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Jason Rosenhouse: Multiverse is a “done deal,” Occam’s razor doesn’t apply



Well, James Madison mathematician Rosenhouse backs off from his title a bit in the body of his article, but he makes clear that he is attracted to the idea.

Anyway, he says,

One of the more annoying tropes of this topic is the idea that Occam’s Razor militates against the multiverse. This seems entirely wrong to me. It is the people who claim there is only one universe who have some explaining to do. Multiverse proponents are simply saying that whatever created our universe, a quantum fluctuation or whatever, created other universes as well. Given that there is some sort of mechanism that created our universe, why is it parsimonious to assume that the mechanism only operated once?

Which raises a question: If their idea of origins is as unclear as “whatever created our universe,” what basis have they for assuming it happened more than once?

We know it happened once. That’s the only “done deal,” however it happened. Other universes are speculations based on hypotheses.

Prediction: Increasingly, logic will be seen as a covert form of theism.

See also: The Science Fictions series at your fingertips (cosmology) for why Occam’s Razor had to go.

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Whether or not Occam's Razor cuts against a multiverse depends on the reason a person is postulating a multiverse (and what explanation it is being compared to). Occam's Razor states that all things being equal, the more parsimonious explanation is the best. It is a statement of logic, why invoke two postulates when one will do and there is no evidence for the two over the one. If someone invokes a multiverse as an explanation for the seeming fine-tuning of the universe, then Occam's Razor will cut against such an explanation in comparison to intelligent design/first cause. Because one additional universe wouldn't be sufficient, the proponent would have to postulate many different universes with the likelihood of the explanation being correct dropping with each additional universe. If, however, the multiverse is invoked as a explanation for some observed aspects of quantum mechanics, and there is no alternate explanation supported by the evidence, then Occam's Razor would not enter the picture. conceptualinertia
Starbuck, Of related note to higher dimensions being 'invisible' to us as was demonstrated in the 'Flatland' video,,,
Dr. Quantum in Flatland – 3D in a 2D world – video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BWyTxCsIXE4
,,,it is interesting to note a nuance on the Shroud of Turin. Fairly recently 3-Dimensional holographic information was discovered on the 2-Dimensional surface of the Shroud of Turin:
Turin Shroud Enters 3D Age - Slide Show http://news.discovery.com/archaeology/turin-shrouds-enters-3d-age.html The Shroud of Turin The Holographic Experience http://shroud3d.com/ Shroud Of Turin - Photographic Negative - 3D Hologram - The Lamb - video http://www.metacafe.com/watch/5664213/
John 8:23 But he continued, "You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world.
Lol yeah invisible magic man is so much more believable
Compared to dirt-did-it magic? Yes, I would say so. Mapou
Lol yeah invisible magic man is so much more believable
Perhaps the following will make the unseen realm (i.e. the invisible realm) more believable for you. The reason why higher dimensions would be invisible to our 3-Dimensional sight is best explained by 'Flatland':
Dr. Quantum in Flatland - 3D in a 2D world – video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BWyTxCsIXE4
Starbuck, you may believe that we have no evidence of higher 'unseen' dimensions above this 3-D realm, but in that presupposition you would be wrong. In fact we have much evidence that this entire universe is comes from a 'unseen' higher dimension. One line of evidence is that both of the best equations for describing the world we currently live in are both based on higher dimensional mathematics. In fact, 'higher dimensional' mathematics had to be developed before Einstein could elucidate General Relativity, or even before Quantum Mechanics could be elucidated;
The Mathematics Of Higher Dimensionality – Gauss and Riemann – video http://www.metacafe.com/watch/6199520/ Flatland - 3D to 4D shift - Carl Sagan - video Excerpt from Notes: The state-space of quantum mechanics is an infinite-dimensional function space. Some physical theories are also by nature high-dimensional, such as the 4-dimensional general relativity. - per youtube The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics in the Natural Sciences - Eugene Wigner - 1960 Excerpt: We now have, in physics, two theories of great power and interest: the theory of quantum phenomena and the theory of relativity.,,, The two theories operate with different mathematical concepts: the four dimensional Riemann space and the infinite dimensional Hilbert space, http://www.dartmouth.edu/~matc/MathDrama/reading/Wigner.html
As to verifying that higher 'unseen' dimensions are real, please note, at the 3:22 minute mark of the following video, when the 3-Dimensional world ‘folds and collapses’ into a tunnel shape as a ‘hypothetical’ observer moves towards the ‘higher dimension’ of the speed of light, (Of note: This following video was made by two Australian University Physics Professors with a supercomputer.).
Approaching The Speed Of Light - Optical Effects of Special relativity– video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JQnHTKZBTI4
As well we have 'observational' evidence from Near Death Experiences of a higher 'unseen' dimension above this one. In fact, one of the common features of a deep Near death Experience is the experience of traveling through a tunnel to a higher dimension:
"I started to move toward the light. The way I moved, the physics, was completely different than it is here on Earth. It was something I had never felt before and never felt since. It was a whole different sensation of motion. I obviously wasn't walking or skipping or crawling. I was not floating. I was flowing. I was flowing toward the light. I was accelerating and I knew I was accelerating, but then again, I didn't really feel the acceleration. I just knew I was accelerating toward the light. Again, the physics was different - the physics of motion of time, space, travel. It was completely different in that tunnel, than it is here on Earth. I came out into the light and when I came out into the light, I realized that I was in heaven." Barbara Springer - Near Death Experience - The Tunnel - video https://vimeo.com/79072924 “I was in a body, and the only way that I can describe it was a body of energy, or of light. And this body had a form. It had a head, it had arms and it had legs. And it was like it was made out of light. And it was everything that was me. All of my memories, my consciousness, everything.”,,, “And then this vehicle formed itself around me. Vehicle is the only thing, or tube, or something, but it was a mode of transportation that’s for sure! And it formed around me. And there was no one in it with me. I was in it alone. But I knew there were other people ahead of me and behind me. What they were doing I don’t know, but there were people ahead of me and people behind me, but I was alone in my particular conveyance. And I could see out of it. And it went at a tremendously, horrifically, rapid rate of speed. But it wasn’t unpleasant. It was beautiful in fact. I was reclining in this thing, I wasn’t sitting straight up, but I wasn’t lying down either. I was sitting back. And it was just so fast. I can’t even begin to tell you where it went or whatever it was just fast!" – Vicki’s NDE – Blind since birth – Near Death Experience Tunnel - Speed Of Light - Turin Shroud - video http://www.vimeo.com/18371644 "Regardless, it is impossible for me to adequately describe what I saw and felt. When I try to recount my experiences now, the description feels very pale. I feel as though I'm trying to describe a three-dimensional experience while living in a two-dimensional world. The appropriate words, descriptions and concepts don't even exist in our current language. I have subsequently read the accounts of other people's near-death experiences and their portrayals of heaven and I able to see the same limitations in their descriptions and vocabulary that I see in my own." Mary C. Neal, MD - To Heaven And Back pg. 71
Moreover Starbuck, in defense of the reality of the 'unseen' higher dimensional realm, I allude to the fact that you yourself constantly interact with a realm of 'unseen' information.
An Interview with David Berlinski - Jonathan Witt Berlinski: There is no argument against religion that is not also an argument against mathematics. Mathematicians are capable of grasping a world of objects that lies beyond space and time …. Interviewer:… Come again(?) … Berlinski: No need to come again: I got to where I was going the first time. The number four, after all, did not come into existence at a particular time, and it is not going to go out of existence at another time. It is neither here nor there. Nonetheless we are in some sense able to grasp the number by a faculty of our minds. Mathematical intuition is utterly mysterious. So for that matter is the fact that mathematical objects such as a Lie Group or a differentiable manifold have the power to interact with elementary particles or accelerating forces. But these are precisely the claims that theologians have always made as well – that human beings are capable by an exercise of their devotional abilities to come to some understanding of the deity; and the deity, although beyond space and time, is capable of interacting with material objects. http://tofspot.blogspot.com/2013/10/found-upon-web-and-reprinted-here.html
Verses and Music:
Hebrews 11:3 By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God's command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible. 2 Corinthians 4:18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. 1 Timothy 1:17 Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen. The Power of God - music https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mLPYRhOQcC
Speak of the devil, rofl... jstanley01
Lol yeah invisible magic man is so much more believable Starbuck
...which I’ve heard them saying quite a lot lately.
It's "trending," lol...
Postmodernism ... says that all statements of absolute truth are intrinsically oppressive.
Meh. They're attempting to skirt the village atheist's constant dilemma with self contradiction when he finds himself (involuntarily to all appearances) babbling about "there are no absolutes." They are not succeeding. Is being oppressive a bad thing? "Sez who?" jstanley01
Viewing the question empirically, which is more parsimonious? A factory that produces large quantities of a standardized product (Henry Ford's famous "Any customer can have a car painted any colour that he wants so long as it is black") or one that can and does permute a large number of options in its output (modern day "flexible manufacturing")? RalphDavidWestfall
Increasingly, logic will be seen as a covert form of theism.
That's astute. Postmodernism (amongst its other nebulosities) says that all statements of absolute truth are intrinsically oppressive. The basis of logic in God's rationality prospered under the Christian worldview, just as the rationality of the Universe and human ability to appreciate it did, leading to science and indeed our whole way of dealing with reality. Now as post-normal science challenges the concept of scientific truth in favour of an ideological (or even personal) concept of truth, even logic will (logically, paradoxically enough) come to be seen as a tool of the old Christian ideology. And so society will be liberated from the shackles of religion to the freedom of the lunatic asylum. Jon Garvey
It seems to me that Rosenhouse is wrong, as are all the other people who claim that the multiverse doesn't contravene Occam's Razor, which I've heard them saying quite a lot lately. These people often try to argue that Occam's Razor only cuts against a multiplication of explanatory entities that are qualitatively different from each other, not against a simple quantitative multiplication of entities that are qualitatively similar or identical. In other words, they say, Occam's Razor creates a problem for explanations that involve several different kinds of things, not ones that simply have several examples of the same kind of thing. Even if we were to allow this characterization of Occam's Razor, it seems to me they still have a big problem. In order for the multiverse to be a remotely viable explanation for the fine-tuning of our universe, we don't just need a single theoretical mechanism capable of creating universes with different laws and constants of physics. What we need are an utterly unfathomable number of actualized alternate universes with different laws and constants of physics in order to make the existence our own actualized universe more likely than not. All those actualized constituent universes would be necessary explanatory entities in the multiverse "explanation" and they would each be qualitatively different from our own universe and from each other. The mechanism for generating them would be only one of the necessary explanatory entities in the multiverse hypothesis. Each of the multitude of different kinds of actualized universes would be an additional necessary explanatory entity. That this is so can pretty easily be seen by simply considering whether or not the fine-tuning problem could be considered solved if we had a mechanism for generating universes with different physical laws but we were the only universe generated so far. Or even if we had the mechanism but there were only 5, or 10, or 100, or 1,000 other universes, which would still leave the existence of our universe, fit for complex life, unimaginably implausible. Or if we had a hundred billion other universes but they consisted of only a thousand configurations for the values of the laws and constants that repeated, but none of those thousand configurations was the same as ours. Or a hundred billion other universes that all had the same values for the laws and constants as our universe. None of these hypothetical multiverses would sufficiently account for the fine-tuning of our universe. What would be required is an incomprehensible number of different kinds of actualized alternate universes, with each of those actualized universes of different kinds being a more vital explanatory entity within the multiverse hypothesis than even the mechanism itself that would supposedly generate them. So it seems to me that Occam's Razor is contravened even under this characterization. HeKS
"Prediction: Increasingly, logic will be seen as a covert form of theism." - Makes me think of this verse from Romans 1:
...21 because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened.
Great observations! As I mentioned previously, Stephen Hawkin, by proposing the multiverse, has admitted that the origin of the universe must be supernatural in the broad sense of the word. His hypothesized multiverse seems to have the power of God without sentience or love. That certain people jump to embrace an unmeasurable, unobservable speculation is a theological position, not a scientific one. -Q Querius
Given that there is some sort of mechanism that created our universe, why is it parsimonious to assume that the mechanism only operated once?
See my response @6. His is a typical straw-man / red herring response to the substantive questions. If we posit a mechanism by which universes may be created, by which axiom of the scientific method do we then advert that this mechanism produces universes with different properties? Magic? Wishful thinking? Why is it not parsimonious to believe that this universe generating mechanism produces universes with the exact same properties as our own universe, regardless of how many times it operated? Given that there is some sort of mechanism that created life on Earth, why is it parsimonious to believe that the mechanism only operated once? Mung
Given that there is some sort of mechanism that created our universe, why is it parsimonious to assume that the mechanism only operated once?
I'm not sure. Maybe because "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence". Coupled with the fact that there is exactly as much evidence for universes outside our own as there is for the hypothesis that the world as we know it is actually a computer simulation, and that we human beings actually reside in vats, feeding the machines. jstanley01
http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/ockham/#4.1 Mung
all science so far.
You mean like the part where life sprung out of dirt all by itself? Or the part where multiverses sprung from quantum fluctuations? Yeah, I know. You can never trust a dirt worshipper. It's magic all around. Mapou
This is just absurd for so many reasons. Also, why is it single universe proponents that have something to explain!? Idiot! I just... Ok. The only thing we can be sure of is that one universe exists. That would be the universe we experience. Then he is suggesting there are magic, alternate universes that make up the multiverse. Oh, but you can't see them. You can't experience them. You just have to believe they are there. And it is WE who have the burden of proof? These types just cannot be taken seriously. TSErik
all science so far. lifepsy
The multiverse is a perfect way for materialists to keep moving the goalposts back anytime there is a theory they don't like that hints at God. Its the ultimate copout. wallstreeter43
It occurs to me that Rosenhouse's argument is even more incoherent than I first thought. If there is a mechanism creating multiple universes, why doesn't that mechanism repeatedly produce universes with the exact same properties? Mung
a few assorted notes in no particular order:
What Properties Must the Cause of the Universe Have? - William Lane Craig - video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1SZWInkDIVI ,,, 'And if you're curious about how Genesis 1, in particular, fairs. Hey, we look at the Days in Genesis as being long time periods, which is what they must be if you read the Bible consistently, and the Bible scores 4 for 4 in Initial Conditions and 10 for 10 on the Creation Events' Hugh Ross - Evidence For Intelligent Design Is Everywhere; video http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4347236 "I find it quite improbable that such order came out of chaos. There has to be some organizing principle. God to me is a mystery but is the explanation for the miracle of existence, why there is something instead of nothing." Alan Sandage (preeminent Astronomer) "For the scientist who has lived by his faith in the power of reason, the story ends like a bad dream. He has scaled the mountains of ignorance; he is about to conquer the highest peak; as he pulls himself over the final rock, he is greeted by a band of theologians who have been sitting there for centuries." (NASA Astronomer Robert Jastrow, God and the Astronomers, p. 116.) The Absurdity of Inflation, String Theory and The Multiverse - Dr. Bruce Gordon - video http://vimeo.com/34468027 The End Of Materialism? - Dr. Bruce Gordon * In the multiverse, anything can happen for no reason at all. * In other words, the materialist is forced to believe in random miracles as a explanatory principle. * In a Theistic universe, nothing happens without a reason. Miracles are therefore intelligently directed deviations from divinely maintained regularities, and are thus expressions of rational purpose. * Scientific materialism is (therefore) epistemically self defeating: it makes scientific rationality impossible. "Multiverse theory is designed for one purpose, and one purpose only, and that is to defend atheism. It makes no predictions, it gives no insight, it provides no control, it produces no technology, it advances no mathematics, it is a science in name only, because it is really metaphysics." Dr. Robert B. Sheldon - PhD Physics "Take these multiverse theories. Basically, they're just a way to deny that the universe has the appearance of design. "The universe was not designed," these scientists say. "It's just that there are lots and lots of other universes, and we just happen to be in one that's favorable to life." But that doesn't solve the metaphysical problem, does it? Where did all of these universes come from? Who established the rules within each universe? Who established the rules by which new universes are generated?" Austin Hughes "The multiverse comes with a lot of baggage, such as an overarching space and time to host all those bangs, a universe-generating mechanism to trigger them, physical fields to populate the universes with material stuff, and a selection of forces to make things happen. Cosmologists embrace these features by envisaging sweeping "meta-laws" that pervade the multiverse and spawn specific bylaws on a universe-by-universe basis. The meta-laws themselves remain unexplained - eternal, immutable transcendent entities that just happen to exist and must simply be accepted as given." Paul Davies, physicist, SETI director "The multiverse propaganda machine has now been going full-blast for more than eight years, since at least 2003 or so, and I’m beginning to wonder “what’s next?”. Once your ideas about theoretical physics reach the point of having a theory that says nothing at all, there’s no way to take this any farther. You can debate the “measure problem” endlessly in academic journals, but the cover stories about how you have revolutionized physics can only go on so long before they reach their natural end of shelf-life. This has gone on longer than I’d ever have guessed, but surely it has to end sooner or later," - Peter Woit - Senior Lecturer at Columbia University
Ironically, the materialistic conjecture of an infinity of universes that was 'invented' to ‘explain away’ the fine tuning of this universe also insures, through the ontological argument, the 100% probability of the existence of God:
Ontological Argument For God From ‘Possible Worlds’ - William Lane Craig - video http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4784641 God Is Not Dead Yet – William Lane Craig – Page 4 The ontological argument. Anselm’s famous argument has been reformulated and defended by Alvin Plantinga, Robert Maydole, Brian Leftow, and others. God, Anselm observes, is by definition the greatest being conceivable. If you could conceive of anything greater than God, then that would be God. Thus, God is the greatest conceivable being, a maximally great being. So what would such a being be like? He would be all-powerful, all-knowing, and all-good, and he would exist in every logically possible world. But then we can argue: 1. It is possible that a maximally great being (God) exists. 2. If it is possible that a maximally great being exists, then a maximally great being exists in some possible world. 3. If a maximally great being exists in some possible world, then it exists in every possible world. 4. If a maximally great being exists in every possible world, then it exists in the actual world. 5. Therefore, a maximally great being exists in the actual world. 6. Therefore, a maximally great being exists. 7. Therefore, God exists. Now it might be a surprise to learn that steps 2–7 of this argument are relatively uncontroversial. Most philosophers would agree that if God’s existence is even possible, then he must exist. So the whole question is: Is God’s existence possible? The atheist has to maintain that it’s impossible that God exists. He has to say that the concept of God is incoherent, like the concept of a married bachelor or a round square. But the problem is that the concept of God just doesn’t appear to be incoherent in that way. The idea of a being which is all-powerful, all knowing, and all-good in every possible world seems perfectly coherent. And so long as God’s existence is even possible, it follows that God must exist. http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2008/july/13.22.html?start=4
1 Corinthians 3:19 For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God's sight. As it is written: "He catches the wise in their craftiness";
Occam's Razor is not a solution but a way of working: you take the simplest alternative and go with that until you get more data. I don't see the multiverse resolving any of the problems we have in understanding our universe because what with finding the Higgs boson and all, we have a darn good explanation for what we can see and measure. What we still lack is a First Cause, and I don't accept the multiverse as providing that First Cause. If you propose that a universe can create itself spontaneously, then you can completely explain our universe and you don't need the rest of multiverse. But you still can't prove anything. It then is reasonable and sufficient to propose The Creator as the First Cause. Accepting the existence of The Creator, a timeless being of unlimited power, has the added benefit of explaining all of the other impossible things identified by Intelligent Design. On the other hand, the multiverse quickly runs into the problem that everything after the appearance/creation of our universe MUST have some "natural" cause. And we keep identifying more things that we can see and measure that have no rational natural cause or origin. It is not reasonable to apply Occam's razor in a way where only certain kinds of supernatural events can occur. (The multiverse is by definition "supernatural" because it includes things that are not natural in our universe.) But even giving the proponents their first step, in one or more universes there are witches and winged monkeys. And in another universe there is Jehovah. And they can't argue both that "anything is possible" and "THAT is NOT possible". So I think what they're left with is arguing that Jehovah exists, but He doesn't exist in THIS universe. And I'd like to see the proof for that. mahuna
One of the more annoying tropes of this topic is the idea that Occam’s Razor militates against the multiverse. This seems entirely wrong to me. It is the people who claim there is only one universe who have some explaining to do. Multiverse proponents are simply saying that whatever created our universe, a quantum fluctuation or whatever, created other universes as well. Given that there is some sort of mechanism that created our universe, why is it parsimonious to assume that the mechanism only operated once?
It is easy to explain why there is only one physical universe. Everything was created from nothing and is made of nothing. The vector sum of all positive and negative properties in the universe must amount of zero. There is only one physical universe because there is only one physical nothing. I know it sounds Buddhistic but everything is ONE with the universe. Again, we have one universe simply because the yin-yang nature of reality (a natural consequence of an ex-nihilo universe) demands it. To be or not to be, that is the question and you can only be in the only one universe. Mapou
ok, i can't wait to see the reasoning on this one. Because... If the multiverse is true, then there must be at least one universe in which Occam's Razor does apply. Why not ours? Further... If the multiverse is true, then there must be at least one universe in which Occam's Razor does apply and in which some people don't understand Occam's Razor. Why not ours? Mung
'Prediction: Increasingly, logic will be seen as a covert form of theism.' That's a brilliant and fascinating insight, we're all too familiar with on a subliminal level. Still, at least, it means logic will now have some significance for them, and it won't continue to represent some shapeless, completely alien terror. Consciously attaching it to theism as a bogeyman, driven from cover into the light of day (their day being somewhat penumbral), would be a way of whistling in the dark for them. And who would begrudge them that? Axel

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