Minister of Science and Chief Protector of the Faith

Thursday, August 16, 2007

The Invisible Pink Unicorns of Science

 
The funniest and most accurate observation that you can make about the science vs. religion debate is that either side already has far too many marbles in their mouth to legitimately be giving the other the raspberry.

Dark matter and dark energy: The Invisible Pink Unicorns of Science

TRUTH, n. An ingenious compound of desirability and appearance. [Bierce]

We have all heard the phrase that something is "scientifically impossible" or that something "cannot possibly exist." Bear this in mind while I discuss a widely accepted scientific notion, the Big Bang Theory. When certain points of this standard of modern science are brought to light, the dogma of subjects like philosophy and religion do not seem so ethereal by comparison.

We all know about the Big Bang Theory. What is often not mentioned about the big bang theory is that for it to make sense to the calculations of physicists, something else, something unseen, must exist in the universe. Scientists call it dark matter and dark energy.

So to believe in the big bang, you have to create another theory to support the first one. "The total amount of dark matter can be calculated from big bang nucleosynthesis, and observations of the cosmic microwave background." [Baryonic] Modern cosmologists and physicists are working like the dickens to figure out what all of this dark matter and dark energy "stuff" is. For the big bang theory to be true (and I'm not knocking it), modern science states that the universe must be composed of "4% ordinary matter, 23% of an unknown type of dark matter, and 73% of a mysterious dark energy." [WMAP]

This mysterious "other stuff" is not just out there past Pluto. It is in the room with you right now! The calculations based the movements of the planets within our solar system show that dark matter and dark energy are all around us, on this planet, and all around you. Parts of you are probably even made of dark matter and dark energy!

95% of what is around you is unobservable by any form of scientific instrumentation, according to science. Our model of the universe only accounts for 5% of what we can observe with any instrument known to man.

It is not a matter of some unseen force might be possible in your mind or imagination - it is a matter of some unseen force must exist, or science itself is talking through its hat.

This substance could be anything; we don't know what it is. This would mean that it is entirely possible that a vast portion of the universe may be made of large quantities of invisible Cheez Whiz - Or to use a phrase that might have a bit more irony, according to the Big Bang Theory, it is possible that at this moment that we are surrounded by "invisible pink unicorns."

Atheists tease theists with this reference. "The Invisible Pink Unicorn (IPU) is the goddess of a satiric parody religion aimed at theistic beliefs, which takes the form of a unicorn that is paradoxically both invisible and pink. These attributes serve to satirize the apparent contradictions in properties which some attribute to a theistic God." [Wikipedia]

In a universe filled with 95% invisible "stuff," atheists cannot refute that they have their own "invisible pink unicorns." (As an aside, it has been argued that invisible pink unicorns are not really invisible, it's just that you can't see them.)

Certainly dark matter and dark energy can lead to a certain degree of speculation in this area, just as philosophy and religion do in their own realm. To paraphrase Ambrose Bierce, "certain subjects stimulate the organ that a scientist makes a fool of himself with." [Bierce]

Atheists take great satisfaction in showing alleged discrepancies or contradictions in the Bible, and Theists seem to derive great pleasure from pointing discrepancies or contradictions in science. Both sides attempt to pick at chinks in the other's armor, and seem to derive great satisfaction from the rich creamy goodness of their own speculations and assertions.

The funniest and most accurate observation that you can make about the science vs. religion debate is that either side already has far too many marbles in their mouth to legitimately be giving the other the raspberry.



"Baryonic dark matter" in the Wikipedia encyclopedia

Bierce, Ambrose, "The Devil's Dictionary," 1911.

"Big Bang theory," in the The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. 2000

"Cheez Whiz," in the Wikipedia encyclopedia

"Invisible Pink Unicorn" in the Wikipedia encyclopedia

"The Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP)"

I wrote this in college. The original was longer and covered other subjects as well. I had to give a Power Point presentation about the paper. I got a good grade, and the audience loved it, but the teacher said that she did not understand the point I was trying to make. This is kind of an addendum to my previous post about religion, as well as an interesting discussion that I had with Samurai Frog and Infidel753.

 

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17 Comments:

At Thu Aug 16, 08:26:00 AM, Blogger niCk (Mem Beth) said...

The teacher didn't understand the point, I got it and I just quickly scanned your post.

There is much we don't know, and can never know, about how we were created. Science tries to explain it with logic and reason, religion with passion, philosophy, and metaphors, but both exist most of the information is not known, we can only speculate.

We are just ignorant specks of matter, science and religion.

 
At Thu Aug 16, 08:48:00 AM, Blogger Jon the Intergalactic Gladiator said...

What I inferred is that for science to explain something, they have to believe in the existence of something they can't detect. Something many non-believers use as a reason why they don't believe.

Either that, or the universe is full of Cheez Whiz. Oh I love you, creamy delicious cheese product.

 
At Thu Aug 16, 12:03:00 PM, Blogger SamuraiFrog said...

I get your point, and I rather like it. I think it's dangerous when any mode becomes dogma and people are willing to fight over it. I do get some pleasure out of pointing out discrepencies in the Bible, but not because I think it "disproves" the idea of theism; it doesn't prove or disprove anything. But it does point out the schism between the actual words of the Bible and what fundamentalists claim is or isn't in it to suit their purposes.

That said, I throw in with science only because it makes more rational sense to me than religion. That's not a criticism of any way of thought; it's just what makes sense for me personally. And I'm open to anything that I think is true being disproved; that's how you learn. If the Big Bang Theory proves inaccurate and the Steady State Theory becomes more acceptable, that doesn't make me stupid or tear down the scientific method.

What I do have is a distrust of things that are organized, because they'll perpetuate themselves at all costs just to stay alive.

 
At Thu Aug 16, 03:01:00 PM, Blogger Evil Spock said...

Sooner or later (most likely later), science will be able to explain everything that myth and religion has been inadequately used as a proxy system.

 
At Thu Aug 16, 03:36:00 PM, Blogger FranIAm said...

As the religious one in the crowd, all I can say is that I have no need for it to be proved, I hate when others of my persuasion try to force all this bullshit on all of you who are free to believe or not.

Frankly its all a mystery to me but I am at peace with that mystery in my soul.

It can be rather embarrassing and undignified to be a person of faith in this country at this time. But I am an it is the underpinning beneath all my ideas about social justice and peace. It has nothing to do with me saving you. Shit, I got lots'o saving to do with my own self thank you very much. I am a complete screw up most of the time, but I awake each day and try to make things better if I can.

Samurai Frog gets it right when he says that the moment it gets too dogmatic and the fights begin, well there is the problem.

I always like to think, its not the heat, its the stupidity.

Peace all. You do your thing, I do mine.

 
At Fri Aug 17, 06:54:00 AM, Blogger Dr. Zaius said...

niCk (Mem Beth): I liked that your comment acknowledged the limits of mankind's knowledge and philosophy better than most religious or scientific figures. Being able to know that these vast exist would go a long way in bringing down to earth many of these ridiculous and lofty ideas we have about ourselves. Zen and shinto philophers like to talk about the empty cup as comparison of what is known and not known. The West tends to do the opposite, stating that we know more than we actually do. The whole conversation makes me think of Rod Serling.

I think that the teacher didn't understand my point because she was a really bad teacher. Very self absorbed.

Jon the Intergalactic Gladiator: Exactly! "What I inferred is that for science to explain something, they have to believe in the existence of something they can't detect. Something many non-believers use as a reason why they don't believe." That is exactly what I said.

The Cheez Whiz was just an aside, though. Dark matter and dark energy may as well be made of Cheez Whiz, for all we know about it. It is just as likely to be made of Invisible Pink Unicorns. Now I like unicorns as much as the next guy, but if dark matter and dark energy is made of Cheez Whiz - I'm gonna stock up on some tortilla chips!

SamuraiFrog: I really like your interpretation of my post, but I think my message was a lot more shallow. I was really just saying that both parties, religious or scientific, are both selling a bill of goods based something that they say exists but is invisible, and that either side "already has far too many marbles in their mouth to legitimately be giving the other the raspberry."

The one major factor in favor of science in any debate is that science is supposed to accept new data that conflicts with old data if valid evidence is presented. All in all, scientists are pretty good about that, but not always. Religion does not do that at all, unless they are reinterpreting the new testament to support political and social ideas that the individual church finds appealing, like tax cuts for the rich or immigration policies.

This is a great quote from you: "What I do have is a distrust of things that are organized, because they'll perpetuate themselves at all costs just to stay alive."

Evil Spock: I would have to disagree with you on that point. Religion is about using myth to explain a philosophy, science is about discovering and explaining the laws of the universe. It is when religious figures try to go beyond mere philosophy or scientific figures try to go beyond mere science in their statements that trouble starts to brew. Unlike chocolate and peanut butter, they should not be mixed in my opinion. Not that religious figures shouldn't embrace science, and scientific figures shouldn't embrace philosophy, but they both need to acknowledge that they are separate entities. Otherwise rampant conflation occurs, and Jesus ends up riding a dinosaur, and Schockley's scientific theories become the underpinning of Hitler and the National Socialist Party.

FranIAm: Actually, I have argued from the theist position throughout, but my position is fairly odd. I am really more on your side. I think it is pretty easy for either side of the argument to feel persecuted these days. There are numerous examples of events and statements that either the religious or scientific crowd can find insulting.

As I said to Samurai Frog, I was really just saying that both parties, religious or scientific, are both selling a bill of goods based something that they say is invisible, and that either side "already has far too many marbles in their mouth to legitimately be giving the other the raspberry."

If you read this link, I think you will find that I agree with you about the New Testament and your ideas about social justice and peace.

Samurai Frog is indeed correct when he says that it often gets too dogmatic and that's when the fights begin. Samurai Frog is a wise fellow.

 
At Fri Aug 17, 07:06:00 AM, Blogger niCk (Mem Beth) said...

If all the "faithful" would agree about the mystery of our soul, instead of being certain of something that cannot ever be known, they would have more faithful followers.

For me, science answers questions at the material level, religion answers questions at the emotional level. One is for the head, the other for the heart. One does no cancel out they other, they will always exist together to try to explain the mystery of our creation.

Personally, "God" made me question faith and to be skeptical about religion, I can be no other way. Does anyone really have a choice? I don't.

"Blind faith is an ironic gift to return to the Creator of human intelligence." - Unknown

 
At Fri Aug 17, 09:30:00 AM, Blogger FranIAm said...

Oh Dr Z- no worries my friend. I know that despite all that I saw in Planet of The Apes, I will always be safe in your hands.

Or is that paws?

Thank God for intelligent conversation and the exchange of ideas.

Teehee- mwah you big hairy ape!
FranIam

 
At Fri Aug 17, 10:04:00 AM, Blogger Jess Wundrun said...

I for one, being very unscientifically abled, find the idea of 'thought experiment' kind of funny. It worked for Einstein, so who am I to judge.

Yesterday on the way to the swimming pool my daughter asked me if air was invisible.

I said "yes, but it is full of pink ponies".

 
At Fri Aug 17, 12:28:00 PM, Blogger FranIAm said...

Thank goodness you are not afraid to speak the truth to her. If not for the pink ponies, how would we breathe?

 
At Sat Aug 18, 08:45:00 AM, Blogger Dr. Zaius said...

niCk (Mem Beth): That is very nicely put. I agree, if only skeptics on both sides of the aisle could be as level headed about the two subjects.

FranIAm: Don't believe the hype! The film "Planet of The Apes" was merely a propaganda piece done my the President of the NRA (Charleton Heston) and his goons. The truth shall be revealed very soon! It's Only 1,971 years until the Reign of Zaius!

Jess Wundrun: There is more than one kind of though experiment, some more sophistcated than others. On the other hand, with the correct presumptions and premises, a syllogism can be constructed to prove that air is made out of mustard. Or pink ponies, for that matter. Kind of a coincidence, though. Just the other day, MWB said that he believed that Donald Rumsfeld is secretly the Princess of the Pony People.

FranIAm: My thoughts exactly!

 
At Sat Aug 18, 10:11:00 AM, Blogger Freida Bee said...

I think you may be onto something, Cheezwhiz likely has the staying power to stablize the universe for billions and billions of years. It's flavor instigated the big bang. Both theories can be linked to the Cheez.

 
At Sat Aug 18, 12:46:00 PM, Blogger Dr. Zaius said...

Yes, I agree! Hallowed be the Cheeziness in all it's splendor.

The Cheez abides.

 
At Sat Aug 18, 03:38:00 PM, Blogger Liberality said...

the Buddha said to not believe anything that you can not verify for your own self, not even him. sounds like a good philosophy to me!

 
At Sun Aug 19, 12:02:00 AM, Anonymous Dee Loralei said...

You may never see this DrZ, since it's a few days late..... but one of my cousins was the only undergraduate to work on a huge dark matter/energy experiment about 3 years ago, deep in some dead mine shaft in Utah. And Driftglass was quoting Feyenmen earlier, so I've gotten my physics jolly this Saturday :-)

And I think it was Samurai Frog that said that when science proves something is wrong, they move along basically. And religions tend not to.

And I can't remember who said it, but some physicist said " It used to be a scientist would say, 'I'm a scientist, of course I don't beleive in God.' But now a days, it's 'I'm a scientist, of course I beleive in God.'"

 
At Sun Aug 19, 10:50:00 AM, Blogger Dr. Zaius said...

Liberality: Did he? I didn't know that. That is sort of the opposite of Saul who became Paul, who said to believe his word even over the word of an angel.

Dee Loralei: That is a very perceptive observation. I still say that my original message was a lot more shallow. I was really just saying that both parties, religious or scientific, are selling a bill of goods based something that they say exists but is invisible. To believe in their respective theories, you just have to believe in something that they say exists, but is invisible. I don't doubt the Big Bang theory, but I do doubt that what they know about is very coherent.

 
At Sun Aug 19, 02:48:00 PM, Blogger MichaelBains said...

There is no God. Science doesn't say so. I do by virtue of via use of the (albeit, emotionally hindered) tools of critical thought, experimentation (w00t!), and mathematically determined probability (whuuuh..?).

So, it follows, what?

{-;

 

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