Intelligent Design

A Modest Thought Experiment

Spread the love

Here’s a thought experiment readers might find interesting.

Consider the following description of an entity:

  1. It cannot in principle be detected empirically.
  2. It might, nevertheless, exist.
  3. If it does exist, the scope of its explanatory power would be breathtaking in that it would explain quite literally everything except for its own existence.
  4. Even though it cannot be detected empirically, some people infer its existence based on their interpretation of actual observations.
  5. It has been invoked to explain the apparent “fine tuning of the cosmos” for the existence of life.
  6. It has been invoked to explain the origin of life on earth in the face of the extreme improbability that life would arise spontaneously.
  7. It has existential implications for many religious beliefs.

Now, choose the entity below that most closely fits the description:

A.  The multiverse

B.  God

C.  Both of the above (i.e., the description fits both A and B perfectly).

Here is the interesting part.  If you choose an answer other than “C” please state why you believe “C” is not the best answer.

19 Replies to “A Modest Thought Experiment

  1. 1
    Neil Rickert says:

    It’s a bit confusing when you offer 1, 2 or 3 but then ask us to choose between A, B or C.

    UD: Indeed. Thanks Neil. OP corrected.

  2. 2
    Neil Rickert says:

    As far as I know, the multiverse is only a speculative hypothesis. It was originally introduced as a mathematical model, because it simplifies the math. It allows one to do deterministic mathematics instead of probabilistic mathematics.

    Some of the people working with the multiverse are intrigued by the mathematics, and continue to further explore it. As far as I know, they are not actually treating it as a religion.

    I do sometimes get a laugh out of watching how some religious groups overreact to the multiverse.

    As far as explaining the alleged “fine tuning”, I guess the multiverse does as well as no explanation at all. But then I don’t see that any explanation is actually required.

  3. 3
    RodW says:

    Interesting thought experiment. It seems to me that everything can be detected empirically, however indirectly. Something that was utterly undetectable would not be interacting with our universe in any way and so one couldnt say much about it. Some cosmologists claim there could be evidence for the multiverse in the pattern of cosmic background radiation, but the reasons for invoking the MV have more to do with the model for how this universe came into existence rather than empirical evidence.
    God is supposed to exist in a supernatural realm but because its claimed that God constantly interacts with this reality ( and because its claimed that some of us can perceive the supernatural realm) then this also could be studied empirically.
    So I choose D. Neither of the Above !!

  4. 4
    Barry Arrington says:

    Neil @ 2: Dodge. Fail
    RodW @ 3: Dodge. Fail

  5. 5
    RodW says:

    OK I’m changing my vote to C. The instructions say “…most closely fits..” So neither fits 1. and the multiverse doesnt fit 6. but still C ( #3) is the best answer

  6. 6
    JDH says:

    Another thought experiment.

    Suppose a writer of a blog puts up a post which in a pithy manner demonstrates the hypocrisy of (not science which is a wonderful and respected endeavor) scientism (which is possibly the most dogmatic of the religions).

    Would people of the scientism ilk?

    1. Dodge the question by bringing up extraneous information and straw men.
    2. Deny that practitioners of scientism actually behave as described.
    3. Both of the above (i.e., the description fits both 1 and 2 perfectly).

  7. 7
    kairosfocus says:

    BA, that one is a perfect case for the logic of inference to best explanation, a form of inductive reasoning that is more relevant to the praxis of science than many are wont to accept. And BTW, C fits, and oddly enough it may well be correct that BOTH are at work in some form or fashion, i.e. they are not actually mutually exclusive and incompatible. (Down that road, John Leslie’s lone fly on the local wall . . . which for all we know may have a fly-carpet elsewhere . . . swotted by a bullet out of seemingly nowhere cosmological fine tuning analysis.) KF

    PS: JDH, hi mon!

  8. 8
    Barry Arrington says:

    RodW @ 5:

    Credit for at least answering the question. Points off for:

    (A) Re “1” apparently not understanding what it means to be “empirically detectable.” see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Empirical_evidence

    (B) false reason for denying 6.

    See http://www.biologydirect.com/c.....0-2-15.pdf

    Revised grade: D-

  9. 9
    RodW says:

    Barry,

    This link: http://www.ucl.ac.uk/news/news.....multiverse

    ..discusses how to test the multiverse ie. obtain empirical evidence. ( sorry I dont know how to embed the link)
    And isnt this site devoted to the idea that Gods actions regarding life on earth can be tested and verified? I’m surprised you disagree!

  10. 10
    Rob says:

    I want to choose “C” but I choose “B” because I think #4 fails for the multiverse view. I could be wrong but I don’t know what actual observations encourage people to believe in a multiverse. I think all of the other points fit both views, including #7 if you consider materialism to be a religious belief.

  11. 11
    Barry Arrington says:

    Rod @ 9.

    You have broken the first rule of holes, which is “stop digging.”

    This link: http://www.ucl.ac.uk/news/news…..multiverse
    ..discusses how to test the multiverse ie. obtain empirical evidence.

    Here is an example of failing to get past the title of an article to what the article actually says. It’s like citing the title of a book called “A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court” as evidence for the plausibility of time travel. After all, the title refers to someone from modern Connecticut being actually present in the court of a medieval king. QED!

    If you had actually read the article you cited, you would have understood that the title of the article is either an outright lie or an egregious equivocation, depending on how charitable one wants to be. The article does NOT provide “First observational test of the ‘multiverse’” if by “observation” one means actually observing a universe other than our own. The test referred to in the article tests for data other than another universe from which observed data the authors infer the existence of another universe. In other words, they are doing what I describe in “4” in the OP.

    Here is an article from just a few days ago that discusses all of the attempts to date to “test” the multiverse:

    Every measure involves many assumptions, beyond merely that the multiverse exists. For example, predictions of the expected range of constants like ? and the Higgs mass always speculate that bubbles tend to have larger constants. Clearly, this is a work in progress.

    “The multiverse is regarded either as an open question or off the wall,” Guth said. “But ultimately, if the multiverse does become a standard part of science, it will be on the basis that it’s the most plausible explanation of the fine-tunings that we see in nature.”

    And here is an article that come out just last Monday:

    Researchers also worry about finding a false positive. Even if such a collision did happen and evidence was imprinted on the CMB, spotting the telltale pattern would not necessarily constitute evidence of a multiverse. “You can get an effect and say it will be consistent with the calculated predictions for these [bubble] collisions,” Weinberg said. “But it might well be consistent with lots of other things.”

    Rod continues

    And isnt this site devoted to the idea that Gods actions regarding life on earth can be tested and verified? I’m surprised you disagree!

    *Sigh*
    No one who has ever posted an article on this site has suggested that God’s actions can be “tested and verified.” Where you come up with such blitherings is a mystery. You should actually make an effort to verify the stuff you say. Otherwise you will only look foolish.

  12. 12
    Barry Arrington says:

    Rob @ 10. See the article linked by Rod @ 9 for an example of “4”

  13. 13
    Bob O'H says:

    It seems to me that everything can be detected empirically, however indirectly. Something that was utterly undetectable would not be interacting with our universe in any way and so one couldnt say much about it.

    In theory that might be true, but in practice we can only detect things close enough to us. This is one of the simpler multiverse ideas – that the universe is simply very big, and much of it is getting further and further away from us.

  14. 14
    bornagain77 says:

    Ignoring the fact that the untestable multiverse leads to the epistemological failure of science itself, (i.e. it predicts everything to be possible and therefore predicts nothing specifically or precisely), one good thing to come out of the multiverse conjecture is that the multiverse conjecture of materialists does concede the necessary premise to the ontological argument for the existence of God.

    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.c.....ml?start=4

    Where this argument has gained purchase is in the materialist/atheist appeal to the multiverse (an infinity of possible worlds) to try to ‘explain away’ the extreme fine tuning we find for this universe. The materialist/atheist, without realizing it, ends up conceding the necessary premise, (i.e. it is ‘possible’ that God exists in some possible world), to the ontological argument and thus guarantees the success of the argument and therefore insures the 100% probability of God’s existence!

  15. 15
    Graham2 says:

    I think the problem is description point 2. You might need to think about that one a bit more.

  16. 16
    Tim says:

    1.It cannot in principle be detected empirically.

    Multiverse wins this one hands-down. God, being personal, can choose to be revealed and so empirically detected, albeit in so incomplete a way that many would argue the point, but would that one apostle late to the party?

    The multiverse certainly fits the definition.

    2.It might, nevertheless, exist.

    I count this one a tie with the slight advantage to the multiverse because God is not contingent. Things like the multiverse are.

    3.If it does exist, the scope of its explanatory power would be breathtaking in that it would explain quite literally everything except for its own existence.

    God is better described here. The multiverse can’t even get started without going too far.

    4.Even though it cannot be detected empirically, some people infer its existence based on their interpretation of actual observations.

    God wins this one hands down. Inferences drawn on countless observations point toward God. For me, the only “observations” made for the theory of multiverses is “willful” math akin to a house of cards. Or more simply, will.

    5.It has been invoked to explain the apparent “fine tuning of the cosmos” for the existence of life.

    Multverse wins this in the sense that the multiverse seems to be, as its primary raison d’etre, a get out-of-jail I mean, get-life-for-free card.

    6.It has been invoked to explain the origin of life on earth in the face of the extreme improbability that life would arise spontaneously.

    See 5.

    7.It has existential implications for many religious beliefs.

    Tie. On the surface this question should be a no-brianer for God, but if we understand the God of the Judeo-Christian tradition as a god of revelation, not religion, then the implication just for religious beliefs becomes rather minor “My yoke is easy . . .” (More generally, of course the existential implication of the existence of God outweighs all else.)

    The multiverse, as it is invoked, serves as a foundation for numerous religious beliefs, most of them related to subjectivism, will to power, really anything outside the natural law.

    I would not say either fit “perfectly”.

    Now, choose the entity below that most closely fits the description:

    A. The multiverse

    B. God

    C. Both of the above (i.e., the description fits both A and B perfectly).
    Here is the interesting part. If you choose an answer other than “C” please state why you believe “C” is not the best answer.

    Note that for the last questions, I answered as if the multiverse existed.

    B is by far the best because God exists and the multiverse does not. This was an easy quiz.

  17. 17

    In my opinion: A UD thought experiment must help explain how intelligence and “intelligent cause” works. Otherwise the discussion does not pertain to the theory UD is supposed to be helping to develop:

    “The theory of intelligent design holds that certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as natural selection.”

  18. 18
    Robert Byers says:

    Its b and self evident.
    If the multi thing must admit to the universe seeming to have been built by god then why add to it. ? A creator fits perfectly and no need to add to it.
    Most of mankind always believed in a creator(s) and sometimes mankind does collectively get things right. This is one of them.
    Also the bible says so and is a witness in good standing.

  19. 19
    Dionisio says:

    ***********************************************************
    ***********************************************************
    ***********************************************************

    Very interesting summary written by gpuccio:

    Indeed, what we see in research about cell differentiation and epigenomics is a growing mass of detailed knowledge (and believe me, it is really huge and daily growing) which seems to explain almost nothing.

    What is really difficult to catch is how all that complexity is controlled. Please note, at this level there is almost no discussion about how the complexity arose: we have really non idea of how it is implemented, and therefore any discussion about its origin is almost impossible.

    Now, there must be information which controls the flux. It is a fact that cellular differentiation happens, that it happens with very good order and in different ways in different species, different tissues, and so on. That cannot happen without a source of information. And yet, the only information that we understand clearly is then protein sequence information. Even the regulation of protein transcription at the level of promoters and enhancers by the transcription factor network is of astounding complexity.

    Please, look at this paper:

    Uncovering Enhancer Functions Using the ?-Globin Locus.

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pm.....004668.pdf

    In particular Fig. 2.

    And this is only to regulate the synthesis of alpha globin in red cells, a very straightforward differentiation task.

    So, I see that, say, 15 TFs are implied in regulating the synthesis of one protein, I want to know why, and what controls the 15 TFs, and what information guides that control. My general idea is that, unless we find some completely new model, information that guides a complex process, like differentiation, in a reliable, repetitive way must be written, in some way, somewhere.

    That’s what I want to know: where that information is written, how it is written, how does it work, and, last but not least, how did it originate?

    — gpuccio

    ***********************************************************
    ***********************************************************
    ***********************************************************

Leave a Reply