Re: [asa] Multiverse math

From: David Campbell <>
Date: Wed Sep 02 2009 - 12:42:23 EDT

> 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.

One fundamental problem of these sorts of arguments is that we have a
sample size of one non-randomly selected universe. We therefore have
no meaningful evidence as to what the expected distribution of random
values for the constant would be. For example, there could be an
infinite number of universes in which that constant ranged from -1 to
+1 and never hit anywhere between 1.5 and 1.6. This is a problem for
both fine-tuning and multiverse claims, because both assume knowing
whether the value we see here is unusual.

> In the latest edition of PSCF, Robert Mann in
> his article on the Puzzle of Existence, speaks of the
> possibility of a multiverse.

Note that he is arguing against a multiverse and so probably is not as
thorough in laying out the arguments for a multiverse as an advocate
would be.

> 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. <

I see this as a particular problem with regard to the popular claims
of implications of a multiverse. Certain interpretations of quantum
mechanics and of string theory suggest that multiple versions of the
universe exist. However, it is routinely claimed that this implies
that every fictional book is true somewhere, each of us has countless
duplicates that range from very very good to horrid, etc. This has
the implicit assumption that the differences between our world and the
imagined ones are merely a function of different quantum events or
different physical parameters. Even if that were true, there are also
an infinite number of conceivable universes in which I exist but am
not all that different, an infinite number of conceivable universes
where life does not exist...

Theologically, there's also the likelihood that God is making some
decisions regarding which universe(s) to create and what parameters
they may have.

Dr. David Campbell
425 Scientific Collections
University of Alabama
"I think of my happy condition, surrounded by acres of clams"
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Received on Wed Sep 2 12:43:18 2009

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