God's Existence and Buddhist philosophy: An Interesting Debate -5

 Buddhist Philosophy and Modern Science ...

Vir Gupta wrote : 

Avijit, it seems you have forgotten that all the time I was not talking about Buddha but Ksanika philosophy. (Read more...)

Response: Yes but you started your debate with Buddhist philosophy to counter the argument from Quantum fluctuation.  Let me remind you again before our main issue of discussion is being distracted:

  • You said -"Buddhist principle that nothing exists without a cause is universally applicable, right from the beginning of the universe. There is no exception to this rule (message # 20927)."  I  explained to you Quantum phenomenon, such as atomic transitions and radioactive decay of nuclei, seem to happen without prior cause. Physicst Like Vic Stenger, Brent Meeker, Aparthib also shared the same view.

  • You committed  a fallacy of "Appeal to authority", while mentioning the name of Heisenberg, Schrodinger, Gary Zukav, Fritzof capra, Jeremy Hayward etc. to prove your absolute devotion in Buddist philosophy.  I pointed out that  this line of argument is absolutely wrong. One can siilarly quote many distinguished scholars (some are famous scientists) for you who are sympathetic towards Islam or Muhammad. That does not prove Islam is true either. (message # 20999)

  • You claimed Buddhists were ahead of modern scientists by almost 1100 years, however you did not answer why they failed to invent Tunnelling Microscopy until the western scientist came out successfully using the principle of quantum mechanics, neither you could give any references from scientific journals how Buddhist philosophers solved the theory of  noncommuting operators, or Hamilton-Jaccobi equation of motion to infer wave equation.

  • You claimed as per Buddisht Philosophy  that electrons do not spin. However I provided references (citing two types of experimental evidences)  that arose in the 1920s to  suggest clearly this spin property of the electron. One was the  experiment of Otto Stern and Walter Gerlach, another one was fine structure of the hydrogen spectral lines.

All the facts pointed above leads to the conclusion that Buddhist philosophy has not been updated for quite long or in other words it does not fit for 20th century, if everything not wrong at all.


Vir Gupta also  wrote:

...  Avijit, I had presented the following paragraph from page 99 of Buddhist Logic, Vol. 1. The paragraph is attributed to Vasubandhu (4th century AD): By the way Buddhist Logic was written in 1930 by F. Th. Stcherbatsky. It was translated into English in 1962. Hundreds of papers on Buddhist Logic have been published by Royal Asiatic Society, mostly before 1900.

Motion consists of a series of immobilities (meaning the motion is discontinuous). The light of a lamp is a common metaphor designation for an uninterrupted production of a series of flashing flames. When this production changes its place, we say that the light has moved, but in reality other flames have appeared in other contiguous places. (pp 99 of Buddhist Logic)

Now tell me Avijit, which religion and which philosopher had given similar statement prior to 1900. You will not find a single one. Is Vasubandhu's idea not similar to Max Planks that energy is emitted in the form of photons? . . .


Response: No; not really. Let me tell you in detail how Max Plank's theory accepted in the scientific community and what is the basic differences it hold in comparison to ancient Buddhist philosophy. The quantum theory was launched in the first year of the twentieth century with Max Plank's explanation of the anomalous radiative behavior of light. In order to account the spectrum of light radiated from the hot body, Plank introduced the idea that light occurs in a discrete blasts, called quanta, whose energies are proportional to the frequencies of the light. The idea was utilized later by Einstein in 1905 (the same year he published the theory of relativity), to explain the photoelectric effect. Einstein proposed that light was composed of particles, later dubbed as photons, and the energy E of a photon was related to the frequency of the light n, by Planks formula, E = h*n; where h is planks constant. So there should be proper mathematical derivation to accept your theory in scientific community (which was absent in Buddist philosophy) as well as need some experimental evidences.

For example, in Einstien's model, it has been experimentally shown that the photoelectric effect results when an incoming photon sufficiently high energy strikes a single electron, knocking it out of the metal. Higher frequency light, such as ultra-violet light contains higher energy photons so may be able to produce a current where visible light cannot. Those are all experimentally verified by the western scientists. No ancient Buddhist philosopher carried out such experiments to prove their theoretical derivation at their time. so relating "other flames have appeared in other contiguous places." with quanta or photon and claiming that Vasubandhu's idea similar to Max Planks, is just a mere hypocrisy.

Also know that scientist Bhor did not believe in photon first while constructing his atom model, and offering a rather more complicated explanation. However, soon he came to realize that photons emitted or absorbed during transitions between energy levels in an atom, provided a practical description of radiation process. It is Bohr who applied quantum theory (called the principle of quantized action) by which Bohr was able to calculate the discrete frequencies of light observed to be emitted by the Hydrogen atom. All happened in a gradual process which is called scientific advancement. Claiming that ancient Buddhist philosopher knew all those modern theories without providing any substantial evidences of mathematical formulation and realistic experimentation, leads us to a bizarre extreme.



Vir Gupta also  wrote in his piece:

...  Einstein was looking for a unified theory, and that is where he stated that God does not play dice, meaning there is no room for probability. Ksanika philosophy also does not believe in probability... . .

Response: It is important to realize we do not view famous scientists or philosophers in the same way that theists view their religious leaders. Also, note that even famous scientists' views are treated with skepticism by the scientific community, no matter whether it is Einstein, Hawking or Newton. Acknowledged experts in a particular field must still provide evidence for their theories; science relies on reproducible, independently confirmed results. New theories which are incompatible with a large body of existing scientific knowledge will be subject to especially close scrutiny; but if the work is sound and the experimental data reproducible, the new theories will displace the old. For instance, both special relativity and quantum mechanics were highly controversial, and required that a lot of existing scientific theory be thrown out. Yet both were relatively quickly accepted after extensive experiments proved their correctness. Pseudo-scientific theories such as creationism are rejected not because they are controversial, but because they simply do not stand up to basic scientific scrutiny.

Albert Einstein was very interested in this question of QM, and it was the issue of randomness implicit in quantum mechanics that kept him from ever accepting quantum mechanics, he is quoted as saying, �God does not play dice.� But this one statement is not enough to prove Quantum mechanics is wrong, unless and until one can come out with a definite mathematical proof, and surely Einstein could not during his life time. At one physics conference Einstein spouted such God aphorisms and one of his colleagues shot back, �Stop telling God what to do!� So many years have been passed, we are yet to see any scientist came with any mathematical proof to prove QM wrong, even though some of them may feel uncomfortable because of it's counter-intuitive nature. We now are certain that any new physics that is discovered in the years to come will have to be consistent with quantum mechanics, so the randomness seems to be here to stay, no matter what Ksanika philosophy says.

You said, "Ksanika philosophy also does not believe in probability....", that's why it is no science, its just an ancient belief. The association of probability (Statistical postulate) was not as bizarre as it may seem. In fact the role of statistics in quantum mechanics was supported by Einstein's own calculation of the probabilities for atomic transitions, even though he could not accept it.

Don't think Einstein was right in every aspect. In his colorful life Einstein got many things wrong, not only once or twice, but countless times. For example, In 1911, Einstein predicted how much sun's gravity would deflect nearby starlight and got it wrong by half. He rigged the equations of general relativity to explain why the cosmos stand still, while it was actually not (Later he confessed it as his greatest blunder). Also beginning of mid 1920s, he churned out faulty unified field theories at t prodigious rate. The examples are many. He was wrong about the universe, wrong about his contents, wrong about his working of atoms. Yet, Einstein's mistakes could be compelling and instructive, and of course some of them were even essential to the progress of modern physics. Science itself is a self-correcting process, and it does not have any "philosophical or religious guru". So vaguely quoting Einstein would not prove anything in favor of Ksanika philosophy.


Vir Gupta says:

...  Avijit, I cannot understand your logic of grouping Ksanika philosophy with other religions. The conclusions of ksanika philosophy were not arrived at during 20th century. They were arrived at during 4th to 8th century AD.... . .


Response: Then let the aspects be in 4th to 8th century. Pls do not claim that the philosophers at that time were 1100 years ahead of modern scientists.



Nov 25, 2004  


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