RE: Anything goes?

Stephen Jones (sejones@ibm.net)
Sat, 20 Jun 1998 20:03:10 +0800

John

On Thu, 11 Jun 1998 20:44:54 -0500, John E. Rylander wrote:

JR>Thanks for the article, Steve. Interesting.

That's OK. Good to have something that maybe we can all agree on!

JR>I'm more of a philosopher than a physicist (by some margin, in
>fact :^> ), so I can only point out -one- mistake he makes, in his
>numerical example:

Good. I had trouble following it. I am neither a "philosopher" nor "a
physicist"!

>SJ> Another difficulty with the ultimate ensemble theory is that it
>>appears very wasteful. However, Tegmark has an extraordinary
>>argument with which to counter his critics. He says there is
>>actually less information in the multiverse than in an individual
>>universe...Tegmark gives the example of the numbers between 0
>>and 1. A useful definition of something's complexity is the
>>length of a computer program needed to generate it. Imagine
>>trying to generate a single number between 0 and 1, specified
>>by an infinite number of decimal places. Expressing it would take
>>an infinitely long computer program. But to generate all numbers
>> between 0 and 1, all you would have to do is start at 0, step
>>through 01, 02 and so on, then 001, 011, 021 and so on--an
>>easy program to write. In other words, creating all possibilities is
>>much simpler than creating one very specific one..

JR>But of course the algorithm he describes doesn't come even
>remotely close to listing all the numbers there are, which task is per
>se impossible even with an infinitely long list. E.g., where on the list
>would "1/3" be spelled out? Answer: using his algorithm, it would
>not appear on the list. And so on, for uncountably many numbers
>between zero and one: no number with infinitely many digits,
>leaving out infinitely many rationals, and uncountably infinitely many
>irrationals (i.e., all of them).

I don't even understand what the connection is between the ensemble
theory appearing very wasteful and there being less information in
the multiverse than in an individual universe.

But there seems to be a logical flaw in Tegmark's claim for multiple
universes but only one algorithm. In an infinite ensemble of universes,
wouldn't Tegmark's algorithm be run in each?

Also, I have read somewhere that the infinite universe answer to the
fine-tuning of the universe would defeat all science, because it would
destroy cause-and-effect. In a truly infinite set of universes,
everything would happen an infinite number of times. Thus any effect
following a cause could just be because we happened to live in that
universe where that effect just happened to follow that cause.

JR>If this is really the example he gives, I suspect his theories are
>much more profound to those without philosophical training than
>those with. Seems pretty sloppy for one trying to start a revolution.

Indeed. But then if there is not an infinite number of universes, then
the materialist has no other way of explaining the design of this one.

JR>And even if his example did work, his conclusion wouldn't
follow.

Agreed. It just goes to show the failure of methodological naturalism
when it is applied to origins!

Steve

"Evolution is the greatest engine of atheism ever invented."
--- Dr. William Provine, Professor of History and Biology, Cornell University.
http://fp.bio.utk.edu/darwin/1998/slides_view/Slide_7.html

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