Re: [asa] (bubble generators outside of time?) Meyer on C-SPAN2

From: Schwarzwald <>
Date: Wed Sep 16 2009 - 18:08:44 EDT

Heya Ted,

Thanks for this more comprehensive outline - and I have to say, I'm much in
agreement. I'd add that if the definition of science is going to be reworked
to include speculation about entities whose observation/detection may well
be or certainly is impossible in principle, it certainly seems to open the
door to vastly more speculation than that of a multiverse. Or at least,
suddenly quite a lot of ideas that were once little more than
philosophical/metaphysical speculation would apparently get redefined into
"science" on the spot - at least if all parties are consistent.

Oddly enough, for me, the idea of God creating more than one universe does
not seem difficult to justify. Indeed, I think in another time and culture
any talk of a multiverse would be seen as advancing the case for a Creator -
I wonder if this isn't exactly the case in India, come to think of it. So
I'm not saying here that the multiverse should not be considered; but we
should take care to think through just what domain such consideration should
fall under.

But there's one point I'd like to stress. Whether talk of multiverses is
considered metaphysics or science, I think this much is true: We are talking
about the supernatural. (As I write this, I decided to google and see if
anyone else has come to this conclusion - it looks like Keith Ward may be
advancing similar, and I'm watching the video now.) The very idea of there
being some thing or being 'creating'/'giving rise to' our universe, some
things existing outside of "our" time, etc.. seem to make this conclusion
either unavoidable, or run risk of making the distinction (and along with
it, nature) useless. I get the feeling that this term is politely ignored
for the sake of keeping such conversations civil, in part because
"supernatural" amounts to a dirty word particularly among the relevant
parties (scientists). I think this is misguided. In fact, I can hardly think
of a better way to drive home the point of just what is at stake in the
metaphysical/scientific distinction than to call a duck a duck and a rabbit
a rabbit. So to speak.

On Wed, Sep 16, 2009 at 12:23 PM, Ted Davis <> wrote:

> >>> "Dehler, Bernie" <> 9/16/2009 11:30 AM >>>
> writes:
> In the "Crisis of Faith DVD" (from the ASA conference) it was mentioned how
> some LHC experiments may shed light on the multiverse theory, so it is not
> 100% purely speculative... so it isn't a religious belief only.
> ...Bernie
> Ted replies:
> You are correct, Bernie, the "Crisis of Faith" DVD presents the multiverse
> somewhat favorably -- certainly more favorably (as science) than I would
> myself. I'm with cosmologist George Ellis, one of the leading experts on
> this: multiverse is metaphysics, not science, mainly b/c there is just no
> way, not even in principle, to know if something like the multiverse is
> physically real: we will never be able to interact with it. Now, when Ellis
> presents this as metaphysics, he isn't saying "gee, this is nothing but
> metaphysics, and we ought therefore to dismiss it." Many scientists in my
> experience take a pretty low view of metaphysics, but Ellis isn't one of
> them. Ellis believes that the Christian view of a universe (not multiverse)
> specially created by God to have the anthropic properties that its has, is
> also a metaphysical view; he's right. He argues (I won't go into this here)
> that it's better metaphysics, and I agree with him. He does not argue that
> it's better science!
> , but (again) he doesn't take the view that a number of the new atheists
> seem to take. He doesn't, that is, argue that the multiverse is science,
> however speculative it may be, and that divine creation is not science. He
> argues rather that the multiverse is metaphysics.
> If memory serves me correctly (I hope it does), he develops this in an
> essay, " Multiverses : description, uniqueness and testing," in the book,
> Universe or multiverse? edited by Bernard Carr.
> It's also true that certain observations might potentially add credibility
> to the multiverse -- but not by directly observing it, only rather
> indirectly. George Murphy or someone else with expertise in astrophysics
> can explain this much more fully than I can, so I'll pass on giving
> specifics. Those observations, if I have it right, will pretty strongly
> support the hypothesis of inflation. In turn, if inflation is true, the
> multiverse seems more likely, even though it's still no more capable of
> being observed than it was beforehand. The danger in this type of approach,
> IMO, is that is bears remarkable similarity to the idea of the liminiferous
> ether, the same idea that we no longer teach students b/c it can't be
> detected (the irony is deafening at this point). Many observation through
> out the 19th century showed that light "is" a "wave," and as everyone knows
> waves require a medium through which to move. (Oh, you mean we don't teach
> that anymore? If not, it's b/c we ha!
> ve short historical memories--and b/c we've learned that e/m waves don't
> have a medium. Again, an irony.) Thus, the ether must exist. Furthermore,
> it has to have certain specific properties in order to account for the
> specific properties of the waves that move through it. Unfortunately,
> however, every attempt to detect the actual existence of this ether, from
> exquisitely careful studies of the earth's motion through it, failed. At
> least the ether had the dignity of being observable/detectable, in
> principle. In my mind, that makes the ether more scientific than the
> multiverse, even if (as we now think) it doesn't actually exist.
> Ted
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Received on Wed Sep 16 18:09:43 2009

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