I recall interviewing Max Tegmark, an unaccomplished physicist, who had written a “grand view of physics” book which purported to prove that an infinite number of universe existed alongside our own. He claimed that the idea originated with Giordano Bruno, a failed 16th-century Italian Dominican philosopher who was burned at the stake.
I call Tegmark “unaccomplished” because in the sciences, you're only as good as your last worst idea.
Atheists often imagine that multiple universes exist as a means of “defeating” the Anthropic Universe Principle―the idea that the universe is finely-tuned so as to facilitate the development of human beings. The reason we see our universe as being conducive to our species, so atheists pretend, is because this is the one universe in an infinite number of universe which could have allowed us to evolve.
Unadulterated and embarrassing pseudoscientific nonsense.
Intrigued as I was and having interests in both physics and metaphysics, both science and science fiction, I took Tegmark at his word and arranged for an interview.
Tegmark, to be frank, is a man of great imagination but little in terms of actual rational thought.
This doesn’t mean that he's not intelligent, as one can't normally earn a doctorate in physics without being substantially intelligent. Those who think that earning advanced degrees “doesn't mean anything” usually are talking through their hats and, dollars-to-doughnuts, have never earned an actual university degree.
Again, I don't judge people if they've not been to university, but I judge those people who pretend that education is negligible and confuse their “feelings” with rational thought.
I also judge people who pontificate outside of their area of expertise, as in the case of Tegmark.
We see this all too often with fundamentalist atheists who glibly lie about having read books on subjects while simultaneously making up things on the fly.
I find this both annoying and humorous.
It's annoying dealing with insecure people who only want to win an argument at the expense of truth. Truth for them is negligible…unless, of course, someone dares to contradict their “feelings.”
It's humorous also because I love tripping them up on their confused mishmash of ideas. I love pointing out their lies. I love pointing out their ignorance and hypocrisy.
When I interviewed Tegmark, he refused to answer my questions as to how he proved multiple universes exist. I'm hardly an expert in physics but I've done graduate research in the sciences nonetheless. Chances were that I couldn't understand the level of physics required to “prove” multiple universes existed but I'm sufficiently intelligent enough to follow his line of reasoning and know how to ask a question for verification.
He urged me to read his book completely before he answered my questions.
I did. And, as God is my witness, Tegmark never once explained how he came to the scientific conclusion that multiple universes existed.
As far as I'm concerned, he's a flim-flam artist.
I asked for a second interview and plied my question again.
Mr. Tegmark gave me an answer that made me think I had either lost my hearing or that he his mind.
He said, “I don't need to prove multiple universes exist. They have to exist because that's the paradigm I use.”
So… in other words…
“I think multiple universes exist, therefore, they exist and because I believe it, they obviously must exist. As such, it's obvious that they do, in fact, exist. And anyone who disagrees with me is wrong!”
His line of “reasoning” came down to: “I have feelings, therefore, those feelings are facts.”
Or as logicians say: Argumentum post hoc ergo propter hoc. (After this, therefore, because of this.) A similar poorly thought-out pseudological example is:
Unless I keep hitting this gong and blowing up these firecrackers, the Celestial Dragon won't cough up the moon which it is apparently swallowing.
When I explained the error of his logic, Tegmark became angry at me.
That's when he showed his true fundamentalist atheist colors.
“The Catholic Church has always been against science even persecuting Giordano Bruno in the 16th century!”
Not eager to get away from the topic at hand, I gave Tegmark a five-minute explanation of the truth about that particular charlatan — which he promptly ignored, saying, “I've got thirty colleagues in my physics department who know that the Catholic Church persecuted Giordano Bruno because of his scientific views!”
To which I replied, “I've got 30 books that say you and your ignorant colleagues are wrong.”
Atheists who aren’t widely read would have us believe that medieval philosopher and current atheist cause célèbre, Giordano Bruno, was executed because of his scientific beliefs.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
His theological opinions certainly didn't help his case, but they didn't condemn the man. In fact, his trial lasted for seven years, so this was hardly a kangaroo court or star chamber that made the decision to execute him. Rather, it was a thorough and methodical court case that was extremely lenient of a fractious, manipulative and incalcitrant individual.
For seven years, the Catholic Church in general, and the Dominican Order specifically, urged Bruno to reconcile himself — and yet he refused even though he had done so repeatedly prior to his arrest. Bruno wasn't tortured as part of his trial and, in fact, was treated fairly and maintained as good a standard of health as could be expected for the 16th century. (He would have never withstood his seven years' imprisonment otherwise.) If his prison conditions were as bad as atheists unfamiliar with the atheist-led Red Holocaust, the atheist-sponsored Reign of Terror, the atheist-instigated Cristero Wars and the atheist-actualized Vendean Genocide, think they were, Bruno would have lied simply to escape his situation.
At best, atheists greatly exaggerate Bruno's martyrdom to science. At worst, it's completely fabricated. In reality, Bruno didn't promote Copernicus' scientific work. Instead, he denigrated his heliocentric model, which was already gaining popularity among contemporary Jesuit astronomers, but not with Protestant thinkers, into a neo-Platonist Hermetism more akin to a gnostic mystery cult than to actual science. In his natural philosophy, the Sun became the “Monad of Monads” around which the universe revolved. Oddly, Bruno also insisted that all the stars were also suns which also possessed planets which were populated by sentient creatures. But if this were true, he would have to admit that each star was its own Monad of Monads, which wouldn't have been logically consistent. Thus, Bruno's decidedly unscientific “science” more resembled Shakespeare's gnostic Prospero's magic than it did St. Albert the Great’s more empirically-based science.
Thus, Bruno wasn't an atheist but rather a gnostic panenthiest. And, instead of a scientist furiously at work in a laboratory, he was more like a charlatan peddling magical ideas to anyone who would listen. The fact that Galileo fared much better than did Bruno should serve as proof that the latter was a great deal guiltier than the former… and knew a great deal less.
As to Bruno being judged on his theological views, he was not only excommunicated by the Catholic Church but by the Swiss Calvinists, the German Lutherans and the English Anglicans as well. He, apparently, was generally disliked wherever he went. But, first and foremost, Bruno, an AWOL Dominican friar, excommunicated himself from the Christian Church. If not, then why would he attack and condemn it? He abandoned the Dominican Order and the Church and then sought to reconcile himself with both on multiple occasions.
Keen insight into Bruno's personality can be gotten from his 1584 publication entitled Cena delle ceneri. (i.e., “Ash Wednesday Supper.”) When he visited Oxford University with the hope of being allowed to lecture there, he so poorly defended his arguments that he was refused a job there. This infuriated him, prompting him to publish the above-named manuscript in which he attacked the Oxford professors, saying that they knew “more about beer than about Greek.” In reality, though Bruno had some interesting insights into Aristotle, he barely had any grasp of the pre-Socratic philosophers, but his ego was bruised and thus lashed out. He lost that job specifically because he couldn't answer the scholars' questions on the very topic about which he lied about being an expert.
After the Oxford debacle, Bruno moved to Paris and during this time made several attempts at reconciling with the Catholic Church, all of which failed because of his refusal to accept a specific, imposed condition — namely, that he should return to the Dominicans. If he were truly an atheist who hated the Church, why did he hope to be reconciled with it time and time again? If the Church wanted him dead, why did it welcome him back into the fold and ask him to remain a priest?
To be clear, neither the Catholic Church nor the Dominicans ever charged him with heresy. Rather, it was a peevish secularist roué who hoped to learn Bruno's “magical secrets” who lied to the Inquisitor's Office, accusing him of heinous, scurrilous things including communicating with the devil. In 1591, Bruno went to Venice at the invitation of the Venetian patrician Giovanni Mocenigo, the atheist roué in question, who hoped to learn the former's mnemonic system (which was largely lifted from Bl. Raymond Llull's original research on the subject.) When Mocenigo realized that Bruno's incredible memory was a matter of diligent study rather than “magic,” and thinking his money would have been better spent elsewhere, he denounced Mocenigo to the Venetian Inquisition.
Throughout his trials, Bruno took refuge in the principle of the “two-fold truth.” He claimed that the errors imputed to him were held by him “as a philosopher and not as an honest Christian.” This was a lie, as he had already been excommunicated by every Christian denomination, including all of the heretical ones, by the time of his arrest. Second, he made his living by specifically decrying and attacking Christians, Christianity and the Catholic Church. It would be insincere and foolish for atheists to defend Bruno's lies.
Regardless of all of his previous behaviors, Bruno recanted all of his errors and doubts in the matter of Catholic doctrine and practice. This, however, attracted the attention of the Roman Inquisition, which intervened and requested his extradition from Venice. In February 1593, Bruno was sent to Rome and was imprisoned for six years while his trial progressed.
No one is sure why his trial lasted so inordinately long, as this was highly unusual. It's possible that the Tribunal wanted to test Bruno as to his conveniently newfound respect for the Catholic Church after having denounced it for most of the previous decade.
In the spring of 1599 his trial began, throughout which Bruno was given ample time to recant his previously held beliefs. Unfortunately, he didn't even keep up the pretense of his previous lies. He was finally condemned in January 1600 and handed over to the secular authorities on February 8, who burned him at the stake nine days later in the Campo dei Fiori in Rome.
The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy clearly points out that Bruno wasn't tried for his theological heresies. In fact, “in 1600 there was no official Catholic position on the Copernican system and it was certainly not a heresy. When [...] Bruno [...] was burned at the stake as a heretic, it had nothing to do with his writings in support of Copernican cosmology.”
The Catholic Encyclopedia concurs. Bruno wasn't condemned for his defense of the astronomical opinions, nor for his doctrine of the plurality of inhabited worlds, but for his theological errors, among which were his belief that Christ wasn't God but merely a preternaturally skillful magician, that the Holy Ghost is the soul of the world and that Satan would be saved.
Rather than being a materialist in the modern sense, Bruno would be best described as a mystical rationalist/neo-Platonist who defended materialistic monism. In other words, he more agreed with Spinoza rather than Einstein. Though he was particularly vituperous against the more rational Scholastics, he reserved respect for Sts. Albert the Great and Thomas Aquinas. He also plagiarized Bl. Raymond Llull's mnemonic system. And even though he largely agreed with contemporary philosophers Ramus and Patrizzi, who also, along with Bruno, hoped to reform Aristotelian philosophy, Bruno bitterly, openly and irrationally attacked them.
Apparently, Bruno didn't get along even with people who agreed with him.
It could just as easily be argued that Bruno was executed for being mentally unbalanced and sociopathically narcissistic rather than because of his theological views. The truth is, he commuted suicide-by-cleric―all he had to do to save his life was to fulfill his vows to the Dominicans, the men who financed his education―but Bruno refused to accept the Church's strictures. He embraced the only other option available to him―death. Thus, he took his own life and modern atheists and other enemies of the Church pretend Bruno was a “lovable and perceptive scamp.” The professors of Oxford didn't think so, nor did the Calvinists, Anglicans or Lutherans nor did any of the university faculties in which he taught.
If atheists are eager to support the work of actual scientists, they can have their pick of thousands of Catholic scientists — more often than not, medieval priests — rather than defending someone like Bruno who believed in what James Randi, the discredited cynic, would call, “woo-woo.”
Further, if atheists are eager to protect free speech, they should extend that courtesy to Catholics and to other atheists who find fault with Darwinism (as in the case of Thomas Nagel) or the fact that atheists Einstein and Hoyle both denigrated Fr. Georges Lemaître's Big Bang Theory in their attempt at silencing him. Further, it's odd in the extreme that atheists are concerned with the death of one individual but are intentionally blind to the death of over 160 million people in the past two centuries at the hands of their atheist confreres and atheist forebears.