantly, if the output rate is zero, disastrous consequences for the complex system would follow.

      The energy per unit time per unit mass (quantifying complexity) has the units of power. Other similar quantities in science are: luminosity-to-mass ratio in astronomy; power density in physics; specific radiation flux in geology; specific metabolic rate in biology; and power-to-mass ratio in engineering. Chaisson estimated the values of this parameter for a variety of systems. The results are amazing, and important. Here are some typical estimated values:

      Galaxies (Milky Way) : 0.5 erg s-1 g-1
      Stars (Sun) : 2
      Planets (Earth) : 75
      Plants (biosphere) : 900
      Animals (human body) : 20,000
      Brains (human cranium) : 150,000
      Society (modern culture) : 500,000

      The value of the energy rate density for the human brain (150,000 erg s-1 g-1) is particularly interesting, though not unexpected. ‘This large energy density flowing through our heads, mostly to maintain the electrical actions of countless neurons, testifies to the disproportionate amount of worth Nature has invested in brains; occupying 2 percent of our body’s mass yet using nearly 20 percent of its energy intake, our cranium is striking evidence of the superiority, in evolutionary terms, of brain over brawn. Thus, to keep thinking, our heads glow (in the far-infrared) with as much energy as a small lightbulb; when the “light” goes out, we die’ (Chaisson 2001).

      As the above estimates show to some extent, complexity in the universe is increasing exponentially, even though there is no physical law which says that complexity must always increase.

  • Ajita ma’am,

    Thanks for your informative message! Honestly, I’ve not been into rigorous philosophy professionally, and whatever little I know is through my amateur interest.

    I’d read long back on Wikipedia about compatibilism vis-a-vis determinism and free will. And my interpretation of compatibilism was this: ‘the idea that free will exists even if all the future states (of neurons and their neurotransmitters) can be predicted from their current states.’ Is that interpretation causate? Somehow, I found the idea absurd.

    My idea of free will is this: ‘being able to make choices and decisions, which are independent of pre-existing states in the brain’. I doubt if this kind of free will actually exists, especially if one were to call universe (including neural activity) deterministic. It’s important to remember that all our emotions, decisions, memory are just a result of neurotransmitters crossing over from one neuron to the other through gaps between them known as synapses. This crossing over of neurotransmitters is triggered by and in turn triggers electrical disturbances across the cell membranes called ‘action potential’. If free will has to exist, there has to be an entity, which acts absolutely independently of pre-existing states. This will require it to be super-random–for instance, a neuron NOT initiating an action potential ‘on its own’ despite being ‘prompted’ by another neuron by bombarding it with excitatory neurotransmitters. This does not seem plausible to me at all.

    Free will is a subject that is being investigated by neurologists. For instance, scientists have marked out the regions in the brain where the first action potentials are generated when any ‘volitional’ action takes place. And unfortunately, it is said that generation of these action potentials is not a local event, but diffusely spread across multiple neurons. The only problem is neurologists have been using terms like ‘executive’ function rather than ‘free-will’ and ‘volition’ without working in concert with philosophers.

    For me, ‘contra causal’ is a very complicated term, but I guessed its meaning to be ‘independent of influences of prevailing factors’, something that I’ve talked of above as ‘independent of pre-existing states’. Is my guess correct?

    I’d love to have your views on my blog post above where neural aspects of the issue have been discussed.

    Thanks again!

    Take care.

  • *is my interpretation accurate? (with regard to compatibilism). Sorry, I type my responses through my cell phone, hence the typographic errors.

  • R K Khardekar

    Dear Dr. Wadhavan,

    First thing is that there are many “God” concepts. People refer to God in a vague manner at best, dependent on how much they could absorb of the collective cumulative intelligence on the subject, prevalent in their surroundings, and how much of this could they resist.

    I was in PISA last month attending a Gordon Research Conference on Hydrogen Metal Systems. The work of Galilio was against, to some what dangerous extent, the God concept prevalent in his ‘space-Time’. The veracity of his work eventually transcended the God concept then prevalent.

    This historical happenning repeated, ( happily, without same sad consequence for scientists), discovery after discovery and invention after invention so much, that Science no longer depends on religious interpretations, for its own existance. Scientists also frown in strong measures if some body tries to draw religious connotations of any particular discovery.

    This is the first thing I get to notice, thinking about the subject of God and science.

    I will comment on Second thing in second mail and subsequent postings.

    Regards,
    Ravi Khardekar

  • Ashok Kumar Arora

    Dear Sir (s)/ Ma’am (s),

    Ladies & Gentelmens

    I am extremely sorry that I addressed as Dear Sir (s) only as inadvertently while addressing forgot there are comments / replies by Ma’am (s) also. Further I clcked inadvertently to post comments without edditing the existing may please dicarded for typo errors. inconvenience if any caused is deeply regretted. The corrected detail is as under Please

    With Warm Regards

    Ashok Kumar Arora

    Dear Sir(s)/ Ma’am (s),

    Ladies & Gentelmens

    It is may be very difficult to understand the typical subject, There is no doubt in the Science & the Scientific values and the day to day help or satisfaction and or communication /information people are getting. The Science & its usage to the cause of humanity and or to bring the distances in world very close, it has helped mankind by providing solutions to many complexities and lot Research has taken place & lot much is on the way, certain new information which is new to the world is being shared by one & all the peak of Science we may not find in our life time as others have come done their duty & left, so as we believe the earlier research & written books or other literature (that was existing & which is being stored) till that time the same is proved contrary by latest research, it is very good even now the research done when shared is debated & accepted by the people after satisfactory logical answers. But at the same time it is excellent to Write books & articles on the existence of God and or on blind belief on the existence of the God.

    There is also existing equivally lot much literature ( in Hand written & or Printed) dealing with the existence of the God & to believe the God. The book “The God Dillusion” written by Richard Dankins is the one such book in which lot of compilation has been gone into on the subject of belief or otherwise.

    This article “A Scientific View of the God Delusion and it’s Implications” is equivally very very important for the people who themselves want to evaluate the existent of God & to prove his existence like other Scientific researches.

    As per existing litratures some say God is ” Sayambhoo” i.e. came by him selves; some say he is “Nirakar”i.e he has no shape; some say ” he is “Aum” i.e. sound pronounced by the recitation of the alphabets “A”,”U” & “M” & sound so as “OM”: some say he is “light”; some say he has no ” Gender”; some say he is “Mother”;
    some say he is” Creator”; some say he is ” Jassi Rahee Bhavna Jis Kee, Prabhu Moorat Tin Dekhy Tassee” i.e. as some one desires to see God he is is of that Shape or Type want to see him; some say “we all are God’s Ansh, awake or enlighten your self & you will find & later merge with the God “; so to prove the existence of God reference to the literature is given as he can not be seen but felt only; At the same time some give reference to the feeling of the people compiled in the literature, citing reference, ” Jin Doonda Teen Payeya, ” All those who awakened themselves, found it”; some give reference to the different creations to prove and say,” all this is the creation of one & only one “God” and that not any single person can create these; some say he incarnated came to World Earth of his own under his “Leela”, did his work & left of his own”.

    So this article by Dr, V K wadhawan, as rightly said adds to the existing one for the Generation to come, think and evaluate to Believe in “God” or just remain & live their life as they feel.

    Congratulation & Best Wishes to all who have participated & in advance to those who shall be participating, in this reply / comments columns

    With Warm Regards

    Ashok Kumar Arora

  • Eric Coulshed

    God has proven God’s existence to me through a lifetime of experience (47 years). God has answered prayers, shown me future events which have taken place (God is not constrained by time), and on occassion spoken to me directly with statements like ‘Find out what love is’ and ‘for every decision there is a consequence’. God has shown me that God is the ‘One and only God’ through Hindu, Christian and Bhuddist religions (and others). God is in effect saying to you now through me that ‘I exist’ and is using an awakened child to tell you. God is beyond understanding and to be honest has to be experienced rather than put on a laboratory table and analysed. I know who I am and I hope that one day you find out who you are.

    God bless you.
    Eric

    • R K Khardekar

      Dear Eric,

      Its wonderful reading your mail. The way you have expressed your experience.

      I disagree with the premise of Dr. Wadhawan that there is a ‘God Delusion’ passing off as ‘God’ in this universe.

      I do not know how neuro-psychologist define ” delusion”. Some people think that ‘Dopamine in the brain’ creates “God Delusion”, but that is too elementary an observation and lacks very rigour which “scientific community” is so proud of.

      If through injury to brain or a trauma etc. some unfortunate persons delude (about any thing) it should be corrected. Such persons sould receive best medical care available.

      But, if by elaborate training to remove negativity and by filling the ‘heart’ with love , brain functioning is refined to the extent that neurons in brain begin to fire in hitherto unknown harmoniuos pattern, then the reality that is experienced will be a different reality.

      Uncommon with most other persons but it will still be a reality. Injured brains may delude, but healthy brains performing to their designed maximum efficiency create new realities.

      We can pity the persons who want to deny any thing more than an ordinary existensce, to themselves very very diligently.

      As it is aptly said:

      If we always do what we always did,
      then we shall always get what we always got.

      wishing enlightenment to all

      – Ravi Khardekar

      • Eric Coulshed

        Sorry for the late reply. The conversations on this web site seem to go on and on. Too much grasping at the ‘truth’ rather than accepting the Truth.

        Apologies to Buddhists for not using my spell checker.

        Blessings to all.

  • 2.9 Buddhism preaches non-violence and emphasizes the importance of service to others. It is also quite Godless; that is why it was hounded out of India by the Vedic Hindus of that time.

    So Bakhtiyar Khilji was a Hindu?
    More lack of courage to call a spade a spade and attribute to Islam its atrocities. Such intellectual dishonesty =/= nirmukta.

    ‘In 1193, the Nalanda University was sacked by Bakhtiyar Khalji, a Turk;[22] this event is seen by scholars as a late milestone in the decline of Buddhism in India. Khilji is said to have asked if there was a copy of the Koran at Nalanda before he sacked it. The Persian historian Minhaj-i-Siraj, in his chronicle the Tabaquat-I-Nasiri, reported that thousands of monks were burned alive and thousands beheaded as Khilji tried his best to uproot Buddhism and plant Islam by the sword;[23] the burning of the library contin­ued for several months and “smoke from the burning manuscripts hung for days like a dark pall over the low hills.”‘

    • Vinod K. Wadhawan

      I agree with you entirely about the Bakhtiyar Khilji part of your statement. The Nalanda University episode was a terrible loss to all of humanity, and the persons responsible for it deserve our highest condemnation. But are you saying that the Hindus of those days played no role whatsoever in the near-ouster of Buddhism from India? Not that I care much about any form of organised religion.

      Incidentally, the Dalai Lama has said recently that if there is a clash between science and Tibetan Buddhism, he would let science have the right of way (or some statement to that effect). I think rationilists should welcome such sentiments.

      • Dear Dr. Wadhawan,

        Sprituality is about ‘Cutting the Crap’ and ‘realising’ the essential nature of universe with our total being.

        Total being is the super-set of logical thinking, inspirational thought and will.

        It is also marked by the lack of intellectual ego, and hollow verbosity.

        Budhha taught the silent meditation (free of verbosity) again.

        Many Budhhist spend a life time following the technique.

        The results however must have been mixed.

        The tibetan lamas can sleep in coldest winter of Lhasa on stone floor without an extra bedsheet.

        Chinese engineers, on the other hand built the Shanghai Lhasa all weather road using extreme science.

        Both these examples are chronicled on Discovery Channel.

        Indians in general have not shown propensity for Either.

        Coming back to Budhha, while ‘HE’ was free of verbosity, Budhhism is fully and totally verbose.

        While he was against named idols, Budhhism created biggest of Idols of Budhha himself .

        The iconoclasts of muslim origins were breaking ‘buta’ in hundreds which was ‘up-bhransha’ of Budhha.

        What you seemed to be battling, in ‘God Free Universe Paradigm’, is this propensity of human nature to unwittingly do the same which they strongly oppose.

        More things change more they are the same.

        A scientific philosopher is more often guilty of ’round-about’ arguments then a pure philosopher.

        On the other hand Aadi Shankaracharya is a logician par excellence.

        But one can benefit from Shankaracharya only with an unbiased mind, or if one has exhausted him/her self going in circles with one’s own logics.

        Did Shankaracharya single handedly and non violently defeat the budhhist logicians, to re establish vedic thought?

        Did Budhhist force earlier vedantins like Kumaril Bhatt to burn himself painfully over weeks in a large pyre of rice husk that was set affire from the periphery? Apparently after he lost arguments in a Shastrarth with Budhhist scholars?

        The crowd of Budhhist scholars infact ‘conned’ in to a ‘Shastrarth’ greatly out-numbered vedantins and shouted ” Maya Jitam’, ‘Maya Jitam’ after every argument.

        Booing and forcing the vedantins to the painful death as above.

        How and when the Ahimsa of Budhha, turn in to meat-eating and alcohol-drinking rite of the Budhhist cult, apart from many more things?

        The story is far more complex, and an unbiased reading alone can get us some answers.

        More over, all the above should have absolutely no bearing on establishing the superiority of Science over other human failings like religion.

        The religion of science being superior in every other way to every other thing, should it not be self victorious? Without reference to any thing else?

        sincerely,
        RKK

      • Can somebody provide good references that study how Buddhism and Hinduism evolved together until Buddhism virtually disappeared from North India? What was the nature of their relationship from 6th century BC to 12th century? What role did Hindus play in driving out Buddhism and why did they do it after centuries of living together?

        • Dear Krshna,

          It happened over a very long period. Budhhism grew slowly till the time of Ashoka. Who embraced it out of sheer remorse over killing millions in kalinga war.

          Afterwards what happened is not chronicled in great details. Vedantins were too proud to record their humiliation. But they lost ground politically. Budhhist on the otherhand grew more in influence and in later years more unethical, manipulating debates and outnumbering the vedantin scholars.

          Aadi Shankaracharya, just a teenager, took on them and won back the arguments and the honour to vedas. But budhhist were not the only foes. Kapaliks, tantriks and all kind of deviants were other sampradayas which were leading the religion astray.

          The more intellectually complete a religion, more rapidly it decays. Simpler thoughts based religions do not answer much, and do not pretend much about welfare or whatsoever, but appear to be invincible.

          Revival of any science or a greater thought can only happen when the truly knowledgeable proponents take up the cause. Like Shankaracharya who was not a mere intellectual. He was an accomplished spiritualist. A poet and a logician like of whom never happened before or after him. And he very strictly adhered to vedas and shastras.

          You can read Biography of Adi Shankaracharya from Ram Krishna Mission books and also a must reading is “Mind of Adi Shankara” by Y. keshava Menon, Jaico publishers.

  • “But are you saying that the Hindus of those days played no role whatsoever in the near-ouster of Buddhism from India? Not that I care much about any form of organised religion.”

    What kind of role – killing Buddhist monks and destroying their viharas, or engaging in debates? I see no problem with the latter.

    Did Buddhism play no role in pushing back on Hinduism? Obviously it did – that’s why we had Buddhist icons in present-day Afghanistan (some destroyed not so long ago) and further east, when at one time there were none, and Buddhism mushroomed in northern India. Obviously, it replaced some existing belief, so why not apply your logic that you’re applying to Hinduism’s role in near-ouster of Buddhism, to Buddhism’s role? Could it be that there’s some anti-Hindu bias in your view?

    You may also be ignoring the internal decay in Buddhism and its practices, which played a not insignificant role in its ouster – all of that has been chronicled by Dr. Ambedkar – please check out his writings on the subject.

  • “Incidentally, the Dalai Lama has said recently that if there is a clash between science and Tibetan Buddhism, he would let science have the right of way (or some statement to that effect). I think rationilists should welcome such sentiments.”

    So, good for him. And what does that have anything to do with your post? Are you a Tibetan Buddhist?

    1. Is rationalism the latest religion/cult? What are the tenets of this new religion – to be anti-Hindu?

    2. What kind of science are you talking about? The kind which promotes drugs for profits while ignoring the side-effects?

    http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/31/business/31drug.html
    http://www.businessweek.com/bwdaily/dnflash/content/sep2009/db2009092_913433.htm

    There’s science, and then there’s “science”.

    • This is my experience that rationalists want aruguments, not resolution of arguments.

      That is the most irrational thing that rationalists do.

      The “irrational” on the other hand is not necessarily “wrong”. It is just that we have not been able to work out the rationale behind it.

      Same with complexity. If you are not able to work out the correct principle, any phenomenon can be complex.

      Before Kepler gave his law, after analysing the data of Tyco Brahe, greek philosophers went mad inscibing cubes in spheres and making most complex structures to understand the planetary motion.

      Kepler reduced the complexity to the elegant simplicity in one shot.

  • Complexity Some views:

    Read the extended entry for my interview with Adam Kahane, and some excerpts from Solving Tough Problems.

    Problems are tough because they are complex in three ways. They are dynamically complex, which means that cause and effect are far apart in space and time, and so are hard to grasp from firsthand experience. They are generatively complex, which means that they are unfolding in unfamiliar and unpredictable ways. And they are socially complex, which means that the people involved see things very differently, and so the problems become polarized and stuck.
    (pp.1-2)

    http://www.dailygood.org/more.php?n=3790

  • “The Musalman invaders sacked the Buddhist Universities of Nalanda, Vikramshila, Jagaddala, Odantapuri to name only a few. They raised to the ground Buddhist monasteries with which the country was studded. The monks flew away in thousands to Nepal, Tibet and other places outside India. A very large number were killed outright by the Muslim commanders. How the Buddhist priesthood perished by the sword of the Muslim invaders has been recorded by the Muslim historians themselves. Summarising the evidence relating to the slaughter of the Buddhist monks perpetrated by the Musalman General in the course of his invasion of Bihar in 1197 AD, Mr. Vincent Smith says, ‘….Great quantities of plunder were obtained, and the slaughter of the “shaven headed Brahmans”, that is to say the Buddhist monks, was so thoroughly completed, that when the victor sought for someone capable of explaining the contents of the books in the libraries of the monasteries, not a living man could be found who was able to read them.’ It was discovered, we are told, that the whole of that fortress and city was a college, and in the Hindi tongue they call a college Bihar.’

    Such was the slaughter of the Buddhist priesthood perpetrated by the Islamic invaders. The axe was struck at the very root. For by killing the Buddhist priesthood, Islam killed Buddhism. This was the greatest disaster that befell the religion of the Buddha in India…”

    ********************

    Vinod-ji, would you like to take a guess as to who wrote the above words? No, not an Islamophobe saffronite or a fascist Hindu. Try again.

    Here’s a hint: he is the architect of the Indian Constitution, and the words are from “The decline and fall of Buddhism,” Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar: Writings and Speeches, Volume III (pp. 229-38).

    • That is a terrible loss indeed. What are the subjects discussed in the books that were destroyed? Was the knowledge totally lost forever? Since some of the monks moved to other places, part of it might have been saved.

    • Vinod K. Wadhawan

      I appreciate Kaffir’s effort at highlighting an ugly chapter in Indian history. The question is: What can ordinary people like us do to minimize the chances of such terrible things happening again? My answer is: Rationalism. We should do all we can to spread rationalism.

      • “Note that as per the original records kept in kanchi, badrinath, puri, etc. Adi Shankaracharya’s date is considered 509 BCE and not 788 CE or or 800 CE. The British have played havoc with our dates. Rest of the article has presented a nice summary.”

        http://www.hinduyuva.org/tattva-blog/2008/11/adi-shankaracharya/

        There are many web pages on Adi Shankaracharya. He was a historical figure who revived vedantic thought which was perishing under many onslaughts, including Budhhism.

        The happenings of ~ 1200 AD were of different genre. This happened again and again. Vijayanagaram was supposed to be bigger than Rome. Nadir Shah struck in Delhi. Most people who could have intelligent thoughts on any subject were annihilated.

        The remaining intelligentia in India, have been reading opinions of British historians and hold them as ultimate truth.

  • Hi,
    I am thrilled to know that an indian academician has ‘come out of the closet’ to express his sincere views about the supernatural. I have been always worried by the religious apologetics which runs through most of the indian scientific circles. Surely india needs more of this. By the way a hearty congratulations for becoming a grandparent!

    • Vinod K. Wadhawan

      Thanks Vaibhav. After publishing this piece, I have been writing a series of articles ‘Complexity Explained’ on the advice of Ajita Kamal, the Editor of this website. I want to share with you and others some interesting information. I informed many of my scientific colleagues about these articles. Their response has been very positive, but only through private emails. Except for Dr. S. K. Gupta (and also Mr. Khardekar), none of them has thought it prudent to be publicly seen in the company of rationalists by posting comments on this website. Perhaps I am over-generalizing, and shall be happy to be proved wrong. Of course, there is another tongue-in-cheek explanation: Many of them may be playing it safe, just in case there is a God!

      • Pascal’s Wager exactly points out the shallowness of religious beliefs. But it does send a negative message to the public when senior scientists attend religious functions. They might be non-believers privately but its the kind of tip-toeing around the problem and going with the flow which is unsettling and ironic. Plus the Indian government, may it be BJP or Congress lead, heavily endorses hinduism. The point I am making is that the layman can be pulled towards rational thinking more easily if we didnt have so many educated religious apologists who are public figures too.

        • R K Khardekar

          I am not a religious apologist. But I am also not convinced that non believers and/or rationalists are very ethical too. A non believer need not be a rationalist, like wise a rationalist need not be a person who really means well by the society.

          The global warming surely is not the handiwork of people who believe in God’s existence.

          The encroachment on river deltas for residential purposes and for agriculture that saw the terrible floods last weekend is handiwork of which group? I mean to say are you not overemphasizing the need for rationality under the premise that 1. those who believe in God are illogical, 2. moment people stop believing in God, the problems of human beings will be solved.

          Does not science know enough about safe methods of manufacturing, better methods of city planning, methods of sustainable and energy efficient transportation?

          Are there no known decent ways of conducting commerce and provide for all not only the employment, but meaningful leisure, sensible entertainment and graceful retirement?

          Is our belief in God coming in the way every time? Is only thing layman missing, is the magical wand of rationalism which is free from God delusion?

          What we need actually is the rationalism which ‘solves problems’ without the inevitable ‘entanglements’.

          Belief in God or in Science is a secondary issue. Infact if for all our scientific advancement, we are not able to solve simple problems of day to day living ( generation of meaningful employment, equitable or even merit based reallocation of resources , simple and effective administration of health care, the list is not very big but few more one can add .. like elimination of injustice, or tackling of pressing issues in timely manner so that no section of society will ever want to become restless or violent….) we will only drive more people towards imaginary God who alone could come to their rescue.

          Nirmukta should allocate more of its attention on that kind of rationality. A satisfied mind forgets God much more easily.

          • There are many problems which are not even remotely connected to religious beliefs. But which one do you think is a bigger threat, global warming or Iran inching towards getting a nuclear warhead? What if many people believed that global warming is just a hoax perpetuated by government agencies? Would you not see that as a hindrance towards taking steps to tackle the problem? And as far as I know one can atleast publicly oppose these kind of delusions but with religion one cant even do that. Drawing some cartoons of an illiterate businessman about 1400 years after his death can lead to destruction on a catastrophic scale. Thats how powerful it is and calling spade a spade is I think the first step towards eradicating it.

        • Vinod K. Wadhawan

          Dear Vaibhav:

          Goaded by your comments, I decided to write an article about Indian scientits. It is already published on this website.

  • Dear dr Wadhawan,
    I found the link to your article in the Brights website, a lucky hit indeed.
    On a personal tone, I enjoyed reading that you initiated this on becoming grandfather. The same happenend to me, becoming grandfather raised strong emotions. To celebrate this I went looking what’s the natural history of grandparenthood and published a post in my website (http://www.dentalcliniclugano.ch/blog/?paged=2).
    Perhaps you’d be curious about it.
    Greetings from Switzerland.
    Giovanni Ruggia

    • Vinod K. Wadhawan

      Dear Mr. Giovanni Ruggia

      I enjoyed reading your well-researched article on your blog. Your analysis confirms my suspicion that, as of now, grandfathers are pretty useless compared to grandmothers (unless they are rich!). This is particularly true for the prevailing conditions in India. But as you rightly state, evolutionary trends have been totally messed up by the highly complex processes of cultural evolution, as contrasted to the blind and purposeless processes of biological evolution. It is difficult to predict what things will be like even in the near future.

      You mention the pelvic-girdle constraint imposed by the mother on the maximum size of the human skull and brain. I am reminded of Stephen Hawking. He was probably the first to articulate the view that this constraint would disappear when human embryos grow, not in the womb of the mother, but outside. Then we can evolve much bigger brains for ourselves. Among other things, that may also improve the relative importance of grandfathers, compared to grandmothers! This is just one example of what we humans are going to be doing in the near future, not to mention the huge possibilities that artificial evolution has in store for us (including superintelligent, post-biological, robots visualized by Hans Moravec and R. Kurzweil).

  • Wadhawan sir,

    This is incredible. I have been a rationalist since my college days, influenced mainly by reading Bertrand Russell and some of the Kannada authors. One argument that I often hear from people (parents & friends and well wishers) is that – “you haven’t seen anything yet. wait till you see some personal tragedies or become old..”. But, after reading your article and seeing that you are a grand dad and an atheist, I am truly inspired to continue in the rationalist path.

    Congratulations, by the way, on being a grand pa!

  • Vinod Wadhawan

    Thanks Manjunath. In my college days I was influenced by Nehru and Russell. And also Lala Har Dyal, who wrote the book ‘Hints for Self Culture’. I learnt recently that Shaheed Bhagat Singh was a rationalist too.

  • respected sir

    i am a member of Tarksheel society Punjab, which is publishing a bi monthly in Punjabi language. can we publish the translation of this article regarding god. please reply.

    the article and its presentaion is marvelous and it enlighten a lay reader who is not a student of science. how ever certain concepts like, ‘information’, ‘entropy’and interactions require more elaboration.

    wishing u happiness and good health.

    yours co travellor

    Avtar gondara Advocate

    24 District Courts faridkot 151203

    Punjab.

    • Hi Avtar, I’m the editor of this site. All articles published here are available under the creative commons license, meaning that you are welcome to translate and publish the article as long as you credit Nirmukta as the source and you credit the appropriate author of the article you are republishing. I will contact Dr. Wadhawan and mention your request. I’m sure he will be thrilled at your request.

    • Vinod K. Wadhawan

      Thanks a lot, Avtar, for your comments. As Ajita Kamal has written, we shall be only too happy to give permission for translation and publication in any language. For explaining terms like ‘information’ and ‘entropy’, I am writing a series of articles under the umbrella title ‘Complexity Explained’. These articles are also designed to promote rationalism. As you will see in due course in these articles, it is possible to understand the origin of life on Earth through the science of complexity; there is nothing ‘divine’ about the origin of life. You can access all my articles at http://nirmukta.com/category/writers/wadhawan/

    • Vinod K. Wadhawan

      This is in continuation of what I wrote earlier in response to Avtar. Translation of technical terms is a difficult task. I am not sure if, for example, the term ‘entropy’ has a Gurmukhi equivalent. Even if it has, the translator has to have some basic understanding of the science involved, if errors in translation are to be avoided. My articles on this website are already being translated into the Polish language. See, for example, the URL
      http://www.racjonalista.pl/kk.php/s,6833
      for the article on God Delusion. The lady doing this translation work has told me that sometimes she has to consult experts for ensuring the correct translation of a technical term.

  • Religion in its organizational sense is the use of a belief.
    It could be viewed in a larger meaning of that use as being organized discrimination and the use of intolerence excused within the context of a god belief.
    In my life time and in my own writing i have encounted people whom are unwilling or unable or a conbination of the two, to be able to seperate their emotional intolerence of others from a rational reality of thought.
    Religion is laced foreward and backwards with endless moralizations of actions and lifestyle judgments that when compared to the reality of the nature of nature can only be summed up as bigotry,ignorance,and excused discrimination.
    When this concept is viewed both from the historical use and present day examples one can find it hard if not impossible to see religion as an early anicent from of civil law used for cultural and civil comformity.
    Law is in its basic meaning a creation of a punishment a socialty deems an intolerence action.
    Evidence of this is exampled by the very sins it claims a god if offended by.
    Evidence is farther exampled by how it has been used to punish and expell non believers.
    All of which is perfect examples of bigotry, and willfuly planned discrimination.
    The central problem with religion and its God concept lays in its denail of its own excused use and self creation of intolerence.
    There is no possible way to explain a God when the meanings behind it is exampled by known human ignorance and known human intolerences.
    The evil is its organizational use and the insanity is its unrealitic blindness of its own reality.
    It is one thing to view only the science of science it is another to know the reality of human emotions,
    The two must know of each other.
    A fact is a fact only when ones can accpet the fact as a fact.
    The reasoning of not seeing the facts lays in the refusal to open the mind to see and understand the fact.
    Too often the fact is placed aside in favor of the bigotry of refusal to understand.
    The only real enemy which has been responsible for more war,hate,child abuse,torture,.illness and death then all other evils combined is bigotry and its weapon of choice is ignorance.
    Religion may never disappear until it is exposed for what it is.
    We may win the battle of facts but the war will not be won until the reality of reality is exposed.
    Bring in the facts but do not forget to add in how the enemy uses its weapons and what that weapon is.
    The one reality that can never be disputed is that we are all a part of the world and we have no other home.

  • I came here from Richard Dawkins’ pages linking to Dr Wadhawan’s latest piece in his series on complexity. Dr Wadhawan, you deserve a good deal of praise. You seem like an excellent teacher and a likable man. This page is especially good, I think, for the purpose you designed it, as a guide for the young. I hope people will make use of it, and having just read towards the end of the comments that the page is free to use under Creative Commons, I shall put it on my own website. I have bookmarked this website Nirmukta, and shall make a point of looking in often. Many thanks for your efforts, and best wishes. (No need to reply)

    • Vinod K. Wadhawan

      Thanks Dr. Magee. I am very impressed by the high level of discussion on evolution and complexity at the Richard Dawkins’ page.

  • I God belief or to put it another way a religious oppinion.
    I use oppinion over the concept of belief is that religion is about the use of a belief.
    The central theme to a religious view lays in its moralizations. Which adds to the oppinion rather then the belief concept of a God.
    There is no science to a God belief yet there is overwelming evidence as to the use of such a belief.
    To put it in blunt terms religion can be very well argued and evident in its use as being organizated discrimination.
    In this sense of its meaning there would be a great deal of evidence in human nature as to this being exactly its use and its meaning,
    Cultural comformity its intent and discrimination its meaning.
    Given the orgins of law and the times of its beginings it becomes almost impossible to not conclude it as being anything else.
    Agruments of science against religion can not be won solely in the fact of reality of nature and science until religion is confronted by its routs,its use and its history both past and present.
    It will remain a constant agrument until the reality of the reality of the nature of the human race and the exposure of its intolerances are fully revealed.
    We have all witnessed the endless excuses used for an intolerence the time is long past to confront the motives for such narrowness of mind.
    In this sense religion has no ground to stand on and science both the sceince of discovery and the science of known human behavior will win in the end and that ending will bring a better world for us all.

  • Vinod K. Wadhawan

    Very well put. I want to quote Bertrand Russell:

    ‘A habit of basing convictions upon evidence, and of giving to them only that degree of certainty which the evidence warrants, would, if it became general, cure most of the ills from which the world suffers.’

  • Vinod K. Wadhawan

    ‘The one reality that can never be disputed is that we are all a part of the world and we have no other home.’ Well said. Here is Kahlil Gibran (‘Tears and Laughter’) on this subject:

    Speak not of peoples and laws and
    Kingdoms, for the whole earth is
    My birthplace and all humans are
    My brothers.

  • In religion to preach that all must live a life a certain way is not only an impossiblity which has never happened it is equally a willfull display of an intolerent bigotry of any whom are different then the ones being intolerent.
    Nature is diversity with out it there can be no evolution nor progress. no thoughts no change,no adaption no improvement.
    This is the way of the universe, this is the way of existance to change to process to adapt.
    Science is the search and the mind is the reason for the search.
    To preach of sameness with endless comformity is a violation of the very meaning of existance.
    To expect this and to preach that is a display of the a deep felt intolerence bordering on outright bigotry.
    The God delusion is a delusionary excuse for an ignorance and the ignorance is a willful intent to excuse a disliking.
    Consider for a moment the moralizing ,then ponder known examples of relationships, of sexist,bigotry,intolerence and compare this to the reality of all of nature, how it has always been.
    Knowledge is the willingness to seek knowledge and the ablity to at least attempt an understanding.
    That understanding can not be understood if a bias for the conclusion out ways the evidence of fact.
    The differences in the world are here to learn of, the only question left unexposed is the willingness to understand.
    We are all united in that we are all human, we are divided only by those whom can not see nor accept that we are all human.

  • A good discussion going on.

  • Many it seems become outraged at the thought of questioning a religious text. The fault may well be the possiblity of exposing ones self as to how they really are rather then the questioning of a religious text. To disprove a part of it brings in the possiblity of the entire religion as being wrong.
    I mention religion as being organized discrimination based upon its judgmental policies of moralizing the value and lifes of others.
    The human mind is filled with likes and dislikes, tolerences and intolerences. It is often displayed by sexism, racism,jealous,greed,envy,lust and sexual feelings of inscurites.
    All of which as aboslutely nothing to do with a God belief and everything to do with the preaching of religion.
    Which is more likely to be the true charactor of the species, a law of god or human emotion?
    Which is seen on a near daily base? Which is more often the case?
    Which is evident in the history of the beast?
    Which is used by the species?
    Which as created laws around such behavior?
    To understand the intent is to understand the motives of intent.
    When compared to well known practice and exampled by evidence which is more likely the truth.
    Religion is by its practice and its motive an anicent form of creation of civil laws of conduct in a time of ignorance ,in a world of fear. A practice based upon a willfilly intended discriminating bigotry of ignorance missundertandings.
    In the anicent world of its birth this can be excused for its lack of available knowledge and inablity to research in a time of a hand to mouth world of existance.
    In a world in instant chat,instant excess to references of research and the ablity to cross reference ignorance can not longer be excused.
    Ignorance in a world of such instant excess is now a willful intent to be ignorant, and this same ignorance of intent is the orgins of religion.
    The enemy is the same it has always been. this enemy is not a god or no god and this enemy has been the creator of war,hate,illness, fear, torture, child abuse.
    It has been responsible for more evil then all other forms of evil combined and its name is bigotry.
    Its cure is exposure and its destruction is un bias thougthful knowledge that is available to all.
    Its only requires a willingness to see it.
    We are all a part of this planet, we all share many of the same feelings, cut us do we not bleed ,prick us do we not feel pain.
    The same emotional needs that seperate us are the same ones that draw us together.
    The wall of bigotry and ignorance was built one brick at a time.
    We can remove it the same way…one brick at a time.

  • Your article has been saved to show my daughter. Its clear and insightful. A fathers words are seldom as clear. She will be returning from college next week. I also found a version of bhajans by Jagjit Singh. It is wonderful in a sense similar to enjoying Enya. My music collection is eclectic. I had no need to know why the smoke was at the feet of the fancy lady and the cow.
    Thank you for the words and the music. I will share them as I assume you would wish.

    Don Dahlgaard Norton MA usa

  • How strange. An odoriferous green winged heart appeared above my comments on the screen stating (Don Dahlgaard says:Your comment is awaiting moderation.) no I didnt, why would I, strange.

  • Thank you for that great post. I am sharing this to my facebook contacts. all the best!!

  • showing the evidence of the reality of reality is only relaying the reality of it to those whom see and understand it.
    Or to put it more bluntly to those ablity it see it for what it is and not confuse it with an intolerence of any who live a life in the reality of it.
    Faith without reason is insanity without thought, Religion is insanity without thought.
    We know this we see it on a near daily basis.
    The problem is the use of discrimination and the use of by and within the context of a religion.
    The way to remove this is to expose this, the battle is not and has never been a science over religion,it has always been a bigotry excusing itself in a battle against a reasoning mind.
    The evidence of reality is overwelming in its proof yet this proof can never win in a war against a bigoted intolerent outlook that is unable to stand the thought of being in a world that is filled with people whom don’t life the way they want them to.
    Religion is centered around the use of this, In this battle the war is about exposing this, in a battle of exposure religion can not win.
    To win this war the only requiremnet is in that constant reminding of what religion does and has done and to turn the faith into a faith of human possiblites.

  • Hello

    • There is little question that in time human kind will explain the orgins of life and what happens after life ends.
      This will happen for the very same reasons that human kind explores the universe. looks into the sky,builds machines, creates civilaztions, and traveled across the seas . because of the same question that is always asked “WHY’and continues to be answered with “WHY NOT”
      A mystery only remains a mystery when the question is not asked and the wondering remains just a wondering when it assumes it can not be answered.

  • The phenomenon of “Life” is a mystery which science has yet to unravel fully. Living beings experience great fear when faced with death or extinction. It is this mystery-cum-fear which drive humans towards a God, and, naturally to one or the other religion. Since it is this Life which concomitantly gives rise to intelligence, which is at the base of all human endeavour, including science and scientific progress, it seems impossible that the human intellect will be capable of solving the riddle of the phenomena of Life and (more importantly)Death and what happens after that.

    Is it likely that there is a universal Life Force Field (just like the Gravitational Field) which causes all life forms to manifest whenever and wherever there are conducive conditions and stops manifesting as soon as the physical body becomes incapable of supporting it?

    • Vinod K. Wadhawan

      ‘Is it likely that there is a universal Life Force Field (just like the Gravitational Field) which causes all life forms to manifest whenever and wherever there are conducive conditions and stops manifesting as soon as the physical body becomes incapable of supporting it?’

      1. Complexity science already has a very substantial answer to ‘how life arose out of nonlife’. Please see my 17 articles at http://nirmukta.com/complexity-explained-the-complete-series-by-dr-vinod-wadhawan/

      2. Any attempt to postulate a new fundamental interaction in Nature will have to face Ockham’s razor (OR): One cannot introduce more postulates or axioms than what are necessary for explaining natural phenomena. OR is not just a matter of philosophy. It has been given a clear validation in terms of algorithmic information theory.

      3. In any case, let somebody try to postulate such a fundamental force, and give a consistent list of its expected properties. Scientists will then check it against experiment. My view is that there is no evidence that such a force exists.

      4. If somebody says that certain things are beyond the domain of science, then for such things we can only have tentative opinions. And my opinion is as good as that of the man next door.

      5. I can think of no method other than the scientific method for knowing truth. Science does not have all the answers at present, but what else can we do about it?

  • Narayan S Amin

    Interesting. Fact is fact. Only through science man can find answers to his doubts. Please put some light on what is Black Magic (mata, mantra). Lot of people are afraid of this black magic. How can be understand that it is just deceiving others.

    • Vinod K. Wadhawan

      I never felt the need to try to understand black magic. There are much better ways of spending my time. As awareness about science spreads, and as literacy spreads, black magic will disappear ‘like magic!’

  • Himangsu Sekhar Pal

    Part A. Some Reflections on God and Science
    1.
    “Tegmark’s Ensembles
    Tegmark has recently proposed what he calls “the ultimate ensemble theory” in which all universes that mathematically exist also physically exist (Tegmark 1997). By “mathematical existence,” Tegmark means “freedom from contradiction.” So, universes cannot contain square circles, but anything that does not break a rule of logic exists in some universe.”
    (From: The Anthropic Coincidences:
    A Natural Explanation
    Published in The Skeptical Intelligencer, 3(3, July 1999): pp. 2-17.
    By Victor J. Stenger)

    So here we see that as per Tegmark mathematical existence implies physical existence. From the following equation of special theory of relativity
    t1 = t (1-v2/c2)1/2
    one can see that if one can move with the speed of light, then he will be immortal. Because when v = c, then for any value of t, value of t1 will always be zero. Even if value of t is an eternity, till then value of t1 will be zero. So in one frame of reference whole of eternity may pass, but in another frame of reference not a single moment will elapse. Whoever will be in this second reference frame, will be immortal. Because even in the whole time span of an eternity he will not be older by a single second. So from this equation we see that immortality has got mathematical existence. But as per Tegmark mathematical existence implies physical existence. Therefore we can conclude that immortality has got physical existence also. This means that there is an immortal being in this universe.

    2.

    In his article “Ten Things Wrong with Cosmological Creationism” Richard Carrier has written:“When we posit a god, we are left with almost no predicted observations–theism does not predict any physical feature of the universe that we can check.”
    But this is definitely not true. First of all one will have to decide whose God one is considering. Is it Abraham’s God? Is it Jacob’s God? Or is it mystic-philosopher’s God? If it is mystic-philosopher’s God, then definitely some physical features of the universe can be predicted that can be checked and verified by the scientists. Philosopher’s God is beyond good and evil, one, all pervading, spaceless, timeless, changeless, immortal, etc. Since God is all pervading and spaceless at the same time, so volume of the entire universe must have to be zero. Otherwise, how can that God be spaceless? So, this is one prediction that can be made. The next prediction that can also be made is this: existence of a spaceless, timeless being in this universe implies the relativity of space and time. I have written a book in Bengali (published in 2003) in which I have shown in some great details as to how a spaceless, timeless God implies the relativity of space and time. And this last prediction has already been found to be correct. Since God is one and since everything in this universe has sprung from that one God, then everything in this universe must be ultimately reducible to one thing. This is another prediction that can be made.
    Another prediction that comes to my mind is this: God is said to be timeless. If God is really there and if that God is timeless, then there is some sort of timelessness in this universe. For timelessness to be there, time must have to be unreal by some means or other. So God-theory predicts that time must have to be unreal by some means or other. And science has shown that it is just the case. At the speed of light time becomes unreal. If there is no apparent reason for time becoming unreal, there is at least one reason as to why it should be. And that reason is God’s timelessness.
    One more prediction: God is said to be immortal. So here God-theory predicts that immortality must be found to be written somewhere, in some scientific theory or law or equation. Here also we find that science has not betrayed us. From the following equation of special theory of relativity we can see that if one can move with the speed of light, then he will be immortal.
    t1 = t (1-v2/c2)1/2
    Now one question will definitely arise here. Is deathlessness same as timelessness? Is there no difference? This question arises because I have used the same equation for showing as to how one can be timeless as well as immortal. The answer to this question will be a very big YES. Death means some sort of change. I am very much alive at this moment. But at the very next moment I may die. But in a timeless world this very next moment will never come. So a timeless being can never die.
    So, it is not true that God-theory does not predict any physical feature of the universe that we can check. As per the definition of a good scientific theory given by Karl Popper, God-theory can be considered to be a very good scientific theory. Because it can predict something that can be checked and verified, and so it can also be falsified. Only those who are heavily prejudiced against God will decline to admit it.
    Scientist Victor J. Stenger has written:
    “Mystics state that their experience of oneness with God and the universe cannot be described in scientific terms. The more rational statement is that this experience is all in their heads.”
    But the problem is that if this God is in mystics’ heads only and not in the outside world, then whatever predictions can be made from God-theory, if at all correct, should be correct in their heads only, and not in the outside world. But since some of these predictions have already been found to be correct in the outside world, then the more rational statement is that this God is in the outside world and not in mystics’ heads only. Or, it may be that, these mystics’ heads are so very big that, like God, the entire outside world is also in their heads. That is why predictions made from God-theory have been found to be correct in the outside world. In that case mystics’ heads must be as big as the universe itself.

    3.
    Generally two things are claimed about science:
    a) Science always deals with something that is real, and not with something that is unreal, imaginary. It is in man’s power imagining anything and everything, and actually he has imagined so many things, so many worlds, and so many beings. But it is not the job of science to prove that all these imagined things, imagined worlds, imagined beings are as real as this world.
    b) Only science, and no other discipline, can give us the true picture of reality.
    Keeping these two claims about science in our mind let us proceed further to see what conclusion can be drawn from the following equation of special theory of relativity:
    t1 = t (1-v2/c2)1/2
    From this equation we have already seen that if one can move with the speed of light, then he will live eternally. So we see that here science has dealt with the idea of immortality, and that it has also shown as to how that immortality can be attained. But if the claim about science that it only deals with what is real is true, then we must conclude that like change and mortality, immortality is also a real feature of this universe. Otherwise, why has science dealt with that? But immortality can be a real feature of this universe if, and only if, there is at least one immortal being in this universe. So the presence of the above equation in a scientific theory clearly indicates that there is at least one immortal being in this universe.
    But if one is loathe admitting the existence of God, then one will have to admit that while in most of the cases science deals with something that is real, sometimes it also deals with something that is unreal, imaginary, and untrue. In that case one will also have to abandon the claim that only science can give us the true picture of reality. In the above equation science has created an impression that attaining immortality is not an impossibility whereas actually no one can be immortal. So here science has simply baffled us, confused us, misled us. And if we are allowed to use a very bad term here – I hope we will be pardoned for that – then we can even say that by showing that it is possible to be immortal, science has given us a very nice and beautiful bluff. Like so many religious bluffs, it is also a bluff, in this case given by science itself.
    So the gist of the whole matter is simply this. Science cannot hold the following two propositions as true simultaneously:
    1) God, or, any other immortal being, does not exist,
    2) Only science can give us the true picture of reality.
    If any one of the above two propositions is true, then the other one must be false.

    4.

    Mystics who have claimed that they have direct experience of God have repeatedly and unanimously told us one thing: time is unreal. If one claims that God does not exist and that mystical experience is nothing but a mere hallucination, then he must show that mystics were wrong in holding that time was unreal. Here common sense says that to do this one must have to show that time is not unreal and that in no way can it be unreal. But here science has done just the opposite; it has shown as to how and when time will become unreal. But to show that mystical experience is nothing but a hallucination, one must have to show that mystics’ view regarding time was completely mistaken. As science has miserably failed to do that, so by what kind of logic is it established that mystical experience is a hallucination? If mystical experience can no longer be discarded as a mere hallucination, then by what kind of logic is it established that God does not exist?
    When man did not know that time could be unreal, his labeling of mystical experience as a hallucination was fully justified, logical and reasonable. But once it has dawned on him that at the speed of light time could become unreal, his discarding mystical experience as a hallucination is totally unjustified, illogical and unreasonable. And, it is unscientific also. As per definition a hallucination is a sensory perception without a source in the external world. When the mystic says that time is unreal, he is definitely in touch with some state where time is unreal. If he were not, he would not have said time was unreal. But he wrongly and erroneously thinks – and believes also – that this timeless state is in the real, external world. But if mystical experience is nothing but a hallucination, then as per its definition this timeless state cannot be in the real world. Because, if this timeless state is in the real world, then mystical experience is not a hallucination. And if mystical experience is not a hallucination, then it cannot be said that God does not exist. But since atheists and scientists claim that God does not exist, then mystical experience must have to be a hallucination. So, if necessary, then even by hook or crook, it will have to be established that mystical experience is nothing but a hallucination. For that it must have to be ensured that this timeless state can never be in the external world. And for that, it must further have to be ensured that time can never be unreal in the external world. But we find that this last condition is not fulfilled at all. It is not fulfilled because science has shown that at the speed of light time becomes unreal. Since time can also be unreal in the external world, then there is every possibility that this timeless state is in the external world. And if this timeless state is in the external world, then mystical experience cannot be called a hallucination. And if mystical experience is not a hallucination, then God is real.

    5.

    Science is supposed to deal with something that is real, that is existent, that is of this world, and not with something that is unreal, imaginary, and non-existent. If God does not exist, then that God is a fictitious, imaginary Being. Whatever has been said about that imaginary God cannot be true, cannot be real. If God does not exist, then there is no one in this universe about whom it can be said that He is immortal, spaceless, timeless, all pervading etc. So, if God does not exist, then the terms immortality, spacelessness, timelessness etc. will have no meaning at all. These are all imaginary concepts attributed to some imaginary Being. Then why will science, which is supposed to be concerned with only what is real, what is existent, what is of this world, show that all these imaginary concepts have got some sort of scientific explanation? Why will science show that if one can move with the speed of light, then one can be immortal, timeless, etc.? If God is also not real, then how do those imaginary concepts attributed to that imaginary being somehow become part of a real world by being explained scientifically?
    Has science ever been found to give proof for the existence of any non-real, imaginary thing? Has science ever been found to give proof for the existence of any non-real, imaginary being? Has science ever been found to offer explanation for the occurrence of any imaginary event? Is science famous for doing all these things? Has science proved that ghosts are real? Has science proved that there is a place called heaven where every human being goes after his or her death? Does science think that real human blood can come out of the wounds of a stone or wooden Jesus? Can one give any single instance where science has supported any single human superstition or folly? If science has never been found to give proof for any single imaginary thing or being, and if science has never been found to offer explanation for any single imaginary event, then why is it that it has on its own given explanation for these imaginary concepts? Why is there an exception here at all? What is the reason behind this? What does it want to make us understand by giving scientific explanation to these imaginary concepts? Does it want to make us understand that these are not imaginary concepts at all? Does it want to make us understand that these are real concepts having meaning and significance in some real context in a real world? Does it want to make us understand God is real?
    Perhaps this is the greatest irony in the whole history of our human civilization so far: science has explained that very God whose existence it has vehemently denied. If God does not exist, then those scientists who have given us special theory of relativity should not be called proper scientists at all. And if God does not exist, then special theory of relativity is not a proper science at all; it is simply a pseudo-science, something like astrology. To call it a science is an insult to human reason and understanding.

    Part B. SOME RESPONSES RECEIVED

    The problem is that in order for this equation to be true you have to be talking about a material object(being). When V=C you are saying that the object is going the speed of light. This can’t happen as the mass becomes infinite at C. In short you would turn into your own black hole. Furthermore, it would take an infinite amount of energy to get to C. All that is impossible. Now if you are talking about an immaterial being, then none of the equation applies.

    An immortal being in literature can usually do stuff. The type of immortality described here consists of existence as a popsicle, frozen in time. This would be no fun at all!

    OK: a timeless being can’t do anything because events happen in time. Sure you’d be immortal at the speed of light, because time would be frozen for you. Behold the incredible frozen God!

    Predictions only count if, well, they are made in advance of the finding. Already knowing the findings of relativity theory and then claiming that your version of God predicts them is, if not delusional, at least cheating.

    Plus I don’t see any good reason to accept Tegmark’s proposition that mathematical possibility implies physical existence anyway. With only one universe to observe we can’t make ANY substantial claims about the probability of any of its properties. We have no way of knowing whether physical laws could have varied at all, let alone by how much. Theological skepticism doesn’t need multiple universes to explain why this particular universe is only 99.999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999% inimical to life as we know it instead of 100% because you can’t determine the odds when all you’ve seen is one result. Maybe there are multiple universes, maybe there aren’t, maybe all mathematically possible universes exist, maybe they don’t. None of these situations has positive implications for the existence of God absent evidence that God is not imaginary.

    Part C. MY RESPONSE

    Regarding Tegmark’s argument: Here my main intension was not to prove the existence of God, but to expose the hollowness of his argument. If scientists claim that mathematics can prove the existence of multiverses, then I will also claim that mathematics has already proved the existence of a timeless, deathless being, in which case we no longer need any multiverse theory to explain the fact that our universe is life-supporting.
    Regarding immortality: It may be there is no immortal being in this universe. It may be there is no God. But the fact still remains that science has shown that in this universe to be immortal is not an impossibility. For that only one will have to be massless, because Einstein has shown that anything having zero rest-mass will have the speed of light. So, if there is a being that is massless, then that being will be immortal. If human being possesses a soul, and if that soul is massless, then that soul will also be immortal. Here the question is not whether a massless being does at all exist. Neither is it a question whether human being really possesses a soul or not. The real question is: why in this universe has it been found that it is not impossible to be immortal? The real question is: why has Mother Nature kept such a provision in its scheme of things? And, for whom has it kept that provision?
    Now regarding cheating: This charge of cheating brought against me is baseless, as anyone going through my article carefully can find it out himself. Let me first quote what has been written in one of the responses:
    “Predictions only count if, well, they are made in advance of the finding. Already knowing the findings of relativity theory and then claiming that your version of God predicts them, is, if not delusional, at least cheating.”
    So, there is no doubt that I have cheated. But the person who has brought this accusation against me has forgotten that in my article I have mentioned that at least five predictions can be made from God-theory, out of which only three have so far been found to be correct. Let me repeat them once again:
    a) Space and time must be relative,
    b) Time must have to be unreal by some means or other,
    c) Immortality must be found to be written somewhere, in some scientific theory or law or equation.
    d) Volume of the entire universe must be found to be zero,
    e) Everything in this universe must be ultimately reducible to one-thing,
    In the first three cases above he might have said that I have cheated, because, really, these are the findings of relativity theory. But if he holds that I have cheated in the other two cases also, then will he please take the trouble to give us the name(s) of the scientific theory/theories of which these are the findings? If he cannot, then he should admit that he has brought a false and baseless charge against me, for which he should apologize. Actually, by showing that these two predictions can also be made from God-theory, I have taken a very great risk. Because if they do not come true, then one day God-theory will eventually be falsified. And then there will be no hope left for us.
    But still I think there will be some hopes left. At least what the Russian scientist Andrei Linde has said to Tim Folger in a completely different context raises some hopes in us. Let us first see what he has actually said:
    “When I ask Linde whether physicists will ever be able to prove that the multiverse is real, he has a simple answer. “Nothing else fits the data,” he tells me. “We don’t have any alternative explanation for the dark energy; we don’t have any alternative explanation for the smallness of the mass of the electron; we don’t have any alternative explanation for many properties of particles.
    “What I am saying is, look at it with open eyes. These are experimental facts, and these facts fit one theory: the multiverse theory. They do not fit any other theory so far. I’m not saying these properties necessarily imply the multiverse theory is right, but you asked me if there is any experimental evidence, and the answer is yes. It was Arthur Conan Doyle who said, ‘When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth’”.”
    [From: Science’s Alternative to an Intelligent Creator: the Multiverse theory, By Tim Folger, published online November 10, 2008, DISCOVER Magazine.]
    So, here lies the hope. First, eliminate all the impossible theories. Then the theory that remains, even if improbable, must be the truth.
    As per the scientists God does not exist, because so far there is no proof for His existence, and perhaps there will never be any. But it is also true that man believes in God. So, it is a fact that man believes in God in spite of the fact that there is no God. This fact also requires some sort of explanation. Some explanations have been offered so far by some eminent thinkers and philosophers, but none of these theories are adequate enough to explain certain aspects of that imaginary God. So it can be said that all their theories, all their hypotheses are failed theories, failed hypotheses.
    If God does not exist, then God did not create man, instead man has created God. So it is quite expected that he will create that God in such a way that He can satisfy all his needs. Man will definitely not create a God who is not merciful. He will definitely not create a God who is not immortal, because a mortal God cannot bestow immortality on others. For that purpose God Himself must have to be immortal. These points are easily understood. So we can understand why man-created God is benevolent, merciful, all-loving, all powerful, immortal, etc. & etc. But what about that God who is spaceless, timeless? Why was it necessary to imagine that God as such? What are the specific needs of man that can only be met by a spaceless, timeless God? If God did not have these attributes, then what would have been lost to man? A real God might have to have these attributes; there might be some philosophical justifications for that. But why should an imaginary God? Does anybody have any answer? Then what about Hindu’s Brahma who is indifferent to man’s sorrows and sufferings? What about that Brahma who is without any qualities, without any attributes (Nirguna Brahma)? A Nirguna Brahma cannot have benevolence even, so He cannot even do any single benevolent act. So what purpose does such a Brahma serve to man? Man can easily do without Him. And so, why in the first place will he take the trouble on him to create such a Brahma, and then declare that He doesn’t care for us? All such queries remain unanswered, unexplained. So all these theories, all these hypotheses so far offered to explain man’s belief in God are impossible theories, impossible hypotheses. So, according to Konan Doyle, they need to be eliminated mercilessly. Therefore the only theory that ultimately remains is the correct theory. The theory that simply says: Man believes in God, because there is a God.

    H.S.PAL

    • Rationalists are trying to rediscover the world and universe.

      Their hypothesis is that God concept is unnecessary.

      We must honour their sincerity.

      Any anomaly that can not be resolved by our present hypothesis, theory and experience, is a sure shot invitation to new openings, and is also a welcome endavour.

      To say that scientific methods is best, is ofcourse correct.

      To believe in scientific dogma, because we hate other thought processes is wrong.

      Experience of flying in a non stop flight to USA from India is a reality, no body can dely. Travel in to a timeless state is not that common. The truly religious/ spiritual gurus claim to make it possible for their followers. But obviously the throughput is so less that ‘others’ including rationalists can not relate to it.

      Like one can relate to the description of non stop flight to USA.

      Just remember that to a person without visa, money and opportunity to travel , the later description is as hollow as the earlier one.

    • Timelessness,immortality etc are properties of the universe at certain special conditions. It doesnt mean that those properties are the ones that created the universe. your argument is built upon one fallacy over another fallacy.
      I dont have a problem if you want to call the primordial fire ball before the big bang or light itself(since it alone can travel at the velocity C, hence be timeless and immortal) as God. but does it make sense to pray to the several
      constants and forces of the universe… “dear force of gravity, heal all my sins” , how does this sound?. there is certainly a difference between beleiving there is a zero mass particle in the Universe and beleiving the zero mass particle created the universe. All of your evidence are not proofs for the existense of god… they are proofs for the existense of timelessness, immortality etc in the Universe from which it doesnot follow the existense of god.

  • I hope it would not be long before people have to argue for why they believe in a personal god to a larger proportion of the population, than the contrary (which is happening now).

  • There is an estimated 850.000.000 atheist and those whom question the existance of a God. This is found in the Atheist Empire which a web site all can research making those of this form of thinking the 4th largest group in the world.
    In my own research i have found that the more educationed and by educated i do not mean just schooling. i also mean people educationed that is to say the more one knows of others and is not perjudice in others before knowing them the more enlightened one becomes.
    Ignorance is not just the not knowing of something ,often its a willfully intented ignorance.
    The debate about religion can not be just the science verses the belief.
    It is the willfully ignorant verses the educated.
    When I ask a person why in the face of such knowledge and in the facts of such a history of religion, why do you still belief?
    Some wish to hedge their bets, meaning they are not sure but just in case maybe there is a God I should at least leave that idea open in my mind.
    Still others also fear a non-cultural comformity (they don’t want to be different)
    Others will say because it tells people the proper way to live.
    That last quote of “it tells people how to live” is by far the absolute most revealing use and meaning and purpose of religions.
    A use of a belief to discriminate for purposes of social order that uses the concept of a belief and intolerance of selective lifestyles to enforce it.
    This evidence of how it is used is widely evident both in past history and present day.
    Examples would be the role and placement of woman in a sociality, selective sexaul lifestyles perjudice and intolerence punishments of woman in adultry which is selective toward the female and not the male in that punishment. It takes 2 to have an adultry yet it is the woman that is punished?
    When asking others as to why they do not like religions they nearly in all cases state how judgmental and or how closed minded it is.
    The problem in the battle for a human sense of equality and basic equality of justice lays greatly in the acknowledgment of a persons perjudice and personal fears.
    religions tend to be a resting place for a justified excused intolerence.
    The rout core battle in about that excused justification and exposing the reality of it being a perjudice and a bigotry.
    Education not only in a school but more importantly in human interactions will in the end win this battle and in so doing end the wars.
    The only requirement is a willingness to open the mind and to learn without a prejudice as to want you wish to only learn.
    2 blind men are standing next to an elephant.
    the first blind man is touching along the long trunk saying “An elephant is like a snake”
    The other blind man is touching along the legs. “No your wrong an elephant is like a tree”
    There is none so blind as those whom will not see.

  • Dear Dr Wadhawan,

    Being a scientist myself I find it hard to come to grips with the following: “The influx of solar energy into our ecosphere drives it away from equilibrium. Any system away from equilibrium will naturally tend to move back to equilibrium and (concomitantly) towards a state of higher entropy (as dictated by the second law of thermodynamics).”

    The notion that the influx of solar energy which you treated as equivalent of negative entropy, is possibly wrong! Influx of energy/heat increases the entropy/disorder of any system. For example, you heat water (equivalent to receiving heat from the sun) and you increase its entropy. Kindly elaborate on this point (i.e., how solar energy influx can be interpreted as ‘negative entropy’.

    Thanks for the remaining brilliant points.

    Just tempted to guess that you are possibly a metallurgy/material scientist!!!

    I graduated from the Dept of Metallurgy IISc Bangalore (did project with Professor KT Jacob). Being associate editor of phase equilibria, I reckon you to be possibly familiar with Prof. JAcob. Hope my academic kinship with yourself will attract your attention!

    Randhir

    • Hello Randhir. You guessed it right. I am a materials scientist ALSO! I have written books on ferroic materials, smart structures, and now on complexity. My latest book is: ‘COMPLEXITY SCIENCE: Tackling the Difficult Questions We Ask about Ourselves and about Our Universe,’ Lambert Academic Publishing, Saarbrücken (2010), ISBN 9783838377544. You should actually read this book to get a detailed answer to the question you raised.

      1. We are dealing with OPEN systems here.

      2. For an open system the second law has to formulated in terms of free energy (F = E – TS). The law now says that F tends to the minimum possible value. This means that there is now scope for even an INCREASE of the TS term, so long as the decrease in the enthalpy term E is larger than the increase in TS. This is what happens in crystal growth, for example. A highly ordered structure (crystal) emerges from the highly disordered fluid. The binding-energy term overpowers the decrease in entropy.

      3. Entropy is defined by dS = dQ/T. The T value for the Sun is much much higher than that for the Earth. So the entropy of photons coming from the Sun is very low when they reach us. They undergo a number of processes which ‘degrade’ them to states of higher entropy as the system moves towards a state of equilibrium. But there is not a total loss. Some of the energy gets trapped in, say, plants, fruits, grains etc. We and other animals eat this food to stay alive, i.e. to stay away from a state of equilibrium.

      4. Equilibrium is death. The entropy is the highest at equilibrium. This means that entropy is lower when a system is away from equilibrium. The food we eat enables us to stay away from equilibrium.

      5. Suppose we take the equilibrium entropy as the base value, i.e. zero. Then the nonequilibrium entropy gets a negative sign on this scale. That is the meaning of negative entropy.

      6. As explained in my book, in the jargon of information theory, entropy is also equivalent to missing information. Both are measures of disorder or LACK of information. That makes negative entropy a measure of AVAILABLE information.

      • Dear Sir,

        Its indeed an honour to have a response from authors of your stature. Thank you.

        However, I am more confused now.

        1. If your point 1 is valid for the subsequent points as well then statements in point 4, “The entropy is the highest at equilibrium.” appears less-rigourous (than to say that F is minimum) in the light of point 2.

        2. If “The entropy is the highest at equilibrium.” is true, then the sentence 5 is contradicting it!

        3. Though the meaning in point was obvious to me, I would prefer to have ‘-‘ sign wherever TS has appeared (2nd occurrence onward).

    • On negative entropy: This comment (Courtesy of commentator ‘Bonzai’,at richarddawkins.net) appealed to me!

      “Actually the earth radiates the same amount of energy back to the sky as it receives from the sun, otherwise the temperature of the earth will keep on rising (forget about global warming for a sec)

      What makes a difference is that the radiation from the sun has short wavelength whereas the infrared radiation that the earth reemits has long wavelength.

      If you think of radiation as a stream of photons, then longer wavelength would correspond to less energetic photons. Now if the earth reemits the same amount of energy as it receives from the sun but in the form of less energetic photons, it has to emit more photons than it receives to make up for the balance.

      Now entropy basically counts the number of ways you can arrange a system. For the same amount of energy a situation with more photons would correspond to a larger number of configurations, hence higher entropy.

      So in summary, the earth receives energy in a low entropy from from the sun and reradiates it in a form with high entropy. That means, on the entropy balance sheet the earth gives out more than it receives and hence has a net loss of entropy. Thus, in this exchange the sun acts as a source of negative entropy, or order, for the earth.

      Another way of saying it is that the earth converts the organized energy it gets from the sun into a less organized form, thereby increasing the total disorderliness in the sun plus earth system in accordance to the second law.”

  • Why would any person continue to follow or quote selective passages from or associate themselves with an organization that believes in a God?
    This of course begs the next question of why would any person not associate themselves with any belief in a God or contradict passages from organizations that belief in a God?

    Terms such as liberal and conservative are labels used by to certain people to identify them.
    Environmentalist ,gays , women activists, adultery, blacks, Mexicans white people.
    These are also terms chosen to identify groups.

    Why in a world of constantly increase temperatures and littered oceans with polluted air visible for any to see would anyone think that the human race could cause no harm to its planet and not even for one moment think it even possible?
    Why would a person consider a sexual preference that has been in existence since all of time and exampled by millions upon million in its practice. That this is somehow un-natural and placed here by some evil force?
    Women are just as human as a male, just as able to create to built as any male, why would a male let alone another female think this sex is less able or inferior to the other and hence fore must submit and obey the other sex?
    Why in matters of sexual affairs be them married or widowed must to woman be punished for doing the same actions as a male?
    All races of the world are equal in that they are all human.

    The answer to all of this lays in the perceptions, of willfully intended ignorance’s of the one that is perceiving it and much of this lays solely in their personal fearful perceptions of themselves and their perceived place in a sociality.

    The herd syndrome, the lamb with the bell around its neck leading the rest into the butcher house ,the pack of bulls all running because two of them jumped and ran fast.
    Peer pressure to conform, an invisible yet even present force of roaming eyes looking over how another person walks or dresses or speaks or the others it maybe speaking to.
    The other boy is skinny and looks to feminine, that girl is dressed to revealing.
    I was in a store on day just buying a few thinks to make for dinner. Across the isle when the meat was displayed a woman was picking out a few pieces of chicken to make a meal. the male with her looked around to see if anyone was noticing what he was getting. He noticed a group of other males that looked like the football players standing a few feet away. He then proceeded to put on a small display of macho movements kind of resembling promenading rooster in a barn yarn saying. “Chicken..uh ..I am not going to eat that get some steak!”
    The woman with him rolled her eyes up then down and bought the chicken anyway.
    Ever noticed how a person walks in public? Or how a male or female will act differently around another male or female in public?
    Religions surround us every single day of our life’s so much so that it often goes un-noticed.
    How so?, it is on the currency we use. “In god we trust“, it in is settle words we use “God damn it” ,Jesus Christ” or things like “I pray this works”. One can hardly turn on any television station be it the news or comedy without hearing so sort of religious word.
    The pressure of culture peer pressures to conform are extreme.
    How this has continued to exist in a world filled for endless research and worldwide reference of research and human interaction well known be even the most naive of people would be bewildering if it were not for the herd syndrome of self perceptions with its mate self esteem.
    It is easy to understand how a belief system plays into peered enforce conformity.
    Prejudice is a powerful force when its left un-checked, when its excused even justified to the extend of the use of a concept of creation of all things.
    To preach of a better life in death for following a religious standard of morality is perhaps the most dangerous form of preaching which has lead to the murder and torture of many an innocent person.
    The act of terror in the destruction of the twin towers on 9/11 is an example yet another is the suicide of so many during the times in Jim Jones.
    Death is not the beginning of a better world it is the end of ones life. What we do in life determents how we are remembered in death.
    Religions have absolutely no place in public education.
    Why?, public education is the place of research, factual ,applications without bias in an open arena of questions.
    To expand the understanding of math, science, social study to open a creative mind.
    Religions have a very long history of attempts to close the mind to questions, to conform a sociality.
    The seemly endless debate over evolution, to intelligent design to the more resent Texas school book debate attempts to rewrite the historical record and center it around Christian and Christian only reasoning.
    When the term religion being based upon the use of excused prejudice with the intent to discriminate for social conformity to tract record is impossible to not notice.
    Its very existence would of never existed if this were not only true by its present and past track record by equally true of those preconceived concepts people form of others.
    From the child in school being bullied for looking different to the woman only being stoned to death for adultery as well as how people act in a crowd or treat another in public.
    Yes the science of knowledge is the science of reason ,the evidence of evolution is visible yet the enemy is not in the knowledge of learning this, it is in the ignorance of refusal to see the forest for the trees.
    The single enemy has remained the same,. Its name is bigotry.

    Why would any person continue to follow or quote selective passages from or associate themselves with an organization that believes in a God?
    This of course begs the next question of why would any person not associate themselves with any belief in a God or contradict passages from organizations that belief in a God?

    Terms such as liberal and conservative are labels used by to certain people to identify them.
    Environmentalist ,gays , women activists, adultery, blacks, Mexicans white people.
    These are also terms chosen to identify groups.

    Why in a world of constantly increase temperatures and littered oceans with polluted air visible for any to see would anyone think that the human race could cause no harm to its planet and not even for one moment think it even possible?
    Why would a person consider a sexual preference that has been in existence since all of time and exampled by millions upon million in its practice. That this is somehow un-natural and placed here by some evil force?
    Women are just as human as a male, just as able to create to built as any male, why would a male let alone another female think this sex is less able or inferior to the other and hence fore must submit and obey the other sex?
    Why in matters of sexual affairs be them married or widowed must to woman be punished for doing the same actions as a male?
    All races of the world are equal in that they are all human.

    The answer to all of this lays in the perceptions, of willfully intended ignorance’s of the one that is perceiving it and much of this lays solely in their personal fearful perceptions of themselves and their perceived place in a sociality.

    The herd syndrome, the lamb with the bell around its neck leading the rest into the butcher house ,the pack of bulls all running because two of them jumped and ran fast.
    Peer pressure to conform, an invisible yet even present force of roaming eyes looking over how another person walks or dresses or speaks or the others it maybe speaking to.
    The other boy is skinny and looks to feminine, that girl is dressed to revealing.
    I was in a store on day just buying a few thinks to make for dinner. Across the isle when the meat was displayed a woman was picking out a few pieces of chicken to make a meal. the male with her looked around to see if anyone was noticing what he was getting. He noticed a group of other males that looked like the football players standing a few feet away. He then proceeded to put on a small display of macho movements kind of resembling promenading rooster in a barn yarn saying. “Chicken..uh ..I am not going to eat that get some steak!”
    The woman with him rolled her eyes up then down and bought the chicken anyway.
    Ever noticed how a person walks in public? Or how a male or female will act differently around another male or female in public?
    Religions surround us every single day of our life’s so much so that it often goes un-noticed.
    How so?, it is on the currency we use. “In god we trust“, it in is settle words we use “God damn it” ,Jesus Christ” or things like “I pray this works”. One can hardly turn on any television station be it the news or comedy without hearing so sort of religious word.
    The pressure of culture peer pressures to conform are extreme.
    How this has continued to exist in a world filled for endless research and worldwide reference of research and human interaction well known be even the most naive of people would be bewildering if it were not for the herd syndrome of self perceptions with its mate self esteem.
    It is easy to understand how a belief system plays into peered enforce conformity.
    Prejudice is a powerful force when its left un-checked, when its excused even justified to the extend of the use of a concept of creation of all things.
    To preach of a better life in death for following a religious standard of morality is perhaps the most dangerous form of preaching which has lead to the murder and torture of many an innocent person.
    The act of terror in the destruction of the twin towers on 9/11 is an example yet another is the suicide of so many during the times in Jim Jones.
    Death is not the beginning of a better world it is the end of ones life. What we do in life determents how we are remembered in death.
    Religions have absolutely no place in public education.
    Why?, public education is the place of research, factual ,applications without bias in an open arena of questions.
    To expand the understanding of math, science, social study to open a creative mind.
    Religions have a very long history of attempts to close the mind to questions, to conform a sociality.
    The seemly endless debate over evolution, to intelligent design to the more resent Texas school book debate attempts to rewrite the historical record and center it around Christian and Christian only reasoning.
    When the term religion being based upon the use of excused prejudice with the intent to discriminate for social conformity to tract record is impossible to not notice.
    Its very existence would of never existed if this were not only true by its present and past track record by equally true of those preconceived concepts people form of others.
    From the child in school being bullied for looking different to the woman only being stoned to death for adultery as well as how people act in a crowd or treat another in public.
    Yes the science of knowledge is the science of reason ,the evidence of evolution is visible yet the enemy is not in the knowledge of learning this, it is in the ignorance of refusal to see the forest for the trees.
    The single enemy has remained the same,. Its name is bigotry.
    Trial of beliefs is a book about personal beliefs and how they are used.
    If a person choses to have some sort of belief in a God that is their personal view. This must never interfer with the quest of knowledge and must never be imposed upon another or used to excuse and injustice.
    It must be open to question for to question is to learn and to learn is to understand the humanity within humanity and must never get in the way of humanine humanity.
    This belief some have never never really disappear from the face of the earth but its evil can be exposed and removed.
    The beginning of its end may have started in the age of enlightment when humanism and the equality of it began to be considered.
    It is estimated that over 850.000.000 people consider themselves to be either atheist or not a member of any organized religion and or at least in question of religion (source Atheist Empire)
    That makes it the 4th largest group of the planet.
    Be mindful that to win this war it means to always stand upon the high ground and never allow a perjudice to guide you other wise one becomes just as the enemy has been.

  • It is entirely possible that if there is a God creator then the only language this being is able to speak is in the creation.
    All else is a human personal understanding of it, the prejudice and the judgmental of it are those whom are unable to understand the language of a creator.
    The lesson may well be that the differences found in this creation are the reason and purpose of the mind to learn of it all and to know ones place within it.
    If one does not have a God belief that lesson is the same.

    The world has been changing for those very reasons, the more we learn of others the more we share more then we do not share.

    This embraces all of humanity, its spirit, its mind its research of discovery, its science and holds no prejudice to conform all of it to a single way of existence.
    It holds the human race to recognize its faults and to learn from them.
    It holds it accountable to learn and reasons the purpose of a creation or an evolution of it.
    Embracing the spirit and the mind, the belief in a God and no belief in a God yet does see its spirit in both views.

    Evolution is a learning to evolve a creation is a building of something. Nothing can be built if there is no purpose in building it., nothing can evolve if it can not fit into it all.
    A bird does not jump from the egg into flight, it must learn to fly.
    A human does not jump from birth to walking and speaking it must learn to walk and the language must be learned.

    All the differences are not the same and can never be the same, all of existence shows this.

    So many still stand in a valley surrounded by trees and yell how they can not see the forest.

    Religions confuse this telling of one thing then the other; it allows a prejudice of opinion while not seeing the reality of it all.
    It stands in the valley covered by trees and yells it can not see the forest while telling all that the trees must be removed so the forest can be seen.

    A belief in a God or no belief in a God must learn that the forest is not hidden it surrounds us.
    The spirit can not be confused with the mind the two rest in the same place.

    A dog or a cat has many breeds. The dog and cat are still a dog and a cat, there are many different birds yet they are still birds.
    Human kind has many breeds yet they are still all human.
    We all share in being human. Understanding its many breeds does not separate us from all being human.
    It is in the connection of all being human that removes its prejudice of its many breeds.

    It is fine if one connects the dots to the total picture in a God belief it is fine if the dots fit together in a non-God belief. The dots still fit. The many breeds are still a part of the same.

    A religion or belief be it a God one or not in the final examine or observation is the character of the person.

    The immorality is believing your personal morality must be in all others, proper morality is in practicing it and not preaching it, outlawing or beating another because they do not fit into this personal morality is not only un-ethical it is a bigotry of intolerance.
    Tolerance does not mean to accept everything it only means to tolerant that which is self evident in the lifestyles of others that harm no one.

    When someone speaks to another that they love or like them just as they are, it is a powerful message that cuts deep in the sole of humanity.
    It cuts in so very deep because it is just what humanity has always wanted and always needed.
    It is a message of such power it can not be overwhelmed or stopped.
    When another hates someone who they have never meet only just now sees it is another message that cuts deep against the sole of humanity.

    When someone holds a hand out to help another who they do not know who is in deep pain or hungry or oppressed asking nothing in return. It speaks a powerful message of the heart of humanity.
    That never once ever required a God or no God its only requirement is to do so.
    When one of us is oppressed we all are.
    When one of us goes hungry we all go hungry.

    History when looked at for its motives intent and reasons is different then just events and dates.
    Motives are human intentions the results are the events which follow all being human nature.

    A building is built for a reason; people live in a city for a reason a war for a reason language for a reason.
    Organizing all of this as a reason and laws have a reason. All of this having been built by human kind has its reasons in human kind.

    When early human kind began to form into larger and larger villages then cities there became a need to organize it for self protection from things they know people are capable of doing to each other

    Early laws centered on the population judging itself and the ruling class enforcing this to remain in power.
    Those early laws centered on common held beliefs religions of various types this to is exampled in human history, examples of doing this so the crops will grow or a rain may fall or a person must to this and live this way or this will happen.

    Early religions were the law of which the public judged itself.
    This to in evident in the historical record parts, of which still exist in modern law.

    This is where those selective abominations religions still have in them were used for back then.
    The enforcement of them of the people themselves and the justified reasoning was this might happen because of a God might do this or that.

    Yet the motive of reasoning is also a social bigotry or intolerance of people or lifestyles.
    This to is exampled in the evolution of modern laws, and the growing knowledge of other people.
    The more we know the more we know we are more the same then we are not the same.

    What we know for an un-questionable reality which as exampled itself about the human race is that it factually has certain actions and life styles it has which some are completely intolerant of, prejudiced about and discriminating about.
    This is witnessed in daily life and throughout its entire existence.

    A religion can not exempt itself from this reality by saying a god desires this or that for all people to live like.

    A human minister can not claim to not be human by exempting him or herself in selecting parts of humanity as being an abomination and then dismiss this as being some sort of Godly plan.

    It can not put into writing such things then claim it never put anything into writing and the writing is gods plan.

    It can not claim to have no prejudice then write or explain how anything not living this is wrong?

    It can not claim that which is in reality and claim itself to not be a part of this reality.
    That is by example extreme evidence of the reality of the human race that does and has certain intolerance of it.
    This could not be a pure God belief it is a pure use of such a belief to conform all to one way of existence while denying its intolerances of that existence.

    The movement away from many religions is exactly because of its refusal to understand human kind for what human kind really is.

    Religions have only themselves to blame and the blame is not upon those whom question the blame is upon those whom refuse to question.

    An example which is sometimes pointed out is: The tree you just ran your car into is not the trees fault for having grown in the wrong place.

    The only abominations we do to each other are the ones we created. They remain because we have yet to realize the truth of ourselves and have not fully learned to stop doing it.

    When the human race finally realizes its own existence, the heaven it has been always living on called earth will finally stop being the hell it created on it.

    Organized religions are by their own examples the “use of” a belief for its purpose to conform all to it.
    It is not about the belief itself

  • “Anything simple or complex cannot have the capability to create something more complex than itself. So the God concept is no help whatsoever (it is redundant), so far as explaining the existence of the complex universe is concerned. Come with something else. Or simply say that we do not yet have certain answers”.

    How could a single celled simple organism produce over millions of years, a complex animal like man (and several other complex organisms in between and along with man)? Have you thought of that? Don’t quote Darwinism as an answer. He described just the mechanism or the conditions that operates and not the real cause that stimulates the evolution. Even genetics is not an answer. It also tells us how it operates and not what operates it!
    Again, what is the definition of life? Certainly not what we study in Biology. What we study in biology as the defenition of life is nothing but the properties of life…then what is life? Have you ever thought of that?

    • Satish Chandra

      Please read the Complexity Series by Dr. Wadhawan. It will answer your questions.

    • Evolution by natural selection is a self-organizing phenomenon. In such a phenomenon there are variations and a feedback loop like a video filming itself capturing its own image. A slight variation in the initial image can give rise to beautiful patterns which almost look like they are designed. Try this yourself if you have a webcam. Its amazing! Likewise the feedback loop in Evolution arises via natural selection while the variations are the random mutations. Any self-organizing phenomenon can give rise to complexity.

    • Vinod Wadhawan

      Anything simple or complex cannot CREATE something more complex than it self. But anything simple or complex can EVOLVE into something more complex than itself. This is DYNAMICAL evolution of any OPEN system, and not just Darwinian evolution. The ultimate cause of all this evolution is that our universe is expanding, and thus creating gradients of all sorts. Nature abhors gradients (second law of thermodynamics). Any gradient is equivalent to negative entropy. And negative entropy means information. As information builds up, complexity increases. As mentioned by Satish Chandra, my series on complexity explains all this in detail.

      • The battle over evolution and creation is just the icing on the cake of a much larger question.
        That question is not if a god exists or not. The question lays in the why and the motive.

        It is what we do with this belief, the god belief.
        Of course if this being created everything then the brain is not something to shut off and simply obey this unseen being.
        There would be no purpose in building or inventions, or even a religious book since to read it would also require a minds ability to understand it.

        The question is the motive in this belief, those so called judgments against others, we know what this is, we know this could not in any way be a god order to do, since this being would or at least since he it assumed it created everything it must therefore know of those human emotions of prejudice, ignorance, bigotry, greed, jealousy and envy.

        Any intelligent thinking being would know the results of such a selective view others may have against others not like them self.
        The no questions shall be asked that might show something wrong in this belief is evidence of that often seen submission to social peer pressures of conformity, any questioning that might show this belief as wrong must of course be instantly attacked otherwise the rest of this belief might fall into question.
        Someone might not have this belief as a justified reason to hold and or excuse a view of others if this idea of a god were shown to be wrong.

        Religion is overly littered with those selective ideas of how the whole of the human race must behave, this is far more evidence of the nature of the species known as human kind then it could ever be about a god.

  • 2 facts:
    big bang theory
    charles darwin’s theory of evolution

    many mythological religious stories

    • Scientist also discovered galaxies older than big bang.

      So much for one scientific fact.

      • @RKK
        Could you provide a source of the above reference, preferably a peer-reviewed publication or formal announcement?

        • Massive Ancient Galaxy Stirs Mystery: Is the Universe Older than We Think?
          The Daily Galaxy of Discovery channel reported AND HAS GIVEN FULL ASTROPHYSICAL JOURNEL LETTERS reference which is fully pier reviewed. One can google it easily.

          What our observations show is that alongside these compact galaxies were other ellipticals that were anything up to 100 times less dense and between two and five times larger – essentially ‘fully grown’ – and much more like the ellipticals we see in the local Universe around us,’ explains Michele Cappellari of Oxford University’s Department of Physics, an author of a report of the research in The Astrophysical Journal Letters

  • Atheism and or a questioning of the existence of a God are the results of perhaps these main reasons in no particular order.
    1. Its denials of certain realities of nature and or people. Examples being sexuality, the relationship of evolution upon species, its explanations of natural events as godly created and or godly punishments against others such as a hurricane being a judgment.
    2. Its refusal of any questioning of it which might in the least way disagree with its doctrine and dogma.
    3. Its narrow-mindedness of lifestyles not uncommon or harmful to anyone other then them being something in which it can not tolerant about people.
    4. It intolerance of any other type of belief system which does not fully agree with it.
    5. Hypocrisy is it teaching of a love of each people while are the same time exampling an intolerance of anything it narrowly defines as a love between people.
    Constant interferes in education by attempts to impose itself upon the educational systems of an entire nation.
    Its known examples of sexism in its definitions of relationships.
    When this constant interferes upon people and or their ways of life are up added then compared to the known examples of prejudice ,ignorance, intolerance and bigotry religion takes on a new it not well known meaning.
    Its entire message in its history has been one of social conformity based upon its desires to conform along those lines of excuse via a god belief to give justification.
    No one really care if a person believes in this god or not atheist or anyone else, the central issues as always been about those examples.
    Those examples are extremely well known to exist in the human race, ignorance, prejudice, intolerance and bigotry and no excuse can be given to explain it away.
    Those are factual realities of human kind, the central problem as always been about those reasons and examples.
    Atheism is not just I do not belief in any gods, equally so a questioning of the existence of a god as always been about a desire for reason.
    Atheism is an acknowledgment of the reality of reality, which is not solely about science verse a faith in a god.
    It is also an acknowledgment of the realities of prejudice, ignorance, and intolerance.
    Atheism removes the excuses of them and acknowledges the realities of the human races ability to overcome by learning of reality. We are all human, we are all apart of it all the only abominations are and always have been the ones we created.
    The mind is not a hat rack, it is the seat of learning, to overcome a problem the problem must first be recognized and not excused.
    Atheism is a reason over excuses. Knowledge over ignorance, hope over despair, prejudice removed by learning. A looking before leaping, reasoning over submission.
    It does not care one bit if someone believes in a god and cares a great deal about it being forced upon others and the desires of the extremes of religions to deny a freedom of learning.

    If there is any question about a religion being about a social conformity, along the lines of a discriminating view of people, it is exampled by its constant default into its moral views of how everyone on the planet must be living, and it excused justification for doing so.
    Its endless preaching of the end of the world so only a select few may live afterwards,
    in other words the end of all those other types.
    How many times have we all seen it going in this direction?
    A god belief is fine if it helps someone in some sort of way, it is completely false completely un-ethical completely immoral when it forces a narrow view upon others.
    This is based upon its well known history and exampled by those whom use it this way.
    This is its greats fault, and this is the main driving force of so many in growing world wide numbers question its motives.
    Your first question as to there being no loving god may have been better to ask why there are so many un-loving humans.
    Your right there could not be a god behind this or creating this or created it. Human kind created it all. We just happen to be on a planet that evolved a place for it to exist on.
    Until we realize the reality of what we have done to each other the excuses will continue to exist.

  • You Say:
    The universe has a huge amount of information content, or complexity.
    I say :
    That the universe does not exist. Prove it with science that universe exist. “If proved, Also prove me “where does it exist?”

    You Say:
    How did the universe get created?

    I say:
    Universe is not created, as universe itself does not exist.

    You Say:
    My life can survive only in a narrow range of temperatures and pressures.
    I say:
    Define “My life”? Do virus have life?

    You Say:
    If tomorrow new evidence is found, which demands a change in the way I look at Nature

    I Say:
    All of us are nature, Why do you look at nature. Which nature you look at? seperately from yourself.

    Your statement:
    Buddhism preaches non-violence and emphasizes the importance of service to others.

    I Say:
    Service to self is better than servicing others. Why do you service others? If everyone services themselves by trying to be good to themselves, then the society will automatically be changed.

    Your Satement:
    Prayer means ‘to ask that the laws of the universe be annulled in behalf of a single petitioner confessedly unworthy’

    My Statement:
    I agree with this partially, “But what is the laws of the universe”?

    • Vinod Wadhawan

      ‘ I say :
      That the universe does not exist.’

      By this logic, the writer of the comments does not exist. Then to whom do I respond?

      • Dear Vinod Wadhawan,
        You can respond based on your logic.,
        “The universe has a huge amount of information content, or complexity.”
        Prove that universe exist

        • Prof. Wadhawan has already answered all of your questions. They are the sort of pointless intellectual exercises that pass as “deep” and “profound” in spirituality. Science assumes a few things and then proceeds from there. In fact any knowledge system is based on assumptions. Science makes them known upfront. But mystical/spiritual systems pretend as if they have figured out everything.

          So you can keep pretending as if you have asked something profound and earth shattering that needs answering. But we here acknowledge the fact that you can stub your toe on a stone, then go “that’s interesting. I wonder how does that work?”

          • I agree with you completely Sir, that Science assumes a few things and then proceeds from there. But the validity of those assumptions may or may not turn out to be true and with further knowledge, what was considered to be true once may melt into falsehood. We have seen this time and time again in the sphere of science.

            Then, you go onto state “In fact, any knowledge system is based on assumptions…..”. I know at least one system that does NOT require any assumption. That system asks you ” Do you ever doubt your own existence?”

            I hope you will give some thought to this question. Thanks.

          • Satish Chandra

            Ravi,

            That is why I said other systems pretend that they aren’t based on any assumptions. At the minimum, they need to assume that what holds good at time t will hold good at t + 1. So coming to your system, why did you assume that you can finish off the entire question? Everything might go poof the moment you uttered the first word “Do”. What good is a question that can’t even be asked?

          • Later findings may result in what was an accepted theory being augmented or modified or rendered applicable only to certain special cases, but does not exactly result in it melting into falsehood. Here are some excerpts from Isaac Asimov’s ‘Relativity of Wrong’ essay.

            Nowadays, of course, we are taught that the flat-earth theory is wrong; that it is all wrong, terribly wrong, absolutely. But it isn’t. The curvature of the earth is nearly 0 per mile, so that although the flat-earth theory is wrong, it happens to be nearly right. That’s why the theory lasted so long…..

            Naturally, the theories we now have might be considered wrong in the simplistic sense of my English Lit correspondent, but in a much truer and subtler sense, they need only be considered incomplete.

          • Dear Mr. Satish Chandra

            I may have assumed that I would have finished off the entire question. But there is no assumption in the entity the presence of which is essential to 1. Recognize that everything has gone poof. 2. Recognize that the question was not completed or completed. Otherwise Questions 1 and 2 will not arise at all. This calls for real understanding of “I”.

            You asked – What good is a question that can’t even be asked ? (After everything has gone poof). The very fact that you questioned – is proof that you are affirming the presence of an entity in the presence of which alone can the following recognition can take place – (A) everything has gone poof and (B) the question was not completed.

            By the way, don’t you think that your question would have been better posed as “What good is a question, if the questioner himself is gone”? Are you concerned more about the question than the questioner? If one is more concerned about the question rather than the questioner, I am afraid, one is barking up the wrong tree.

            If you wish to proceed, please extend to me the courtesy of an answer to my question (without killing the spirit of my question) – Do you ever doubt your own existence. ?

          • Satish Chandra

            I don’t doubt my own existence. That’s a trivial thing to agree to and lies at the base of any knowledge system because knowledge itself becomes meaningless without human minds. But that is still beholden to the assumption that I (and we) will continue to exist. There’s no escaping that assumption.

            And my question is best posed as “What good is anything, if everything goes poof” and not the version you gave (which no doubt is convenient to your purpose). I’m wary of the semantic stopsigns that serve no other purpose than to giving an illusion of having resolved something without actually doing anything of use (Which is what Vedanta is and where your purpose lies).

  • The entire battle of science verses religion is a false battle in denial of its falseness.

    It misses the target in trying to separate the god idea from the real target which is the un-ethical immorality in the use of this god idea to disguise the intolerance of others and fears of exposing this as it being the motive in beliefs that do selectively judge the realities of human kind.

    You will never at least in this time remove someone’s hope of something better then human kind, but you can point out that this is exactly what a religious excuse to judge is and that is a hope of something better that can not tolerate what is here now and is in refusal of its bigotries of what does exist.

    You can point out this hope of something better is because someone sees only the bad and not the good and is in a refusal to acknowledge human kind can overcome its bad when it removes the excuse and false reasoning of those who wish to use the bad parts to oppress those good parts that disagree with their views of it all being bad.

    The target is bigotry, injustice, selective racial and personal prejudice and seeing reality for what is and acknowledging the ability of the human race to overcome it be exposing those false excuses by beliefs that have kept the human race in fear and denial of itself.

  • Mayank Agrawal

    Can you write an article (if you have already written one please refer) specifically explaining in simpler terms , about EVOLUTION. Since it is very non intuitive, it is hard to imagine the evolution of single cells into complex organisms, hence your insight might be of great value.

      • Dear Dr. Wadhawan,

        Nice to see you actively pursuing science of evolution.

        It is true that scientists carefully make hypothesis,investigate them, reject if not found to explain the observations made objectively, preferably by instruments, and then make and give a theory.

        Also they are happy publishing in scientific journals. And do no extra publicity.

        The fact that the so discovered laws are applied to remotest past, (albeit observed and converted to understandable form), is also to be acknowledged.

        We are till today ‘alone’ in this universe.

        It is understood that conditions similar to ours ‘can’ exist in the millions of solar system in the observable universe. Understood by induction not by direct observation. Which is prohibited by Einstein limit on physical speed. Infact we observe old light (em waves) and apply scientific laws on those observations.

        Simple people should keep this always in mind.

        -rkk

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