Re: [asa] Multiverse and ID

From: Jim Armstrong <>
Date: Sat May 09 2009 - 11:32:54 EDT
You know, it's hard for me to swallow that a 10^(-1018) probability represents anything even vaguely "realistic". It basically says that we don't know enough to cough up a realistic estimate.  JimA  [Friend of ASA]

wayne wrote:
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  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,
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.


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