Re: We're central-Nature says so???

From: bivalve (
Date: Fri Aug 16 2002 - 17:45:51 EDT

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    The study in question apparently combined the principle of increasing
    expansion rate of the universe with a multiverse idea and the point
    that thermodynamics is probabilistic rather than absolute. It
    concluded that innumerable varying universes would exist. According
    to the blurb, these make the existence of just the right universe for
    our existence highly improbable. The blurb concluded that this
    improbability was too much for either a deity or the "because things
    are the way they are" argument to explain. However, very low but
    non-zero probability does not disprove either of these. The
    envisioned deity seemed to be deistic with limited foresight, as it
    could only possibly manage to create the right conditions the first
    time around rather than in a later big crunch and big bang cycle.
    The possibility of being the first time around was discarded as
    improbable without justification. In summary, I think Nature had a
    bad blurb writer (but then a science news blurb just o!
    ut from Science confused the basic point of the summarized article).

         Dr. David Campbell
         Old Seashells
         University of Alabama
         Biodiversity & Systematics
         Dept. Biological Sciences
         Box 870345
         Tuscaloosa, AL 35487 USA

    That is Uncle Joe, taken in the masonic regalia of a Grand Exalted
    Periwinkle of the Mystic Order of Whelks-P.G. Wodehouse, Romance at
    Droitgate Spa

    ---------- Original Message ----------------------------------
    From: "Iain Strachan" <>
    Date: Fri, 16 Aug 2002 11:51:50 0000

    >On Wed, 14 Aug 2002 19:10:33 bivalve wrote:
    >>A story from Nature's news service reports that a recent physics
    >>study indicates that our universe is inexplicably highly improbable.
    >>However, the discussion appeared to me to be seriously flawed, with
    >>wrongly justified claims to rule out both divine intervention and "we
    >>just happen to be here; a slight difference, and either we would not
    >>exist or else we would be wondering why it could happen exatly that
    >>Does anyone know more about the merits or lack thereof for the
    >>original work? The Nature blurb is at
    >>Incidentally there is also an article reporting a lungfish-tetrapod
    >>ancestor transitional form in the latest Nature.
    >> Dr. David Campbell
    >> Old Seashells
    >> University of Alabama
    >> Biodiversity & Systematics
    >> Dept. Biological Sciences
    >> Box 870345
    >> Tuscaloosa, AL 35487 USA
    >>That is Uncle Joe, taken in the masonic regalia of a Grand Exalted
    >>Periwinkle of the Mystic Order of Whelks-P.G. Wodehouse, Romance at
    >>Droitgate Spa
    >I think that the anthropic principle is effectively a circular
    >argument. When I attended Stephen Hawking's inaugural lecture as
    >Lucasian Prof of Maths, he summarised it succinctly as "Things are
    >as they are because we are". However, then the only answer to the
    >question "Why are we?" is "Because things are as they are".
    >In my second year Physics lectures (back in 1978), the lecturer made
    >a thought provoking statement to the effect that if the Creator had
    >chosen the binding energy of the deuteron to be 1 percent different
    >from its actual value either way, we could not exist. If the energy
    >is too high, then insufficient nuclear fusion takes place in stars,
    >because the fusion cross-section is too small, and if (the binding
    >energy is) too low, then the atom doesn't hold together long enough
    >for significant fusions to occur. Either way, we don't get fusion,
    >hence no stars hence no "us". I don't know if the lecturer was
    >religious, or was just using the term "the Creator" figuratively,
    >much as Hawking does in his book.
    >Nowadays, the "fine-tuning" problem is, I believe, a hot issue in
    >physics. One modern way physicists get around the need for a
    >Creator is to propose a so-called "multiverse" theory. The idea is
    >that there isn't one UNI-verse, but potentially an infinite number
    >of them "out there" in some sense; which we cannot communicate
    >with, of course. They all have different values of all the critical
    >parameters, and so the overwhelming majority are dead boring
    >universes where nothing happens at all. We just happen to be in one
    >where the parameters are all correct. This gets around the
    >necessity for a Creator, at the terrible cost of hypothesising all
    >these extra universes that we can never see.
    >John Polkinghorne argued cleverly on a recent TV series in the UK
    >that it seemed much more economical to propose a single universe
    >with a transcendent purposeful Creator, than all these extra ones.
    >I thought that was a clever use of Occam's Razor to argue for the
    >existence of God, where it is normally used to rule out God.
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