Uncommon Descent Serving The Intelligent Design Community

Peter Woit warns Michael Shermer not to discredit atheism over multiverse


In “Why is there something rather than nothing”(e-Skeptic July 11, 2012), Michael Shermer offers a convenient roundup of twelve current cosmology theories, which attracted the attention of Peter “Not Even Wrong Woit, a mathematician skeptical of speculative (crackpot) cosmology.

He wrote Shermer, and as Shermer explains it,

After a column I wrote in Scientific American on this topic (“Much Ado About Nothing,” May, 2012), I received an email from the Columbia University theoretical physicist Peter Woit cautioning me not to put too much emphasis on any one of these hypotheses/answers to the question of why there is something rather than nothing, noting that even these proposed tests probably themselves lack validity, if they could ever be conducted in reality. He explained that his skepticism came not out of religious conviction: “I’m as much of an atheist as anyone, and I’m really disturbed to see arguments being made that are going to end up discrediting skepticism and atheism.” He then posted a blog commentary on my Scientific American column, noting that my “authority here is the Hawking/Mlodinow popular book, but he’s also convinced that WMAP and LIGO are somehow going to provide evidence for multiverses, something that even the most far-out theorists in this field aren’t claiming.” Regarding my comment that perhaps gravity “leaks” out to other universes Woit responds: “Nobody seems to have told Shermer that this is not an idea taken seriously by a significant number of theorists, or that LHC data has shot down the hopes of the one or two such theorists.”

Shermer, of course, defends his work, citing cosmologists who take the multiverse seriously, as well as skeptics other than Woit, observing “it is also okay to say “I don’t know” and keep searching.” That’s good to know.

Of course, in an infinite number of other universes we do know, and in some of them we do know that there are no other universes … 😉

Note: Shermer mentions that we blogged on Woit’s post here (April 27, 2012), but mistakenly attributes the post to Bill Dembski. It was a UD News post written by Denyse O’Leary.

Hat tip: Pos-Darwinista

Follow UD News at Twitter!


Leave a Reply