Jefferys' review of Priviledged Planet

From: Ted Davis <>
Date: Wed Jun 08 2005 - 11:36:50 EDT

This is a very interesting review with some good points. I don't have time
this week for a detailed reply (I'm about to leave the office for several
days), but I will point out the following things.

(1) Jefferys, like many secular astrophysicists presently, does not see the
multiverse hypothesis as at all metaphysical; whereas he sees the design
hypothesis as purely metaphysical and not at all scientific. My hunch is
that we could also find some astrophysicists who would find plenty of
metaphysics in the multiverse hypothesis. Indeed as I have stated
elsewhere, to a significant extent I suspect that multiverse speculations
*are* motivated by a desire to avoid design implications of fine
tuning--just as steady state cosmogonies were motivated by similar concerns.
 This is not to say that inflation cannot imply that the multiverse could
have some merit, but it is to point out that the "universe generator" that
produces multiple universes is itself subject to "design" features. Here
the standard argument on the part of the editors of scientific journals
appears to go something like this: even though we cannot observe multiple
universes and will never interact with them, the hypothesis of multiple
(essentially unlimited) universes is fully scientific b/c it is the only
naturalistic game in town. The alternative, that the one universe we know
about is finely tuned in so many ways that it appears to have been
purposefully created, can never under any circumstances be a rational
conclusion that a scientist should entertain. The metaphysics underlying
this line of thinking is self-evident.

(2) Jefferys completely ignores large parts of the book, esp those parts
which engage and substantially refute the standard "Copernican" assumption
(humans are not the center of the universe in any meaningful sense) that
Harlow Shapley invented and Copernicus never believed. In these parts of
the book the authors do seem to show more historical sophistication than
Jefferys is apparently willing to grant. I do wonder why he ignores such a
large part of this book.

(3) Jefferys' use of the contested term, "ID creationist," is misleading
and probably deliberate in its attempt to dismiss the authors as not worthy
of serious consideration. As I have been saying, a lot of us in ASA would
fit the label "creationist" if it means that our universe was made for a
purpose. Sloppy terminology makes us all sloppy thinkers, if we take
Jefferys' line.

Received on Wed Jun 8 11:38:04 2005

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