Denyse O’Leary Demolishes String Theory

We have another profound essay from the Discovery Institute written by Denyse O’Leary — that’s her bio page at the Discoveroids’ website. Now that Casey is gone, she is becoming our favorite Discoveroid blogger. The last time we wrote about her was Denyse O’Leary Demolishes Darwinist Cosmology.

Her new contribution to the Discoveroids’ creationist blog is Post-Modern Physics: String Theory Gets Over the Need for Evidence. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis:

String theory, which took root in the 1970s, proposes that “all objects in our universe are composed of vibrating filaments (strings) and membranes (branes) of energy.” That’s the ultimate Cool. It unites general relativity (the physics of the very big) with quantum mechanics (the physics of the very small) in one grand unified Theory of Everything, turning current conflicts into harmony. But string theory offers more. It can undergird the concept of a multiverse: There are more universes than particles in our known universe.

Your Curmudgeon is no fan of string theory, so we find ourselves in agreement with some of the criticisms offered by Denyse. She says:

To work at all, string theory requires at least nine spatial dimensions (six of which are curled up out of our sight) plus time. But if our universe (three spatial dimensions plus time) arose randomly among the ten dimensions of possibilities (the “string landscape“), theorists reckon that there should be about 10^500 universes (or more). Literally anything can happen, has happened, and will happen over and over again.

Lots of people are waiting for evidence — any evidence — before they’re willing to take this stuff seriously. But Denyse has objections that go far beyond that. She tells us:

Our universe happens to look fine-tuned? But the theoretical others don’t. New Scientist spells it out: “This concept of a ‘multiverse’ could explain a puzzling mystery — why dark energy, the furtive force that is accelerating the expansion of space, appears improbably fine-tuned for life. With a large number of universes, there is bound to be one that has a dark energy value like ours.”

[*Groan*] Fine tuning is a creationist’s reaction to everything. X exists? Aha, that means the universe was designed for X! Anyway, here’s a link to the New Scientist article Denyse is referring to: Multiplying universes: How many is the multiverse? You can’t read it without a subscription. She continues:

But what have these fad concepts done for science as we knew it? Dark energy is, at present, a theoretical concept, not an identified type of energy.

One could also ask what the Discoveroids’ “theory” of intelligent design has done for science, but Denyse is oblivious to that. Let’s read on:

Critics, perhaps less imaginative than the theorists, decry string theory’s lack of testability. Science writer Philip Ball complains, “Proposing something as dramatic as seven extra dimensions, without offering the slightest prospect of testing to see if they are there, is a step too far for some physicists.” Indeed. 10^520 universes later, one suspects that science has long since left the building. Physicist Ethan Siegel tells us bluntly at Forbes that string theory is not science: It cannot be tested. [Links omitted.]

It’s not difficult to find critics of string theory. The amusing thing is that the same objections Denyse quotes are applicable to the Discoveroids’ intelligent designer — blessed be he! — but she seems unaware of that. Another excerpt:

If science-based reasoning doesn’t explain string theory, cultural history might: A culture might wish a multiverse into existence despite the facts, to satisfy emotional needs such as making naturalism appear to work.

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! Naturalism — understanding the universe without resort to unnecessary and untestable supernatural causes — works quite nicely, even without string theory. Unfortunately for Denyse, intelligent design “theory” is nothing without supernatural causes. Here’s more

In any event, string theorists have grown comfortable with their lack of evidence. At Smithsonian, theoretical physicist Brian Greene admits, “Evidence that the universe is made of strings has been elusive for 30 years, but the theory’s mathematical insights continue to have an alluring pull.” He adds, “I now hold only modest hope that the theory will confront data during my lifetime.” [Link omitted.]

Isn’t it strange that unlike creationists, none of those string theory critics are ever expelled from their academic positions? That’s another factor Denyse ignores. And now we come to the end:

String theory is possibly best seen as a superstition of naturalism. Superstitions fulfill deep needs that skeptics do not understand and are understandably hard to eradicate.

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! The implication, of course, is that evolution is another “superstition of naturalism”. Nice try, Denyse. Keep up the good work!

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9 responses to “Denyse O’Leary Demolishes String Theory

  1. Let us remember that according to one proof of the existence of God, we know that God exists because the universe is not fine tuned for life: We (supposedly) know that the laws of thermodynamics rule out the existence of life, and therefore God is needed to bypass the laws of nature to create life.

  2. SC, please do not take this as overly sarcastic nor snarky, but, I have had more than a few cats during my 70 years of this life who adored string theory. Well, OK, maybe not so much the theory bit, but they DID like string, lots of string, with or without any theories added on by me.
    Once again, Yes, I do like dogs, but I still prefer cats. Cats are so aloof from petty crapola like ID, Hambo, etc..
    I’ll stop now as this could become near book length else wise.

  3. I think Denyse is missing a subtle point. It is not that string theory *cannot* be tested, just that the energies required to test it are beyond our current capabilities. Some day…

  4. Please note that every single objection Denyse has made is taken over from a reputed physicist. Physicists criticizing theories of physics are a very common sight. IDiots criticizing IDiocy however …..
    There is one huge benefit of Denyse’s semi-plagiarism though. For the first time in her life she was able to write more than two comprehensible paragraphs.

  5. Poor Denyse said: “Lots of people are waiting for evidence — any evidence — before they’re willing to take this stuff seriously.”

    She was talking about ID, wasn’t she? Then too, she must be pretty well schooled in string theory with her background in English and literature.

  6. Thanks to all those who commented before me. I think I have got this figured out now. The ID theory of string theory is being able to “string” two sentences together without making oneself seem a total fool.
    Way to go there Denyse!
    Keith B. I tend to agree with you, though I am but an aged broken down machinist science has always fascinated me. Cosmology (Hawking et.al.) and this string theory are very interesting. I cannot even try to follow the advanced maths, but it is a very interesting idea. Yes..some day we may be able to actually test this theory.
    David K., well English and literature should have aided her in being able to string words together, or did I miss some important bits of higher education by becoming just a machinist?
    Seriously, I did not mean this comment to sound the least bit snarky/sarcastic. It was posted in true seriousness and honesty.

  7. Eric Lipps

    Too bad for Ms. O’Leary that her criticism of string theory had already been advanced by actual scientists years before she came out with it.

    As for “fine-tuning,” (1) as usual, a creationist has gotten things exactly backward: it’s not that physical constants have been arranged as they are in order for life to exist, but rather that life exists because the physical constants are as they are; (2) some physicists maintain, based on detailed simulations of the evolution of the universe with different values for the relationships between the four known forces, that life might not be possible only with physical constants exactly as they are.

  8. Moreover, if physical constants being as they are are a sign of Design, ten the speed of light is nearly the same over time, and so are the rates of radioactive decay. This means that those measures of the age of the universe and Earth are reliable.

  9. String theory seeks to explain what we observe in some mathematically rigorous way. (At least I think it does.) ID seeks to rationalize what we observe in a theologically acceptable way. Two completely different approaches.

    Clearly Denyse’s skepticism extends to whether or not a theory is theologically acceptable. She cannot appropriate the skepticism of scientists as being in any way similar to her own.