“Lost in Math”, part 2 and discussion

by alexeyburov

Dear society friends,

First, many thanks to those of you who came today, and my special thanks to all of you who participated in the discussion.

Second, the slides of my full talk are here. Hopefully, Lev will make the video soon.

Third, I’ll try to summarize below the questions and objections to my talk with my answers. Feel free to correct possible inaccuracies in my address.

  1. Donna expressed her disagreement with Bergson’s statement “As a matter of fact, the mystics unanimously bear witness that God needs us, just as we need God. Why should He need us unless it be to love us?” According to her, this statement is wrong. God does not need anything or anybody, and mystics do not bear this witness. The objection to Bergson was noted, but I tried my best to minimize the purely theological debates, trying to stay closer to the book.  
  2. Mike, in addressing to my last slide, asked a question, on what ground do I assign to God happiness or unhappiness. My answer was that I suggest this question for contemplation. Since the only reasonable explanation of the very special laws of nature is theistic, there is a reason to suppose that the discoverability is conditioned on something.
  3. Mike pointed to the multiverse as a reasonable answer to the question of why the laws of nature are what they are. On that, I’d like to remind him of our refutation of this hypothesis: https://pythagoreanuniverse.com/ ; also, note slide #3.
  4. Jim described his favorite Darwinian answer to the discoverability problem, why the fundamental laws are discoverable. His answer consists of two parts. First, he noted our Darwinian ability to recognize patterns, and, second, to answer the question why nature has had patterns available to be recognized, he stated that our knowledge of the laws of nature is approximate and contains misconceptions. In my answer, complemented by Lev, I stressed, first, the huge span of parameters  where the discovered laws are valid with tremendous accuracy, which is counter to the idea that the laws are simply convenient approximate formulas, fittings, etc. Second, the old laws are exact limit cases of new ones: the Newtonian physics is a limit case of the relativistic mechanics with c->infinity, etc. The old theories are asymptotically correct cases of the more general new theories. If the old laws were but approximations, they would be simple misconceptions, but in fact they are different ways of looking at the same logic structure of the universe.