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At Mind Matters News: Could advanced aliens have fine-tuned Earth for life?


That’s a surprisingly popular thesis, considering how hard it is to account for life without assuming a creator. The little green men are better than God, we must suppose:

Walter Bradley Center director Robert J. Marks has been doing a series of podcasts with Swedish mathematician Ola Hössjer, and Colombian biostatistician Daniel Díaz in connection with a recent co-authored paper on the fine-tuning of the universe for life in the Journal of Cosmology and Astroparticle Physics. In the first portion of this episode, podcast 153, “Why is there fine-tuning everywhere?” they looked at whether fine tuning of the universe for life can be accounted for by the theory that advanced life forms seeded life throughout the universe (directed panspermia). Surprisingly, perhaps, the theory is considered at least plausible, due to the difficulty of accounting for the existence of life otherwise. As Marks and his guests noted, great scientists such as Francis Crick (1916–2004) and Fred Hoyle (1915–2001) have espoused it. But now we turn to a more radical proposal: What if the entire universe is a simulation created by advanced aliens?

News, “Could advanced aliens have fine-tuned Earth for life?” at Mind Matters News

Robert J. Marks: This also kind of kicks the can down the road, in my opinion. We have to ask ourselves again, where did this super race come from? Certainly, their ability to write simulations about us must come from some sort of fine-tuning. The other objection I have is there’s many things that people do that are non-algorithmic.

In fact, this is one of the fundamental postures of the Bradley Center, that we are not algorithmic, that we do things that you can’t write a computer program to simulate. These include things like qualia, understanding consciousness, creativity. And if we are indeed simulations, then whoever did this programming must know how to program non-algorithmic things into our being.

Man, I don’t see how that can happen. At least from what I know. Because all computers are limited and all simulations are limited to the algorithmic. Have you heard that Elon Musk has hired some people to go around and look for some flaws in our simulation?

Daniel Díaz: Playing devil’s advocate here, in terms of the simulation hypothesis, the argument is that a post-human civilization is so technologically advanced that it is capable of simulating all that we are doing, even if it doesn’t look algorithmic in some sense.

Robert J. Marks: It seems kind of silly to me. There’s a couple of movies that I’m reminded of with the Sims theory. One, of course, is The Matrix. Gosh, Keanu Reeves?

Anyway, he wakes up in a big vat of primordial soup, in which he has been basking and his entire life has been simulated. That’s one example of the Sims, I guess. And Elon Musk looking around for little flaws in Sims really is strange. It reminds me of another movie called The Truman Show [1998] starring Jim Carey, where he came out one time and all of his life, all of his existence was programmed in order to make it seem like he was living in a real world. And then, all of a sudden this big lighting unit goes, “Ka-thunk!” Right in front of his house. And it came from the top, where there was a simulation of a sky.

All of a sudden, Jim Carey had this idea that maybe the reality that he perceived wasn’t true. This reminds me of Elon Musk’s hiring of these people to go out and look for flaws in the Sims theory, and see if he can find any evidence for it. Anyway, it’s an interesting theory, I suppose.

Takehome: As Robert Marks, Ola Hössjer, and Daniel Díaz discuss, some prominent atheists/agnostics have chosen to substitute advanced extraterrestrials for God.

Here are the previous instalments of the discussion of fine tuning for life:

The first episode:

Ours is a finely tuned — and No Free Lunch — universe. Mathematician Ola Hössjer and biostatistician Daniel Andrés Díaz-Pachón explain to Walter Bradley Center director Robert J. Marks why nature works so seamlessly. A “life-permitting interval” makes it all possible — but is that really an accident?


Fine-tuning? How Bayesian statistics could help break a deadlock Bayesian statistics are used, for example, in spam filter technology, identifying probable spam by examining vast masses of previous messages. The frequentist approach assesses the probability of future events but the Bayesian approach assesses the probability of events that have already occurred.

The second episode:

Life is so wonderfully finely tuned that it’s frighteningA mathematician who uses statistical methods to model the fine tuning of molecular machines and systems in cells reflects…
Every single cell is like a city that cannot function without a complex network of services that must all work together to maintain life.

Can there be a general theory for fine-tuning? If you make a bowl of alphabet soup and the letters arrange themselves and say, good morning, that is specified. What are the probabilities? Ola Hössjer sees the beauty of mathematics in the fact that seemingly unrelated features in cosmology and biology can be modeled using similar concepts.

The third episode

Was the universe created for life forms to live in? How would we know? We can begin by looking at the fundamental constants that underlie the universe. The constants of the universe — gravitational constant, entropy, and cosmological constant — must be finely tuned for life to exist.

Why did Stephen Hawking give up on a Theory of Everything? Daniel Díaz and Ola Hössjer continue their discussion of the fine tuning of the universal constants of nature with Robert J. Marks. The probability, they calculate, that the fine tuning of our universe is simply random is down to 10 to the minus sixty — a very small number.

The fourth episode

Is life from outer space a viable science hypothesis? Currently, panspermia has been rated as “plausible but not convincing.” Marks, Hössjer, and Diaz discuss the issues. Famous atheist scientists have favored panspermia because there is no plausible purely natural explanation for life on Earth that would make it unnecessary.

You may also wish to read: No Free Lunches: Robert J. Marks: What the Big Bang teaches us about nothing. Bernoulli is right and Keynes is Wrong. Critics of Bernoulli don’t appreciate the definition of “knowing nothing.” The concept of “knowing nothing” can be tricky.


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