As I was catching up on reading back issues of Analog: Science Fiction and Fact I noted, for the first time in nearly 40 years of reading the magazine, not one but a pair of articles (one fact, one fiction) addressed the Intelligent Design controversy.
Both articles were written by physicist Carl Frederick.
The first (non-fiction) titled The Challenge of the Anthropic Universe is about the so-far fruitless quest by physicists to find an explanation for the fine tuning of the universe (basis of Cosmological ID) that doesn’t involve intelligent design. The article begins:
In the early 1990’s, a creeping realization swept through the theoretical physics community that the probability for the universe to even exist was vanishingly small. Indeed, the only “theory” around that seemed able to explain the universe’s existence was Intelligent Design. This was not something physicists and cosmologists liked to talk about.
Later on, after describing the “problem” in detail, he quotes what Lee Smolin considers the four possible solutions:
Which Way Out?
Lee Smolin considers that there are four solutions to the problem, schemas if you will.
[below are truncated for brevity -ds]
1) God tuned the parameters for our benefit.
2) There are a very large number of universes each of which has random parameters.
3) There is a “unique mathematically consistent theory of the whole universe”.
4) The parameters evolve in time – in the Darwinian sense.
[end truncation -ds]
A good number of very intelligent people have argued for schemas two, three, and four above. At the moment there is nothing resembling a consensus among physicists.
Interesting that Frederick fails to mention very intelligent people arguing for schema one. Maybe that’s so self-evident it hurts him to repeat it. 🙂
The second (fiction) story is titled The Exoanthrophic Principle centers around a creationist mathematician just starting to work in a futuristic SETI laboratory with a group of atheist physicists and technicians where a message is just received from an ET believed to be in a “pocket universe” outside our own (Frederick describes the pocket universe hypothesis in the non-fiction article). The message arrives via tachyon modulated gravity waves (no light speed barrier) and they are about to start up a real-time conversation with ET. The message contains no information except for a string of prime numbers. I haven’t finished reading the second article so this is as much as I can describe right now.
What I found really amazing about this was that this is the first time, to the best of my knowledge, that Analog has published any fact OR fiction article which explicitely uses the phrase “Intelligent Design” (capitalized no less). What a delightful breath of fresh air. The editor must have felt like he was letting Pandora out of her box. Let’s hope there’s much more to come.