Proofs of God in a photon

by Lucas Wilkins

I’ve been reading this article in the independent: “Proofs of God in a photon”. The article is ultimately about some anthropic principle stuff. But the comments are full of silly things that make reluctant to call myself a scientist in case I am associated with the authors. So, as therapy, I shall call a number of the commenters on their bullshit. First, a well meaning guy called Dan,

If there’s ever substantial evidence to suggest that there’s a multiverse, the idea of a need for a ‘God’ is gone.

Dan Marx White

I don’t think Dan fully grasps quite how ‘big’ the universe is or what would constitute evidence of something outside it. But I like Dan, at least he’s trying, and unlike many of the posters, manages not to be an arsehole.

Im not even going to read it since whoever wrote this spelt “proof” wrong. It doesn’t have an “s” in it. “Proof” is plural.

Thomas Ingham Kubba

It’s probably a bit assuming for me to accuse Thomas of not wanting to read the article in case it made some point that he might have to actually think about. Perhaps he just could not comprehend a multiplicity of proofs of God, or perhaps he thinks that a photon is only big enough for one of them.

But watch out if you do actually read the article and think that scientific knowledge isn’t the only thing that matters. This is a reply to someone who seemed quite nice but a little flaky:

Science deals in finding out how the world works.

“[emotions] which to most people are far more real that any scientific formula or theory”

Great…so Ill just come take away your house. Your technology. Your food which was imported or transported using modern means. Because emotions are more real than scientific formula.

Don’t forget, your belief in God is purely faith driven. Your use of modern developments is based on fact…derived from scientific discoveries.

Alex Stewart

It takes a particular kind of person to use threats, real or fictional, to try and win an argument – this kind of blackmail is cheap, underhand and inept.

I imagine Alex in a room with a crying child, angrily smashing their toys: “if you don’t want play doctors, then it means you want me to rip the head of Barney!”.

Another response that poster was:

You betray a basic ignorance of what science actually is.
Science is the only arena where such concepts (emotions feelings and intuition) can be investigated. All other arenas rely entirely on opinion.

Evolution explains a lot about what it is to be a human being (the implications of evolution, not just the fact of it).
One such implication is that science is an expression of how we operate as a species, in a manner that avoids the limitations of personal perspective.

Anything that is beyond science is thus, by definition, beyond the possibility of human experience. i.e. if we as humans can experience it, then science can investigate it.

If something is beyond science then it is beyond humanity, and not just us humans alive today in the scientific 21st century, but all those who live in past ages and invented countless superstitions and religions to fill the gaps in their understanding.
These are the people who invented the terms like soul and spirituality and mind, and today we seem to have to perpetually deal with the fallout from their utterly flawed opinions and perspectives.

Seamus Scanlan

There I was, thinking that people who weren’t scientists ‘felt things’ and ‘had experiences’ and that they could ‘comprehend them in some way’. But, my opinions were flawed: I see now that scientific opinion the only opinion which isn’t an opinion.

I particularly dislike Seamus: his pretense of rigor, his circular argument and his assertion of opinion as fact. But mostly, I dislike the way he sees the world as only full of people with worthless ideas that he – the defender of the one truth – has to waste his time listening to and putting right. He sees himself as a super-hero whose responsibility it is to make everyone think like he does.

Finally, a very anti-Jellymatter comment: Just when you thought that you were wasting your time writing about how statistics really are subjective…

No, there are perfectly good statistical methods for determining the level of testing required to get the correct level of certainty.

Science does not require “faith”


Sometimes I feel like no one listens.

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6 Responses to “Proofs of God in a photon”

  1. Right yes, Sheikwaba annoys me (unsurprisingly I suppose). It reflects a common misunderstanding of what statistics actually does. Of course you use stats to get confidence intervals, significance levels or weight of evidence type measures, but then to interpret that as meaning you can get the “correct” level of certainty assumes there is some fixed concept of “correct”! The point is supposed to be that a scientist works out the levels of significance or weight of evidence etc that satisfies them, perhaps along the lines of “extraodinary claims require extraordinary evidence” maxim (but of course that’s not objective either, since you need to know what “extraordinary” means in both contexts – claims and evidence).

    This is all made worse (in my opinion) by things like the arbitrary significance at p < 0.05 convention and this silly table:

    Sorry, ranting…

  2. You broke the cardinal rule of reading newspapers online:

    Never start reading the comments.

    Also, I suspect, you’ve been reading Speak You’re Branes.

  3. I ran it past James before I posted it and he said the same – I’ve tried to un speak you’re branes it twice, but there’s no way around it. Anyway, as long as I don’t make a habit of it, and as long as I don’t go looking for commenters that annoy me, I think this kind of post is good for my overall sanity. It’s fun to play with other peoples writing style too (I don’t think I would have even thought myself capable of doing so before starting jellymatter).

    Also, James – good job in not neglecting the Bayes factor interpretation.


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