Re: [asa] Why it's not as simple as God vs the multiverse

From: Murray Hogg <>
Date: Thu Dec 04 2008 - 16:04:33 EST

Hi David,

In respects of BOTH #2 and #4 note that these are what the atheist allows or asserts and not what the theist argues. They are, basically, the "worst case" assumptions that one might bring to the argument.

In actual fact the atheist probably agrees with you (and I) that given fine-tuning the existence of God is probable - which is why atheists don't like the idea of fine-tuning and make attempts to evade the issue through the multiverse hypothesis. But note;

In respects of #2 - an author such as Dawkins (for example) is not attempting to explain fine tuning per se, but rather the evolution of life in a fine-tuned universe (FTU).

One thing he has to acknowledge in the first instance is that the evolution of life even in a FTU is not unity but is vanishingly small.

His introduction of the multiverse theory, then, is intended NOT to suggest that FTU's are unlikely, but that EVOLUTION is a near certainty given that FTUs are common.

Here "common" doesn't mean "relatively common" i.e. doesn't mean that there are as many FTUs as non-FTUs, it only means a sufficient number of FTU's that evolution is inevitable (or nearly so) in one of them.

But it's one of the varagies of transfinite mathematics (i.e. mathematics with non- or "trans" finite numbers) that if a set has an infinite number of members, AND those members are of more than one type, AND the ratio of the two types stand in some discernible ratio, THEN there are actually an infinite number of each.

Or to put it another way;

Let X be a very, very large number (say 10^10^10^10 - or even larger, it makes no difference)

And let the ratio of FTUs to non-FTUs be 1:X

Now let Y be any finite number however large.

Then for Y FTUs there will be Y * X non-FTUs and hence (Y + X*Y) total universes.

BUT for any finite Y the value of (Y + X*Y) is finite.

BUT we are positing an infinite number of universes, therefore (Y + X*Y) is infinite.

Therefore Y cannot be finite and there is an infinite number of FTUs.

Which may seem all very confusing, but an infinite number of FTUs is PRECISELY what Dawkins is banking on in order to make the probability of evolution unity. In particular, it means the probability of US evolving, and hence being able to observe the FTU in which we happened to evolve, is unity.

The only other possibility is that there is a finite number of FTUs amongst an infinite number of non-FTUs, therefore by simple calculation the probability of an FTU is zero - but as we observe an FTU in existence this cannot be the case.

In all of this I realize that some people may be concerned ONLY with the existence of FTUs and not with the existence of humans, but it really makes little difference. As soon as one posits an infinite number of universes, then any subset of that infinity (where the size is defined by ratio to the other sets) is also infinite.

What's really mind-blowing, by the way, is the idea that it follows from the above that there are an infinite number of universes IDENTICAL to this one.


David Opderbeck wrote:
> I don't understand propositions #2 and #4.
> On #2, I thought the idea is that there may be only one fine-tuned
> universe, not an infinity of them; and that the infinity of possible
> universes is what makes the highly improbable existence of a fine-tuned
> universe possible.
> On #4, I thought the probability that God exists in a universe like ours
> -- one that is fine tuned -- is relatively high, not vanishingly small.
> Has anyone raised an argument like this about the multiverse and fine
> tuning:
> 1. A "universe" is a system of matter and energy.
> 2. "Life" is matter and energy in the form of a living thing.
> 3. The multiverse instantiates all possible universes.
> 4. Because of the multiverse, all possible universes with all possible
> boundary conditions with respect to matter and energy exist.
> 5. Because of the multiverse, all possible forms of life requiring for
> their existence any possible boundary conditions with respect to matter
> and energy exist.
> 6. The boundary conditions for each universe within the multiverse,
> including ours, are finely tuned to support the different forms of life
> existing in each universe.
> 7. An infinity of finely tuned universes requires an infinite designer.
> David W. Opderbeck
> Associate Professor of Law
> Seton Hall University Law School
> Gibbons Institute of Law, Science & Technology
> On Thu, Dec 4, 2008 at 1:05 PM, Murray Hogg <
> <>> wrote:
> Hi all,
> The below is a pretty rough presentation of Alvin Plantinga's
> argument for the existence of God given a multiverse. It essentially
> takes the argument "evolution is very unlikely BUT given an infinite
> number of universes..." sort of argument and applies to to the idea
> that God's existence if very unlikely (BUT given an infinite number
> of universes...!). It's not a "knock down" argument - but it does
> evidence that it is indeed NOT as simple as "God vs the multiverse".
> The atheist has one of two choices (note that 1. is implicitly
> accepted by any person who seeks to avoid it by arguing for 2.);
> 1. There is one fine-tuned universe in which God probably exists
> OR
> 2. There are an infinity of universes in which fine-tuning exists
> therefore evolution in some universe is inevitable.
> HOWEVER one can then construct the following argument;
> On the Christian view of God;
> 3. If God exists in some universe like ours, he exists in every
> universe like ours
> What is conceded by the atheist;
> 4. The probability of God's existence in any universe like ours is
> vanishingly small
> 5. There are an infinite number of universes like ours
> But a vanishingly small probability tends to unity over an infinite
> number of instances, therefore from 4 and 5.
> 6. God exists in some universe like ours.
> Therefore, from 3;
> 7. God exists in every universe like ours.
> Therefore,
> 8. God exists in our universe.
> The bottom line: Atheists would be better accepting fine tuning and
> seeing it as simply "one of those things" rather than trying to
> argue that the probabilistic difficulties of evolution are overcome
> by positing a multiverse.
> Blessings,
> Murray
> Jack wrote:
> My concern about such a dichotomy isnt so much that there could
> be a third alternative, but that it is assumed that the two
> possibilites given are mutually exclusive. If the multiverse is
> true, does that prove that God does not exist?
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Received on Thu Dec 4 16:05:08 2008

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