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

From: Murray Hogg <muzhogg@netspace.net.au>
Date: Thu Dec 04 2008 - 16:55:37 EST

Hi David,

The question of whether God exists "in" a universe is one of those really tricky issues which itself is pretty tricky to resolve. But one might simply restate #4 to be something like;

4a. In whatever relationship God stands in respects to one universe, he so stands in respects of them all.

This would mean, basically, that a resolution of God's relation to time and space for one universe would serve as a resolution in respects of ALL universes.

The question would then be just how compatible such a resolution would be with Christian theology. Obviously it would be compatible across every universe or not at all. And assuming a compatible resolution, then I think we need not give up ANY ground in respects of a Christian conception of God.

All that said, I do recognize that as originally worded #4 probably doesn't reflect an appropriate resolution of the question of God's relationship to the created order.

I hadn't previously considered the idea that posting multiverses simply pushes the issue one step back - which is a crude way of putting your argument, I think. One could take the argument various ways, but I think it right to ask whether positing multiverses does, indeed, evade the fundamental question of a designer.

Just a very partially formed thought: One could take something like Simon Conway-Morris' concept of convergence - the idea that the basic undergirding rules determine that the process will "come out right" - and apply it to the multiverse. One's claim would then be;

God creates a multiverse such that there is a probability of near unity that one such universe will be finely tuned and that within it intelligent life will evolve.

That, again, is a crude way of putting what I understand to be your point. And I'd say at first blush it works for me.

No time to kick it around further this morning, I'm afraid - got to go to the library and do a bit of post-grad research!

Blessings,
Murray.

David Opderbeck wrote:
> I think, like the fleeting feeling that one is in the presence of the
> numinous, that I have a grasp on the notion that any subset of an
> infinite set is also infinite. So I get Plantinga's #2 and then I guess
> I get #4. But as Merv noted, #4 assumes God exists "in" a universe.
> So, I understand that this is trying to beat the atheist at his own
> game, but then it does so by giving up too much ground on what we mean
> by "God," it seems to me.
>
> What about my infinite universes includes infinite forms of life
> includes infinite instances of fine tuning requires an infinite designer?
>
> I see how the multiverse can help with the low probability of life
> evolving even in a universe like ours that is finely tuned for
> carbon-based life on Earth. I'm not seeing how that elides the need for
> a designer who could fashion finely tuned universes at all. I suppose
> the response is, well the multiverse isn't fine-tuned. But is that
> statement meaningful if the "multiverse" is just a set of finely tuned
> universes? And do we know that the multiverse isn't finely tuned to
> "hold" finely tuned universes?
>
> David W. Opderbeck
> Associate Professor of Law
> Seton Hall University Law School
> Gibbons Institute of Law, Science & Technology
>
>
> On Thu, Dec 4, 2008 at 4:04 PM, Murray Hogg <muzhogg@netspace.net.au
> <mailto:muzhogg@netspace.net.au>> wrote:
>
> 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.
>
> Blessings,
> Murray
>
> 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
> <muzhogg@netspace.net.au <mailto:muzhogg@netspace.net.au>
> <mailto:muzhogg@netspace.net.au
> <mailto:muzhogg@netspace.net.au>>> 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 16:56:08 2008

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