Monday, July 9, 2012

More nonsense about the Higgs Boson

Continuing my discussion of Mike Adams' lengthy post on the implications of the discovery of the Higgs boson, today I want to talk about Loaded Questions (sometimes called Complex Questions). A Loaded Question is a question that is asked in a way that presupposes the truth of some proposition buried in the question. The classic example is, "When did you stop beating your wife?" There is no way to answer this question without implicitly acknowledging that one has a history of spousal abuse. In effect, the only suitable response to this (assuming that one is not, in fact, a spousal abuser) is to reject or reformulate the original question.

Adams provides a very nice example of a loaded question in the last section of his article when he writes:
Then there is the question of the Architect of this reality. Even if humankind manages to decode the fundamental laws which govern the physical universe, there's not only the question of "Who or what created the universe in the first place" but the even more difficult question, "Who or what created the laws of physics that govern the universe?"
The loaded question occurs in the assumption that someone or something was responsible for the creation of the universe or for the creation of the laws of physics that govern it. Now it is certainly a possibility that someone or something created the universe, but there are other legitimate possibilities as well, possibilities that are dismissed by the very formulation of the question. Perhaps the universe came into existence ex nihilo (from nothing), or perhaps the universe has always existed and always will exist such that it was never created. Adams dismisses these other possibilities writing, "This is a strange argument of "effect without a cause," and it simply doesn't add up," but he never spells out why it doesn't add up or what is problematic about these claims. This is, perhaps, a version of the argument from ignorance, "I can't understand it so it must be false." However, by formulating his question in the way he does, Adams is definitely guilty of presenting a loaded question because the question assumes the correctness of his preferred answer at the expense of other possible cosmological accounts. We can't really answer Adams question without implicitly endorsing the reality of some divine creator (or 'Architect' in Adam's preferred terminology).

I would like to conclude this post by quickly discussing Adam's argument for the existence of some transcendent creator or architect of the universe:
The reason there is something rather than nothing is because someone (or something) had to put it there, and that means there is an intelligence -- a consciousness -- that exists above and beyond our known universe. Something with the power to create our known universe, in other words.
This is a version of the cosmological argument for God's existence, one of the three major arguments for the existence of God, the classic version of which was first formulated by Aristotle in his Physics. This argument was decisively refuted by David Hume in his Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion. The basic thrust of Hume's response is that one is guilty of employing a loaded question when one makes this sort of argument. That is, as I noted above, to ask who or what created the universe is to assume that there had to be such a creator, when in fact it is equally reasonable to believe that there isn't one. Hume is a much better writer and philosopher than I am, so take a look at the links above for more details and analysis.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.