Re: [asa] Multiverse and ID

From: Dave Wallace <>
Date: Sat May 09 2009 - 12:03:13 EDT

Iain Strachan wrote:
> I remember we discussed this quite a bit on the list when Lawrence
> first posted the link to Koonin's paper, with the astronomical
> 10^(-1018) probability calculation.
> The problem I have with Koonin's approach is the same as the problem I
> have with ID.
> The difficulty is that it isn't really an explanation. To invoke
> something (be it Multiverse, or an Intelligent Designer) that can
> explain ANYTHING is no explanation at all. It is as if I had a data
> set of, say 100 measurements and stated that given a sufficiently
> complex mathematical function y(x) I can produce an exact fit to my
> dataset. But this applies even if the data is just random noise.
And the resulting polynomial is close to useless for interpolation or
> But, in the same way, it seems to me the statement "you abandon too
> soon the quest", falls foul of the same problem. Essentially we are
> saying that there MUST be a rational scientific explanation; one we
> haven't discovered yet, that will yield a much higher probability of
> life arising than Koonin's 10^(-1018). But this assertion is also an
> appeal to something ( which as yet we don't know), that will explain
> it. But an appeal to the unknown part of science is again an appeal
> to something that has the potential to explain anything, could we but
> find it. The problem is that we put no limit on the explanatory power
> of to-be-discovered science.
Good point. I have often thought that ID should simply point out areas
where they think scientific problems exist but reserve the inference to
design as part of their world view, philosophy...

> So, which ever stance you take, be it materialist, ID-ist, or
> Multiverse-ist, you are taking a position that is philosophical in
> motivation, and not in itself scientific. However, if you want to do
> SCIENCE, then the only thing you may do is search for scientific
> explanations, not invoking ID, or even Multiverse theories. For all I
> know, the Multiverse/Many worlds QM theory may well be true, but it is
> still a poor explanation of why we're here - although it CAN explain
> it (or anything else like a huge teapot appearing in the Milky Way),
> it still makes sense to look for a scientific (ie limited)
> explanation. Limit your maths function to fit 100 points to a small
> subset of simple functions.
For some reason I keep forgetting this idea although I think it a very
good thought. Maybe old age (68).

Dave W (ASA member)

To unsubscribe, send a message to with
"unsubscribe asa" (no quotes) as the body of the message.
Received on Sat May 9 12:03:43 2009

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.8 : Sat May 09 2009 - 12:03:43 EDT