Monday, August 29, 2011

Book Review: God Does not Play Dice, David A. Shiang

After talking about general relativity, special relativity and other very important piece of intellectual work, Einstein actually returned to very important question. He questioned the existence of an intelligent being whom we call God. I don't want to get into Theology/Religion and other related schools of thought but talk about the Einsteins' statement. 'God does not play dice'.

The book discusses a lot of things in mathematics and debates that the fundamentals of Probability are not correct as they are just conjectures without sound experimental data/procedure to back it. Seems like the writer has read a lot ( has to, he is from MIT) and given plausible arguments against it, using CFD.

I agree with all his premises/claims and the arguments he has proposed that there is no randomness in the world and that things are actually predetermined though they aren't predictable. Things about Quantum Physics lacking a solid basis is also acceptable( thank God! I am with Einstein... its so easy). Lot of things he talks have been (at some point of my undergraduate years) realized by me and thats why I can relate with him (though my arguments have been incidental than factual the way he presents). I also agree with him that mathematics might not be the most comprehensive way to analyze certain things, including God. I am surprised that he cites Upanishads as one of the sources of his knowledge for understanding the issue and still comes to wrong conclusion. I guess his understanding for mathematics have been certainly good but may be he just flipped through pages of Upanishads (and other vedantic text) quite fast.

I reject the conclusion he has come to, saying God does not play dice. Actually, I am not with Einstein too, on this. He has thought/read a lot before writing but still he has not taken his reasoning further to explore even more on this. He says that everything in life is predetermined and will inevitably happen. Its all decided and the fact that you did something means you could not have done anything better. He applies this to gas particle and to humans too! True in some respect but not always !

First, this takes away the independence given to human beings by God (lets not debate on this and bring religion and other human concocted ideas about how they believe it)
which is again a very subtle point made in Vedas. This even applies to the atom( in Dvaita school of thought in Ancient India, though I have not been able to comprehend it till now but I can get it in case of humans/some living being). Choice is one of the important power (shall say weapon) given to us and to deny it saying its not their, but we just feel is there is not a plausible argument given by him ! its just his perception.
There is another way to understand the principle of choice given to us: You might do a set of things but the outcome is pre-decided ! Its like a statistical function which asymptotically approaches a determined function (you can get what i want to say hopefully).

My counter argument is the following to Shiang, which is the next level of realization:
How are the initial values for the predetermined "fate" of the person chosen ? Are they hard coded ? or something else ? There is bound to be some bootstrapping for this !!
I think this is not an easy thing to understand and is a loop in his thinking(which is plausible to an extent).
There are some nice concepts in Chaos related to this, which indicate the presence of Higher Intelligent being, though concept of 'Chaos' is completely denied by Shiang (and agree with him to some extent on this).

The book is worth a read as its gives good arguments about widely accepted facts in mathematics (can say in chemistry/physics).

I would certainly agree on the following comment than the title of the book (which is again not pointing to randomness in the universe), "God plays dice with the universe, but they're loaded dice." This is said by Joseph Ford, who is one of Chaos Theorist. On the other hand, Hawkins is yet to understand this as his comment seems vague.

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