Re: [asa] Re: Multiverse and ID

From: Lawrence Johnston <>
Date: Fri May 08 2009 - 14:04:03 EDT

Hi - I don't often get involved with these posts, but this one has me

I read Koonin's article when it came out


and it immediately gave me the impression that Koonin thought it was
high time that somebody should make a plausible calculation of the
probability for life to have started on Earth by purely naturalistic
process, in a mere 15 billion years of the Universe.

But then when he got ready to publish his result (Probability is ten to
the minus 1018) he realized how unacceptable this actual calculation
would be to academics of a Naturalistic bent, possibly even including
himself, so he needed to cover himself with an escape route, which he
did by appealing to the Multiverse idea which was already popular as an
escape from the Anthropic Principle. It is very noticeable that he
belittles his calculation, and sends it to an appendix, while devoting
most of his publication to the escape apologetics.
I gather that he has a tenured job at NIH, which is needed when doing
such a courageous thing.

Blessings to all,

Larry Johnston


Lawrence H. Johnston home: 917 E. 8th st.

professor of physics, emeritus Moscow, Id 83843

University of Idaho (208) 882-2765

Fellow of the American Physical Society Website:



Nucacids wrote:
> 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."

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Received on Fri May 8 14:04:12 2009

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