Uncommon Descent Serving The Intelligent Design Community

Design at many levels


In the popular media, the picture that we get of the ID controversy is this: primitive man attributed many phenomena in Nature to design, science has progressively removed the need for the design hypothesis from these phenomena one by one, and now a group of religious fanatics is trying to make a last stand in biological origins, where things are most difficult to explain. The true story is very different; in fact, we are discovering that primitive man was NOT wrong in attributing many phenomena to design, the design just dates back much futher than he imagined, to the origin of the universe. Science is discovering that not only life itself, but a wealth of chemical phenomena that makes life interesting, owes its existence to the astronomically improbable and finely tuned values of the basic constants of physics, such as Planck’s constant, the charge and mass of the electron, the speed of light, the gravitational constant and on and on. Michael Behe, in “The Edge of Evolution,” wisely devotes several pages to this topic, and quotes a National Academy of Science report which acknowledges that it is not unreasonable to see design in the “remarkable and inspiring character of the physical universe”.

But design in the universe can be seen at yet another level. Those who want to avoid the obvious conclusions from fine-tuning argue that there must be a large number of other universes with the same laws, but random values for the physical constants, and one was bound to get the values right. But even this truly unscientific hypothesis fails to address the question of why the basic laws of physics and mathematics are what they are. The assumption seems to be that the fundamental laws of mathematics, and even of physics, could not have been different and therefore need no explanation. But why, for example, are the effects of the fundamental forces of physics on the fundamental particles of physics given by solutions to a (complex-valued!!) eigenvalue partial differential equation, the Schrodinger equation? I can only see two possible “explanations”: 1) it produces the wealth of chemical phenomena (given the right values for the constants) that makes life possible and interesting and 2) it provides some very interesting mathematical problems to keep partial differential equations experts like me entertained. I don’t know of any alternative explanations, do you?

Hi bFast. I was thinking about your thinking on a infinte number of universes not being enough. My thinking is that an infinite number of universes is enough and the reason is as follows. But first let me say that I am in no sense a mathematical genius so if I get terms confused I hope that it won't get in the way of the reasoning or the comprehension thereof. I'll start by saying I don't think that it is a good idea to use an inifite number of values. Whether you obtain the infinite number of values by going any any direction forever or by because there are inifite values between any two values. With regard to the latter it seems that we need to look at sets of ranges of values i.e. their is a range of values for which the strong nuclear force will work, however small the range is. The set being the range of values for each requirements i.e. strong nuclear force, weak nuclear force, etc. With regard to the former it is not clear that we can go indefintely in any direction for any force in fact that does not appear to be possible. For example a partical has a finite minimum size. So it seems - to me anyway -that the set of ranges of required values is not infinite. Cable
[...] the way, in a previous (Sept 30) post I addressed another interesting and related question, with implications for ID: why on Earth should [...] The Schrodinger Equation | Uncommon Descent
Carl, Yes, I'm aware of formal systems definition, but I stand by my comments... "There may be a formal system in place which we have yet discovered, that predicts order and chaos which you cannot see from inside the system." "There may indeed be formal language and rules." And I point out there is not always full agreement on rigid outlines of "formal systems." and boundaries of the defintion are stretched at times to the dismay of many I'm sure. That is why I stated "language" and "rules." You may see this as to wide a concept for formal systems, or unacceptable, but I do not. My intention was not to corner you in anyway. I agree. It is intriguing for multiple reasons ;-) I was surprised at chaos theory long ago producing patterns in software runs. The thought of it was very surreal seeing a symetry where once it was thought none existed. Likewise I've always been interested about blackholes and disagreed with past and current theory on what they are as to how they became blackholes. Not that I have the current knowledge to comprehend the detail of math and physics in the proposals put forward. But my suspicion was/or still is, they are simply wrong. I thought of the universe as interacting with other features we simply cannot see and that galaxies where much like whirlpools in water, or tornados, hurricanes, vortexes with a need for being fed, but not as some gravity effect. To me, they were thermal disturbances like anything we see in our field of view today, or even behavior like water in a jeddy. But not gravity related to a dead star sucking stuff in. I think they start due to thermal convections. I think as instruments get better in the future, this can be detected at the critical points of termperature differences in the universe. I tend to think of multi-verses as part of the equation, but not from some random path, but as a beautiful symetric pattern we just cannot see yet from inside our "formal system." Yeah, I know, you and probably everyone else disagree with me . But, as to patterns, some of the latest news may be confirming my ideas in cosmology. Confusion in expectations are music to my ears with regard to watery like existence of the universe on the outside. A recent story on WMAP in Science is interesting... hattip: CreationSafaris.com http://creationsafaris.com/crev200710.htm#20071002c "Investigators looking for harmonics in the CMB seem to have found surprising alignments. The quadrupole, octupole and other harmonics appear to have axes that line up with each other. Furthermore, they are in the plane of our solar system. Even more bizarre, they are aligned with the line of equinoxes. What’s going on here? Is this a clue that we occupy a special position in the universe? Some cosmologists, uncomfortable with such notions which the Copernican Principle was supposed to dismiss, have called this alignment the “axis of evil.”" cont...
"But the map led to some mysteries, too. Within 6 months, one team had found a curious alignment of certain undulations in the CMB. Others soon found more correlations that suggested that the cosmos might be skewered like a meatball on a toothpick by an “axis of evil.” That axis might show that the universe has a strange shape or is rotating. It could trash cosmologists’ cherished assumption that the universe has no center and no special directions, the so-called cosmological principle that traces its origins to Copernicus. Or it could be a meaningless fluke. “Everyone agrees it’s there,” says Kate Land, a cosmologist at the University of Oxford in the U.K. “But is it significant?”" "There’s the rub: With only one universe to measure, it may be impossible to tell."
Please, understand, this is all speculation and fun for me to entertain some thoughts as what I suspected is there was always rotation of the universe and the galaxies I see as large funnel systems at different stages of creation, existence and dissipation. Likewise, I think the Universe is similar and can dissipate over time, but not the way Cosmologist have thought over the years. Everything in life we see is spinning or moving even in the deep cold recesses. These systems, vortexes, thermal, centrifical are all living off of the thermal differences. A dead star is dead and essentially canon fodder for the collions that may take place in such a system. The Xrays emanating from "black holes" are results of collisions, nothing more. And this next statement is going to read truly weird. But, I think some light we see in space is due to a light source outside our own universe. OK, that was fun :)
The reason the multiverse hypothesis is getting play is because of the fine tuning hypothesis. It is needed to counteract it. Even with the multiverse hypothesis there is the problem with the OOL hypothesis and the timing of the Big Bang. There isn't enough time or resources to even get to the plate let alone all the way home. So you need multiverses and then a lot of smoke and mirrors for OOL along with a few special incantations such as "overwhelming evidence." This is the materialist strategy in a nutshell. Which is why Mickey Mouse as the Sorcerer's Apprentice is my metaphor for the materialist crowd. jerry
In re: (38). The term "formal system" is a technical piece of vocabulary. Something can be described by means of a formal system without being a formal system. That's why the universe isn't one. And, at risk of repeating myself, I am not urging or endorsing in any way the multiverse hypothesis. I find it an intriguing piece of metaphysical speculation, but only in the sense of a mental exercise analogous to "how many angels can dance on the head of a pin?" For me, nothing truly important stands or falls with the multiverse hypothesis. Carl Sachs
Carl, It is not a formal system from your viewpoint, but from outside? There may be a formal system in place which we have yet discovered, that predicts order and chaos which you cannot see from inside the system. There may indeed be formal language and rules. Multiverse is not a problem in my opinion for Christians. There may be millions for all we know. The problem is associating that possibility with different values. As in life would be different with different constants. That is the ender as least objectively to me. And that is not from a "Christian" value. I have problems with that intuitively. You're asking us to believe that constants change in a different universe. You ask why is that absurd? I ask then why do they stay the same here? If this is not a formal system? Can there be different states? Yes, of course, just like there are different isotopes. Truth is you don't know by current understanding and couldn't possibly know unless you were the Creator or were informed by the Creator. For now, it is about discovery. (ha! thanks Albert Voie! I only just perused part of his paper... "That the rules of inference, like the laws of motion and the rules of mathematics, are larger than Homo sapiens, and we have just progressively discovered them rather than having created them.") Good, I'm not having some off the wall thoughts. Glad I took a peak at his paper re: Goedel. Plus, what we think of as formal systems or not, may be diddly to someone looking in upon the universe we live in, that has greater knowledge. Therefore, a Creator can indeed tell inhabitants within the system what will happen, not by command order or will only, but by knowing the system can predict the future outcomes and consequences of peoples behavior either as individuals or groups. And can do so without monitoring. Today, we can do this statistically with games like baseball even though some would say the game is not a formal system. You can predict winners and losers by critical stats if they follow them. I add, that the Creator can establish the rules for winning the game and seeing the universe for the first time from the Creators view if those rules are accepted and followed. This happens in our social constructs daily and can easily be a pattern of larger truths currently unseen. This is why someone like Yeshua can say, he came to set the captives free and then taught the rules of freedom... "Yeshua said to him, "'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.' 38 This is the first and great mitzvah. 39 A second likewise is this, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' 40 The whole law(rules) and the prophets depend on these two mitzvot." () emphasis mine. Matisyahu 22:37 http://www.searchgodsword.org/desk/?query=mt+22:37&t=hnv&st=1&new=1&sr=1&sc=1&l=en Note that he said, the prophets as well, because a false prophet would lie about God's will and warnings to his people, itching their ears with only sweet sayings. And a true prophet does not change his mind on a whim, which is what happens in another religion. The underlying rules we discover in life are patterns that we follow to recreate. In the end, this is why Design wins over randomness. One only need to think about a future scenario. Planets will not be created or terraformed by chance by our future generations. They will unfold by programmatic instructions sets based upon fundamentals we have discovered to be eternally true and predictable. Michaels7
Dave wrote: "If there are an infinite number of universes then in an infinite number of them a God-like entity was spawned in the first picosecond of creation." Interesting thought. Another problem with the multiverse hypothesis is that it just moves the problem back one step. Specifically, how do all these multiverses come about -- what does the spawning? There must be something that does the spawning, and that something must, in turn, operate within parameters that allow multiple universes to be spawned. In other words, whatever causes the multiple universes to come into existence must itself have some boundary conditions within which to operate. How did those conditions get set up? Well you could posit an infinite regress, but it would not be a pretty argument . . . Eric Anderson
"Math is thus religion not science. As such it should not be taught in schools." Lord Calvin certainly agreed with this as well . . . www.evolutiondebate.info/CalvinHobbs.jpg Eric Anderson
There is another interesting thing about the possibilities of an materialist world of infinite multiverses. That is the fact that in their world our thoughts are material also. If our thoughts are instantiated in the material world there is noting to stop it from becoming the blueprint of some other material form of that thought, in fact it happens all the time - think of writing, robots etc. Like if you think of a spaghetti monster and you have an instantiated infinite number of universes then in some or an infinite number that spaghetti monster must be real in all the blueprint attributes you and I gave it separately. Just think if the material realities of our thoughts - Stephen King's included, meet each other? In fact, in an infinite reality that has to happen because if you can think about jumping between universes or space time curves touching at different points then it will happen. Lucky for us this is not part of our reality and we can empirically conclude that reality is uniform in its created state and our thoughts are metaphysical with limited impact on our physical reality. Who ever guessed that the materialist will open the "gates of hell" with their multiverse hypothesis. I always thought metaphysics, ghosts and spaghetti monsters are part of religious thinking. Just another reason why I am not a materialist or believe in an infinite causal regression. mullerpr
If there are an infinite number of universes then in an infinite number of them a God-like entity was spawned in the first picosecond of creation. His mind would be composed of all matter and energy in the universe and his thoughts instantly translated into physical reality. He then created the earth and all other living things just by thinking it. How do we determine if we are in such a universe or rather in a universe where the only sentient presence is recent and human? An infinite multiverse explains everything, anything, and thus explains nothing. The only rational way to proceed understanding the universe we inhabit is to presume it was designed and the physical laws that govern it are fixed, immutable, rational, and inviolable. If these physical laws can be broken by whim or by chance then all bets are off. Fortunately for us it appears the universe is rational so we have a fighting chance of figuring out how everything works instead of being stymied by unpredictable, irrational violations of physical laws. DaveScot
LOL,,,gpuccio bornagain77
You probably know this old joke: A Physician, an Engineer, and a Lawyer were discussing their professions. They were trying to determne which profession had been around the longest. The Doctor said "Doctors were first. In the good book, it states that Eve was created from one of Adam’s ribs.....That required the first surgery. So Doctors were here first." The Engineer said, "NOPE, it also said, before Adam and Eve, that God created the heavens and the earth fron chaos. That required a lot of plans and engineering work, so Engineers were here first." The Lawyer said, "Guys,who do you think created chaos?." gpuccio
Albert Voie showed that this applies to origin of life. http://www.idnet.com.au/files/.....atural.pdf Hmm, interesting. Makes it sound like design is easily observed by the way information is encoded into memory... That self replication argument is pretty good. Stone
Hi Dave, It seems as if we share the same skepticism of an infinite multiverse hypothesis. I just like to speculate as to the rhetoric power of this "currently popular" materialistic myth. It is clear that very little objection comes from thinking people with a slight or a serious materialistic infection. The paradox however is that it is through the material world of empirical observation that "infinite multiverse" nonsense is exposed. Some of the people in this discussion asked what evidence there is that dispose of an infinite multiverse hypothesis. To me the answer is so obvious in all the empirical evidence at our disposal and in particular evidence for the Big Bang (inflation theory included) - i.e. there is no observed instantiated infinity. This leaves me to ask any supporter for a multiverse hypothesis what their evidence for a multiverse is? As I discussed before Tagmark's article is poor reasoning for the simple reason that he simply assume reality in a multiverse sense and then invoke possible proofs that has no bearing on his assumptions at all. His poorest attempt comes when he invokes the explaining power of evolutionary theory. This gives another perfect example of pure non sequitur arguments. To conclude I have to ask any multiverse supporter to make sense of an infinite causal regression - I have only heard "Brute fact" as a reason, but that does not cut it. To help the discussion I can point to the fact that there is no problem with an infinite causal progression. For instance if you have a nice fractal equation you can progress for ever and still find more beautiful forms, but you cannot regress this equation without assuming its (the equations') existence (i.e. a cause) in the first place. mullerpr
“Gödel showed that Principia, or any other system within which arithmetic can be developed, is essentially incomplete. In other words, given any consistent set of arithmetical axioms, there are true mathematical statements that cannot be derived from the set...” Albert Voie showed that this applies to origin of life. http://www.idnet.com.au/files/pdf/Life%20is%20not%20natural.pdf idnet.com.au
Goedel's incompleteness theorem only holds for certain classes of formal systems. Since the universe is not a formal system, the theorem does not apply. Carl Sachs
A few things: (a) I do not, just to make myself perfectly crystal clear, accept the multiverse hypothesis. Nor do I accept a transcendent Creator as a scientific hypothesis. I withhold assent; I acknowledge that the fine-tuning problem is rich and interesting, and none of the solutions to it compel my assent. (b) one's subjective experience of a Creator is, I think, a sufficient reason for accepting the belief in such a being (if God is "a being"). Certainly if one is motivated on the basis of subjective experience, they'll get no argument from me! But at the same time, I think it should be freely accepted that in accepting subjective experience as a basis for warranted belief, one has abandoned what is generally regarded as "science." (c) I agree that a priori legislating about what is and is not "natural" won't get us anywhere. Perhaps instead of asking the metaphysical question, "does _______ really exist?" we should ask the pragmatist question, "what and methods do we have for generating widespread agreement with respect to ______?" (d) I accept that the throw-away line about Nietzsche was a "red herring" -- I got caught up in the heat of the debate and lost sight of an important distinction. However, I think that Nietzsche would have been fascinated by the anti-theistic and anti-anthropocentric implications of the contemporary "multiverse" hypothesis! Carl Sachs
... How can you prove a God does not exist within the cosmos? More over how do you define the cosmos as a whole when if anything exists beyond your own comprehension of existence you would have absolutely no idea? Ruling things out isn't materialistic it's just dim witted. What commentary has science(a methodology of observation) to give on that which is unobservable? That is a contradiction not only in terms but in concept. Ugh it's almost as bad as the argument of "God would or wouldn't do this". Who has ever observed the behavior patterns of a god? But now I'm just ranting, sorry. Stone
Stone Many of us think of Natural as being something contained within the Cosmos. As Sagan said "The Cosmos is all there is, all there ever was and all there ever will be." This is the doctrine of the materialist. I think this position is not consistent as even mathematics, although describing the Cosmos cannot itself be considered as part of the Cosmos. Isn't there a theorem (? Goebel) which says that a set cannot fully describe itself? idnet.com.au
Magnan "that at least gives the God hypothesis a 50% probability of being the truth strictly from the standpoint of pure logic." The probability that one of only two possible solutions to a problem being correct need not be 50%. For example. I am thinking of a word starting with G and ending with D. I tell you that the word is an English word and that the missing letter is either O or S. What is the probability that the missing letter is S? idnet.com.au
"Supernatural"? Let's be honest, an invisible force that can bend light at one point in time would have been considered "supernatural". There is no such thing as "supernatural" something either exists or doesn't. The assumption that an omnipotent being cannot be explained in understandable terms is just an assumption. The sun was Never "supernatural" it didn't become natural simply because you defined it in natural terms later, it already existed as a natural part of our galaxy. The same is probably true of God. And how funny it is we think our own perception of nature is altogether what is natural. If something is part of the everyday fabric of existence even though we are unaware of existence how is it then not natural? Certainly it is in the nature of said system so why would it be "supernatural"? Perhaps the only thing "supernatural" is our arrogance. Stone
Dave said, “Everything imaginable not only can happen, but must happen, an infinite number of times.” Carl said, "Which is pretty much what Nietzsche thought. And he was crystal-clear in how thoroughly it opposed the Christian vision. But that makes it absurd . . . how?" Well, not only a Christian vision, but other secular, atheistic views as well. BTW, it is Judeo-Christian as Yeshua was Jewish. But anyway, let me understand. So you "believe" there are Klingons existing right now? And Spock came from planet Vulcan? Or that humans communicate with aliens thru light and music one time? Or that aliens invade and die as in War of the Worlds? Or furry alien critters crash land in the backyard pool of some bimbo bikini woman? These are all imagined scenarios in movie and TV land. I can imagine just about anything as good or better than the above. Am I to understand you this way? Anything I or anyone can imagine? Like, keebler elves? Or, the Shire, Middle Earth? Frodo? Gandalf the White(resurrected)? Talking Trees? Little white mice that rule the universe and everything? The answer is 42? Did Nietzsche ever do anything practical in life? Other than pontificate God is dead? And as a result in rejection of a Creator we can imagine anything we want? That is not exactly a new concept. Nor does is actually wipe out the Christian vision. Yeshua, said all things are possible. He did walk thru walls. Funny how atheist can imagine anything, but a Messiah cannot imagine anything. Don't get me wrong. Imagination, scifi, future prognostications. I love thoughts turning into reality. But are you stating with multi-verses, all this stuff exist now? OR that it can exist in the future? There is a difference. But then, that is not what Nietzsche believed, is it? He favored "eternal recurrence" a cyclical universe(1), not multi-verses and thus a need for distinction above. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eternal_recurrence Note that this is just a rehash of older beliefs and religions. And conversely, if everything imaginable can come true, then the miracles of Christ can and do happen and their is a Creator. Whether in cycles or in multi-verses. Michaels7
But there are many areas of evidence where abductive reasoning applies - where the preponderance of evidence shows what is the most likely truth. I would suggest the most important is human experience.
Amen! Many of us have an experiential knowledge of the supernatural, of God that cannot be denied. Science is a study of truth, but life's experience is another study in truth. The advantage that life's experience has is that it does not require repeatable data collection. The disadvantage that it has is that it is profoundly ineffective at convincing those who have not directly experienced it. bFast
Carl Sachs: "From where I sit, both positings are equally rational — or equally irrational, if you prefer!" I agree; the one is just as irrational as the other. So that at least gives the God hypothesis a 50% probability of being the truth strictly from the standpoint of pure logic. Carl Sachs: "-- — that is, I don’t see what empirical or conceptual basis one could have for preferring one over the other." But there are many areas of evidence where abductive reasoning applies - where the preponderance of evidence shows what is the most likely truth. I would suggest the most important is human experience of transcendent states such as in NDEs, where there is also veridical evidence. magnan
bFast, I think you may have misinterpreted what I was trying to say. I don't think that the theological implications of the creator hypothesis are preposterous -- not at all! As I tried to say above, I find both hypotheses equally rational (or irrational). Regarding the argument from (4): on way of appreciating just what "infinite" means is as follows: a set is infinite if any sub-set of the set has the same cardinality (number of members) as the set itself. Consequently, infinity divided by half is no smaller than infinity. I also think that (a) one is skirting the edge of nonsense in talking about any concept of time within which various universes exist -- since space-time is required in order for something to be a universe in the first place, and (b) it is, for all we know, plausible that changes in some variables could off-set changes in others. There is no reason to suppose that only the universe that we know could support intelligent life -- all we can suppose is that a universe must be extremely like ours in order to support intelligent life as we know it. So the fine-tuning argument yields at best agnosticism, neither theism nor atheism, given contemporary physical theory. As an aside, the Canadian science-fiction writer Robert Sawyer makes creative use of the fine-tuning argument in his Calculating God. A crucial premise of the novel is that the fine-tuning argument for the existence of God is correct. But it works only because he imagines an alternative physical theory -- complete with a fifth fundamental force! -- which allows him to discard the multiverse hypothesis. Carl Sachs
idnet.com.au: "OK then why is multiverse allowed as a scientific theory and referred to positively in many peer reviewed publications when ID is expelled?" Probably because it is important in the minds of zealous materialists to totally exclude teleology of any sort, rather than even to admit to a philosophical standoff where an infinite eternal multiverse with no creator is seen as just as irrational as a transcendent creator. magnan
Carl Sachs:
It seems to be a widely shared assumption that positing the existence a single, transcendent creator — with all the traditional theological attributes, right? — is a more rational solution to the fine-tuning problem than is positing the existence of infinitely many universes.
I would pose that there are two rational possibilities to explain the one big bang that initiated our universe. The multiverse hypothesis, I contend, does qualify. The only other qualifying option is a single intelligent agent (or possibly a group of intelligent agents acting as one). We know this because the universe, as far as science currently understands, has a single point of instantiation. As far as the "with all the traditional theological attributes" portion of your position goes, well, rationality does not obligate any set of theological attributes except the attributes of one-ness, and of incredible precision and strategy. I suggest, base upon the calculations presented in my post (post #4 above) that the multiverse hypotheis is, in fact, not rationally supportable. Please show me why I am wrong. That said, even if my calculations are in error, you still somehow conclude that there are two rational explanations for the big bang, therefore multiverse is correct and the other, presumably because you conclude that it has theological baggage, is proposterous. I fail to follow your rationale. bFast
In re: 14 -- I don't know. I can only take your word for it that this is the case, and I can't even begin to speculate. I suppose you think it's evidence of a bias towards atheism among the editors? Well, that's one possibility, I guess. Carl Sachs
"Everything imaginable not only can happen, but must happen, an infinite number of times." Which is pretty much what Nietzsche thought. And he was crystal-clear in how thoroughly it opposed the Christian vision. But that makes it absurd . . . how? In the infinite multiverse scenario, I take it that all possibilities are equally likely -- that is, every conceivable universe has a probability of 1. So a universe with only one brain, if that is physically possible, is not more likely than the universe in which we find ourselves. At best it is just as likely, i.e. just as actual. (And let's bear in mind here the multiverse hypothesis is about physical possibility, not logical possibility.) Carl Sachs
Carl "both positings are equally rational — or equally irrational, if you prefer! I don’t see what empirical or conceptual basis one could have for preferring one over the other." OK then why is multiverse allowed as a scientific theory and referred to positively in many peer reviewed publications when ID is expelled? idnet.com.au
The infinite multiverse is an exercise in absurdity. Everything imaginable not only can happen, but must happen, an infinite number of times. The most absurd thing that must happen with a frequency greater than any other universe with a conscious entity in it is a lone Boltzmann brain with a false memory of the universe. It's far less complex for a single brain with false, limited memories of a universe to form than it is for an entire intricate universe with billions of brains in it. In the infinite multiverse scenario it's most likely you, dear reader, are the only conscious entity in the universe and this missive you are reading is not real but a false perception embedded in your brain. DaveScot
By the way, I think you could make a good case for denying that mathematical structures must be instantiated in a mind in order to exist. On at least one time-honored view, mathematical and logical laws tell us how we ought to think, not how we do think. Thoughts are dependent on minds, but the laws grasped by means of those thoughts are not. Of course one might argue that mathematical and logical laws are dependent on God's mind in a way that they are not dependent on created, finite minds. But this merely gets us into an epistemological version of divine command theory, with all the problems that goes with it. Consider: is 2+2=4 because God says so? Could God decide that 2+2=5? If He could, then the objectivity of mathematics actually depends on divine whim, which doesn't look much like objectivity at all. But if He could not -- if even God is constrained by the requirements of rationality -- then it doesn't matter if mathematics depends on Him or not. I'm not saying that there aren't good and sophisticated responses to these objections -- I'm sure there are! -- but that there are problems here worth taking seriously, if one wants one's faith to be reasonable and consistent. Carl Sachs
OK, I have to admit, I need some help here. It seems to be a widely shared assumption that positing the existence a single, transcendent creator -- with all the traditional theological attributes, right? -- is a more rational solution to the fine-tuning problem than is positing the existence of infinitely many universes. From where I sit, both positings are equally rational -- or equally irrational, if you prefer! -- that is, I don't see what empirical or conceptual basis one could have for preferring one over the other. Now, I personally don't have a problem with that -- since I do think that faith must play a role. But since there are, I would think, some people here who do think that believe in a Creator is somehow more rational than is believe in infinitely many universes, I'd very much like to see that argument spelled out. If this has been hashed out elsewhere on UD or on the Web, I'll happily follow up. And you can also feel free to email me at carl.sachs@gmail.com, if you'd like. Carl Sachs
Thank you, Magnan, for expounding on Tagmark's article. I share your view on his misguided materialistic commitments. I personally find it hard, ok impossible, to make a rational argument in support of any hypothesis that presuppose an infinite causal regression. But there are very clever people out there... Multiverses just bend the fabric of any conceivable form of rationality beyond any means of relating anything. You can say it will not be "music" in any possible world, regardless of the observers. I also like your "thought" approach, it rings much more harmonious than - infinite causal regression. mullerpr
I don't know guys, from what I've seen with God restoring broken lives..I would have to say that God is either a mechanic or a repairman. bornagain77
Tim/Dave/Gran': You are all onto something, but He's definately a carpenter. JGuy
I think the article referred to by mullerpr was an interesting concept of objective reality proposed by physicist Tegmark in the cover story of a recent issue of New Scientist (Reality by Numbers, Sept. 15-21 2007 issue). He says a complete description of an external reality that is really independent of humans must be expressible in a form that is free of human concepts like "particle", "observatiion", and so on. So he asks if it is possible to find a description of external reality that involves no use of words explaining how mathematical equations are connected to human observables. This would have to be completely abstract - "the only properties of these (abstract) entities would be those embodied by the relations between them." A mathematical structure is precisely this, "a set of abstract entities with relations between them". So he then argues that if there is an external reality independent of humans, then this reality must necessarily be a mathematical structure - "Everything in our world is purely mathematical - including you." He goes on to propose a couple of tests for the mathematical universe hypothesis. The most important is that he claims his hypothesis predicts the existence of multiple universes with fundamentally different laws of physics. Of course the problem with this test is that there is no way to accomplish it - such universes are unobservable and uncommunicable. I think this is clever theorizing, but is fundamentally misguided in its conclusions about multiple universes. For mathematical structures to have reality they must be embodied in something, and that something must be thought. The universe is ultimately mathematical, therefore metaphysical, and is a great thought not a great thing. This article actually proposes something like this, a literally real Platonic world of ideas, in the mind of (?). But Tegmark with the usual materialist motivation builds an elaborate hypothetical structure of multiple universes probably in part to avoid the need to propose any existence of mind stuff underlying existence. Multiple universe concepts also beg the question of why there is anything at all instead of absolutely nothing. magnan
Mathematics is metaphysics as it must be present before anything physical comes into being. Maths is thus religion not science. As such it should not be taught in schools. idnet.com.au
There was a recent article in the New Scientist that argue reality from mathematics and now this post. I can see one serious problem with "God as a mathematician or engineer" - The fact that maths presupposes entities with relationships that can be described by mathematics. To me it is more logically coherent to talk about God the Creator. mullerpr
Granville, Thanks for the post. I've been having a thought that needs an appropriate thread to carry it. Actually Dr. Dembski, I would love your critique of this argument. As we know, the standard solution to the dilemma of the finely tuned universe is to postulate a multiverse. The theory is that if there are an infinite number of universes, then every possible combination of universal constants will have been tried eventually, ours included. With an infinite number of universes, any inconceivable combination must have had a chance to come up somewhere. However, I have recently been recalling my basic calculus. In calculus, as I recall, infinity (I'll use oo) * 1/oo = some value. This causes me to think that an infinite number of universes isn't enough. Let me clarify my reasoning. If we consider, in calculus we solve the problem of getting our minds around infinity by calculating N as N -> oo. We should well be able to use the same algorithm to determine whether an infinite number of universes is enough to produce the finely tuned universe that we know of. My understanding is that in what might be called super-space (because the big bang creates its own three-dimentional space) there are an infinite number of universes being spawned at any given moment. Further, there was infinite time past, but only time to the present day, whereas there is infinite time future that has not yet seen universes. I therefore contend that time only qualifies as oo^1/2. We then see that we have oo universes spawning at any given moment, * oo^1/2 moments to spawn them. So there is a total of oo^3/2 universes spawned so far. Let's calculusize it (new word) to become N^3/2 lim N->oo. Now, there are multiple constants that must be "just right". Consider only the four primary forces. For each value that "works" there is an infinite number of values that will not work. If we only consider these four forces, and not other factors such as the speed of light or the planct constant, we already have oo^4 possible variations which would not produce a life-sustaining universe. Where I come from oo^4 is much more than oo^3/2. Again, to calculusize it, N^4 > N^3/2 lim N->oo. If my calculations are correct, the multiverse hypothesis will not realistically account for the finely tuned universe that we live in. bFast
Not if you believe in the theory of chaos. He then would be a software engineer, no doubt… Timothee
Dave: Actually, according to British physicist Sir James Jeans, "The Great Architect of the Universe begins to appear as a pure mathematician." Granville Sewell
Granville You seem to be implying that God is a mathematician or physicist. Those are just the hired help. God is an engineer. Everyone knows that. Nice try though. DaveScot

Leave a Reply