SUSY versus the Creator: An Update

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Guest post by Morris Engelson

Morris Engelson was educated as an electronics engineer specializing in spectrum analysis and communications theory, and elected a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics engineers “for contributions to the practice and applications of spectrum analysis.” He is a former Chief Engineer at Tektronix, Inc., and Adjunct Professor at Oregon State University.

A challenge to the “fine-tuning” argument for God’s existence is facing its own challenge, as particle physics progresses and undermines it. The Standard Model (SM) of particle physics has been very successful. All but one of the predicted fundamental particles and their attributes has now been experimentally verified. But it is clear that this model is incomplete because it does not address a number of remaining issues as physicists search for the elusive TOE (theory of everything). A partial “solution,” after about 15 years of development, was published in a 1981 paper that extended the SM by introducing the notion of supersymmetry (SUSY). The idea is that every fundamental particle in physics has a symmetrical partner particle (commonly called a sparticle) of spin value ½ less than the ordinary particle. Technically speaking, this introduces a partnership between bosons and fermions.

I claim no expertise on the complex history of how SUSY came about. But all indications are that a major, if not the primary, objective was to find a “natural” way to get rid of the so called fine-tuning problem. Here is how Brian Greene explains the situation in The Elegant Universe. He notes that in the SM results “remain consistent only if parameters … are fine tuned – to better than one part in a million billion… Such precision is on a par with adjusting the launch angle of a bullet fired from an enormously powerful rifle, so it hits a specific target on the moon with a margin of error no greater than the thickness of an ameba.” By adding the sparticles, however, “substantial cancellations occur from the outset” hence the troubling “fine tuning” is no longer an argument for God’s existence. SUSY solves the problem “naturally,” eliminating the need for a Creator. I will note that SUSY does not argue against the Torah because God can take care of fine-tuning in any way He chooses, including the creation of sparticles. But absent SUSY, that inconvenient Creator becomes necessary again [*]. And that is what is happening right now as the world’s largest, costliest and most powerful physics experiment machinery, the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), is on the verge of killing SUSY.

The previously noted 1981 paper, by Georgi and Dimopoulos, predicted sparticle masses in the 100 to 1000 GeV (gigaelectronvolts) energy range. But the LHC has now eliminated (as of mid March, 2011) sparticles below 700 GeV. “Privately, a lot of people think that the situation is not good for SUSY…this is a big political issue in our field,” explains Alessandro Strumia a theoretical physicist at the University of Pisa in Italy, quoted in Nature (“Beautiful theory collides with smashing particle data”, Feb. 23, 2011). Likewise, The Incredibly Shrinking Supersymmetry by CERN physicist Tommaso Dorigo (LHC is at CERN): “In order to solve the problem of fine tuning of the SM, we have to assume that there exist more than twenty so-far-unseen elementary particles, and that these particles all have masses above our detection limits, but not too much so [because fine tuning cancellation does not work above a certain mass]… Together with those additional particles, there are at least 105 new unknown parameters to buy in the package, which the theory does not explain…”

Finally the coup de grace to fine tuning is explained by science writer, Alasdair Wilkins in a March 1, 2011 article. “The large Hadron Collider has now effectively ruled out masses for sparticles below 700 gigaelectronvolts… This isn’t just a practical problem. The tighter the mass range for the sparticles gets, the more physicists have to fine-tune their values to properly account for the observed quantum fluctuations. Scientists are averse to this sort of fine-tuning – indeed, the whole reason SUSY became popular in the first place was because it eliminated the need to fine tune…” In other words, the sparticles that eliminate the need to fine tune the regular particles now have to be fine tuned themselves. Whatever the future of SUSY, it looks like some version of fine tuning is inevitable now that the sparticle mass has been set above 700 GeV. This brings back the old question, “who did the fine tuning?”

SUSY is now on life-support and will continue that way at least into 2012, or possibly into 2014 when the LHC gets a higher power upgrade. No one can predict what might replace SUSY in the future and how this will relate to fine-tuning. But as of right now, fine-tuning and that inconvenient Creator are back.

[**] Science still faces other “fine tuning” problems, the solution of which is the multiverse (multiple, perhaps infinity of, alternate universes). The multiverse can also help with the SUSY problem. But this untestable idea is a far cry from the firm base of SUSY, which allows for experimental confirmation. However, now the “confirmation” seems to work against SUSY based on the latest results from the LHC. So what is to be done now? Nobody knows.

About Morris Engelson


  1. This is precisely why arguments for God’s existence are futile. Scientific proofs should not be used as substitutes for emunah.

  2. I don’t see what this has to do with Judaism.

  3. Gaps are fine places to buy clothes, not so much for finding God.

  4. Could someone please translate this into English for the non-Scientist.

  5. Sure thing.

    A promising explanatory model in particle physics is not panning out. That model allowed greater variation in certain initial parameters. Based on one understanding of the probability of single events that type of explanation is preferable to a model where precise values are required.

    Relevance to Judaism or theism in general? Nada.

  6. I was puzzled by the biographical sketch which indicates no expertise in particle physics. Then I found this article introducing his earlier book, which add some context:

    “Ultimately science and Torah should agree with each other,” asserts Portland scientist and author Morris Engelson in his book of essays “The Heavenly Time Machine.”

    “Look at history and see how science and Torah have been slowly getting into closer agreement as time moves on,” writes Engelson. “This is not because Torah has changed, but rather because science has changed. I express faith in the scientific method and the future of science, which I believe will eventually come into full agreement with Torah.”

  7. Lawrence Kaplan

    Chalreie Hall: Do you really not think that an argument for the existence of God has nothing to do with Judaism?! I don’t think the Rambam would agree with you. This is not to say that it is a good arguement or that we should base our emnunah on it.

  8. It’s not even an argument.

    “I express faith in the scientific method and the future of science, which I believe will eventually come into full agreement with Torah.”

    If you are a biblical literalist then there is no chance of that happening. And if you are a metaphoric interpreter then is it really the science that is changing or your interpretation?

  9. Thinking about it more, I actually find the entire premise of this post offensive and embarrassing. None of these physicists thinks that the merits of one theory over another has any bearing on whether there is a creator. This post reinforces the sad idea that there is some overarching anti-religious agenda in modern science and promotes the misapplication of empiricism to theology. Yes, the universe is amazing and complex and beautiful and perhaps improbable. If that inspires you religiously then great. If you think that it proves the existence of a creator, you are most likely committing a fallacy.

  10. mj – if you are a biblical literalist then you reinterpret(change) the literal meaning of words in the bible to fit the science ala nathan aviezer and others. see slifkin’s example on rakia.

  11. a quote from the link provided by ih:

    Engelson notes that early Torah
    sages wrote commentary claiming
    an age of between 14 and 16 billion years, despite the fact that science in that era did not point to an
    age of millions, let alone billions,
    of years. Therefore, those claims
    must have been based on “a deeper
    meaning of Torah.”

  12. 1. There does seem to be an anti-G-d bias in scienctific circles particularly vis-a-vis darwinism

    2. The discussion is moot. Anything can happen regardless of how improbable it is (as per Zaphod Beeblebrox’s probability drive)

  13. OK then, so how do we know that the creator was Hashem, not Jesus or Satan or Zeus?

  14. This is just another G-d of the Gaps argument, that if u put all your eggs of belief into, and an explanation is found, you are left with nothing.
    Newton’s belief was based on the lack of explanation that the planets were all on one plane. This has since been explained by science.

  15. “Lawrence Kaplan on April 10, 2011 at 11:08 pm
    Chalreie Hall: Do you really not think that an argument for the existence of God has nothing to do with Judaism?! I don’t think the Rambam would agree with you. This is not to say that it is a good arguement or that we should base our emnunah on it”

    Prof Kaplan: I am far from an expert on proofs of GOd-but it is my impression that are not any that have stood the test of time. Is my impression wrong?

  16. I agree with others here. If someone wants to believe this stuff, fine. But as evidence of God this is merely a God of the gap argument and evidence of nothing. Science, as much as religion, can persist with a question unanswered.

  17. I don’t understand the point of this at all. As far as I know, God created the entire universe and everything it, but is NOT a part of the universe that He created. While study of the universe is worthwhile for many reasons (one of which is understanding and recognizing the greatness of God’s creation), it’s impossible, by definition, to find God through empirical study. (Please don’t quibble with me about yetziat mitzraim and it’s miracles –there are obviously designed –by God– exceptions, but that is not what scientists are studying.)

  18. In addition to being inane this post is seriously misleading. The only indication that anyone serious thinks that SUSY has anything to do with God’s existence is the discussion of Brian Greene, who, it would seem, feels that SUSY does away with fine tuning as a proof of God’s existence. However, the passage cited has nothing whatsoever to do with this topic, and does not mention God or a creator at all. It merely discusses how reliance on constants that could not be off even in the 15th decimal place is considered a weakness of the Standard Model. Nowhere in this discussion, or, as far as I can tell in the rest of the book, does Greene have anything to say about the existence of God.
    The entire citation of Greene is thus highly misleading and undermines the reliability of the author. He now appears to be attacking a straw man.

  19. I’m surprised by the lack if interest here in natural religious theology. This post is neither a proof nor a disproof. It is an interesting development on one aspect of a contemporary proof for God’s existence. It seems something educated Jews should know.

  20. Perhaps educated Jews should know about major developments in science. But other than keeping us aware of the world around us and contributing to our awe of God and His creation, this type of knowledge does nothing to inform our religious existence (that’s my view in any case).

  21. I’m having trouble with this post because I am not sure what the underlying conception of “science” is, but I am pretty sure that it doesn’t match what contemporary science-studiers have observed.

  22. “Do you really not think that an argument for the existence of God has nothing to do with Judaism?!”

    I’m ok with arguments, but as MJ said, this isn’t an argument.

    And I can’t see how Rambam would have permitted someone to empirically test the existence of God!

  23. Given that SUSY hasn’t even been ruled out yet, or given up on, even to the extent that this post could, in principle, contribute to natural theology, it is highly premature.
    Furthermore, this lack of interest is just a demostration of the fact that almost no one, lay or professional philosopher, takes natural theology seriously.

  24. “Given that SUSY hasn’t even been ruled out yet, or given up on, even to the extent that this post could, in principle, contribute to natural theology, it is highly premature.”

    Maybe that’s where I am struggling – if the allegedly pro-God outcome has not even been achieved yet, what exactly are the assumptions about science that make the author think that it is likely enough to warrant talking about this way?

  25. As Freeman Dyson (qualification: a professor of physics at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton) wrote in the NY Review of Books in 2006:

    “As human beings, we are groping for knowledge and understanding of the strange universe into which we are born. We have many ways of understanding, of which science is only one. Our thought processes are only partially based on logic, and are inextricably mixed with emotions and desires and social interactions. We cannot live as isolated intelligences, but only as members of a working community. Our ways of understanding have been collective, beginning with the stories that we told each other around the fire when we lived in caves. Our ways today are still collective, including literature, history, art, music, religion, and science. Science is a particular bunch of tools that have been conspicuously successful for understanding and manipulating the material universe. Religion is another bunch of tools, giving us hints of a mental or spiritual universe that transcends the material universe.”

  26. Gil,
    If that link was a response to me, I’m not sure what the point is. I didn’t say _no one_ takes it seriously, only that _almost_ no one does. The fact that you posted on it in the past, and could cite 2 philosophers in the post, is not a counterargument.

  27. Gil, educated Jews should the relevant aspects and pros and cons of what is essentially a long standing philosophical argument. That is “natural religious theology”. Then perhaps you could move to presenting some interesting scientific information that might be relevant. But reading this and nearly everything else one reads today from the “educated” wing of orthodoxy, educated Jews apparently think that science itself is incredibly important for their religious worldview, much more importantly than how it actually factors into the relevant philosophical treatment. The result is this kind of misleading silliness.

    “absent SUSY, that inconvenient Creator becomes necessary again”

    Seriously? Is that what passes for natural religious theology in your view? A crude misrepresentation of scientific theory and philosophical import?

  28. I vaguely remember (sic) that many commentators on this site were very upset with the Slifkin episode. Those commentators felt that reconciling the Torah with modern evolutionary biology was paramount to the traditional concept of emunas chachamim. Now, those same commentators are arguing that physics (which, is much empirically provable, unlike evolutionary biology) is irrelevant to religion.

    I fail to see the distinction. This article or topic in general is not a proof or disproof of G-d. Rather, it is an attempt to understand our universe and enhancing our observation based on our belief in the existence of G-d. This leads to stronger emunah and ahavas Hashem according to the Rambam.

  29. Former YU,
    Although I was not here for the great Slifkin debates, and so you are not directly addressing me, there is no contradiction here. On the one hand I maintain that if Torah contradicts emipirical knowledge (science) there is a problem. On the other hand, I maintain that science does not prove God exists (and certainly doesn’t do so in the way this post implies.)

  30. Unless you take it as an article of faith that science cannot prove God’s existence, and I don’t know why you would, then this ongoing debate is theologically interesting. This post does not purport to prove God’s existence. It deals with one of the most convincing proofs (fine-tuning argument) and the objection to it. The fact that the objection is currently in scientific trouble is, to me, very interesting.

  31. “This leads to stronger emunah.”

    Former YU: Speaking of RNS, I’d be interested in your reaction to: ?

  32. To put MDJ’s point somewhat differently, there are two separate questions here: 1)belief in a creator and modern science, and 2) claims found in Torah (from the chumash on down) that contradict modern scientific claims. Attempting to answer questions in the latter category doesn’t commit you to believing that one could scientifically prove that God exists.

  33. Gil, flipping your argument: Unless you take it as an article of faith that science can prove God’s non-existence, and I don’t know why you would, then this ongoing debate is not theologically interesting.

  34. “currently in scientific trouble ”
    If you take a longer-range view of science, basically every idea of any significance is likely to get in trouble, and perhaps get out (usually in some modified form) at some point. So when this happens with a particular iteration of the factual predicates for this-decade’s design arguments, so what? Wait a while and there will be something else that seems to fill in the gap, and then that too will fall, etc…

    As for Darwin, I too was not “here” then, but: When scientist says something is very likely true I tend to think that it is just that – very likely true. So I appreciate when rabbis “allow” me to believe that without being called a kofer. (In other words, I prefer not to be asked to believe that the very-likely-true is instead definitely false.)
    However, an attempted theological “proof” of how the creator becomes “necessary” is doing more than understanding science as a series of as-far-as-we-currently-understand-likely-true conclusions: It is taking scientific findings as “true” such that we can use them as the basis for arguments about ontology. That, I resist.

  35. Gil,
    The primary objection to the fine tuning argument is not that the universe is not fine-tuned. It’s that fine tuning doesn’t prove God’s existence. As for whether science can prove God’s existence, it’s not so much that I take it as an article of faith that it cannot as that I have no idea what such a proof would look like, and I have thought _a lot_ about this. A conclusion must follow from its premises. since science deals in the natural, all premises of an argument from science will be natural. The transcendent will not enter in. therefore the conclusion cannot deal with the transcendent. The only God that could be proven by science is a purely natural one, and I don’t think that is what you are looking for. The best a religious person can do with science is argue that it cannot disprove God.

  36. >”Unless you take it as an article of faith that science cannot prove God’s existence”

    So the vast consensus of modern philosophy and the modern scientific enterprise is an “article of faith?” There are not compeeling arguments involved?

    >”This post does not purport to prove God’s existence.”

    Explain the sentence “absent SUSY, that inconvenient Creator becomes necessary again”

    >”It deals with one of the most convincing proofs (fine-tuning argument) and the objection to it.”

    No, the objection to the fine tuning argument is that its irrelevant from a scientific perspective as far as the existence of a creator.

  37. Gil, why on earth would you think that science can prove or disprove God’s existence? I can’t imagine that you imagine that God is physical. How could God be studied using scientific observational methods?

  38. I have criticized Profs Aviezer and Domb elsewhere (BDD) and echo all the other criticisms offered here. The problem of ultra fine tuned initial conditions (and it’s really a philosophical problem rather than a scientific one), while an intellectually engaging matter, is ever at the mercy of evolving scientific consensus. As I noted there, even scientific consensus that seemed congenial to theological prejudices, as Dr. Engelson here apparently imagines– e.g. the ever popular big bang that might seem to validate exoteric jewish beliefs in a created universe of finite duration with a beginning to time itself – is always subject to revision in “wrong” theological directions. (Just such a scenario is playing out at the moment with respect to other important fine tuning problems that had been “solved” by inflation. While the gap is back – and perhaps god can sneak into it -it may come at the theological cost of acceptance of an eternal universe). I am sure Dr. Engelson is a fine fellow and I wish him much nachas in his hobby but it’s puzzling that RGil chose to post it on this forum – although I imagine it’s stressful constantly coming up with new material and perhaps he was just having a slow news day.

  39. Gil: This post does not purport to prove God’s existence.

    Article: “But absent SUSY, that inconvenient Creator becomes necessary again [*]”. [and then the footnote talking about the options of physicists: “So what is to be done now? Nobody knows.”]

    Article: “But as of right now, fine-tuning and that inconvenient Creator are back.”

  40. I’m left wondering whether this is Gil’s da’at yachid; or, perhaps, another vector within the Modern/Centrist Orthodoxy graph is being exposed (cf.

  41. IH,

    Your link demonstrates that you and (most other commentators) are missing the boat. I agree that Emunah cannot come from science or be proven. I believe Gil agrees. True Emunah requires a literal “leap of faith”. Anyone whose emunah is scientifically proven, does not have that.

    That being said, the phenomenon described in the article above and the “fine tuning” argument in general should be meaningful to anyone who already is a maamin.

    My point above was that many commentators seem ready to ignore the relevance of science with regard to belief in the ribbono shel olam. However, the Slifkin issue demonstrated that those same people felt it was very relevant to reconcile science with Torah, in order to maintain their emunas chachamim and belief in the accuracy of our mesorah and Torah shel ba’al peh.

    You said that science cannot disprove G-d. Can science disprove the Torah, including Torah shel ba’al peh as transmitted through Chazal? Personally, I do not distinguish between my belief in the Ribbono Shel Olam and in Torah Shel ba’al Peh. Torah Judaism requires that they go hand in hand. Therefore, the relevance of science to both should be equivalent.

    (re: your link. I am not going to discuss the Discovery Program here since it is not relevant to R’ Gil’s post IMHO, but suffice it to say that I am not the biggest fan.)

  42. Former YU, you seem to miss the meaning or implication of the word “argument.”

    As to the notion that “Torah Judaism requires that they go hand in hand,” I suppose you are entitled to your historically uninformed opinion. But why you want to foist it onto others?

  43. Incidentally, I can’t find a “Morris Engelson” on the list of IEEE fellows or on the Oregon State University site.

  44. MJ,

    My legal background has likely skewed my definition of argument, but in my mind it does not mean proof.

    As to Torah shel ba’al peh. I guess my post made an assumption that that Torah is min hashamayim (both oral and written). It may be historically uninformed only as much as many “believing” Jews throughout the ages have rejected this belief (Karaites, Sadducees, Reform and some Conservative Jews to name a few).

  45. No, it is uninformed in that Jewish philosophers have viewed these two beliefs as distinct. I can already see how this will play out exactly as the Slifkin debate. I show you a medieval philosopher who indicates as much and you read it differently or claim it’s no longer normative. I’m not interested in that kind of discussion.

    Of course argument does not mean “proof”. But it should at least be a series of statements that support a conclusion. And since the conclusion that there is a transcend ant creator does not follow from any series of scientific statements I find these exercises misguided. Strengthening one’s preexisting belief is a completely different line of thought.

  46. Former YU: Given your legal background, I’m surprised you formed your response to me with a statement I did not make: “You said that science cannot disprove G-d”.

  47. Former YU –
    I think MDJ at 11:10 tried to explain why science presumably has less to say about God than about the historical assertions of the Torah.
    Basically, if the Torah says X happened (including, the world is created instead of eternal), then yes, there is a problem if science says X probably didn’t happen. However, the existence of a transcendent God is not the sort of historical event with which science ordinarily deals.

  48. “As Morris Engelson, Frequency Domain Instruments Marketing Manager at Tektronix Inc. (Beaverton, OR), observes…”

    Electronic design: Volume 28, Issues 1-7 on Google Books.

  49. Lawrence Kaplan

    Morris Engelson authored The Heavenly Time-Machine: Essays on Science and Torah. As Mechy Frankel intuited, his approach seems to be along the lines of Profs. Aviezr and Schroder.

  50. former yu – is fine tuning an argument or science? like all the “designs” (latest one being Intelligent design) i assumed (maybe incorrectly) they are philosophy (religious perhaps) and not in the area of science.

    “Can science disprove the Torah, including Torah shel ba’al peh as transmitted through Chazal?”
    are you suggesting that torah she belpeh is scientifically accurate in all matters that deal with aspects of science? do you mean that every scientific phenomenon or fact reported by the bible or torah shebel peh is accurate in a scientific way ? why do you think that believing in hashem and torah shenal peh has anything to do with science?

  51. True Emunah requires a literal “leap of faith”. ======================
    I don’t think medieval jewish philosphers would have all agreed with you.

  52. A few responses

    IH: You wrote on April 11, 2011 at 11:05 am

    “Gil, flipping your argument: Unless you take it as an article of faith that science can prove God’s non-existence, and I don’t know why you would, then this ongoing debate is not theologically interesting.”

    IIUC, you are implying that science cannot disprove G-d.

    MJ: They are distinct beliefs. However, if you do not believe in Torah min hashamayim, but they are equally fundamental to the relevance of Orthodox Judaism. AFAIK, RNS believes in Torah min hashamayim, including Torah shel ba’al peh. He argues based on the rishonim that scientific proclamations of Chazal are not part of the eternal Torah and can be mistaken.

    Emma: Again, my point and Gil’s point is not that science proves anything. However, it still can have significance. I guess MDJ’s comments at 11:10 are just over my head. I do agree that it may be easier for science to disprove a factual assertion in the Torsh, but I do not understand that to be an inherent distinction.

  53. Joel,

    You are correct. However, I also do not think that medieval Jewish philosophers understood “proof” the same way we do, as an empirically tested scientific reality. They understood it more as logic.

  54. Former,
    They are also distinct beliefs in the sense that scientific results have (according to most modern theories) no direct bearing on belief or non-belief in a transcendent creator. Whereas it is evident that scientific claims about nature have a bearing on the validity of claims about nature made in Torah writ large. So again, why are you having trouble understanding why someone would dismiss a claim that some scientific data prove (or make it extremely likely) that there is a transcendent creator and still vigorously try to show why acceptance of relevant scientific data and theories (whatever they might be)does not lead to a general rejection of the validity of Torah.

    Also note that the former move is entirely conceptual, whereas the latter is an interpretive strategy and therefore highly contestable.

  55. morris engelson

    I had not intended to comment on the many interesting and varied positions posted about my article, at least not at this time. But the posting that someone could not verify that I am an IEEE Fellow nor find a record of my teaching at OSU obliges me to respond. I too was surprised that I could not find my name as an IEEE Fellow on an internet search. Calling the IEEE I am informed that they do not routinely post such information. But they will verify my Life Fellow status (life = ieee membership for over 50 years) to anyone who calls the IEEE at 1-800-701-IEEE and provides my name and membership number which is 01029230. Note: make sure to use my first name, Morris, because my brother, Irving Engelson, is also an IEEE Fellow. As to OSU, you will not find me in the regular records because I was not regular faculty but Adjunct faculty in the graduate EE department from 1978 through 1992. I can get verification of this from the school if anybody is interested.

    Now, since I am posting something, I might as well provide some additional clarifying information. A number of people are under the impression that I am trying to provide scientific proof for God. That is not my intent. Quoting from the “Foreword” of my book, page xix: “First permit me to state in the strongest terms that I am not seeking to prove the truth of Torah by scientific means. I know of no way to do this, and am convinced that it cannot be done.” I am likewise convinced that science cannot prove that the Torah is false.

    The fine-tuning connection to a Creator is of supreme importance to some individuals, but it is of no consequence in the overall scheme for science. Rather SUSY is a beautifully compelling construct for the need of fundamental physics. SUSY, or something like SUSY, is scientifically necessary. Six months ago I was certain that the LHC was on the verge of verifying SUSY. This did not in any way lower my level of emunah, such as it is. Likewise, my emunah is not enhanced now that some bookmakers are offering 20:1 odds against SUSY. As I say in my book: “We will one day have a unified field theory that describes the whole universe in a few succinct equations. Needless to say, this author does not accept that this invalidates the Torah.”

    We, frum scientists, are a strange breed. We have a split personality, believing both in science and in Torah. I find the interaction between developing science and Torah fascinating. And like most people who have some mishugaes type fixation, it is “obvious” to me that others will likewise be interested. My posting can be understood in many ways, perhaps the most accurate would be simply as a news item. What the reader does with this item is up to the reader. As for me: Hashamayim mesaprim kvod Kel, umaaseh yadav magid harakiyah.

  56. The conjecture about the alleged imminent disproof of the supersymmetry theory is both premature, largely irrelevant, and misleading. What if it is ultimately confirmed? Would that create a problem for those of us who believe in a divine Creator? What if it is disproved? Would that convince physicists that there was a creator? The fact that the ‘standard model’ requires extremely precise parameters to result in the universe that we see is no proof of anything. After all, if there had been some miniscule or even infinitessimal change in such parameters, we wouldn’t be around to wonder about it. As both Einstein and Feynman have noted, probability calculations after the fact are irrelevent.

    A more prosaic example can illustrate my point. According to conventional reckoning we are some 150 generations after Jacob who was some 22 generations after Adam. Each generation had myriad possibilities for not producing the next link in the chain that lead to us. Our individual existence should therefore be considered very highly improbable from the prospective of our origins. Yet, here we are!

    For those of us who do believe in a Creator, awareness of such fine tuning of the laws governing the universe does, however, increase the awe and appreciation at the vast Intelligence behind all, who foresaw the precise conditions that would lead to the origin of conscious and free-willed man in a stable universe.

  57. So your use of the term “inconvenient Creator” could equally be substituted by the term “less elegant theory” or “further level of explanation”?

    What you quoted from your book and what you wrote here are not along the same lines at all.

    BTW, Gil, since you now plan on having a regular natural theology section you might want to have a ready to post news item that the initial entropic values remain surprisingly low- just in case some future CERN results go back to becoming inconvenient for a Creator.

  58. Dear Mr. Engelson – Many thanks for clarifying the gap between your biographical sketch on the posting and the information readily available.

    In regard to IEEE, I am surprised the IEEE state they do not routinely post such information, given:

    In regard to Oregon State University, perhaps it would be more prudent to state “he was” rather than “he is” given the intervening years. In any case, the sketch seems to have little relevance to your opinions regarding particle physics or philosophy (not to diminish your expertise in oscilloscope engineering, but it has no relevance as far as I can see).

  59. I should also point out that this statement is quite misleading:

    “We, frum scientists, are a strange breed. We have a split personality, believing both in science and in Torah.”

    Having worked with a number of frum research scientists (not doctors and engineers) I have seldom found any such “split personality,” evident as they did not see their scientific and religious beliefs conflicting in any significant way. THe only real split is that they think that different epistemological norms apply to their religious beliefs and scientific beliefs. I have noticed far more of a split personality among frum investment bankers, businessmen and lawyers, who occasionally think that one set of ethical norms apply when they have their frum hats on and another when they are at work.

  60. morris engelson

    Oy vey. I do not wish to get into the middle of what looks like a debate among old friends. But any implication that I am falsifying my credentials is a very serious issue to me. So I am obliged to respond yet once again.

    The IEEE web site provided by the indiviual states that this is a list of “ACTIVE” IEEE Fellows. I don’t know what the word “active” means. But I will tell you that I am long since retired, and apparently I am not considred active. I am a Holocaust survivor, that will give you an idea of my age. Nevertheless I am (not was, but am right now)a Life Fellow of the IEEE which can be easily verified by a phone call. As I stated in my previous post – I too am surprised by what the IEEE told me, but I don’t control their procedures.

    Respecting OSU. The bio states that I am a “former” adjuct faculty member. My English language skills leave much to be desired so I could be wrong in how the matter is to be stated. But I believe that as long as I am alive I will be “is former” rather than “was former.” Indeed it is 20 years since I was associated with OSU, but that is what former is for.

  61. I find this posting to be very interesting from a theoretical physics / cosmogony perspective, but close to immaterial to the question of “whether or not” there’s a Creator.

    All of these kinds of discussions fall into the classic ‘God of the gaps’ framework, presuming to indicate a Creator’s existence via human ignorance of physical phenomena. The “proof” is wonderful until knowledge advances.

    The closing of this post provides all the grist for comment that one could need:

    >“No one can predict what might replace SUSY in the future and how this will relate to fine-tuning. But as of right now, fine-tuning and that inconvenient Creator are back.”

    Really?! Wow — praise the heavens that our universe is once again safe for the Lord!! It looked like He’d been banished for awhile, but the experimental findings and resulting confusion have now unlocked the doors for His return…..

    ….until of course the subsequent advent of a more concise, elegant and responsive successor theory. At which point…..He’ll have to leave?

    That’s the implication if one believes, as Dr. Engleson asserts, that “We will one day have a unified field theory that describes the whole universe in a few succinct equations.” Just imagine what that will do for people who believe in a Creator’s “inconvenient” existence…. Certainly won’t advance the cause when things are discovered to run so conveniently on their own.

    So I appreciate having these advances in theoretical physics brought to our attention, since it’s a topic that really does hold my interest; but — with apologies for the brute language — it’s childish to present this article as though it even remotely augurs serious new developments for theology.

    The only advance is the continual advance emerging from the whole scientific enterprise: the gradually expanding awareness of the mystery and depth of olam ha’zeh.

    So the apparent decline of SUSY neither answers nor poses any theological question in a new way. It adds no net information to our understanding of whether a Creator is “necessary” for existence to exist.

    Indeed “no one can predict” what will immediately surpass SUSY….. except that the process will eventually culminate in a several line equation that presumably frames the above question even more starkly than it stands today.

  62. Your discourse on SUSY is fascinating, but I’ve always thought that arguing for G-d’s existence is a fools errand. However, we can make mathematical models to argue for the Universe being created from nothingness. The key is embedded in geometry. For example, the point identifies an exact location in space yet it has no dimensions and therefore has no physical existence. Thus, if you touch a surface with the tip of a needle you are covering an infinite number of points. Yet every measurable physical structure is a conglomeration of lines connecting one zero dimensional point to another defining that which cannot be measured as the start of everything measurable. Therefore, the point is a geometric key to understanding the concept of G-d creating something from nothing.

  63. The difference between creation from nothing and the mathematical concept of a point and other geometric entities as the conceptual tools to develop geometric relationships is that one involves a logical contradiction while the other is an abstraction and idealization of real things. There is no real, that is, physical entity with the properties of a point, or a line, or a plane. In fact the entire realm of geometry and other mathematical developments are abstractions and idealizations. They are, however, based on entities that are real and approximate those idealized mathematical entities. Without those real entities, the idealizations would have no hold on our imaginations. Unless, of course, one subscribes to a Platonic concept wherein those idealizations are elements in a world of truth that is independent of the physical world and our conceptualizations. They are then parts of the divine wisdom which we humans can perceive, albeit, through a cloudy lens.

    Creation from nothing, on the other hand, means the emergence of not-nothing from its logical opposite – nothing. That presents a logical difficulty unless the term ‘nothing’ includes the existence of the totally Other, whom we call GOD. In this sense, the Platonic existence of a world of truth independent of human consciousness and reason, and the existence of a vast Intelligence which underlies the reality perceived by our consciousness, is what ultimately unites the mathematical and physical realms and justifies their emergence.

  64. morris engelson

    Biographical information update. I have previously submitted two postings in partial response to questions about my bio. I now have what I believe to be complete information hence this update.
    1. A reader was not able to find my name among the IEEE Fellows list posted by the IEEE. (a) I responded, based on information from IEEE, that they do not post this material. That is not correct. They do post the names and designations of members. What I should have been told is that they do not post everybody. (b) I conjectured based on listing statement that the posting is for “ACTIVE” members and that I was not an ACTIVE member, true. I further conjectured that I was not an ACTICE member because I am retired, false. I finally got to a person at the IEEE who was able to research this matter for me. (c) Apparently I neglected to send back a bio upgrade form in 2008. This caused my listing to be designated as not in the ACTIVE category. I did fill out this update form in later years but for reasons unknown I was not returned to the ACTIVE list. This matter will be corrected in about a week. In the meantime, anybody who wishes to check on my Lifetime Fellow status can do it by phone as noted in my first posting.
    2. The same reader was not able to find my name on the Oregon State University faculty list. Here is some of the response to my inquiry from the EE department HR manager at OSU, Jennifer Short.
    >I do have some employment history on you… The records are located in archives and in our document imaging program (not accessible by anyone outside of out HR dept). The OSU staff directory >only shows current employees…” Apparently you can’t get this info directly from OSU. Hence, if someone wants to see proof of my involvement with OSU, please send me an email and I will respond with a scanned document from my files.
    3. There was a question as to the proper wording in my bio. I have it as “ He is a former…” It was suggested that this is not proper and the wording should be “was” and not “is.” I sent my bio to a professional editor and asked for a ruling as to proper usage. Here is the pertinent part of the response. “’Is a former’ is technically correct but common usage always favors ‘was’…” The preferred formulation is “He was formerly Chief Engineer at Tektronix, Inc. as well as Adjunct Professor at Oregon State University.”


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