Re: [asa] Many Worlds Interpretation and ID

From: David Campbell <pleuronaia@gmail.com>
Date: Wed Aug 15 2007 - 14:34:41 EDT

>But low probability is, in my opinion, the wrong way to look at
cosmological ID anyway. Fine-tuning arguments should not be based on
assumed low probabilities of the constants--something that cannot be
calculated. It should be based on the sensitivity of habitability (for
any kind of life) to those values, which is quite different. In fact,
the best possible case for cosmological ID is the high probability
scenario. If we uncover a fundamental theory that derives the values
of the constants (so that they have probability unity) and the
sensitivity of habitability stands the test of time, then we must
conclude that habitability is built into the fabric of spacetime.
Short of God appearing on earth, this would be the strongest possible
argument in favor of cosmological ID. <

I think this merely moves the presumed low probability back a step.
Habitability being built into the fabric of spacetime is an indicator
of ID only if that has a low probability of happening without
intelligent involvement.

I should also note that I am talking about scientific "proof". I
would certainly agree that it seems unlikely that all the different
physical parameters necessary for intelligent life just happened to
end up at the right values in this universe. It is thus not
unreasonable to suppose that this reflects intelligent agency, but I
don't think it can be appealed to as a scientific conclusion or as
proving anything, rather than suggesting plausibility.

> For example "survival of the fittest" isn't clear-cut with probability 1.
> Better adapted species are more likely to reproduce/ propagate genes etc.
> But in some universes the arguably less fit will still outnumber the more
> fit. That way highly implausible evolutionary sequences become possible.

Actually, the probability of absolutely fittest permanently surviving
is near zero. Unless a particular feature is either essential to or
completely prevents surviving and reproducing, the odds of its
establishment in a population are a probabilistic function of the
population size, the frequency of the feature in the population, and
its effect on survival. Because DNA copying is imperfect, minor
fluctuations that theoretically increase or decrease the fitness by a
miniscule amount are happening all the time. Also, most traits
involve tradeoffs between advantages and disadvantages, such that
extreme selection for one feature often yields problems in other areas
(think of artificial selection and the problems of, e.g., many
purebred pets or grocery tomatoes selected for durability rather than
flavor or roses selected for color rather than aroma). Again, some
features would convey evolutionary fitness advantages only in unusual
circumstances. Numerous situations exist in which rapid running would
convey an advantage, yet track stars show no sign of taking over the
human race. Thus, "fittest" is a rather complex concept. In
addition, the environment rarely holds still enough for a particular
unchanging form to continue to be highly fit-even in relatively
constant physical environments, your competitors, predators, prey,
etc. have an inconvenient habit of evolving. Survival of the fit
enough is a much more accurate description.

-- 
Dr. David Campbell
425 Scientific Collections
University of Alabama
"I think of my happy condition, surrounded by acres of clams"
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Received on Wed Aug 15 14:35:18 2007

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