Re: [asa] Multi-worlds, parallel histories, and theology

From: David Campbell <pleuronaia@gmail.com>
Date: Thu Mar 27 2008 - 13:46:29 EDT

The quantum many-worlds model suggests that each observation of a set
of superimposed states leads to a split in unverses, one in which one
outcome is observed and one in which the other is observed.

This is popularly taken to mean that all possible sets of events
occur. However, it is far from evident that merely a few quantum
changes would produce a universe in which, e.g., someone was
recognizable as a version of me but making some significantly
different decision. Perhaps it could, but we certainly don't know
that. As far as we are concerned, many quantum events make no
difference. Whether human decisions can fall under the category of
quantum events is far from clear. Another problem is that
"imaginable" and "possible" are not the same, especially if one takes
into account God's role in determining what is actually possible.

Also, all universes generated in this scenario obey the same
fundamental laws, so this in no way counters fine-tuning type ID
arguments.

In scenarios such as some inspired by strong theory, the multiple
universes are thought to possess a wide range of physical laws, making
more room for a response to fine-tuning arguments. However, such
models cannot provide a complete response to fine-tuning claims,
because we have no way to determine precisely what the the probability
distribution of the different physical parameters are. An infinite
number of universes with constant X distributed throughout the range
of 0 to 1 won't do any good if constant X needs to be 2 for life to
exist. On the other hand, this equally affects the claim of
fine-tuning arguments to be scientific. To assess fine-tuning claims
scientifically, we need either a sample of known undesigned and
designed universes for comparison or else appropriate information
about the purposes and methods that a designer would have.

Fine-tuning claims could be legitimately used as an argument of
plausibility, but they are not scientifically testable and are
vulnerable to the risk of someone eventually finding a physical reason
why certain parameters had to fall into a particular range.

As to theological worries, although speculation is interesting and
potentially insightful, simple confidence that God can sort things out
no matter what the structure of the universe(s) is probably the most
practical approach.

-- 
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 Thu Mar 27 13:48:12 2008

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