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

From: D. F. Siemens, Jr. <dfsiemensjr@juno.com>
Date: Thu Dec 04 2008 - 15:48:04 EST

Moorad,
I think the key to the answer given is the one word, "physicist." It
strikes me that process theology has a plausible explanation for a world
fit for life, but it includes more than the physical. But then a
supernatural explanation also does. I have a feeling that something in
line with Spinoza's monism could also be worked out. I recall that
someone years ago claimed that there were four consistent metaphysical
systems: materialism, which could perhaps be forced to fit the
multisystem, though battling with Occam; Platonism/Aristotelianism;
Absolute Idealism; Pragmatism. I know that Dawkins doesn't know much
about philosophy, but I'm not sure about Weinberg.
Dave (ASA)

On Thu, 4 Dec 2008 11:44:48 -0500 "Alexanian, Moorad"
<alexanian@uncw.edu> writes:
>
http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20026852.500-why-its-not-as-simple-
as-god-vs-the-multiverse.html
>
<http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20026852.500-why-its-not-as-simple
-as-god-vs-the-multiverse.html>
>
>
>
>
> Why it's not as simple as God vs the multiverse
>
>
>
> 04 December 2008 by Amanda Gefter
>
>
>
> WHAT would you rather believe in, God or the multiverse? It sounds
> like an instance of cosmic apples and oranges, but increasingly we
> are being told it's a choice we must make. Take the dialogue earlier
> this year between Richard Dawkins and physicist Steven Weinberg in
> Austin, Texas. Discussing the fact that the universe appears
> fine-tuned for our existence, Weinberg told Dawkins: "If you
> discovered a really impressive fine-tuning... I think you'd really
> be left with only two explanations: a benevolent designer or a
> multiverse."
>
>
>
> Weinberg went on to clarify that invoking a benevolent designer does
> not count as a genuine explanation, but I was intrigued by his
> either/or scenario. Is that really our only choice? Supernatural
> creator or parallel worlds?
>
>
>
> It is according to an article in this month's Discover magazine.
> "Short of invoking a benevolent creator, many physicists see only
> one possible explanation," writes journalist Tim Folger. "Our
> universe may be but one of perhaps infinitely many universes in an
> inconceivably vast multiverse." Folger quotes cosmologist Bernard
> Carr: "If you don't want God, you'd better have a multiverse."
>
>
>
> There are plenty of reasons to take the multiverse seriously. Three
> key theories - quantum mechanics, cosmic inflation and string theory
> - all converge on the idea. But the reason physicists talk about the
> multiverse as an alternative to God is because it helps explain why
> the universe is so bio-friendly. From the strength of gravity to the
> mass of a proton, it's as if the universe were designed just for us.
> If, however, there are an infinite number of universes - with
> physical constants that vary from one to the next - our cosy
> neighbourhood isn't only possible, it's inevitable.
>
>
>
> But to suggest that if this theory doesn't pan out our only other
> option is a supernatural one is to abandon science itself. Not only
> is it an unfounded leap of logic, it suggests intelligent design
> offers as valid an explanation as a cosmological theory does, and
> lends credence to creationists' mistaken claim that the multiverse
> was invented to serve as science's get-out-of-God-free card. Indeed,
> Folger's article was immediately referenced on creationist websites,
> including the Access Research Network, an intelligent-design hub,
> and Uncommon Descent, the blog of the Seattle-based Discovery
> Institute's William Dembski.
>
>
>
> To make matters worse, physicists are also dragging morality into
> the picture. In a recent show about the multiverse that aired on the
> History Channel, physicist Michio Kaku asked: "Why should I obey the
> law knowing that in some universe if I commit a crime I'm going to
> get away with it?" The ID community has already tried to draw lines
> from Darwin to the Holocaust in their attempt to paint rational
> people as Satan's minions. Are physicists really suggesting that the
> multiverse gives us licence to commit evil? It's an absurd notion,
> which moral philosophers have already killed off in other guises.
>
>
>
> Pitting the multiverse against religion presents a false dichotomy.
> Science never boils down to a choice between two alternative
> explanations. It is always plausible that both are wrong and a third
> or fourth or fifth will turn out to be correct.
>
>
>
> Science never boils down to a straight choice between two
> explanations
>
> What might a third option look like here? Physicist John Wheeler
> once offered a suggestion: maybe we should approach cosmic
> fine-tuning not as a problem but as a clue. Perhaps it is evidence
> that we somehow endow the universe with certain features by the mere
> act of observation. It's an idea that Stephen Hawking has been
> thinking about, too. Hawking advocates what he calls top-down
> cosmology, in which observers are creating the universe and its
> entire history right now. If we in some sense create the universe,
> it is not surprising that the universe is well suited to us.
>
>
>
> That's speculative, but at least it's science.
>
>
>
> Amanda Gefter is an editor for the Opinion section of New Scientist.
> She studied the philosophy of physics at the London School of
> Economics and writes about cosmology
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
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>
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Received on Thu Dec 4 16:45:09 2008

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