RE: [asa] Multiverse math

From: Dehler, Bernie <>
Date: Tue Sep 01 2009 - 18:07:54 EDT

"3) Since it is possible that these parameters can take on other values, they will."

Maybe a different way to state it is like this:

3. Since these values fall within a small range, the actual numbers aren't special but appear to be randomly selected.

For example, let's say a certain constant is 1.5667 and it must be between 1.5000 and 1.6000 for existence to be viable. Amazing, it is 1.5667! Yes, but it could have been 1.5571 or 1.5001, etc. The actual number is in the life-giving range, but other than that, it is special in no way. I think that makes a compelling argument.


-----Original Message-----

From: [] On Behalf Of wjp

Sent: Saturday, August 29, 2009 10:14 AM


Subject: [asa] Multiverse

Importance: Low

In the latest edition of PSCF, Robert Mann in

his article on the Puzzle of Existence, speaks of the

possibility of a multiverse.

He says, "Biophillic selection and cosmic fine-tuning

are coming to be regarded as indirect evidence that we

live in such a multiverse."

He does not describe in any detail the reasoning or

intuition that supports this conclusion.

So I attempt to do so crudely here in an attempt to

lay bare the force of the conclusion.

1) Our universe can be characterized by a finite set of

independent parameters.

2) If any of these parameters are altered, a vastly different

universe exists.

3) Since it is possible that these parameters can take on

other values, they will.

4) Therefore, there are multiverses (either in the past, present,

or future, if such temporal indices make any sense at all)

It seems to me that there are reasons to be suspicious about

all of these premises. For example, I have no reason to believe

that the parameters are independent. How would I know if by

changing the mass of a neutron, I would also change the speed of

light, or that perhaps all masses would scale accordingly.

However, I will concentrate my attention on the third.

Notice that I have wholly neglected any mention of an anthropic

principle. I think it irrelevant to the argument. All the

anthropic principle suggests is that there are some universes where

people are aware of the apparent "fine tuning" of their universe.

Mann spends considerable time speaking of possibility, but he never

clearly defines it. The question begins to sound like the endless

debates over the ontological status of possible worlds. We must

even begin to wonder what a "world" is.

It seems that we must first get straight what kind of possibility

we are speaking of. At least two kinds come immediately to mind:

conceptual possibility and physical possibility.

So in (3) if we are speaking of conceptual possibility, we mean that we

know of no logical reason that universes cannot logically take on

different parametric values, which is only to say that we can conceive

of different universes. We didn't need science or universal parameters

to argue that. I would say that it is certain that we can.

If so, then the antecedent of (3) is true, but does the consequent follow

from that. No. Since we have suddenly shifted from conceptual reality

to physical reality.

The only way that (3) can be true is if you adopt some form of Idealism

or Platonism. That Mann, or certainly others, have adopted such a

metaphysical stance is indicated by Mann's introduction:

"We now have enough knowledge about our universe, at both macroscopic

and microscopic scales, to ask whether it as typical specimen out of all

possible kinds of universes one might imagine. What has emerged from the

scientific body of knowledge is that the answer appears to be negative: our

universe is atypical in a number of respects that are connected in

unexpected and perhaps profound ways with our own existence."

It seems that he too easily proceeds from what we can imagine to what is,

from what is conceptually possible to what is physically possible.

I don't believe we have any idea of what is physically necessary, and

we certainly have no idea of what is physically possible in worlds other

than our own.

I will not comment on what appear to me to rather questionable theological

conclusions regarding the impact of a multiverse, but I do wonder whether

you all have a clearer understanding of the "compulsion" to a multiverse

(other than perhaps escaping the force of the anthropic principle).



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Received on Tue Sep 1 18:08:57 2009

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