Re: [asa] Multiverse and ID

From: Bill Powers <>
Date: Sat May 09 2009 - 10:21:20 EDT

What Koonin is doing is just what ID attempts. He, at least in
principle, is attempting to "rationally" assess when a paradigm has
failed, needs to be abandoned, or a mark of when more fruitful research
ought to be sought.

All the commentators responded exactly as those who respond to ID
respond: the time is not yet, you abandon too soon the quest.

By which I am reminded of Kuhn's Planckian dictum: new theories are
adopted only after the older generation have passed away. There is,
Kuhn maintains, never a "perfect" reason to abandon an older paradigm,
and always a good reason to maintain it.

Can you comment on how the anthropic principle can be used in a scientific
theory. To me it simply affirms that we should not be surprised. If I
take this in a Bayesian sense, that would seemingly entail that it can
play no distinctive amongst alternative theories.


On Sat, 9 May 2009, dawson wayne

> Ted
> Perhaps there is some room to gloat, but I would urge caution. We know very
> little about the world we live in.
> I was glad to see that Koonin admitted a 10^(-1018) probability. It did
> seem like more realistic odds and it was one of the very rare signs of a
> little frank honesty I have seen in years. I couldn't help but feel some
> suspicion when the multiverse argument popped up in the paper. It does read
> funny and is slightly jarring. But all that said, let's not forget the we
> do not __know__ the truth. Science is always tentative. Though I admit I
> have felt some of this was hokum, we cannot rule out the possibility that
> there really is some hard wiring in the fabric of the universe that does
> allow some sort of anthropic principle to prevail regardless. Maybe the
> weak anthropic principle is a fundamental parameter (or weight) a theorist
> could play around with. Steven Weinberg has used the anthropic principle in
> arguments in string theory. Maybe he is right. In fact, the anthropic
> principle has a teleology in this respect because it is selecting from an
> infinite set. I'm not defending the use, and we religious folk have
> often been brutally criticized for using it, but Weinberg is a good
> scientist (though regrettably an atheist), so it isn't like he hasn't
> thought seriously about it before.
> At any rate, let's not forget that Paul says, "but we preach Christ
> crucified, a stumbling block for the Jews and foolishness to the
> gentiles". Our faith is made perfect in weakness. He does argue that God's
> invisible handiwork is "plain to see", but let's not be too quick to think
> we know what "plain to see" means. Whatever it is, it is far deeper than we
> imagine. Paul was there around the height of the ancient world. I think
> that should tell us what we need to keep our focus on preaching on.
> by Grace we proceed,
> Wayne
> 2009/5/9 Ted Davis <>
>> 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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Received on Sat May 9 10:22:07 2009

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