[asa] Re: Multiverse and ID

From: Nucacids <nucacids@wowway.com>
Date: Fri May 08 2009 - 12:09:33 EDT

When I first posted this on TT a couple of years ago, David Heddle provided
some rather outstanding commentary. He wrote:

"First of all this is a great post–both Koonin's paper and Bapteste's review
are fascinating to the point of being surrealistic.
Bapteste criticizes Koonin for opening the door to IDists. He is wrong and
he is right. He is wrong in that "opening the way for ID" could ever be a
legitimate criticism. Unfalsifiability is a legitimate criticism, but the
potential for (as he sees it) strange bedfellows is not. He is right in that
it opens the door. Susskind invoking multiple universes to explain fine
tuning adds credibility to the contention that fine tuning is a real
problem. One that I can explain with (untestable) design as easily as
Susskind can explain with the (untestable) multiverse. A biologist invoking
the multiverse to explain the origin of life certainly is making a tacit
admission that if the multiverse is a myth, then there is no solid hope for
a natural explanation.

Bapteste, however, should criticize Koonin on the basis that he has embraced
an untestable hypothesis (the multiverse) not that he has potentially aided
and abetted the IDists. Yet Bapteste never once makes the legitimate
criticism, he makes only the illegitimate one. The smell of politics is in
the air: better to raise the specter of ID than to offend the multiverse
cosmologists. Either that, or Bapteste lacks a high-schooler's understanding
of the difference between weak anthropic arguments and design arguments.
Koonin rightly points out that weak anthropic arguments as he used them are
not teleological"”instead they are an (equally unscientific) alternative.

Very, very badly done, Dr. Bapteste: go back to The Scientific Method 101.

Finally, these leaves me with the same mixed feelings as the physics
implications. Invoking multiverses is good for design, yet it also means
that the search for an ultimate theory is useless. Likewise biologists
making anthropic arguments about the OOL is good for design–but it implies
that OOL research is, ultimately, a fool's errand."

----- Original Message -----
From: "Ted Davis" <TDavis@messiah.edu>
To: <asa@lists.calvin.edu>; "Nucacids" <nucacids@wowway.com>
Sent: Friday, May 08, 2009 11:16 AM
Subject: Multiverse and ID

This is great stuff for a new thread, Mike. As one of the triune
moderators, I am intervening with a quasi-trinitarian omnipotence to change
the title, in order to convey more accurately what this one is about. List
members are asked to keep this heading for future posts related to Monton's
comments and Koonin's "abracadabra" "model" for the origin of life.

At least this member of the relevant trinity thinks this stuff is equivalent
to the kind of "magic" that Polkinghorne says that God doesn't get involved
in. As I like to say sometimes, once you invoke infinity all bets are off:
this is truly a multiverse of the gaps. I wish I'd been asked to be one of
the reviewers for this "science." At least now the resurrection becomes no
longer impossible scientifically, does it? Somehow I sense that Dawkins
would figure out a way to mis-use the anthropic principle to keep divine
action from getting too close for his comfort, even if apparently it means
to him that *anything* can happen, no matter how improbable it really is.
There just has to be universe, somewhere, where Frodo keeps his finger and
another one where Peter Pan really can fly; but somehow the anthropic
principle would just have to rule out the existence of a universe in which
Dawkins believed in God...

This type of *$%^ is the best argument I have seen for considering joining
the ID movement. Certainly it supports ID arguments about the arbitrariness
of ruling out "non-natural" causes, even when those causes have some of the
attributes usually associated with the "intelligent designer". The
multiverse is infinite in space and time (if you don't agree, look at how
many times Koonin uses that word), the ultimate ground of being, the source
of every good and perfect gift (namely, worlds that produce life
"intelligent" enough to believe anything is possible), the giver of life,
and our only hope--which is of course that we have no hope.

I've often told students that Aristotle's heaven had some of the attributes
of divinity--perfection and eternity--which strike me as an implicit
commentary on Greek polytheism. Christian Aristotelians rightly removed the
latter and eventually telescopic observations put the former to rest.
Penzias & Wilson added the observations to put the former into serious
question for those who did not have confidence in revelation, but now it
seems that eternity is back on the menu. Of course, this time, it won't be
subject to observational refutation--but only b/c, when it comes to other
universes with which we will never in principle have any contact, nothing is
subject to observational refutation. I am reminded of what Galileo's
interlocutor Salviati, said to the Aristotelian Simplicio in his famous book
about the Copernican system, “our discourses must relate to the sensible
world and not to one on paper.” Now that Simplicio has been reborn, in the
person of Mr. Koonin, can we bring back Salviati on behalf of Galileo?

If anyone hears about pigs taking flight, somewhere, please do send me the
reports. I'll submit them to Biology Direct for possible publication.

Ted

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