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George Ellis God of the Gaps doesn't cut it

By Bruce Long.

Physicists and philosophers who are believers in the supernatural keep pushing the god of the gaps and trying to make room for it, and keep promoting the anti-scientific idea that if one doesn't have complete information about a natural phenomenon then one is free to make large ontologically baroque and complex assumptions and call it science. This has never really worked and still doesn't.

Last year George Ellis attempted such a defence of the god of the gaps.

A-priori contingent (based upon scientific findings) scientific metaphysics is probably the only kind that still has legs, but most scientists - including Eddington - are often not the best at metaphysics, which physicists need to engage in often ont he basis of contingent data. Krauss is no worse at it than Bohr or Schrodinger, and certainly better at it than Ellis.

"The belief that all of reality can be fully comprehended in terms of physics and the equations of physics is a fantasy."

I'd like to see that statement established as contingent fact without dependence upon dogmatic indefeasible a-priori reasoning, and without deference to writing off reductionism due to the same epistemic access problems (problems practically getting to the data to have the knowledge) that the physical sciences are designed to overcome - often quite successfully with reductionist approaches - in the first place.

Professor Krauss

Defeasible (revisable) science trumps pessimistic meta induction (the idea that scientific theories get revised due to error all the time and so they must all be wrong) -contingently and on an a-posteriori basis - and the assertion that physical reductionism is fantastical is troubled by 1. The continuing role of and need for scientific realist physicalist ontological reduction in physics and biology, 2. The fact that the certainty of the truth of non-reductionism is stipulative and based on conflation of different kinds of explanation and reduction (conceptual, explanatory, causal, theory-term) and 3. The fact that such an assertion is the kind of hyperbole that philosophers should avoid.

Professor Ellis

Statistical mechanics and statistical modelling, estimation,and forecasting do the bulk of the work in the contemporary sciences, but the current surprising result that spooky action at a distance appears to be real and there don't seem to be hidden variables involved in non-local action at a distance was established by rigorous reductionist physical experimentation.

The god of the gaps is still effectively a god of the gaps even if it's not a god. The no  miracles argument stands - as it always has - on an empirical contingent basis even when there's limited epistemic access to microstructures and microdynamics (or dynamics on a cosmological scale).

Physicists like Krauss are not supposed to introduce anything into the gaps beyond what physical evidence provides for, and a universe without complex gap fillers is more ontologically parsimonious and obeys Ockham's Razor. That's the way it is supposed to be. Krauss is only restating this.

11/24/2015 10:34:03 AM
11/24/2015 10:34:03 AM

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