Science & religion – is there a difference?

An open letter to Adam Becker

wormhole-shutle

On 5 April 2018 Adam Becker,  “freelance astrophysicist”  according to his webpage, published an essay on Aeon titled: “What is good science? Demanding that a theory is falsifiable or observable, without any subtlety, will hold science back. We need madcap ideas“.

The article was called to my attention by Firefox Pocket.

Aeon is, according to its about page, “a registered charity committed to the spread of knowledge and a cosmopolitan worldview“.  It is not a news organization and there is no peer review so it is not a scientific journal.  Authors are not generally solicited but hand picked by the editor, so there is no democratic (or actually even cosmopolitan) aspect of article selection.  I have nothing at this point against Aeon, just clarifying that it is a sort of edited collection of blogs founded by Paul and Brigid Hains of London, and that being a registered charity it is tax exempt, so it escapes the tax burden that you and I pay when expressing our ideas.  It can completely write off its expenses.  I cannot write off any of my idea-expressing activities, not even the very high paper publication fees which can run to $3000.  Brigid is the editor, and is an “environmental historian” according to an interview with Frost Magazine.

I wondered exactly what “cosmopolitan worldview” is.  According to Wikipedia, cosmopolitanism is an “ideology that all human beings belong to a single community, based on a shared morality“.  In other words, it is a kind of religion (aka ideology), which supports something closely akin to globalism.

That was my complaint about Becker’s article.  Allowing unverifiable scientific theories makes science indistinguishable from religion.  Religion is just a theory about how the world came to be and our role in it which cannot be verified by scientific experiment.  This means the gatekeepers are priests and dogma, ultimately.  The gatekeepers of science are anyone who can scrape together a credible, repeatable experiment.

You do not have to have a  PhD to be a scientist.  Albert Einstein had only a bachelor’s degree, and barely got that.  When he came up with Special Relativity and the basis of quantum theory in 1905, it was terribly embarrassing and “the establishment” quickly set up a program for him to get a PhD.  If you don’t have a priesthood and you start having visions within most religions, they don’t set up a program to get you qualified as a priest.  You are branded a heretic.  Ask Joan of Arc about that.

I quickly wrote an email to adam@freelanceastro.com.  Here it is.

Subject: about your Aeon article

Adam,

You are a little late to the party. GR went into unverifiable territory with the metric assumption in 1915 and almost no one every looks back. Unless someone can produce a working wormhole with both ends accessible in the present epoch, there is theoretically no way to verify the metric assumption. Everything else is embeddable on a homogeneous space in which momentum is conserved, and the only accessible regions (outside horizons) are embeddable in homogeneous time where energy is conserved. The damage is immense, a public waiting on “magic” like wormholes before investing seriously in space travel (eccentric billionaires excepted, thankfully). I have spent ten years researching this and my tour-de-force paper has been accepted and will appear shortly. Drop me a note back if you would like a link to it. Science without verifiability is religion, pure and simple. There is, unfortunately, no space to comment on your article. I think that is cowardly.

If you are happy with science being religion, I have already annoyed you enough.  If you think it should be different, then express your thoughts via email to Adam at the above address, and tweet @BrigidHains.

 

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