Tuesday, April 22, 2014

21% of Americans believe the Big Bang

Lots of media (e.g. CNET) bring us the gospel about a survey organized by the Associated Press and GfK among 1,000+ Americans. They were asked about their beliefs in various claims made by the scientists.

Only 4% doubted that smoking causes cancer; over 80% actively claimed it does. Only 8% doubted that cells contain a consequential genetic code; almost 70% actively argued that they did. The reality of the Big Bang 13.8 billion years ago was the least believed proposition, getting about 20%. That's vastly lower than the number of Americans who believed in various religious insights such as the resurrection of Jesus Christ or the claim that the weather patterns get less favorable in the wake of the human sins (the so-called "climate change" religion is bought by nearly 1/3 of Americans).

Natural selection and evolution was actively backed by 31% of the Americans.

It's not pretty but the Big Bang's results were much worse than that. It seems that the percentage for the Big Bang is as low as the percentage of the TV viewers who are watching The Big Bang Theory on CBS. Maybe all believers in the Big Bang Theory are watching the sitcom of the same name! ;-)

Dear 80% Americans, why don't you try to look at the color of some galaxies and see that it's redshifted? This shift towards the lower (redder) frequencies is due to the outward motion, the Doppler effect, that you should have known from Sheldon. Four your convenience, the definition of the Doppler effect is repeated 3+1 times in the video below:

It was enough for Penny!

The reddening shows that the outward velocity of a galaxy at distance \(D\) is equal to \(V = DH\) where \(H\) is an observed constant, Hubble's constant. Just assume that the velocity was always of the same order. How much time did it take for the galaxies to get this far? It's \(T = D / V = 1/H\), the inverse Hubble's constant. It's just of order 10 billion years, stupid. So 10+ billion years ago, the galaxies were very close, unless someone already made them diverge that quickly a long time ago. A good enough explosive to do so only works if the galaxies' matter were extremely compressed. So 10+ billion years ago, the galaxies were just superclose to each other.

Some extra maths you don't want to follow helps you to calculate it a bit more accurately – including the variable speed of the galaxies and the curvature of space and time – and the best measured age of the Universe is 13.8 billion years according to the data from numerous experiments. You know that you need an ancient universe, anyway. 27% of Americans answered that the Earth is 4.5 billion years old. The Big Bang Theory has made other predictions – about the relative abundance of light elements in the cosmos; and the cosmic microwave background, among others – and they were confirmed. They would surely contradict other random ways to get the galaxies in outward motion.

OK, I don't want to try to convince the 80% Americans about the reality of the Big Bang in any deatail because it is a waste of time and most Americans who are visiting this blog are confident that the Big Bang has occurred, anyway. But let me just say that if Christianity is the reason, it is actually bizarre for the Christians not to embrace the sharp beginning – the Big Bang – enthusiastically. The hippie on the picture above is the Christ, Jesus Christ, and he has just said "BANG". Such a "BANG" when the time started needed a creator – it's probably the only activity where the modern science may actively consider a creator helpful.

I have actually listened to parts of various debates and talks by William Lane Craig, a Christian apologist (e.g. one debate with Lawrence Krauss and another one with Sean Carroll). He is not your kind of a dumb obsessed Young Earth Creationist. He is an intelligent man who decided to rationalize Christianity. I don't believe that he enjoys the social and ethical freedom to abandon Christianity and its basic dogmas altogether but given the straitjacket into which he has squeezed his soul, he is doing a good job in defending some traces of God within physics.

Needless to say, I would disagree with most of the other "religiously tainted" insights (including his views on resurrection, a topic that I mentioned because we just celebrated the Easter) – as well as his unjustifiably skeptical attitude towards string theory and other key parts of modern physics – but he's been on the winning side in the question "whether the Universe had a beginning". For some reason, Krauss – and other atheists – would prefer a cosmology without any beginning, the kind of the past-eternal "static Universe" that physicists would believe in the 19th century. Why would atheists favor such a thing? Well, because there would be no room for Jesus to say "BANG". ;-)

The Big Bang Theory has actually been assaulted by the Marxist ideologues for quite some time; that much for the "scientific character" of Marxism. They don't like the idea that the mass/energy conservation law has to be revised in the context of cosmology (modern cosmology is an application of the general theory of relativity) – and essentially becomes invalid or vacuous, depending on your viewpoint.

Even though tons of professional atheists are either overt or covert Marxism sympathizers, they gradually got used to the Big Bang. But most of them would still prefer some past-eternal picture on top of the Big Bang. I would bet that even efforts such as the cyclic/ekpyrotic (or Penrose's cyclic conformal) cosmological models are partly motivated by the authors' fear of the true beginning. Eternal inflation allows new universes to grow all the time – and it produces a future-eternal universe.

But all cosmological models actually prohibit a past-eternal cosmology; they always imply that the world had a beginning. This has been most clearly proven by Arvind Borde, Alan Guth, and Alex Vilenkin ("BGV") in 2003:
Inflationary Spacetimes Are Incomplete in Past Directions

... (see also this 2013 free update by Vilenkin and Vilenkin's talk about the beginning) ...
They showed that the integral of the Hubble parameter is smaller than a finite bound in a cosmology that is mostly expanding – and they didn't even need any energy condition for that (a condition saying that the density of energy or some related quantity can't go negative).

William Lane Craig is on a mission – and the beginning of the Universe seems very Christian to him. So the BGV theorem has actually become his pet result and he has understood it rather well. So well, in fact, that – painfully and ironically enough – he's been more correct or more honest about its interpretation than cosmologist Lawrence Krauss with whom Craig has debated.

In September 2013, a month after the Craig-Krauss debate, the Christian apologists got very excited about the fact that Krauss has partially censored and misinterpreted an e-mail he got from Vilenkin. Krauss has pretty much cropped some sentences in a way that dramatically changes the overall implications of Vilenkin's e-mail. On the other hand, Vilenkin sent another e-mail to Craig where he acknowledged that Craig has interpreted the BGV theorem "very accurately".

(Even if all the people were acting dishonestly and purely in their personal interest, it wouldn't be shocking that Vilenkin has supported Craig and not Krauss: after all, Craig thinks that the work by Vilenkin et al. is important and robust while Krauss treats it as an inconvenient piece of dust that may be blown away.)

Craig has later published the full e-mail from Vilenkin to Krauss and you may compare it with Krauss' truncated version, too. Krauss' censorship is pretty scary and his claims that he omitted the "too technical parts" of the e-mail are clearly indefensible. The parts censored by Krauss are written in bold:
Hi Lawrence [Krauss],

Any theorem is only as good as its assumptions. The BGV theorem says that if the universe is on average expanding along a given worldline, this worldline cannot be infinite to the past.

A possible loophole is that there might be an epoch of contraction prior to the expansion. Models of this sort have been discussed by Aguirre & Gratton and by Carroll & Chen. They had to assume though that the minimum of entropy was reached at the bounce and offered no mechanism to enforce this condition. It seems to me that it is essentially equivalent to a beginning.

On the other hand, Jaume Garriga and I are now exploring a picture of the multiverse where the BGV theorem may not apply. In bubbles of negative vacuum energy, expansion is followed by contraction, and it is usually assumed that this ends in a big crunch singularity. However, it is conceivable (and many people think likely) that singularities will be resolved in the theory of quantum gravity, so the internal collapse of the bubbles will be followed by an expansion. In this scenario, a typical worldline will go through a succession of expanding and contracting regions, and it is not at all clear that the BGV assumption (expansion on average) will be satisfied.

I suspect that the theorem can be extended to this case, maybe with some additional assumptions. But of course there is no such thing as absolute certainty in science, especially in matters like the creation of the universe. Note for example that the BGV theorem uses a classical picture of spacetime. In the regime where gravity becomes essentially quantum, we may not even know the right questions to ask.

Alex [Vilenkin]
You see that in the censored parts, Vilenkin essentially says that all the conceivable and proposed loopholes are unlikely or probably wrong and that the BGV theorem may be extended to one that bans these would-be loopholes, anyway. Even if the theorem were formally wrong in some interpretation, it is still morally right, Vilenkin argues.

Note that one proposed would-be loophole was due to Carroll and Chen. That paper reflects Carroll's omnipresent misunderstanding of the origin of the second law of thermodynamics. He says that the Universe could have been past-eternal before a certain point but the entropy was decreasing for \(t\lt 0\) which he finds – and, probably, they find – OK. At \(t=0\), the arrow of time was reverted and the entropy had a global minimum. It is not really possible to revert the arrow of time – the thermodynamic arrow of time is a derived one (via the H-theorem) from a more fundamental and unavoidable one, the logical arrow of time – and even if you found a framework in which such a reversal would be formally allowed, the \(t=0\) moment would be so special and catastrophic that it should still be called "the beginning", anyway (both Vilenkin and your humble correspondent say).

Because the entropy was decreasing for \(t\lt 0\), it is better to use the entropy itself – and not the coordinate \(t\) – to be a faithful quantification of time since the beginning. And because the entropy was high both for \(t\gt 0\) and \(t\lt 0\), it would be more correct to say that the Carroll-Chen universe had a beginning at \(t=0\) and from that beginning, it was evolving into two futures, one for positive \(t\) and one for negative \(t\). You shouldn't imagine the time as a straight line but rather as a V-shaped manifold that is increasing in the left as well as in the right; it's two (equivalent or inequivalent?) futures evolving from the beginning.

Another "not really real" loophole that Vilenkin discusses is the same one that I discussed in March when I disagreed with Matt Strassler's claim that there was probably no Big Bang singularity. (Now I realize, maybe Matt Strassler has voted along with the 80% majority of the Americans – claiming that there has been no Big Bang LOL.) If one adds some quantum-gravity regime that regulates various quantities and protects their finiteness, the "period of time" in which the quantum gravity is existentially needed should have been very short (Planckian short) and it is conceptually right to view it as a part of the object called "singularity" (our right description of the concept of the Big Bang singularity is improved and regulated when we switch from classical GR to quantum gravity but as long as the following – nearly classical – expansion of the Universe is still there, we have no right to say that the singularity as a locus has entirely disappeared).

Incidentally, when Craig caught Krauss' censorship of important segments of Vilenkin's e-mail, I was also disappointed by Krauss' foggy suggestion that science hasn't proven that there had to be a beginning, and so on, which – Krauss indicated – meant that Craig was building on sand. However, science never proves things with a strict 100% certainty. But this limitation doesn't prevent science from getting really close to 100% and the "nearly proven" propositions are treated as rather important ones by scientists. That's exactly what Craig was doing – he used the evidence to argue that it was far more likely for the Universe to have a beginning – so it was painful for Krauss to try to weaken Craig's propositions by saying that there exists no 100% rigorous proof. There never exists a 100% rigorous proof of propositions that directly apply to Nature!

So I do think that the BGV theorem kills the models that want to extend the cosmological history of the visible Universe in a way that makes it eternal. The real motivation is clearly to make it past-eternal – because the (finite or infinite) future couldn't have affected the present, by causality, so the future's being finite or infinite is inconsequential for us today – but cosmologies can't really be past-eternal. So it is silly to "prefer the past-eternal cosmologies for aesthetic reasons" because the very basic feature of these models makes them impossible, BGV showed.

I don't have any doubts that William Lane Craig is also spinning insights and results in ways that depend on the outcomes he wants to defend. But it's disappointing to see that people like Krauss and Carroll are doing the same thing. If both sides of a controversy are doing such a thing, it may happen that each of them is more right. And indeed, it has just happened that the Christian apologist ended up as the man who has more accurately interpreted a theorem, the BGV theorem.

(Just to be sure, the proof of the beginning – even if we view the existing evidence as a proof, and we're arguably not far from that – doesn't imply that some God or supernatural forces at the beginning have been established. The initial conditions of the Universe may follow perfectly rational, natural, and scientifically accessible laws.)

I should also try to "weaken" my claims that the evolution of the Universe had to have a beginning by saying that I can imagine some room for the pre-Big-Bang cosmological evolution. Perhaps, our visible patch of the Universe had a father, perhaps a grandfather, possibly a few great grandfathers, and a forefather – and the evolution was looking for the right compactification that is so hospitable for us. But it's important to realize that according to the available evidence and calculations, the number of these generations probably had to be finite.


  1. What about all the lies from William Lame Craig? But I guess it is ok to sympathize with someone who thinks that it is ok to kill children because they go into heaven.....(he literally said this). Very intelligent man, very very.

  2. Lubos,
    I interpret this differently. 50% of the American public is pretty much functionally illiterate these days. I don't think they "process" the question, relative to the other questions, and there was likely no "no opinion" choice. I bet they just chose no as in "I have no clue what you are talking about." Some part was probably the religious bent of the Americans for sure. These polls are so questionable any more. And they are scientific? Hard to believe. I never answer my landline. Is this how they conduct them? I am never on a street on a big city. Do they corral you here? Sorta like "Climate science" -- HOW do you measure the average temperature of the world anyway!

  3. Oh, and he also thinks that demons exist, another intelligent statement, so I guess the evidence must be overwhelming for demons....

  4. I have made very clear what I sympathize with and I won't allow a jerk like yourself to bully me into saying something that isn't true just because you have shown that you love character assassinations.

  5. I believe in the BB but I also believe demons do exist. They can be found in drug cartels, they make snuff videos, they manipulate people into slaves, they kill people like if they were flies. Believing in this has nothing to do with science, it has to do with moral.

  6. Dear Tom, by a compactification, I mean the precise specification of the vacuum in string theory - the superselection sector.

    It is specified e.g. by the kind of string/M-theory description that is used; the geometrical shape of the manifold; the value of other fields such as gauge fields and RR fluxes and Wilson lines; the shapes and positions of D-branes, if any, and their world volume fields; and other decorations such as discrete fluxes etc. It's the RR fluxes (integers measuring generalized quantized magnetic fluxes through various hypersurfaces) that produce the biggest diversity - those proverbial 10^500 vacua.

    String theory extends the geometry so the classical shape isn't quite the whole story for all purposes but it is pretty close. Classical GR is always just an approximation to the "real" geometry determined by physics of string/M-theory. In some cases, the description in terms of GR coupled to other fields is enough, in others, there are some intrinsically stringy twists to the story. K-theory is the inevitable twist that determines the diversity of ways in which D-branes may be wrapped on submanifolds, for example.

    But string/M-theory is a perfectly robust theory that answers all such questions while classical geometry, K-theory etc. etc. are just derivable approximate descriptions of the story, or descriptions of parts of the story. String theory is richer than classical geometry, K-theory, ordinary algebraic topology or algebraic geometry, or any other fixed branch of mathematics. But all the questions about "what sort of data classifies a string vacuum" are as uniquely answerable as they are in any well-defined axiomatic branch of maths.


  7. Thanks, Lubos! You’ve about convinced me to buy my first string theory book.

  8. kashyap vasavadaApr 22, 2014, 6:28:00 PM

    Hi Lubos: Interesting debate but let us forget Craig and return
    to science. Also let us postpone discussion on what happened before t=0 for little while. I would like to understand if it is clear mathematically that an extremely small fireball at extremely high temperature can have entropy less than the entropy of the current universe. Do people consider entropy when talking about BB and inflation?

  9. Dear Kashyap, first, if by BB, you meant Boltzmann Brains, then their intrinsic feature - a reason why they're bullshit - is that they depend on the macroscopic decrease of entropy which is very unlikely, and should therefore be inconsequential for any explanation in physics.

    If by BB, you mean the Big Bang, of course that physicists know how entropy behaves in BB and inflation. Entropy always goes up with time when correctly calculated, regardless of the geometric behavior of space.

    The entropy density (per volume) was higher in the past but the entropy of a galaxy-sized region (a fixed region in FRW spatial coordinates) was lower. In normal BB, it is trivial to see why entropy goes up and never goes down. It's the usual H-theorem or any other, simpler thermodynamic proof of the second law of thermodynamics.

    During inflation, temperature drops e.g. 100,000 times but as the Universe is getting emptier and approaching an empty de Sitter space, the entropy density of matter drops virtually to zero, but it makes sense to talk about the entropy of the cosmic horizon which approaches the maximum value. That remains finite in a certain sense, see e.g.


    I don't necessarily agree with every sentence in that paper. But be sure that the entropy never goes down macroscopically. It may be proven in any system with a well-defined Hilbert space or (classically) phase space.

  10. I'm not even an atheist lol. Pathetic answer. But anyway, you defend him for more deep reasons I guess(maybe a political agenda?). But no one cares anyway, so calm the fuck down.

  11. Oh and, no wounder no one takes you seriously, it says a lot about YOUR physiology and your mindset with your insultings all the time

  12. kashyap vasavadaApr 22, 2014, 7:24:00 PM

    Thanks Lubos. I did mean BB to mean big bang!

  13. Some people are just good enough to get a physics PhD, and start their real career of popularizing pseudoscience to the adoring masses. Filled with the pride and envy of Saruman, they refuse to work on something real and within their capabilities, preferring to be a lieutenant of the faceless Eye of ten thousand idle hands, who gives them a few calculations and asks for the stamp of physics to make it official.

    Dr. Neil DeGrasse Tyson is the most annoying right now, due to his Cosmos show that really needs a physicist to go over the scripts for correctness let alone write the scripts to say interesting things. The most egregious, however, is Michio Kaku, who wrote an open letter claiming that the RTG being sent with the Cassini spacecraft would render half of Florida uninhabitable.

  14. I do wish such theological debates would focus more on the matter of how a non-past-eternal universe implies/doesn't imply a supernatural creator, and the "nothing" of quantum physics versus the "nothing" of Martin Heidegger.

  15. Saint Thomas Aquinas wrote that he couldn't tell by reason and observation alone whether the universe had a beginning, and so since it says so in Scripture, he would believe it.

  16. Related question: have you started writing your own book yet Lubos?

  17. How "applied" are you talking? I tried reading a little of that book when it came out last year. Coming from a condensed matter background, I found it too hard to read once it got technical. One needs a solid background in both particles and (perhaps less strong in) strings.

  18. Dear Luboš,


    "You won't kill..." — Luboš

    Oh! OK. :)

    By the way, our conjugation of the future tense of the verb to be:

    I shall
    You will
    He will
    We shall
    You will
    They will

    It's on a par with:

    I will
    You shall
    He shall
    We will
    You shall
    They shall

    which—naturally enough for an entirely different set of words—has an entirely different meaning. Moreover the distinction is blindingly obvious. Except of course to most Englishmen, and perhaps the odd, highly distinguished foreigner. :)

  19. I take him seriously, you fucking rude cunt.

  20. Tx, I know it's "shall" but decided it was too archaic for my basic English writing, and I thought that the right modern translation is "will" although it should really be "should". ;-)

  21. I'm afraid your answer leads me to a couple of steps back from this book, I have some basis in solid state physics, but my proffesional background is pretty much prosaic (geophysics and applied physics). And I suppose that my background as avid lector of TRF and other blogs does not count ;-) Thanks anyway.

  22. Molt is short for German matthous or Matthew.
    Are u Jewish? Most smart phys guys are?

    So u should accept heaven and hell.

    By the way easter is not christian.
    It is the passover. But the romans changed
    The date and put a cult name on it.


  23. I am not sure what you mean by professional atheist, but certainly none of the atheists I know are Marxist sympathizers. Also, I doubt that the huge majority of scientist-atheists in the AAAS or the APS are Marxists. If you mean the crusading narcissists, maybe, but doubt it.

  24. Like Archer said. But his physiology? Really?! If you insist on being that fucking rude cunt (I am guessing Archer is a Brit) at least make sure you aren't stupidly ambiguously insulting his member not his mind.

  25. So? Believing and knowing are two brutally different cognitive processes. For instance, there is such a thing as oncoviruses and their existence is entirely independent of anyone's beliefs concerning the cause of cancer.

  26. Probably when they asked about the big bang people thought they were talking about the sitcom.

  27. Billions of years ago in the tiniest imaginable fraction of
    a second a singularity created everything now expanding infinitely into nothing.

    Assuming the theory is a close approximation of how we come to this point it still relies overwhelmingly on faith in how we understand what little we know.
    I wonder if we survive long enough to figure it all out? Long enough to know how and why?

  28. Yes, this whole business is odd. When it comes to the biblical, one instinctively reverts to elements of the archaic:

    "Our Father which art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.... For thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen."

    Otherwise it sounds all wrong, at least to my ears — like Shakespeare spoken in modern estuary English. AAARRRRGGHHHH! I don't think it's just an age thing. :)

    Anyhow, and so "Thou shalt not this, that and the other..." trips off the tongue quite naturally.

    Tsk! Words! :)

  29. It is true that Motl is a modified Mátl which has the same origin as Matthew, a gift of God, and Motl (e.g. Motl der Operejtor) is a Jewish first name, but as far as I can say, I am not Jewish at all.

  30. The existence of the Big Bang is at least as real and as independent of the humans as the existence of oncoviruses.

    Believing and knowing are perhaps two different things but the latter is nothing else than the former backed by robust enough evidence.

  31. Lubos, see this recent paper by Vilenkin and Zhang http://arxiv.org/abs/1403.1599

  32. Lubos, I'm sure a lot of people, if called by a random pollster and asked if they "believed" in the big bang theory, would say no. Two reasons:

    (1) for most folks, it simply isn't a matter of interest. There is no reason for them to know or care about it. Look at the literature on "rational ignorance."

    (2) As mentioned, the framing of the question is wrong. I would have trouble answering yes, because I don't "believe" scientific results. I hold many to be true or very likely true. If you asked if I "believe" in the theory of evolution, and gave me a Yes/No answer, I'd be hard put to answer. I accept it as a very good theory, with a proven track record of predictions (or retrodictions, whatever). It is almost certainly right. But I don't "believe" it.

    Now there is an important reason, at least in America, for many "no" answers: the climate charlatans and others have badly tarnished to credibility of science. For people who are not well versed in science, the antics of scientist who engage in public pseudo-science damages the image of all science.

    Another important reason is the tendency of too many scientists to mock religion. This is not a good way to convince people. Furthermore, it is usually not even close to being intellectually rigorous or informed - religion (at least Catholic Christianity, with which I'm most aware) has a whole lot of deep thinking philosophers and others who are more than a match, in that area, for most scientists. Casual swipes at the religious by scientists with little knowledge of the history and philosophy behind the religion, also tarnishes the credibility of scientists when they speak on consequential matters. In America, where religion runs deep, this hurts.

  33. Observation:

    The two latest Witten's papers (co-authored) are on string pheno.

    We may see a revival of the field in the future?

  34. This article should bring you, Lumo, even closer to the Temple with tons of awards. Now you are even offering free educational support to theistically religious Americans.! :-)

  35. "Religion (at least Catholic Christianity, with which I'm most familiar) has a whole lot of deep thinking philosophers and others who are more than a match, in that area, for most scientists."

    This a good point, not in vain one of the fathers of Big Bang, was the Catholic priest Georges Lemaître. And he's not an extravagant example, the history of science is full of Christian Scientists:


  36. I take what you wrote to mean (no matter what YOU meant what you wrote to mean ;>) that you believe in BeelzeBub. ;-)
    I don't except you to do me much harm because of - or even to mind - my interpretation. (But may be I shouldn't feel so sure?)

  37. OK, I agree with you but I don't think that it improves the image of these people.

    1) An individual who is not familiar with the Big Bang in the early 21st century - usually because he isn't interested in basic facts of the world around him or her, such as the Universe - is uncultural to the extent that I would classify him or her as an anthropomorphic ape.

    2) I think that this mud slung at the verb "believe" is just nitpicking rubbish. If someone considers some proposition to be true, it's always the same think and the situations only differ by the type, amount, and strength of the evidence that supports the belief.

    So the verbs "know" and "hold true" are just self-confident or arrogant counterparts of "believe".

    Scientists may be mocking religions and religious people but in most cases, these scientists are right on the money. Religious people - e.g. if they want to avoid learning about as elementary things as the Big Bang - are often dumb as a doorknob.

  38. You don't even sit and speak superciliously from a high horse. Yours is legless - lucky for you when you fall off such as you've just done (as you deserved to do).

    Lubos, in comparison to you on your legless and WOODEN horse, sits on a full-blooded high-spirited (hence easily jumpy if not handled correctly) speed record-breaking stayer.

  39. What is most amazing is that both climate alarmists and supercomputer climate model skeptics agree with scientists on the non-climate items, much more so than the public at large, except that many skeptics are also creationists, though not a majority. So climate alarmists are in a way closer to old school rationalism according to the numbers overall. Also, the abortion issue is mostly fueled by the Church, and certainly most skeptics these days happen to be Republicans who heard about Climategate, and they mostly want it banned. These demographics create a lot of inertia for urban liberals to even listen to the most basic arguments from skeptics. After all, even various independent skeptic organizations are still on the alarmist side, the ones that are so fond of bashing the likes of creationism, homeopathy, and astrology. What a mess!

  40. I am also irritated by the formulation of the questions: a scientific theory is NOT something to "BELIEVE IN" similar to God, it is somthing to UNDERSTAND and THINK about.

    So the more correct question would have been:

    Do you THINK that the Big Bang (Theory) has happend (is valid)?

  41. I find it hard to exclude the possibility that the Young-Earth Creationists are actually lying, BECAUSE: I've met people who are both devout Christians and not very smart but think Young Earth is very likely wrong. (I am not suggesting that devout Christians are not very smart.)

  42. Sure, Shannon, but those would not be demons; they would be humans influenced or controlled by demons.

  43. One could say they take human appearance ;-)

  44. OK, but my suspicion is that demons actually exist.

  45. There is more to it. Think it through.

  46. Let me put it this way: If demons don't exist, they do an incredibly good job of pretending to exist. :-)

  47. Aha - interesting. So what's "Lubos"? If you were an American, would you be Lou Matthews? :-)

  48. PeterF, is it because I mention flies? ;-)

  49. Nicely put. However some of them don't know they are demons. That's why they can be forgiven.

  50. kashyap vasavadaApr 23, 2014, 1:59:00 PM

    My purpose in reading this blog is to keep up with
    developments in theoretical physics .Lubos has done excellent job in explaining these and answering my questions. Personally I do not care that much about other discussions on this blog. There are plenty of other media which discuss other issues. I do not have any problem with people having different opinions
    on religious or other social matters just as, I understand, even in theoretical physics people have variety of opinions. I do not like people using bad language though. As far as religion is concerned, I would just say one thing. In my view (prejudiced of course) it is about time for westerners to try to understand eastern religions such as Hinduism, Buddhism etc. These religions do not have any conflicts with modern science whatsoever.

  51. The Catholic Church has a very flexible approach to Evolution (unlike some protestant denominations) . And, as on the picture in Lubos'article, the previous Pope Benedict XVI sees God behind the Big Bang.

  52. Isn't it because they are most philosophies than religions ?

  53. I exactly know from which dark evil parts of the internet you come from, so may I kindly ask you to make more efficient use of your possibility to go back there?

    Good nice reasonable and very knowledgeable people (including FFP winners) take Lumo serious and I would bet quite some amount of money that they morally agree with him when he rightly so gets upset about aggressive pompous ignorant pea-brain-big-mouth trolls dominating too many physics discussions these days ...

  54. kashyap vasavadaApr 23, 2014, 2:12:00 PM

    Well. In Hinduism, philosophy, metaphysics and the usual commandments like religious sayings are all mixed together. We think these are virtues rather than problems.

  55. I disagree, the notion of Hinduism (and to some
    extent Buddhism) as religions is mostly an over simplified Western viewpoint. They are in fact an amalgamation of a number of ideas, traditions and philosophies
    practiced by varieties of cultures over wide geographic areas. A lot of Hindu beliefs thus contradict other Hindu beliefs. And a lot of beliefs are in conflict with mainstream science. While 'new-age' pundits say that Hinduism and Buddhism are in no contradiction with modern science, it is mostly because either they don't understand science very well or they cherrypick ideas to match with scientific observations.

  56. I think the main difference between Asia and the West in that matter is that the West believes that what goes around comes around. Not in Asia. Probably why the Chinese have no problem with Mao Zedong.