All scientists should be unicorns. (Rebuke: No, Atheist Scientists Are Incompetent)

Someone posted a link to a response to Lawrence's Krauss his article that all scientists should be militant atheists. I disagree with Krauss on this one, but I disagree with this response more. The response is written by a Frank J. Tipler, which will here be addressed as Tipler, for convenience (no disrespect intended).

All scientists should be unicorns. (Rebuke: No, Atheist Scientists Are Incompetent)


The short description of the article is: 
Lawrence Krauss his claim -- all scientists must be "militant atheists" -- conveniently fails to address the universe's origin.
Here, it becomes important to distinguish between two sorts of responses. Is Tipler arguing that:

  •  Krauss his claim is wrong.
  • The counter claim [Atheist scientists are incompetent] is true?
How can we determine that? Let's look at the media network, the author and my opinion from a quick glance at the article. 

PJMedia is a media company and operator of an eponymous conservative news, opinion and commentary website. Founded by a network primarily, but not exclusively, made up of conservatives and libertarians. [Wikipedia]

Tipler is a mathematical physicist and cosmologist, with a joint appointment in Mathematics and Physics at Tulane University [Wikipedia].  He is not ignorant, nor uneducated - let's keep that in mind. Looking at his Google Scholar list, he works in a field especially well suited to the joint appointment, involving heavy mathematics.  He has published various volumes on the physics of Christianity. 

As for my quick glance, he certainly seems to be arguing for the claim that [Atheist scientists are incompetent]. Let's us, then, adapt that perspective.

Are atheist scientists incompetent?

Recently, a “physicist” by the name of Lawrence Krauss claimed that “all scientists should be militant atheists.” On the contrary, any scientist who is not a theist is incompetent.
As you might know, I am a M.Sc. student in applied physics at Delft university of technology in the Netherlands. My coursework has mostly focussed on theoretical quantum physics, and I am now doing research in condensed matter physics. In Delft, that often means very special nano-devices.

I would claim that science has no reason to have a religion. There have been no scientific demonstrations of deities, and therefore, science is without religion. It is not atheistic, nor is it theistic; it is neither. This is particularly well illustrated by a biophysics teacher of mine, Dr. Cees Dekker, who is a Christian. I find his story particularly interesting, because he has actually combined his science and his religion. This means that he accepts the theory of evolution, and is perfectly fine hosting a seminar on the Origins of life (by Jack Szostak). 
Let’s define “God” as the “supernatural being who created the Universe.” That is, God is the cosmological singularity. To see this, unpack the definition of “God.” The word “supernatural” literally means “above nature,” or outside of space and time, and not subject to the laws of physics. “Super” just means “above,” and the meaning of “nature” is clear if we use the Greek work for nature: “physis.”
Your definition requires an assumption. Let's write it down really clear:
  1. The universe has been created.
  2. Things that have been created have a creator.
  3. Therefore, the universe has a creator. 
However, (1) is an assertion. It is not, at all, clear that the universe has been created; if it is, for instance, eternal, then it does not require a creator. If this seems rather weak, remember that it is exactly the special pleading used for a creator to escape infinite regression (i.e. it is the answer to the question "Who created the creator".)

The singularity is something that is. It is not a creator; if it was the creator, then the creator would be the universe. That doesn't allow for a creator to be outside the universe. 

The argument that follows is rather silly. It essentially states that, because we define something to be X, it has to be X, and therefore the definition is true. That's simply wrong. It is using the axiom to show the axiom is true. Yes, of course the axiom is true within the framework of the axiom, but you can't prove it within the framework of the axiom.

Often, this doesn't matter. You state something like, if the axiom that [...] holds, then and work from there. Here, it becomes crucial; the definition or axiom that "God is that which is supernatural and the creator of the universe", with the extra premise that the universe has been created, have to be true for the axiom to hold.

Dear Tipler, you are a scientist. You know better than this rather silly argument. We'll get back on this when Aquinas is mentioned. 
The initial cosmological singularity is not in space or time, but rather it is the origin of space and time, the origin of all that is, seen and unseen. The cosmological singularity cannot be in space or time, because it is intrinsically infinite, and anything in space or time, and subject to the laws of physics, must be locally finite. To put it another way, the cosmological singularity is the cause of everything that exists, but is itself uncaused.
The cosmological singularity obeys the laws of physics. It has to; why else did it bang? The reason we inferred the existence of the cosmological singularity is that space expands; given Einstein's general relativity, which seems to hold true (is a scientific theory), it follows that the universe is expanding and thus terminates in a singularity. We inferred its existence by the laws of physics; it thus obeys these laws. Note that there's more evidence for it being there beyond the argument above.

Yes, because it pre-dates space-time, it seems to pre-date physics. Or does it? The Friedmann equations, which are solutions to Einstein his General relativity, are all formulated in '4D space-time'. That is to say, they include the three spatial directions (x,y,z) plus time. 

Yet a lot of current research focusses on hyper-dimensional space-time. That is, more than 4; it can go up to 10 or 11. In this extra dimension, the singularity might well be locally finite, as he calls it. What on earth am I talking about? Well, take an empty table. Put something very thin on it, like a needle. That table is 2 dimensional, right? Well, if you draw a line somewhere, then the needle becomes a point, rather than a line segment. That point represents the singularity; points are non-physical. If you add a dimension, however, you see the entire table - and your point, your singularity, becomes a line segment. Lines segment are finite, so in Tipler his phrasing, it is locally finite.

Remark: It is fairly simple to use lingo to confuse users. I attempt not too, but sometimes I can't think of a more accessible formulation. I find it dishonest to do so; if you can't explain it in understandable terms, you often can't use it as an argument.

And again, I must ask; if it is uncaused, why are you trying to formulate a cause? Just because you attempted to define the singularity as God, doesn't mean it is God. I have a painting above my computer monitor that includes a Lion, a white Tiger, a Panther, a Leopard and a Tiger. If I define these to be speaking, they don't suddenly start to speak. 

The cosmological singularity is the uncaused first cause, which is how Thomas Aquinas (“The Five Ways”) and Maimonides (“The Guide for the Perplexed”) defined “God.” All competent Christian and Jewish theologians have known for the past 2,000 years that God in His essence is not an old man wearing a white gown. One of the greatest Christian theologians, John Chrysostom, said that no created being can see God as He really is. So He appears to us in a form we can comprehend, often as an old guy wearing a white sheet.

I'm always puzzled when theists, and especially theologians and academics, use this argument. My first encounter with Aquinas that I recall is as an undergraduate; without touching on the existence of deities, we went over Aquinas. We basically used them as exercises to analyse arguments and find the flaws in them. I'm going to put Wikipedia's formulation here:
Thomas's five proofs for the existence of God take some of Aristotle's assertions concerning principles of being. For God as prima causa ("first cause") comes from Aristotle's concept of the unmoved mover and asserts that God is the ultimate cause of all things.
It's an assertion. That sums up what we're trying to say. You can't assert that the universe was created. You can't assert that the creator is your God. You can't assert that something is the ultimate cause of all things.

Why can't you? Because you are a scientist, Tipler. You should know better. I can assert that a specific material's weird behaviour is explained by my theory, but that doesn't make it so. You need to experiment to do so. In effect, that means that you have to show your assertion is true; you can't just let it go untested. And, then you have to show that, if there are other explanations for the same, that yours is the right one. Which requires a crucial experiment. What that means is rather simple. From both explanations, you generate a testable hypothesis that is tested in the same experiment. In such a way that if one explanation is true, but not the other, then you find one measurement that is distinct from the other explanation. In that way, you can test which one is correct. And remember, in science experiments need to be reproducible

So now that we know that God is the cosmological singularity, the question of God’s existence is now a question of physics: Does the cosmological singularity exist? If we accept the laws of physics, the answer is yes.
Paraphrase: So now that we have asserted that a specific deity is the cosmological singularity, then the question of God's existence is now a question of physics. Namely, does that which we asserted is our deity exist?
The Einstein equations of gravity — the equations of general relativity — tell us unequivocally that if gravity is attractive, at least at high density, then the cosmological singularity is there at the beginning of time.
The Einstein equations of gravity might still turn out to be wrong. We haven't measured gravitational waves. There might be specific cases where it does not apply, because unknown reasons. And so on. (Note: Wrong in the sense that Newton's laws are not correct. They apply, but in a specific set of conditions).

Also, it tells us that it is there at the beginning of time. But what's the beginning of time? This is an interesting question in its own right.

The singularity is space-time. What this means is that time exists after it starts expanding. There is a a theorem in cosmology, the BGV theorem. A theorem, by the way, is "a statement that has been proven on the basis of previously established statements, such as other theorems—and generally accepted statements, such as axioms." [Wikipedia] This theorem states that, in simple terms, that if you have a model that (on average) is expanding, like the "Big Bang" model, then it is not complete. It can't describe things that happened "before" the singularity (note quotes). 

You don't know if it was or wasn't created. You can't know - not if your model is expanding on average. This also means that you don't know if it has a cause, even without inventing one.

If gravity is combined with quantum mechanics, then the cosmological singularity is present somewhere, whether or not gravity is an attractive force. This is because quantum mechanics, as Richard Feynman showed, is mathematically equivalent to a “sum over all histories”; quantum mechanics asserts that all possibilities exist. (Feynman was awarded the Nobel Prize in physics for proving this.)
This is bogus, and attempts to establish false authority. It's a non-sequitur.

Quantum Mechanics, or more specifically the standard model of physics, has not been combined with gravity. We don't know what it is going to look like. Perhaps sum over all histories will exclude a few. 

Either way, from sum over all histories it does not follow that the singularity exists. And, as has been emphasised earlier, that he asserts that the singularity is his god doesn't make it a god, his god, or a god in any sense.

One possibility is a history in which reality begins in a singularity. So quantum gravity necessarily contains a cosmological singularity. If quantum mechanics is correct — and it is — then the cosmological singularity exists. The cosmological singularity exists even in Stephen Hawking’s quantum cosmology, though he denies it in his popular books. If you read his technical papers, the singularity exists in all his models. The mathematics gives no alternative: God exists.
Tipler, what are you doing here? This is just expanding on your earlier non-sequitur. You literally added nothing to the previous paragraph; you just wrote it out with more lingo and another name.

Once more: You have to show that those things you assert to be true, are true. Propose an experiment. You are a scientist, act like it.

Quantum mechanics also demonstrates that the cosmological singularity controls all of space and time, and determines exactly what occurs throughout all history, past, present and future. (See my paper published last year in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and my forthcoming paper in Inference if you want a rigorous mathematical demonstration of this.) The bottom line: the cosmological singularity is indeed the cause of everything, which is to say the cosmological singularity is God.
 Please include a better reference, next time. The paper I found is Quantum non-locality does not exist, Frank J. Tipler, PNAS 111 (31). It actually seems rather interesting and I will probably read it in full sometime in the future.

What the peer-reviewed paper does not say is that the singularity controls all of space and time, and determines exactly what occurs throughout all of history. Either way, the paper essentially argues that the `Many worlds interpretation' (MWI) is true. So we're back at the same sum of histories argument of before. Note that the paper mentions if both [].. are assumed.. then MWI is true. Again, you're going to have to show that your assumption is true.
The laws of physics apply to everything in nature, without exception. Period, end of discussion. Lawrence Krauss is a physicist in name only. I’ve debated him in the past, and I know he does not understand either quantum mechanics or general relativity. All scientists worthy of the name accept that the laws of physics apply to everything in the natural world; any who do not accept physics are not scientists. Any “scientist” who is not a theist is ignorant and incompetent.
Given that Krauss is also a scientist, that has published papers on cosmology, I will assume that he, like Tipler, does understand quantum mechanics and general relativity to a certain level and that this level is similar to that of Tipler. I looked at his highest cited-paper according to Google Scholar, and it involves both general relativity and quantum mechanics.

Tipler is wrong. He uses some reasoning that is used as a bad example of reasoning in undergraduate classes and wraps it all up by what is simply Libel.

What did Krauss even write?

Yes, that's a good question. I re-read his article in the New Yorker, and it is fairly simple. I can show it to you in a quote:
Whenever scientific claims are presented as unquestionable, they undermine science. Similarly, when religious actions or claims about sanctity can be made with impunity in our society, we undermine the very basis of modern secular democracy. We owe it to ourselves and to our children not to give a free pass to governments—totalitarian, theocratic, or democratic—that endorse, encourage, enforce, or otherwise legitimize the suppression of open questioning in order to protect ideas that are considered “sacred.” Five hundred years of science have liberated humanity from the shackles of enforced ignorance. We should celebrate this openly and enthusiastically, regardless of whom it may offend. If that is what causes someone to be called a militant atheist, then no scientist should be ashamed of the label.
I concisely explained my view on the question if science is theistic or atheistic.

It turns out that I agree with Krauss. Here's a quote from me, earlier:
I would claim that science has no reason to have a religion. There have been no scientific demonstrations of deities, and therefore, science is without religion. It is not atheistic, nor is it theistic; it is neither. 
A second quote from Krauss:
In science, of course, the very word “sacred” is profane. No ideas, religious or otherwise, get a free pass.
Yes! I wholeheartedly agree! 
If that is what causes someone to be called a militant atheist, then no scientist should be ashamed of the label.
And there, we see the meaning of the title of his article. Krauss is not arguing that scientists should be atheists. He's not.

His idea of science involves that nothing gets a free pass. Things get tested. Done. I agree.

Sure, some scientists might refrain. In a sense, this is cowardice; in another sense, it is a personal choice which I will not condemn. However, they too must admit that nothing is sacred is essential to our tradition. We applaud those that falsify giants. Therefore, even if a scientist refrains from something himself, he should rejoice that others do.

And if that's called militant atheism, then that is what all scientists should be.


I have shown you how Tipler attempts to use fancy lingo and Nobel prize winner names to get an assertion into your head as a theorem.

I looked at Krauss his article, and to my surprise I found that Krauss isn't saying that scientists should be atheists. He's saying, look, we're scientists. We test things. That's what science is. If that is what's called militant atheists, then you should still rejoice in doing that.

And thus, we also see how Tipler is attacking a headline. 

I conclude: Yes, I rejoice in finding that Krauss is giving a profile of scientists that I wholeheartedly agree with. If we call people of that profile militant atheists, then yes, I think all scientists should be militant atheists. If we call people of that profile unicorns, then yes, I think all scientists should be unicorns.