Intelligent Design

In defense of Eric Metaxas: Is God a scientific hypothesis?

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In a recent article titled, God is not a scientific hypothesis, philosopher and author Francis Beckwith critiques Eric Metaxas’ stimulating essay, Science Increasingly Makes the Case for God, in the Wall Street Journal. Professor Beckwith views scientific arguments for God as philosophically problematic, for several reasons:

But is this the right way to think about God as Creator? Is the rational basis for believing in His existence really dependent on the deliverances of modern science? Should one calibrate the depth of one’s faith on the basis of what researchers tell us about the plausibility of the “God hypothesis” in recent issues of the leading peer-reviewed science journals? The answer to all three question is no, since God is not a scientific hypothesis. For this reason, it is equally true that advances in our scientific knowledge cannot in principle count against the existence of God.

This is because God – as understood by the Catholic Church and by most other theistic traditions – is not a being in the universe, a superior agent whose existence we postulate in order to explain some natural phenomenon, but rather, Being Itself, that which all contingent reality depends for its existence.

In order to appreciate how this understanding differs from Metaxas’ Watchmaker God, suppose in a few years scientists tell us, after further research, new discoveries, and confirmed theories, that the arising of life in the universe is not that improbable after all. What then happens to Metaxas’ God?

I will respond to Professor Beckwith’s arguments below. But first, I’d like to ask Professor Beckwith if he has read an address given by Pope Pius XII (pictured above, courtesy of Wikipedia) to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences on November 22, 1951, titled “The Proofs For The Existence Of God In The Light Of Modern Natural Science”. In this speech, Pius XII, who was commenting on recent scientific discoveries indicating that the universe had a beginning, boldly proclaimed that true science can indeed lead us to God:

2. In fact, according to the measure of its progress, and contrary to affirmations advanced in the past, true science discovers God in an ever-increasing degree – as though God were waiting behind every door opened by science. We would even say that from this progressive discovery of God, which is realized in the increase of knowledge, there flow benefits not only for the scientist himself when he reflects as a philosopher – and how can he escape such reflection?-but also for those who share in these new discoveries or make them the object of their own considerations. Genuine philosophers profit from these discoveries in a very special way, because when they take these scientific conquests as the basis for their rational speculations, their conclusions thereby acquire greater certainty, while they are provided with clearer illustrations in the midst of possible shadows and more convincing assistance in establishing an ever more satisfying response to difficulties and objections…

44. It is undeniable that when a mind enlightened and enriched with modern scientific knowledge weighs this problem calmly, it feels drawn to break through the circle of completely independent or autochthonous matter, whether uncreated or self-created, and to ascend to a creating Spirit. With the same clear and critical look with which it examines and passes judgment on facts, it perceives and recognizes the work of creative omnipotence, whose power, set in motion by the mighty “Fiat” pronounced billions of years ago by the Creating Spirit, spread out over the universe, calling into existence with a gesture of generous love matter busting with energy. In fact, it would seem that present-day science, with one sweeping step back across millions of centuries, has succeeded in bearing witness to that primordial “Fiat lux” uttered at the moment when, along with matter, there burst forth from nothing a sea of light and radiation, while the particles of chemical elements split and formed into millions of galaxies…

49. What, then, is the importance of modern science for the argument for the existence of God based on the mutability of the cosmos? By means of exact and detailed research into the macrocosm and the microcosm, it has considerably broadened and deepened the empirical foundation on which this argument rests, and from which it concludes to the existence of an Ens a se, immutable by His very nature.

50. It has, besides, followed the course and the direction of cosmic developments, and, just as it was able to get a glimpse of the term toward which these developments were inexorably leading, so also has it pointed to their beginning in time some five billion years ago. Thus, with that concreteness which is characteristic of physical proofs, it has confirmed the contingency of the universe and also the well-founded deduction as to the epoch when the cosmos came forth from the hands of the Creator.

51. Hence, creation took place in time. Therefore, there is a Creator. Therefore, God exists! Although it is neither explicit nor complete, this is the reply we were awaiting from science, and which the present human generation is awaiting from it. It is a reply which bursts forth from nature and calm consideration of only one aspect of the universe; namely, its mutability. But this is already enough to make the entire human race, which is the peak and the rational expression of both the macrocosm and the microcosm, become conscious of its exalted Maker, realize that it belongs to Him in space and in time and then, falling on its knees before His sovereign majesty, begin to invoke His name: Rerum, Deus, tenax vigor,-Immotus in te permanens, — Lucis diurnae tempora successibus determinans (Hymn for None).

(A free English translation is: “O God, creation’s secret force/Thyself unmoved, yet motion’s source/Who from the morn till evening’s ray/Through every change dost guide the day.”)

52. The knowledge of God as sole Creator, now shared by many modern scientists, is indeed, the extreme limit to which human reason can attain. Nevertheless, as you are well aware, it does not constitute the last frontier of truth. In harmonious cooperation, because all three are instruments of truth, like rays of the same sun, science, philosophy, and, with still greater reason, Revelation, contemplate the substance of this Creator whom science has met along its path unveil His outlines and point out His features. (Emphases mine – VJT.)

Perceptive readers will note the strong resemblance between the Pope’s words – “contrary to affirmations advanced in the past, true science discovers God in an ever-increasing degree – as though God were waiting behind every door opened by science” – and the language used by Eric Metaxas, in his essay in the Wall Street Journal:

…[I]t turns out that the rumors of God’s death were premature. More amazing is that the relatively recent case for his existence comes from a surprising place – science itself.”

Now, Professor Beckwith is perfectly free to disagree with Pope Pius XII if he wishes to do so. But if he does, then he should be candid enough to admit as much, and he should refrain from describing Eric Metaxas’ opinion as if it were a theologically objectionable one. Clearly, it is not.

God: Being or ‘a being’?

I’d now like to address Professor Beckwith’s arguments. First, he contends that God “is not a being in the universe, a superior agent whose existence we postulate in order to explain some natural phenomenon, but rather, Being Itself, that [on] which all contingent reality depends for its existence.” Excuse me, Professor, but where in Eric Metaxas’s essay does he claim that God is a being in the universe? Indeed, he explicitly claims the contrary when he writes:

The fine-tuning necessary for life to exist on a planet is nothing compared with the fine-tuning required for the universe to exist at all…

Theoretical physicist Paul Davies has said that “the appearance of design is overwhelming” and Oxford professor Dr. John Lennox has said “the more we get to know about our universe, the more the hypothesis that there is a Creator . . . gains in credibility as the best explanation of why we are here.”…

The greatest miracle of all time, without any close seconds, is the universe. It is the miracle of all miracles, one that ineluctably points with the combined brightness of every star to something — or Someone — beyond itself.

Metaxas clearly believes that the parameters which define the universe we live in are a contingent choice, made by the Creator of the cosmos, and that the Creator is therefore not a being in the universe but beyond it. Why, then, does Beckwith write as if Metaxas opposed the traditional religious claim that God is “that [on] which all contingent reality depends for its existence”? And how does he explain the fact that Pope Pius XII, when presenting his scientific argument for God’s existence, also explicitly declared that science “has confirmed the contingency of the universe and also the well-founded deduction as to the epoch when the cosmos came forth from the hands of the Creator”? Beckwith’s logic at this point is very confused. He cannot criticize Metaxas’ theology without also criticizing that of Pope Pius.

And finally, what of Professor Beckwith’s contentious claim that “God is not a being”? He’d better be very careful, if he is making that argument. St. Anselm of Canterbury (1033-1109) was undeniably a classical theist. Yet in his Proslogion, St. Anselm very clearly refers to God as a being:

And indeed, we believe that you are a being than which nothing greater can be conceived. (Chapter II)

In a similar vein, Blessed John Duns Scotus, in his work, A Treatise on God as First Principle, writes:

Nothing however is more perfect than a being having necessary existence of itself. (3.25)

Later in the same work, Scotus approvingly quotes St. Anselm’s description of God, which he endeavors to make more precise: “God is a being conceived without contradiction who is so great that it would be a contradiction if a greater being could be conceived” (4.65).

There’s more. St. Thomas Aquinas himself, in his Summa Contra Gentiles, Book I, Chapter 43, paragraph 8, states that “God is a necessary being through Himself.” In his Summa Contra Gentiles, Book I, Chapter 52, paragraph 9, he adds that “God is a cause.” In his Summa Contra Gentiles, Book II, Chapter 6, paragraph 4, he declares that “God is a being in act, as was shown in Book I,” and in Summa Contra Gentiles, Book II, Chapter 16, paragraph 6, he writes that “God is a being in act, not through anything inherent in Him, but through His whole substance, as was proved above.” In Summa Contra Gentiles, Book II, Chapter 24, paragraph 2, Aquinas even contends that “God is a voluntary agent.”

So when Professor Beckwith writes that God is not a being, he is going against his own philosophical hero, St. Thomas Aquinas.

Nevertheless, there is a sense in which “God is not a being” is true. I addressed this subject in my Uncommon Descent article, Why the best arguments for the existence of God are not stupid (January 28, 2014), where I quoted from Fr. Robert Barron’s review of theologian David Bentley Hart’s recent book, The Experience of God: Being, Consciousness, Bliss, :

(St.) Thomas explicitly states that God is not in any genus, including that most generic genus of all, namely being. He is not one thing or individual — however supreme — among many. Rather, God is, in Aquinas’s pithy Latin phrase, esse ipsum subsistens, the sheer act of being itself.

It might be helpful here to distinguish God from the [pagan] gods… They were impressive denizens of the natural world, but they were not, strictly speaking, supernatural. But God is not a supreme item within the universe or alongside of it; rather, God is the sheer ocean of being from whose fullness the universe in its entirety exists…

[T]he physical sciences, no matter how advanced they might become, can never eliminate God, for God is not a being within the natural order. Instead, he is the reason why there is that nexus of conditioned causes that we call nature — at all. (Italics mine – VJT.)

I then concluded:

While most religious believers would indeed be shocked if you told them that “God is not a being,” they would not be at all shocked if you qualified this remark by saying: “God is not a being within the natural order,” as Fr. Barron does.

Nowhere in his article for the Wall Street Journal does author Eric Metaxas question the traditional claim that God is Being Itself, so it is puzzling that Professor Beckwith seems to regard him as being opposed to the claims of classical theism.

Does the fine-tuning argument make belief in God dependent on the findings of modern science?

Next, Professor Beckwith mockingly asks: “Should one calibrate the depth of one’s faith on the basis of what researchers tell us about the plausibility of the ‘God hypothesis’ in recent issues of the leading peer-reviewed science journals?” This is a loaded question, for it gratuitously assumes that Eric Metaxas believes that the only good arguments for God’s existence are scientific ones. Once again, nowhere in Metaxas’ article does he say any such thing. If there are indeed powerful metaphysical arguments for God’s existence (as Beckwith maintains, and as I have repeatedly argued on this blog – see here and here), then the scientific arguments put forward by Metaxas simply lend further weight to an already convincing case. They are, as it were, the icing on the cake: take it away and the cake will still be an excellent one.

But, it will be asked, if the metaphysical arguments for God’s existence are so good, what need have we of scientific arguments as well? The short answer is that the scientific arguments are easier for many modern people to understand: not everyone can grasp metaphysical arguments.

To illustrate my point, consider Professor Beckwith’s remark that “the philosophical case for God – as St. Thomas Aquinas and his followers have argued – starts from the contingency of the universe, which is a metaphysical claim and not a scientific one.” I have just one question for Professor Beckwith: how do you define contingency – and for that matter, how do you define necessity? You know as well as I do that these terms are quite tricky to define: there’s logical necessity, metaphysical necessity, nomological necessity, temporal necessity, and epistemic necessity, to name just a few varieties. So I hope you can forgive Joe and Jane Average if they find the design argument more straightforward and easier to comprehend.

Nervous Nellies: what if the fine-tuning argument is wrong?

Finally, Beckwith poses a rhetorical objection to Metaxas’ argument:

In order to appreciate how this understanding differs from Metaxas’ Watchmaker God, suppose in a few years scientists tell us, after further research, new discoveries, and confirmed theories, that the arising of life in the universe is not that improbable after all. What then happens to Metaxas’ God?

Beckwith’s snide reference to “Metaxas’ Watchmaker God” is below the belt: nowhere in his article does Metaxas say that he believes God wound the universe up like a watch and then left it to itself. Nor did Pope Pius XII make any such claim, in his speech to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences on November 22, 1951. I’m sure that Beckwith wouldn’t accuse Pope Pius XII of deism; why, then, is he unwilling to give Metaxas the benefit of the doubt?

I should also add that Beckwith appears not to have read Metaxas’ essay beyond the first paragraph. Later in his essay, Metaxas writes:

There’s more. The fine-tuning necessary for life to exist on a planet is nothing compared with the fine-tuning required for the universe to exist at all.

For instance, if the ratio between the nuclear strong force and the electromagnetic force had been off by the tiniest fraction of the tiniest fraction — by even one part in 100,000,000,000,000,000 — then no stars could have ever formed at all. (Emphasis mine – VJT.)

Here, in anticipation of Beckwith’s question, Metaxas plainly declares that even if the evidence for the fine-tuning of life were discredited, the arguments for the fine-tuning required for the universe to exist would still stand.

To answer Beckwith’s question: either there are good independent metaphysical arguments for God’s existence or there aren’t. If there are, then any discrediting of the scientific arguments for God’s existence in no way undermines the metaphysical arguments, which are independent of science. But if there aren’t, then wouldn’t it be rational to revise one’s opinion of the probability of God’s existence?

In his excellent article, A Christmas Gift that Keeps Giving: Lawrence Krauss on Eric Metaxas on Science, on God over at Evolution News and Views, David Klinghoffer quotes from ENV’s Daniel Bakken, author of its current series “Exoplanets”:

Of the many fine-tuned features of our universe, just one, the mass density of the universe, which is set by the expansion rate of the universe, must be fine-tuned to the order of one part in 10^60. This is an incredibly small number. The diameter of the observable universe is 27.6 billion light years. That is about 2.6X10^29 millimeters. One millimeter compared to the diameter of the universe is still incomprehensibly larger than this one fine-tuned parameter, of one part in 10^60! So, yes, the fine-tuning of the universe is unbelievable, and this drives those who are non-theists to the imagined safety of a multiverse with a near infinite number of universes, against the direct evidence of only our own.

Commenting on physicist Lawrence Krauss’s recent critique of Eric Metaxas article, Kakken concludes: “When one knows the data, his response is pretty weak, but the best possible. It shows the hallmarks of defending a losing argument.”

For my part, as soon as I looked Professor Lawrence Krauss’s article attempting to debunk Metaxas’ claims, I knew that it was complete and utter rubbish. How did I know that? Simple: it contained no numbers.

Take for instance the following passage:

We have discovered many more planets around stars in our galaxy than we previously imagined, and many more forms of life existing in extreme environments in our planet than were known when early estimates of the frequency of life in the universe were first made. If anything, the odds have increased, not decreased.

There are about 10^24 planets in the universe. If the odds of a universe with parameters like ours are much less than 1 in 10^24, then the fine-tuning argument stands. It’s as simple as that.

The quote from Daniel Bakken listed above mentioned the mass density of the universe, which needs to be fine-tuned to the order of one part in 10^60. 10^24 planets won’t cut it against fine-tuning like that. And as Bakken points out, “Even with the most generous reading of Lawrence [Krauss]’s point here, there are only an extremely small fraction of conceivable universes that could allow complex molecules, especially ones as capable as our carbon-based molecules in this universe, compared to the theoretical number of possible universes.”

But there’s more. Even within a life-friendly cosmos like our own, the odds of life originating from non-living matter are very low indeed – less than 1 in 1 followed by 1,000 zeroes!

The Case for Fine-Tuning: it’s a lot stronger than you think

Dr. Eugene V. Koonin is a Senior Investigator at the National Center for Biotechnology Information, which is part of the National Library of Medicine, a branch of the National Institutes of Health, in Bethesda, Maryland, USA. Dr. Koonin is also a recognized authority in the field of evolutionary and computational biology. Recently, he authored a book, titled, The Logic of Chance: The Nature and Origin of Biological Evolution (Upper Saddle River: FT Press, 2011, ISBN 978-0-13-262317-9). I think we can fairly assume that when it comes to origin-of-life scenarios, he knows what he’s talking about.

In Appendix B of his book, The Logic of Chance, Dr. Koonin argues that the origin of life is such a remarkable event that we need to postulate a multiverse, containing a very large (and perhaps infinite) number of universes, in order to explain the emergence of life on Earth. (I’ll explain below why Koonin’s multiverse proposal won’t work, as a way of avoiding the need for God.)

The reason why Dr. Koonin believes we need to postulate a multiverse in order to solve the riddle of the origin of life on Earth is that all life is dependent on replication and translation systems which are fiendishly complex. As Koonin puts it:

The origin of the translation system is, arguably, the central and the hardest problem in the study of the origin of life, and one of the hardest in all evolutionary biology. The problem has a clear catch-22 aspect: high translation fidelity hardly can be achieved without a complex, highly evolved set of RNAs and proteins but an elaborate protein machinery could not evolve without an accurate translation system.

Dr. Koonin claims that the emergence of even a basic replication-translation system on the primordial Earth is such an astronomically unlikely event that we would need to postulate a vast number of universes, in which all possible scenarios are played out, in order to make its emergence likely.

To justify this claim, Dr. Koonin provides what he calls “a rough, toy calculation of the upper bound of the probability of the emergence of a coupled replication-translation system in an O-region.” (That’s an observable universe, such as the one we live in.) The calculations on pages 434-435 in Appendix B of Dr. Koonin’s book, The Logic of Chance, are adapted from his peer-reviewed article, The Cosmological Model of Eternal Inflation and the Transition from Chance to Biological Evolution in the History of Life, Biology Direct 2 (2007): 15, doi:10.1186/1745-6150-2-15. As readers can verify for themselves, the wording is virtually identical in the 2007 article. I shall reproduce the relevant passage below (bold emphases are mine – VJT):

Probabilities of the emergence, by chance, of different versions of the breakthrough system in an O-region: a back-of-the-envelope calculation of the upper bounds

…A ribozyme replicase consisting of ~100 nucleotides is conceivable, so, in principle, spontaneous origin of such an entity in a finite universe consisting of a single O-region cannot be ruled out in this toy model (again, the rate of RNA synthesis considered here is a deliberate, gross over-estimate).

The requirements for the emergence of a primitive, coupled replication-translation system, which is considered a candidate for the breakthrough stage in this paper, are much greater. At a minimum, spontaneous formation of the following is required:

– Two rRNAs with a total size of at least 1000 nucleotides

– Approximately 10 primitive adaptors of about 30 nucleotides each, for a total of approximately 300 nucleotides

– At least one RNA encoding a replicase, about 500 nucleotides (low bound)is required. Under the notation used here, n = 1800, resulting in E <10-1018.

In other words, even in this toy model that assumes a deliberately inflated rate of RNA production, the probability that a coupled translation-replication emerges by chance in a single O-region is P < 10-1018. Obviously, this version of the breakthrough stage can be considered only in the context of a universe with an infinite (or, at the very least, extremely vast) number of O-regions.

The model considered here is not supposed to be realistic by any account. It only serves to illustrate the difference in the demands on chance for the origin of different versions of the breakthrough system and, hence, the connections between these versions and different cosmological models of the universe.

Dr. Koonin’s 2007 paper, which contained the above calculations, passed a panel of four reviewers, including one from Harvard University, who wrote:

In this work, Eugene Koonin estimates the probability of arriving at a system capable of undergoing Darwinian evolution and comes to a cosmologically small number… He cites recent work in cosmology that highlights the vastness of the universe, where any series of events is necessarily played out an infinite number of times. This so-called “many-worlds in one” model essentially reconceives any chance event as a necessary one, where its (absolute) abundance is proportional to its chance of occurring.

The context of this article is framed by the current lack of a complete and plausible scenario for the origin of life. Koonin specifically addresses the front-runner model, that of the RNA-world, where self-replicating RNA molecules precede a translation system. He notes that in addition to the difficulties involved in achieving such a system is the paradox of attaining a translation system through Darwinian selection. That this is indeed a bona-fide paradox is appreciated by the fact that, without a shortage [of] effort, a plausible scenario for translation evolution has not been proposed to date. There have been other models for the origin of life, including the ground-breaking Lipid-world model advanced by Segrè, Lancet and colleagues (reviewed in EMBO Reports (2000), 1(3), 217–222), but despite much ingenuity and effort, it is fair to say that all origin of life models suffer from astoundingly low probabilities of actually occurring

…[F]uture work may show that starting from just a simple assembly of molecules, non-anthropic principles can account for each step along the rise to the threshold of Darwinian evolution. Based upon the new perspective afforded to us by Koonin this now appears unlikely. (Emphases mine – VJT.)

I am very pleased to see that the argument presented in Koonin’s peer-reviewed paper was republished in his recent book, The Logic of Chance: The Nature and Origin of Biological Evolution (Upper Saddle River: FT Press, 2011, ISBN 978-0-13-262317-9). It is encouraging to see that the experts within the field of origin-of-life studies are finally starting to speak the truth in a public forum: the origin of life on Earth, by any naturalistic scenario, must have been an astronomically improbable event.

Why the multiverse won’t help explain the origin of life or the cosmos

But for all its ingenuity, Dr. Koonin’s multiverse won’t work. The multiverse hypothesis is plagued by two problems: first, it merely shifts the fine-tuning problem up one level, as a multiverse capable of generating any life-supporting universes at all would still need to be fine-tuned; and second, even the multiverse hypothesis implies that a sizable proportion of universes (including perhaps our own) were intelligently designed. Once again, the articles arguing for these conclusions are written by highly respected authorities in the field.

Dr. Robin Collins is a Professor of Philosophy and chair of the Department of Philosophy at Messiah College in Grantham, Pennsylvania. Dr. Collins also spent two years in a Ph.D. program in Physics at the University of Texas at Austin before transferring to the University of Notre Dame where he received a Ph.D. in philosophy in 1993. In an influential essay entitled, The Teleological Argument: An Exploration of the Fine-Tuning of the Universe (in The Blackwell Companion to Natural Theology, edited by William Lane Craig and J. P. Moreland, 2009, Blackwell Publishing Ltd.), Dr. Robin Collins offers a scientific explanation of why even a “multiverse-generator” would still fail to eliminate the need for fine-tuning:

[A]s a test case, consider the inflationary type multiverse generator. In order for it to explain the fine-tuning of the constants, it must hypothesize one or more “mechanisms” for laws that will do the following [four] things: (i) cause the expansion of a small region of space into a very large region; (ii) generate the very large amount of mass-energy needed for that region to contain matter instead of merely empty space; (iii) convert the mass-energy of inflated space to the sort of mass-energy we find in our universe; and (iv) cause sufficient variations among the constants of physics to explain their fine-tuning.

[T]o achieve (i)–(ii), we effectively have a sort of “conspiracy” between at least two different factors: the inflaton field that gives empty space a positive energy density, and Einstein’s equation… of General Relativity, which dictates that space expand at an enormous rate in the presence of a large near-homogenous positive energy density… Without either factor, there would neither be regions of space that inflate nor would those regions have the mass-energy necessary for a universe to exist.

In addition to the four factors listed, the fundamental physical laws underlying a multiverse generator – whether of the inflationary type or some other – must be just right in order for it to produce life-permitting universes, instead of merely dead universes. Specifically, these fundamental laws must be such as to allow the conversion of the mass-energy into material forms that allow for the sort of stable complexity needed for complex intelligent life…

In sum, even if an inflationary-superstring multiverse generator exists, it must have just the right combination of laws and fields for the production of life-permitting universes: if one of the components were missing or different, such as Einstein’s equation or the Pauli Exclusion Principle, it is unlikely that any life-permitting universes could be produced. Consequently, at most, this highly speculative scenario would explain the fine-tuning of the constants of physics, but at the cost of postulating additional fine-tuning of the laws of nature.

There’s another problem with the multiverse hypothesis, too. Physicist Paul Davies has argued that the multiverse hypothesis is just as “theological” as the hypothesis that there is a God, since it implies the existence of intelligently designed universes:

Among the myriad universes similar to ours will be some in which technological civilizations advance to the point of being able to simulate consciousness. Eventually, entire virtual worlds will be created inside computers, their conscious inhabitants unaware that they are the simulated products of somebody else’s technology. For every original world, there will be a stupendous number of available virtual worlds – some of which would even include machines simulating virtual worlds of their own, and so on ad infinitum.

Taking the multiverse theory at face value, therefore, means accepting that virtual worlds are more numerous than “real” ones. There is no reason to expect our world – the one in which you are reading this right now – to be real as opposed to a simulation. And the simulated inhabitants of a virtual world stand in the same relationship to the simulating system as human beings stand in relation to the traditional Creator.

Far from doing away with a transcendent Creator, the multiverse theory actually injects that very concept at almost every level of its logical structure. Gods and worlds, creators and creatures, lie embedded in each other, forming an infinite regress in unbounded space.

— Paul Davies, A Brief History of the Multiverse, New York Times, 12 April 2003.

The universe: fine-tuned for us or for cockroaches?

In an article in the Huffington Post titled, Sorry, Science Doesn’t Make a Case for God. But That’s OK, Rabbi Geoffrey A. Mitelman cites a warning from scientists Francis Collins and Karl Giberson (who are both Christians) about using fine-tuning as an argument for God:

… [T]he fine-tuning argument must not be too quickly fashioned into an argument for the existence of God. Like all apologetic arguments, it can be undermined by new discoveries and weakened by broad theological conversations. In the latter category we note that the fine-tuning of the universe is just as necessary to produce cockroaches as humans. Here we would add insights from theology that humans are made in the image of God and are a far more reasonable goal of cosmic fine-tuning than are cockroaches. But this goes beyond the science. (The Language of Science and Faith, 195)

One reply to this argument is that Dr. Robin Collins’ argument in his essay, “The Teleological Argument” was simply intended to show that the universe was fine-tuned to support the existence of life – without any claim that it was specifically fine-tuned for intelligent life. The ability to support life would itself be a worthy goal for any Fine-Tuner to aim at. But in a recent essay, Dr. Collins goes further, mounting a powerful argument that the universe was fine-tuned for intelligent life, after all. In the essay, titled, The Fine-Tuning for Discoverability, which I blogged about here, Dr. Collins develops a new fine-tuning argument for the existence of God, to the effect that some of the laws, initial conditions, and the fundamental parameters of physics were set in order to make the existence of an Intelligent Designer of the cosmos more easily discoverable by the embodied conscious agents (such as human beings) living in the cosmos. Guillermo Gonzalez and Jay Richards first drew attention to a striking correlation between habitability and measurability in their book, The Privileged Planet, back in 2004. As Richards put it in a conversation with lawyer and apologist Lee Strobel: “What’s mysterious is that the same conditions that give us a habitable planet also make our location so wonderful for scientific measurement and discovery” (The Case for a Creator, Zondervan, 2004, Chapter 4, p. 231). However, Dr. Collins’ new paper goes further, arguing that the laws, fundamental parameters, and initial conditions of the universe as a whole must be just right in order for the fine-tuning of the universe to be discovered by agents like us. Dr. Collins also addresses specific topics, such as the fine-structure constant (alpha), radiometric dating, the low entropy of the early universe, the cosmic microwave background radiation and dark energy, and he makes a strong case that their values can be scientifically explained in terms of their being fine-tuned for discoverability. The following brief quote conveys the flavor of Collins’ paper:

Here I primarily want to explore another kind of fine-tuning and its implications for this debate: the fine-tuning of the universe for being discovered. By this fine-tuning, I mean that the laws, fundamental parameters, and initial conditions of the universe must be just right for the universe to be as discoverable as ours. After presenting examples to illustrate this kind of this fine-tuning, I will argue that if this kind of fine-tuning exists, in general it cannot be explained by a multiverse hypothesis – by far the leading non-theistic explanation for anthropic fine-tuning. Further, I will show how the idea that the universe is fine-tuned for discovery answers some other commonly raised objections against the fine-tuning argument, and finally I will look at its potential predictive and explanatory power.

Belief in God is scientifically falsifiable – and what’s wrong with that?

I’d like to conclude by asking Professor Beckwith a straight question: does he think that belief in God is scientifically falsifiable, or is there no discovery in principle that would cause him to give up his faith in God?

For my part, I’m squarely in the “Faith is falsifiable” camp. A few years ago, I wrote a post I wrote for Uncommon Descent in which I listed seven discoveries that would cause me to abandon belief in God:

1. The discovery of a naked singularity – a point in space which could literally spew forth anything “out of the blue” – chairs, pizzas, computers, works of literature, or whatever.

2. The discovery that it was possible for intelligent agents (such as human beings) to go back in time and alter the past.

3. The invention of a machine that could read the propositional content of my thoughts – or those of any other human being who is currently capable of exercising their faculty of reason.

4. A scientific demonstration that our thoughts, words and actions are completely determined by external circumstances beyond our control (heredity plus environment).

5. The invention of a machine that could control the propositional content of my thoughts, and make me believe anything that the machine’s programmer wanted me to believe – or do the same to any other human being who is currently capable of exercising their faculty of reason.

6. The invention of a machine that could control my actions, without impairing my ability to reason and without impairing the link between my beliefs/thoughts/judgments and my actions – or do the same to any other human being who is currently capable of exercising their faculty of reason. Which brings me to…

7. The invention of a machine that could turn me into a person who would willingly perpetrate atrocities like those those committed by the Nazis, without impairing my ability to reason and without impairing the link between my beliefs/thoughts/judgments and my actions – or do the same to any other human being who is currently capable of exercising their faculty of reason. In answer to your question about the Holocaust, Jerry [Coyne]: Nazis wouldn’t destroy my faith in God, but a machine that could turn me (or anyone else) into a willing Nazi, would.

Now, I certainly don’t expect any of these discoveries to occur – indeed, I think the available evidence points very much against their ever occurring. But if they did occur, then I’d be intellectually compelled to abandon theism.

On a more fundamental level, suppose that the laws of Nature stopped working – not all at once, but gradually, one at a time, over a period of about one week, say. Suppose that this breakdown was observed to occur both in the heavens and on earth, and suppose that the lawless behavior that was observed slowly spread from small regions to larger ones, eating up everything in its path and eventually eating up our bodies as well? Would it not be rational to conclude, in one’s final moments as one’s body was disintegrating: “It looks like Empedocles was right, and there are no laws of Nature after all: chaos reigns supreme”? And would not the total breakdown of law in the cosmos automatically render invalid any metaphysical argument for the existence of God which was based on the fact that there are laws of Nature? If the answer to the last two questions is “Yes,” then Professor Beckwith has to concede that scientific discoveries – in this case, the shocking discovery that there are no laws of Nature, after all – could, in principle, falsify theism.

In response to Professor Beckwith’s question: although God is not a scientific hypothesis, it seems that any rational theist must acknowledge that there are scientific discoveries which could count against the existence of God. And there are certainly scientific discoveries that lend support to belief in God.

Rabbi Mitelman’s muddled thinking

In his article, Sorry, Science Doesn’t Make a Case for God. But That’s OK, Rabbi Geoffrey Mitelman contends that religious claims are not about truth but meaning, and that religious claims are in principle incapable of being scientifically verified or falsified:

Using science to prove God’s existence confuses two very different ways of thinking. Science progresses as new hypotheses get tested, questioned, refuted, expanded upon, discarded, and revised.

Religion, on the other hand, is a way to make sense of the world. It is an appreciation of awe and mystery, justice and compassion.

In other words, science is a search for truth, while religion is a search for meaning…

In other words, religion doesn’t need science to prove God’s existence, because the question of God is not a scientific one.

Science is the best method we have for understanding how we got here. But religion isn’t science. It is not (or at least should not) be about provable or disprovable claims, because that’s not its purpose. Instead, it should be designed to help us improve ourselves and our world, here and now.

The rabbi’s thinking appears to be very muddled on several points. He writes that science is about truth, while religion is about meaning. But how can religion be meaningful for anyone if it is not true? Or does the rabbi think of religion as a consoling myth? I sincerely hope not, for his sake.

The rabbi writes that religion “is not (or at least should not) be about provable or disprovable claims.” Both Judaism and Christianity commemorate the Exodus of the Israelites from Egypt, under the leadership of Moses. What if it turned out that Moses never existed, and that the Exodus never happened? Or what if there never was a king called David? Does the rabbi seriously wish to maintain that true religion would (or should) be not one whit discomfited by these discoveries?

But it’s not the God of the Bible!

Finally, author Damon Linker, in an article titled, Intelligent Design 2.0 does not prove the existence of God (The Week, January 5, 2015), contends that even if Eric Metaxas’ argument were valid, it doesn’t prove the existence of a God Who loves us, let alone the God of the Bible:

…[N]atural theology doesn’t demonstrate the existence of the God of the Bible…

Even if we consider it reasonable to speculate about the possible, mysterious role played by some form of divine intelligence on the origin of life, that provides not one ounce of support for the detailed, specific stories of divine revelation laid out in the pages of scripture.

The God of the philosophers (and the scientists) is not the God of the Bible. At least not obviously or inevitably. And no new piece of scientific evidence is likely to change that.

Linker is right, of course. But Pope Pius XII had the perfect answer to Linker’s argument when he wrote:

The knowledge of God as sole Creator, now shared by many modern scientists, is indeed, the extreme limit to which human reason can attain. Nevertheless, as you are well aware, it does not constitute the last frontier of truth. In harmonious cooperation, because all three are instruments of truth, like rays of the same sun, science, philosophy, and, with still greater reason, Revelation, contemplate the substance of this Creator whom science has met along its path unveil His outlines and point out His features.

Scientific discoveries haven’t proved the existence of the God of the Bible. But they do at least point to a universe that was created by a Transcendent Intelligence. And that’s a giant step along the road to religious belief.

I’d like to conclude by thanking Eric Metaxas for his role in sparking a new debate about the reasonability of believing in God, based on scientific discoveries.

176 Replies to “In defense of Eric Metaxas: Is God a scientific hypothesis?

  1. 1
    Zachriel says:

    vjtorley: I’m squarely in the “Faith is falsifiable” camp.

    Unfortunately, those are not usable scientific falsifications, but negative proofs that never have a resolution. In science, the reason why falsification is useful is because it is narrowly defined. It cleaves the universe into the whole minus a tiny sliver which we can test.

  2. 2
    Seversky says:

    God could be a hypothesis if the concept were framed in such a way as to be amenable to testing. Describing God as “Being itself” is not helpful in that respect, though. What does it mean? Does it reduce to ‘God is” or ‘everything that is, is God’? Is my cat, therefore, part of God? (He thinks he is God, of course). Or is it all, in Richard Dawkins’s scathing comment about Teilhard de Chardin’s work, ” a vacuous imitation of profundity”? Instead, let’s get down to cases. How would you construct a definition of God that is in any way testable?

  3. 3
    mahuna says:

    Lo! these many years ago, I read part of a book by Bishop Sheen (he of the early TV show) in which he wrote that proofs are like a ladder that lets you climb to the roof (Faith). But once you are ON the roof, you don’t need the ladder any more. And this is clearly true.

    Communists were and are convinced of the truth of Marxism or Maoism, etc., without the need for detailed confirmation that any specific piece of Marxism is true and accurate. They stand on the roof of political faith, and refuse any ladders offered to them to climb back down.

    That’s why I prefer to keep Theology a VERY good distance from Design. The existence of a Designer doesn’t tell us anything about the nature of the Designer. Coming from Theology, however, clearly a being like Jehovah COULD do all of the things that it appears the Designer can (and did) do. The position of the Catholic Church has consistently been that if Evolution or a heliocentric solar system or a hundred other things is true, then God may use that tool to accomplish something God wanted to happen. That is, Science might tell us How, but Science can’t tell us Why. And so humans will continue to propose non-Scientific answers to Why.

    So if we were to discover a natural chemical or mechanical process that produces life, that can never be a disproof of God.

  4. 4
    kairosfocus says:

    VJT:

    Interesting as usual.

    Two thoughts:

    1: The cosmological design inference is ID 1.0

    2: Science is now too important to be left to adherents of scientism.

    KF

  5. 5
    jw777 says:

    It seems both men are on the same side of the fence when it comes to “from God floweth all creation.” Fine tuning and Big Bang theory confirm this expectation if one turns the faith article into a scientific hypothesis. Furthermore, Big Bang does turn “eternal cosmos” on its ear. In order to keep their heads up, faithful acolytes of the temple of eternal cosmos must sound the call to prayer… Um, I mean, multiverse.

    Beckwith completely misses the point of the origin of life debate. If we find that the cosmos contain obligatory biological creating “machinery”, then “blind, uncaring, unguided” evolution is refuted. This does not PROVE God. But it does prove intelligence, forethought, mind and conciousness as being real fundamental properties, more so than “matter.” Originating from a source outside the universe? Perhaps. That would be reasonable.

    Right now we are on the precipice where the scientific argumentation no matter what the research results are unfairly stacked heavily against the old school of thought from a bygone era still being parroted by fossils: Neil Degrasse Tyson, Dawkins, Krause, etc.

  6. 6
    Box says:

    VJT: It is encouraging to see that the experts within the field of origin-of-life studies are finally starting to speak the truth in a public forum: the origin of life on Earth, by any naturalistic scenario, must have been an astronomically improbable event.

    And then there is Jeremy England who, without offering any numbers, states: “Under certain conditions, matter inexorably acquires the key physical attribute associated with life.”

  7. 7
    niwrad says:

    Seversky #2

    “God could be a hypothesis if the concept were framed in such a way as to be amenable to testing. […] How would you construct a definition of God that is in any way testable?”

    Don’t you think it is a bit unreasonable and silly to pretend to test the Tester? What is God but the Being, Agent, Knower, then also the Tester? You seem to want to test God as He were an object, when He is the First Agent. Even He is the First Cause of your own comments! Please wake up Seversky, don’t deceive yourself!

  8. 8
    velikovskys says:

    niwrad:
    Don’t you think it is a bit unreasonable and silly to pretend to test the Tester? What is God but the Being, Agent, Knower, then also the Tester? You seem to want to test God as He were an object, when He is the First Agent. Even He is the First Cause of your own comments!

    Then being untestable He cannot be proven by science to either exist or not.

  9. 9
    vjtorley says:

    Seversky,

    You ask a good question. To tell you the truth, I’m not a big fan of the Scholastic statement, “God is Being Itself,” as I also find it rather uninformative. If you ask me what it means, though, I’ll tell you. It means that God is (a) the Source of all contingent being; (b) an unlimited Being; and (c) a Being Whose essence explains His own existence.

    You ask me how science could test for the existence of a being like that. Science can’t test the proposition “Being Itself exists.” What science can do is find evidence to support the proposition that the universe itself is contingent – for example, the fact that the parameters that define its fundamental characteristics could have had other values. Science can also find evidence to support the claim that our contingent universe had a cause – for example, the Second Law of Thermodynamics points to its having had a beginning at some point, and even if it didn’t have a beginning, we still need some explanation for why it has the parameters it has, instead of other parameters. Thus science can support the proposition, “Contingent reality has a Cause,” which points to the existence of a non-contingent Transcendent Being that creates and sustains contingent reality. I hope that helps.

    The main problem I have, however, with the statement “God is Being Itself” is that it does not tell us what it means for something to exist in the first place. What I would suggest is that for a (contingent) thing to exist is for it to be understood, and that in order to understand what a thing is, we need to know the ways in which it exchanges information with the other beings it relates to. (The second suggestion was put forward recently by Dr. William Dembski.) In other words, the world needs to be grasped in mentalistic terms in order for to be understood at all.

    I think science is pointing towards an essentially mentalistic understanding of the world. The laws of physics are essentially mathematical, and the notion of a mind-independent reality appears to be no longer coherent, as the properties of such a reality cannot be described. Mind therefore has to be accepted as a fundamental given. And the most obvious way of doing that is to view the whole world as the product of a single Mind that conceived of and created it.

  10. 10
    rvb8 says:

    Even if I accepted the argument that by testing the effects of God’s handiwork, on God’s creation, that this could point us in the direction of the creator; which I find absurd: Even if these effects were found; which is so near to ‘0’ in probability as can safely be assumed to be ‘0’, what does this make God into? Which of the Abrahamic faiths would wish to follow such a frustrating deceiver?

    The purely materialist approach which has been striven for, and died for by countless non-religious people, and has been so singularly successful in aiding us to understand our universe, and ourselves, should not be abandoned for yet another effort to find the unfindable, or as I prefer, the nonexistant.

    The struggle to remove God from science is perhaps the West’s single greatest achievement, Islam is still shackled to their dead end, with terrible results. Why Dr Torley are you so hell bent upon a regression?

  11. 11
    Querius says:

    rvb8,

    So, of course you would find it equally absurd that someone could study your works, including your projects, credit card purchases, your emails, the time you spend on your favorite websites, your phone calls, and your posts, and arrive at any conclusions about your values, interests, priorities, or personality, right?

    I would bet that the NSA disagrees with you. 😉

    You might want to fact check your view of the history of science as well.

    -Q

  12. 12
    rvb8 says:

    Q,

    I am a being, I leave a physical trail and it can be followed. How on earth do you obtain from my post about an unobservable being, leaving a non-existant footprint, leads to, I would like my freedoms curtailed?

    My understanding of the marginalisation of god in western science, and the direct benefits this gave to ‘free’ inquiry are indisputable. Once the Church largely became toothless science exploded exponentially.

    My example of Islam today should give you pause, if it doesn’t, perhaps you do not really understand the devastation religion has done, and continues to do, once its useful and historic purpose of giving us limping law, and vague rights, is superceded.

  13. 13
    niwrad says:

    velikovskys #8

    “Then being untestable He cannot be proven by science to either exist or not.”

    Science, as meant nowadays, is not the unique way of knowledge, as the supporters of scientism claim. Science investigates physical objects. But the leap between the objects and the their observer, which we can accomplish by means of intellect, is somehow meta-scientific or over-scientific. To greater reason, we cannot put the First Observer — Who transcends the entire universe — on the lab workbench, as an object under the microscope. Differently, we can find Him if we investigate deeply inside ourselves. This way we discover that it is the Ultimate Source of our own mind.

  14. 14
    Me_Think says:

    For someone to create in 3-dimension, that someone has to exist in higher dimension, but in higher dimension how will you create proper matter ? Every thing will be messed up as spherical harmonics will be different. The orbit of atoms will have more dimensions, you will have more energy level, so more electrons per energy level is allowed, which means more protons, which means the entire atomic structure of elements will be different! How do you work with such atoms and then dumb down to 3rd dimensional element ?

  15. 15
    Axel says:

    rvb8, how do you explain the most radical, seminal paradigms of modern physics to have been discovered by the very personification of deism, Einstein, and Planck, the father and essentially single parent of quantum mechanics, a Christian and church sidesman all his adult life? Here’s what Planck had to say about your party:

    ‘Under these conditions it is no wonder, that the movement of atheists, which declares religion to be just a eliberate illusion, invented by power-seeking priests, and which has for the pious belief in a higher Power nothing but words of mockery, eagerly makes use of progressive scientific knowledge and in a presumed unity with it, expands in an ever faster pace its disintegrating action on all nations of the earth and on all social levels. I do not need to explain in any more detail that after its victory not only all the most precious treasures of our culture would vanish, but — which is even worse — also any prospects at a better future.
    Religion und Naturwissenschaft (1958)’

    – from Wikiquote.

    You people have been and remain parasites on the scientific endeavour;, with rare exceptions, having been extremely bitter enemies of it, while battening on relativity and QM, the very pillars of modern science, as if their paradoxes were part and parcel of your scientism. ‘All be explained one day. Just counter-intuitive!’ NOT.

  16. 16
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: This looks fairly relevant

    SCIENTISM: 2. the belief that the assumptions and methods of the natural sciences are appropriate and essential to all other disciplines, including the humanities and the social sciences. [-Ologies & -Isms. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc.]

    The errors embedded in such should be fairly obvious.

    KF

  17. 17
    Joe says:

    Unguided evolution could be a hypothesis if someone ever comes up with a way to test it. Materialism could also be a hypothesis if someone ever comes up with a way to test it.

    However no one should hold their breath while waiting for either of those to happen.

  18. 18
    Andre says:

    Once the Church largely became toothless science exploded exponentially.

    A false statement.

    Here is the truth;

    http://www.adherents.com/peopl.....tists.html

  19. 19
    Zachriel says:

    Querius: So, of course you would find it equally absurd that someone could study your works, including your projects, credit card purchases, your emails, the time you spend on your favorite websites, your phone calls, and your posts, and arrive at any conclusions about your values, interests, priorities, or personality, right? I would bet that the NSA disagrees with you.

    Sure you could because there is a causal connection between these activities and individual simians, something that can be tested, and something of great interest to the NSA.

  20. 20
    velikovskys says:

    Niwrad:

    Science, as meant nowadays, is not the unique way of knowledge, as the supporters of scientism claim.

    If you mean that there are other ways to find knowledge other than science ,I agree.

    Science investigates physical objects.

    Basically ,what exists and how that they interact

    But the leap between the objects and the their observer, which we can accomplish by means of intellect, is somehow meta-scientific or over-scientific.

    I think that is half right, science deals by definition with leaps between objects and observers, the question is how justified is that leap. What are the entailments for instance.

    To greater reason, we cannot put the First Observer — Who transcends the entire universe — on the lab workbench

    Of course not, but science does not require everything fit on a workbench.. The problem with that hypothesis is that the First Observer by definition is a non contingent being ,beyond scientific reduction.

    . Differently, we can find Him if we investigate deeply inside ourselves. This way we discover that it is the Ultimate Source of our own mind.

    Or not. But that feeling doesn’t tell us anything about how the Observer is the source of the mind, just thinking you know the answer does not tell one how to solve the problem, and that is what science is, learning how to solve the problem. And that is the dilemma. Omnipotence is beyond science

  21. 21
    velikovskys says:

    axel,,
    rvb8, how do you explain the most radical, seminal paradigms of modern physics to have been discovered by the very personification of deism, Einstein, and Planck, the father and essentially single parent of quantum mechanics, a Christian and church sidesman all his adult life?

    Please provide the equation of Planck or Einstein which includes a variable for God. Thanks

  22. 22
    velikovskys says:

    mt:
    For someone to create in 3-dimension, that someone has to exist in higher dimension, but in higher dimension how will you create proper matter ?

    The standard omnipotent creator is by definition dimensionless and capable of anything not logically impossible.

  23. 23
    Me_Think says:

    The standard omnipotent creator is by definition dimensionless and capable of anything not logically impossible.

    Sorry, even a dimensionless creator can’t do knots in dimensions higher than 3D, or create a 3D creature without it’s innards falling off, or have a lesser orbital atoms to match those in 3D.

  24. 24
    velikovskys says:

    mt:

    Sorry, even a dimensionless creator can’t do knots in dimensions higher than 3D, or create a 3D creature without it’s innards falling off, or have a lesser orbital atoms to match those in 3D

    I didn’t say it makes sense just that higher dimension Creator is an oxymoron.

  25. 25
    Tim says:

    Axel began with a question to rvb8, and it went like this:

    how do you explain the most radical, seminal paradigms of modern physics to have been discovered by the very personification of deism, Einstein, and Planck, the father and essentially single parent of quantum mechanics, a Christian and church sidesman all his adult life?

    . . . which rvb8 chose not to respond to which is of course his right and perhaps he doesn’t have the time or didn’t see it etc . . .
    But then velikovskys has the temerity to “up the ante” in this way:

    Please provide the equation of Planck or Einstein which includes a variable for God. Thanks

    As if in failing to meet this challenge, Axel and his request for an explanation is somehow undermined. Here, velikovskys is just being silly. Let’s look at the big three in physics and the big three “for the 20th century”: Newton, Einstein, and Planck and Marx, Freud and Darwin. What are the “vectors” of religious belief for each?
    Newton, “Anti-Catholic” “heterodox” “theist” “devout”; there are a lot of descriptors, but it seems evident that he believed in a creator-God, ruler of all.
    Einstein, deist
    Planck, Christian
    Freud, atheist
    Marx, atheist
    Darwin, agnostic (yes, like Newton, it is hard to pin him down, but concerning his views and their general trajectory, let’s go with this.)
    When we look at the “fields of study”, the physicists seem to have an easy time of keeping God out of their production. Then, in reflecting on what they have learned by their science, they find a conception of God either compelling or consonant.
    For Freud and Marx of course, their –ologies have, as a part of their structure, a denial of God as a reality. Darwin is careful in the “Origin” to avoid this, but not so, in “Descent” where religious belief is treated as contingent artifact. So even Darwin, in part of his studies prior to reflection on scientific finding, comments on religion.

    We are looking then at six great minds, and how their theorizing either produced and/or strengthened their beliefs, OR how their beliefs affected their theory. It would do us well to look closely at the outcomes and influences of their theory. This is not necessarily the forum for such a discussion at this time. So, I will end the matter: physicists rule, the other three drool.

    As for a “variable for God,” here you go, velikovskys, “G(x)”.

    Axiom 1: Any property entailed by—i.e., strictly implied by—a positive property is positive
    Axiom 2: A property is positive if and only if its negation is not positive
    Theorem 1: If a property is positive, then it is consistent, i.e., possibly exemplified.
    Definition 1: x is God-like if and only if x has as essential properties those and only those properties which are positive
    Axiom 3: The property of being God-like is positive
    Theorem 2: The property of being God-like is consistent.
    Definition 2: A is an essence of x if and only if for every property B, x has B necessarily if and only if A entails B
    Axiom 4: If a property is positive, then it is necessarily positive
    Theorem 3: If something is God-like, then the property of being God-like is an essence of that thing.
    Definition 3: x necessarily exists if and only if every essence of x is necessarily exemplified
    Axiom 5: Necessary existence is a positive property
    Theorem 4: Necessarily, the property of being God-like is exemplified.

    So, you got what you asked for, “G(x)”. Did it make any difference at all? I thought not.

    That was Godel’s ontological proof. (This rendering was cut and re-ordered from good ol’Wikipedia, so we know it is true.) As an argument from authority (Godel) it is virtually peerless, from history (modeled on Anselm) it is enduring, from rhetoric, it is strong. It has only one “flaw”: it is not airtight. And that is what you want, isn’t it, velikovskys? . . . An airtight proof that God exists. When you asked for a variable for God from Einstein or Planck, you knew none was forthcoming, but you asked anyway, as a way of getting over on Axel and being larger in the eyes of our readers.

    I would submit that if you always must be larger, then the airtight proof will never admit, or to put it more traditionally, will never be revealed to you. It is important to locate, exactly, where the flaw resides.

  26. 26
    Lou Jost says:

    VJT, this is my first comment here at UD. I’m an atheist with physics and biology background.

    I certainly agree with you that the existence of most kinds of gods would have empirical consequences. I also appreciate very much that you were brave enough to give examples of things that would reduce your certainty that a god exists. I’ve tried to get believers to do that on other sites without success. (Some things on your list, like #7, are already roughly possible….)

    For now I just want to point out a distinction between the multiverse concept and the many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics, in relation to Koonin’s calculation of the probability that an evolvable self-replicator arises by chance on earth. The confusion between these two concepts seems to originate with Koonin himself. Koonin’s probability calculation is based on the laws of physics and chemistry known to us in this universe, and on the known values of fundamental constants in this universe. The event is allowed under our laws, but is very rare. Such an improbable event would nevertheless arise in at least some of the infinitely-branching quantum-level versions of our universe, under the Many-Worlds Interpretation of quantum mechanics proposed by Everett and Wheeler.

    So technically, this particular problem could be solved without invoking cosmological multiverses, which each have different laws of physics, with different fundamental constants. Multiverses are often invoked to explain the apparent fine-tuning of physical laws to produce intelligent life; they are not needed to explain events which are rare but possible under the laws of the universe we find ourselves in today.

    Some physicists speculate that the multiverse hypothesis and the Many-Worlds Interpretation of quantum mechanics are deeply connected, this is still very controversial.

    On another subject I think Robin Collins’ claim that a god designed the universe to be “discoverable”, so as to lead us to this god, suffers from several shortcomings. First, if anything, recent discoveries have the opposite effect; rather than leading more scientists to a god, they have provided a naturalistic explanation for fine-tuned laws, and provided a naturalistic explanation for the appearance of design in living things. Biological and physical scientists have a far higher rate of unbelief in gods than the general public. If a god wanted scientists to be led to him, one would think that the ID scientific program would be lively and fruitful today, but the ID journal Bio-complexity is nearly empty year after year, with no evidence of the vibrance one might expect if a god were on the side of their research program

    More than that, if discoverability were important to a god, he would have infinitely many ways to make himself obvious, yet he has not done any of them in at least the last couple of thousand years. Think also about the main event in Christianity, the coming of Jesus. How much more discoverable he would have been if he had come in an age with worldwide mass communication instead of coming to a remote backwater in a time when most men were illiterate and communication across distances was painfully slow. As more and more people leave organized religion behind, the data shows that discoverability is not a high priority for your god.
    Lou Jost

  27. 27
    idpetition says:

    The Bio/it arguement

    It stands for Biology/  information technology and it is all about how a gene in biology is similar in function to a code object in computer programming; that both use file header and end of file marks and both are designed to perform a specific task and to help make software reuseable.  The great thing about the Bio/it argument is that it does not focus at all on the complexity of life, which can be daunting, but rather it focuses on the method of design;  the use of software; the DNA software of life. And obviously human beings did not write the DNA software of life, probably some other intelligence did. And so yes, the Bio/it argument concludes that human intelligence is probably not the only source or even the best source of intelligence in the universe.  The one thing we do know for sure, is that everything is not the result of natural causes and the best example is a computer program. A computer program is the result of an intelligent design.

    And we now know that the genome is software. And just like it takes planning, or goal oriented cognitive forethought, to get your computer software to work correctly with your computer hardware it takes planning or goal oriented cognitive forethought to get the DNA software to work correctly with the cellular hardware, the ribosomes etc. In fact one of the great things about biology is that the cellular hardware itself, the ribosomes etc, are all encoded for by the software –  a really good example, if not proof, of goal oriented cognitive forethougt. And so, that’s the Bio/it argument. And the reason I am so exited to write about it is because it is a revival topic; and  that it can  open up for us all, the wonder of the universe, of who the designer might be.

  28. 28
    Axel says:

    Velikovskys @ 21

    Oh foolishness, thy name is velikovskys ! And yet it is a first-rate question, because it goes right to the heart of the matter.

    Albert Einstein, the ‘intelligent design’, go-to man for the thinking scientist.

    When Einstein was asked what criterion he used for selecting his hypotheses, he replied that it was aesthetic.

    ‘Intelligence, he remarked, ‘makes clear to us the interrelationship of means and ends. But mere thinking cannot give us a sense of the ultimate and fundamental ends. To make clear these fundamental ends and valuations and to set them fast in the emotional life of the individual, seems to me precisely the most important function which religion has to form in the social life of man.’

    So, we shouldn’t be surprised that tracing chains of cause and effect to reach an understanding of the answers to the great questions, requires something more than even the sharpest analytical intelligence.

    A person can be a great pianist or artist and be a devil incarnate, but above the sensual level, beauty scales an infinite height right up to God. In fact, it is extremely closely bound up with God’s infinite,divine love. Heaven will be almost as much about beauty as anything else, an incredible continuum with divine love, itself almost exclusively accessible through what Aldous Huxley, in his essay, The Perennial Philosophy, called the ‘unitive intelligence’, presumably because through it, the connectedness of everything can be seen; even time itself within an eternal present ! Pick the bones out of that !

    I’ll proffer one or two more quotes of Albert and move on to Maximilian tomorrow. It’s rather late to be banging away at a keyboard in an apartment.

    ‘The human mind is not capable of grasping the Universe. We are like a little child entering a huge library. The walls are covered to the ceilings with books in many different tongues. The child knows that someone must have written these books. It does not know who or how. It does not understand the languages in which they are written. But the child notes a definite plan in the arrangement of the books — a mysterious order which it does not comprehend, but only dimly suspects.’

    When trying to answer the deepest questions, in building up our world-view, all our experiences in life will be assessed by us mostly doubtless subliminally, an ongoing process; a process far too complicated and subtle for the unaided analytical intelligence.

    There is another obstacle, however – the human heart. We are all inclined to believe what we prefer to, all as part of God’s post-Fall, providential economy, since it was He who inspired us with this wishful thinking, building everything to correspond with it. Correspond and more than correspond.

    He gave us a hopeless sales-slogan from the viewpoint of he natural man : ‘Take up your cross and follow me.’ So, the heart of the natural man recoils at what appears to be masochistic nonsense. Only divine grace can turn us into passionate ‘madmen’ for Christ’s sake. But with that grace, we do receive joy and consolations in the here and now, and at least small intimations of a boundless, heavenly joy in the hereafter.

  29. 29
    rvb8 says:

    Tim, I chose not to answer Axel as I was in bed, in China.

    Let me see, he said, ‘Einstein, relativity, Einstein, Planck, QM, Einstein, Planck, deism, Planck, Einstein, Newton too, deism, therefore they are smart equals god.’

    No; appeal to authority is a lame argument, and quoting Einstein, Newton, Darwin, and the Bible, to suit your own ends is not only manipulative and cowardly, but shows deep disrespect for the academic rigour of those named above; minus the Bible of course.

  30. 30
    Querius says:

    Welcome and thank you for posting your perspective, Lou.

    One of the basic problems that I see in your position involves the chain of cause–effect back the big bang (or rather the big stretch). At the big bang, a lot of things came into existence, including space, mass-energy-gravity, the laws of physics . . . and time.

    How can you have probability or branching before you have time???

    What came into existence appeared out of non-existence. I’m not talking about empty space with dark energy and quantum foam, but rather non-existence as in the Easter Bunny.

    No wonder Stephen Hawking needed to postulate a multiverse with several God-like qualities. In concept a multiverse sounds more scientific than the Easter Bunny, but they actually have a lot in common when you think about it.

    And then there’s the puzzle as you why things get more complex the more we find out rather than less complex. Protons, neutrons, electrons, and photons seemed so simple. And what do we have now? 🙂

    -Q

  31. 31
    rvb8 says:

    Q, and non-arguments seem to go hand in hand.

    Welcome Lou, great post with many points; scientists leaving faith as rationality prevails, a god desiring discovery hide bound in obscurantism, if he wants to be discovered why not choose the Chinese at the contemporary moment as they at least had culture that could spread his word, rather than illiterate sheep hearders?; great points.

    The reply of ‘Q’ “aaah but what was before the big bang?”
    When I asked Q how to find evidence for a non-existant being leaving non-existant evidence, he said, “but the NSA can find you.” I replied “I am a physical being and leave a mark,” Q said………

    Why you should employ god here is just as unprovable as the concept nothing.

  32. 32
    Andre says:

    RVB8

    I find your rationality rant absolutely fascinating. How can we test that the version of chemical reactions in your brain are the rational ones?

  33. 33
    Lou Jost says:

    Querius and rvb8, thanks for the responses.

    Querius, I am not familiar enough with the theory to talk confidently about the nature of time or other dimensions before inflation. However, to compare the theory to belief in the Easter Bunny is unfair, and invites a similar comparison involving the Christian belief.

    There were two very recent posts on BioLogos about the multiverse hypothesis:

    http://biologos.org/blog/does-.....-us-to-god

    http://biologos.org/blog/satur.....ry-10-2015

    The first link gives Polkinghorne’s view of the multiverse theory, and the second link just briefly mentions it.

    Many people think the multiverse theory has no empirical content, or is untestable. In the comment section on the first link, I explain that the multiverse theory as an explanation of fine tuning does in fact make some statistical empirical predictions. It is not untestable in that sense. I do not address the issue raised by vjt that the multiverse generator itself must be fine-tuned. I’m not sure about that. I think that depends on how chaotic the laws of physics can be in the different universes. But in any case, that sort of thing is an even bigger problem for the god-as-creator hypothesis.

    Your point that reality is more complex than we thought in the 1930s is certainly true, but I don’t see the relevance, except perhaps as another refutation of Collins’ claim that the universe is designed to be easily discovered. To find the Higgs boson took decades and billions of dollars. Higgs bosons aren’t exactly laying around waiting for us to stumble onto them….

    rvb8, people who believe in gods often blame the absence of contemporary miracles, absence of clear evidence for ID, choice of ancient and non-repeating timeframe for Jesus (if one is a Christian), etc, on the notion that this god wants to be subtle. One cannot easily hold that position and Collins’ position on discoverability at the same time.

  34. 34
    Andre says:

    Right so we have never seen God therefore God does not exist, we have never seen the multiverse, but it could exist.

    Thank God Almighty that I got my rationality back and that I’m no longer a slave to the double standards that tormented my soul for 34 years.

    Of course the idea that science will no longer mean any knowledge gain if the multiverse is true, escapes the chemical reactions of the materialist mind.

  35. 35
    Silver Asiatic says:

    LJ

    I think that depends on how chaotic the laws of physics can be in the different universes.

    That is why the concept is untestable.

  36. 36
    Lou Jost says:

    Silver Asiatic, no, even if we can’t specify exactly what happens, there are some statistical predictions that can be made about the fine tuning. Please see my correction to Polkinghorne’s “parable” in the first BioLogos link I gave above.

    Andre said “…the idea that science will no longer mean any knowledge gain if the multiverse is true, escapes the chemical reactions of the materialist mind.”

    Did you notice that science hasn’t squeaked to a stop after the multiverse hypothesis was proposed? Nor did it stop when Darwinian evolution proposed that random variation plus natural selection could lead to complex life.

    The old answer that “God did it”, on the other hand, is a bit of a science stopper. Compare the sterility of Genesis-based biology to the richness of modern godless biology.

  37. 37
    Axel says:

    LJ – if I may interject, also craving the Silver Fox’s indulgence, of course – I should imagine that the richness of modern biology rests largely upon quantum physics, a paradigm whose discovery we should still be awaiting – indeed, until Kingdom Come – if we had had to rely upon the blinkered scientism of atheists, under whose hermeneutic, paradoxes are just difficulties waiting to be unravelled by their good selves, instead of oxymora, mysteries, in very principle repugnant to reason, which just happen to be true.

    In terms of theoretical physics, you are dead-beats. Only Feynman’s bumbling humility could have enabled him to make his discoveries; bumbling humility in this context being immeasurably superior to the know-all, Smart Aleckkiness of the militant atheist.

  38. 38
    Silver Asiatic says:

    LJ

    Silver Asiatic, no, even if we can’t specify exactly what happens, there are some statistical predictions that can be made about the fine tuning.

    This does not follow. It’s not that you “can’t specify exactly” but you “can’t specify at all”. You have no directly observed evidence that multiverses exist. You do not know at all ‘how chaotic the laws of physics can be in the different universes’ – or even if there are entirely different laws, or universes with no laws or with incomprehensible laws.

    The fact that you turn quickly to “The old answer that “God did it”, on the other hand …” indicates an agenda-driven response. It’s a fight against the “God alternative”.

  39. 39
    Andre says:

    LJ

    One of the gifts man received, is his imagination, it surely is a wonderful thing, we can imagine anything we want, but that does not make it true, you’ve already lost the plot when you pointed to Darwinian mechanisms, as you know these mechanisms was proposed on the on the idea that if intelligent designers can do it (artificial selection) then nature can do it also.

  40. 40
    velikovskys says:

    Tim:
    But then velikovskys has the temerity to “up the ante” in this way: “Please provide the equation of Planck or Einstein which contains a variable for God”

    It seems my effrontery knows no bounds.

    As if in failing to meet this challenge, Axel and his request for an explanation is somehow undermined. Here, velikovskys is just being silly.

    That would be silly but that is not why I asked, Axel is more than capable of undermining his own position unaided. My question why he seem to think that Einstein and Planck belief in an immaterial realm led to their success in describing the material world. And how the belief in the immaterial manifested itself in their science. Silly me.

    When we look at the “fields of study”, the physicists seem to have an easy time of keeping God out of their production.

    You say keeping out, what variable would result if one kept God in physics?

    Then, in reflecting on what they have learned by their science, they find a conception of God either compelling or consonant.

    A good glass of whiskey has the same effect for me, but ” a conception ” is pretty broad. An atheist reflecting on his science might have his concept of God remain constant as well.

    So, you got what you asked for, “G(x)”. Did it make any difference at all? I thought not.

    Thanks, but Godel is not Einstein or Planck so technically that is what I politely asked for.

    And that is what you want, isn’t it, velikovskys? . . . An airtight proof that God exists.

    I have always favored a cosmological argument as evidence for the existence of something unknown which could have godlike aspects.

    As for an airtight proof that always seemed like a infringement both faith as a virtue and the concept of free will, for which the slaughter of millions was tolerated in service of. After all one does not need much faith to believe 1+1 = 2.

  41. 41
    velikovskys says:

    Axel:
    Oh foolishness, thy name is velikovskys ! And yet it is a first-rate question, because it goes right to the heart of the matter.

    Forgive the foolishness, I can only work with what I am given, but thanks for the acknowledgement, sorry pressed for time will respond later

  42. 42
    Lou Jost says:

    Axel, I’ll try to parse through your rhetoric and just deal with the substance of your comment. You said ” I should imagine that the richness of modern biology rests largely upon quantum physics.” Actually no, QM has little to do with the explosion of knowledge in biology in the last decades, though quantum processes are indeed involved. The explosion is mostly due to our newfound ability to look directly at the gene sequences of organisms.

    In the rest of your comment, you seem to be saying that religious belief played an important role in the discovery of QM. Care to explain that? I think religion played no role. Indeed many people objected to the introduction of irrreducible probability into physics, sometimes for religious reasons.

  43. 43
    Lou Jost says:

    Silver Asiatic, I guess you didn’t read the links I gave to BioLogos. The multiverse hypothesis makes some statistical predictions relevant to the fine-tuning question. The argument is too long to repeat here. Go over there and if you still disagree, let me know.

    I do ask that you compare “a god did it” whenever you criticize some other hypothesis about origins. If you say one origin hypothesis has problems, check to see if “a god did it” also has that problem before you criticize. If “a god did it” makes some empirical prediction, tell us what that might be.

  44. 44
    Lou Jost says:

    Andre, of course I agree with you that imagining something doesn’t make it true. Whether one imagines an explanation in terms of gods or in terms of natural selection on random variation, one must test the hypothesis. Of those two hypotheses, the second has more positive evidence in its favor than the first.

  45. 45
    fifthmonarchyman says:

    rvb8

    if he wants to be discovered why not choose the Chinese at the contemporary moment as they at least had culture that could spread his word, rather than illiterate sheep hearders?

    I say,

    What if instead of wanting to be discovered he wanted to “make foolish the wisdom of the world(1 cor 1:20)”

    In other words what if God wanted to make supposedly smart people look like idiots?

    How would he accomplish that in your opinion?

    peace

  46. 46
    Lou Jost says:

    Fifthmonarchyman, you said “…what if God wanted to make supposedly smart people look like idiots? ”

    You got us there. But if he hates to have us use our brains, why did he (on your view) give them to us?

    Note also that your position is another (very clever) refutation of Collins’ “discoverability” idea.

  47. 47
    fifthmonarchyman says:

    Lou said,

    But if he hates to have us use our brains, why did he (on your view) give them to us?

    I say,

    who said anything about not using your brains?

    You said,

    Note also that your position is another (very clever) refutation of Collins’ “discoverability” idea.

    I say,

    What? Why is my suggestion and “discoverability” not compatible?

    In fact I would say that your inability to see how the two goals are closely related is evidence that he accomplished what he wanted to do.

    quote:

    Then Isaiah is so bold as to say, “I have been found by those who did not seek me; I have shown myself to those who did not ask for me.”
    (Rom 10:20)

    end quote:

    peace

  48. 48
    Axel says:

    Vel #42

    Likewise. Good job you reminded me. Must look at Planck tomorrow.

  49. 49
    Axel says:

    Your #43, LJ.

    Put it in my Favs, so it doesn’t disappear irretrievable.

    But just for starters, with its paradoxes, mysteries repugnant to reasson, it ‘knocked’ the fatuous triumphalism’ of the prevailing scientism and ‘promissory note’ ‘on the head, once and for all.’

    Though it sound as if you still haven’t got the memo, old chap. More tomorrow God willing.

  50. 50
    Silver Asiatic says:

    LJ

    Thus we get a statistical prediction from this hypothesis: if this universe is randomly selected from the set of all universes that produce intelligent life, it would most likely be a universe that was just barely suitable for life. And our universe fits that prediction.

    The set of all universes that produce life cover a range from barely suitable for life to broadly suitable for life.

    If our universe was broadly suitable for life, it merely would be one of the set of all universes.

    This prediction says nothing.

  51. 51
    Silver Asiatic says:

    LJ

    If “a god did it” makes some empirical prediction, tell us what that might be.

    A universe designed by God will exhibit some beauty, symmetry and mathematical fine-tuning not obtainable by randomness alone.

    We observe beauty, symmetry and mathematical fine-tuning.

    Thus, God did it fits the prediction.

  52. 52
    fifthmonarchyman says:

    Behold the awesome union of discoverability and making supposedly smart people look like idiots.

    😉

    quote:

    At that time Jesus declared, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children;
    (Mat 11:25)

    end quote:

    peace

  53. 53
    Box says:

    Lou Jost: But if he hates to have us use our brains, why did he (on your view) give them to us?

    God: When you examined all the fancy stuff in life, why didn’t you believe in my existence?
    Lou Jost: I believed that life just appeared to be designed.
    God: And when you examined the fine-tuned values of fundamental constants of the universe, why didn’t you believe in my existence?
    Lou Jost: I believed that most likely there is a naturalistic explanation for the fine-tuned values.
    God: You stand before me, now do you believe in my existence?
    Lou Jost: Nope, because recent discoveries inform me that there is very likely a naturalistic explanation for these kind of hallucinations.

  54. 54
    Lou Jost says:

    Axel, #50, I’ll grant you that the discovery of QM did deflate the naive view of reality held by believers in classical mechanics, and I agree that they were overconfident about their view that classical mechanics would explain everything. But QM is still a naturalistic theory. It says nothing either way about scientism. Its lesson is that our intuitions about the nature of reality can be wildly wrong. That’s the same lesson that relativity taught us. Our most fundamental and intuitive concepts are wrong. Our intuitions and forms of perception are only as good as evolution could make them; we do not have an intuitive feel for conditions that are far removed from the conditions that were involved in natural selection. It takes real work to get past these limitations, and even then the view beyond them is quite cloudy.

  55. 55
    fifthmonarchyman says:

    Silver Asiatic said,

    A universe designed by God will exhibit some beauty, symmetry and mathematical fine-tuning not obtainable by randomness alone.

    I say

    I would add that if the designer is the Christian God the beauty, symmetry and mathematical fine-tuning will be obvious to the point that to deny design would appear as the height of foolishness in the eyes of the elect.

    While at the same time the design would be subtle enough to allow a supposedly intelligent rebel to make lame excuses in-perpetuity.

    Only a very small subset of universes would meet that criteria. We happen to live in one.

    peace

  56. 56
    Lou Jost says:

    Box (#54):
    God: Box, when you learned the theory of evolution using your magnificent brain, why did you still jump to the conclusion that I designed the universe to produce you?

    Box: Well, obviously my species is the best species in the whole universe, so of course you designed the universe to produce us.

    God: Where is your humility, man? I’ve heard the same darn thing from the Zogians of Andromeda, the Sirens of Titan, the Klingons, and even the whales on your own planet! I didn’t design the universe for you, you arrogant fool, I just keep rolling the cosmic dice to see what would happen. The stuff that comes out is sometimes amazing, sometimes boring. Endlessly entertaining fun…. I have to do something to keep me amused. Eternity gets boring after a while….

  57. 57
    fifthmonarchyman says:

    @ Lou(#57)

    In the middle of a discussion of QM It’s important to consider the only known creature in the universe that is assumed to be capable of collapsing the wave function.

    As a Christian I would never claim that the universe was created for humans.

    But as a thinker I would be willing to bet it was designed with us in mind.

    peace

  58. 58
    Lou Jost says:

    Silver Asiatic #51, I guess you still didn’t read my BioLogos comment, or didn’t understand it. If the range of fundamental constants that produce life is very narrow, as we all agree, then most of the universes that produce life will just barely be able to do so. If our universe is randomly selected from the set of universes that produced life, then it most likely will be one of those that barely produces life.

    Our universe is NOT optimized for human life.

  59. 59
    Lou Jost says:

    #58, fifthmonarchyman, you are mistaken in your interpretation of QM, according to most physicists today. Yes, there was a time when some people though that. But now there are better interpretations of QM.

  60. 60
    fifthmonarchyman says:

    Hey Lou

    Please point me to the experimental basis for these “better” interpretations. IOW how do we know they are better?

    By the way a quick check of Wikipedia reveals that 7 of the 14 interpretations of QM require the observer. Are you ruling all of them out or just some?

    peace

  61. 61
    Lou Jost says:

    #61, fifthmonarchyman, do you think cats are really half-dead and half-alive when we don’t look at them in Schrodinger’s thought experiment? What about monkeys? What about very young children? When does a human embryo attain the ability to collapse the state vector? How do you know?

    If two people are looking at the same experiment, which one collapses its state vector? Again, how do you know?

  62. 62
    fifthmonarchyman says:

    Lou,

    Mind if I do a little speculation?

    I happen to have an odd interpretation that holds that one special human is “the” objective observer in that his perspective is the one “true” one. So all cats and monkeys and fully grown people are part of the wave function that collapses at his observation.

    He literally brings the universe into existence

    I also speculate that he is entangled with an observer existing outside of the universe and the entanglement is itself conscious such that the three observers constitute a single whole.

    This speculation will all seem vaguely familiar to the Trinitarian theist

    Of course it will all appear to be wild speculation to you but I assure you there is theoretical and experimental support for some of what I say.

    expect more in the future

    check it out

    https://medium.com/the-physics-arxiv-blog/quantum-experiment-shows-how-time-emerges-from-entanglement-d5d3dc850933

    peace

  63. 63
    Lou Jost says:

    #64, fifthmonkeyman, look up “observer” (quantum mechanics) in Wikipedia:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/O.....physics%29

    There are a few fringe people, (Fritjof Capra is quoted in that article) and a few mainstreamers (eg Wigner) who claim or claimed that the observer must be conscious (though very few people have claimed that the consciousness must be human). But the mainstream view is the one presented by Heisenberg, one of the theory’s founders, also quoted there in the Wikipedia article:

    “The observer has, rather, only the function of registering decisions, i.e., processes in space and time, and it does not matter whether the observer is an apparatus or a human being; but the registration, i.e., the transition from the “possible” to the “actual,” is absolutely necessary here and cannot be omitted from the interpretation of quantum theory.”

    Anyway it is an interesting issue, we can agree on that!

  64. 64
    Lou Jost says:

    #63, fifthmonarchyman, that is an interesting article you referred to, thanks. Wheeler and DeWitt who developed the key equation were professors in my physics dept when I went to grad school at UT. I’ll have to study it more. But it does not seem to require a human observer.

  65. 65
    Querius says:

    Lou Jost wrote,

    Querius, I am not familiar enough with the theory to talk confidently about the nature of time or other dimensions before inflation. However, to compare the theory to belief in the Easter Bunny is unfair, and invites a similar comparison involving the Christian belief.

    You’re misunderstanding what I wrote.

    Let me put it another way. The study of science involves cause and effect. When we get light from the sun, that’s an effect. Science assumes that there’s a natural cause for that sunlight.

    When we consider the origin of the sun, we try to find a natural series of events that was the cause of the sun and other stars.

    We trace back these effects through time to a singularity that’s commonly called “the big bang,” but there’s a problem. What caused the big bang? Before there was a big bang, there was nothing, not even space existed and there was no such thing as time or chance. There was simply nothing.

    To say that a multiverse caused it, doesn’t answer the question of where the multiverse came from. Of course, people make up stories like the multiverse had no beginning or end. It has an infinite amount of energy, it is capable of creating our dimensions of space and time, and it doesn’t obey the same laws of physics as our universe does.

    In short, this proposed cause is miraculous and it is not possible for any of our scientific instruments to verify any of this. To make matters worse, astrophysicists tell us that this big bang event happened only once in our universe and apparently it will never happen again.

    So, here’s where the Easter bunny comes in. All the stories that people have made up about the multiverse with long, scientific-sounding words, can also be imaginatively applied to the Easter bunny. Scientifically, one cannot distinguish between the two. Except for the long words, of course, but humans invented those as well.

    The Easter bunny (named after the goddess Ishtar) also has no beginning or end. It apparently has an infinite amount of energy and the capability to create and hide an infinite number of eggs for all eternity. It can appear or disappear at will, giving it transdimensional travel, and also doesn’t have to obey the laws of physics. Finally, just as the multiverse, it is beyond scientific measurement.

    Please note that I haven’t invoked God or Christianity. I’m only comparing the multiverse explanation with the Ishtar bunny and found them scientifically equivalent. 😉

    -Q

  66. 66
    Lou Jost says:

    Querius, I don’t see that. I could exclude the Easter bunny from a place where eggs got hidden, showing that the Easter bunny wasn’t needed in that explanation. I could try to detect tracks of the Easter bunny, and not ever find them. I could look into the origin of the idea of the Easter bunny and find that there is no compelling reason to have ever introduced it. The case is different for the multiverse. There are even some empirical predictions that can be made from the hypothesis. But I do agree with you that the multiverse idea does not answer the question of why there is something rather than nothing. That is not its purpose.

    The god concept also does not help answer the question of why there is something rather than nothing. It only adds an extra layer.

  67. 67
    Me_Think says:

    fifthmonarchyman @ 63

    I also speculate that he is entangled with an observer existing outside of the universe and the entanglement is itself conscious such that the three observers constitute a single whole

    If someone is ‘outside of the universe’, he is in higher dimension,say, the 4th dimension, where we will have 4p orbitals in energy levels which of course, means more than 2 electrons per energy level, and more protons too – atomic structure will change, no element will be what it is in our 3D universe, the wave function of particles will change, so there is no way entanglement of particles in our universe can extend outside the universe. The reverse is also not possible – an ‘extra-universe’ particles cannot entangle with ‘intra-universe’ particles.

  68. 68
    Dionisio says:

    #8 velikovskys
    #20 velikovskys
    #21 velikovskys
    #22 velikovskys
    #24 velikovskys
    #41 velikovskys
    #42 velikovskys

    Obviously you have been very active in this thread.

    Would you mind reviewing what you recently wrote in another related thread?

    Here’s a link to post #83 in the ‘not unbroken’ thread:

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-541984

  69. 69
    fifthmonarchyman says:

    Me_think says

    so there is no way entanglement of particles in our universe can extend outside the universe.

    I say,

    You are defining entanglement to rigidly. Entanglement can entail any process in which information is exchanged it does not necessarily have to include physical contact.

    You say,

    If someone is ‘outside of the universe’, he is in higher dimension

    I say,

    Dimensional space is a concept germane to our physical existence. It does not necessarily apply to a being outside our universe.

    you need to think bigger here

    peace

  70. 70
    Silver Asiatic says:

    Lou Jost

    If the range of fundamental constants that produce life is very narrow, as we all agree, then most of the universes that produce life will just barely be able to do so. If our universe is randomly selected from the set of universes that produced life, then it most likely will be one of those that barely produces life.

    Your sample is biased. Our universe would have to be randomly selected from the set of all universes, not just from those that produce life.

    If randomly selected from all universes – then it is most likely it would be a universe that cannot produce life at all.

  71. 71
    Silver Asiatic says:

    The god concept also does not help answer the question of why there is something rather than nothing.

    By definition, God is being or existence itself. A non-contingent, first cause answers the question.

  72. 72
    Me_Think says:

    fifthmonarchyman @ 70

    Entanglement can entail any process in which information is exchanged it does not necessarily have to include physical contact.

    Every entanglement begins with two (or more) particles in physical contact. Without contact initially, there can be no entanglement. Once particles are entangled, they can’t cross dimensions because obviously with Np orbitals ( where N is the dimension), the orbitals will be different and so will be the wave function.

    Dimensional space is a concept germane to our physical existence. It does not necessarily apply to a being outside our universe.

    If there is a being,there is dimension.Without dimension, there can’t be a ‘being’, unless the ‘being’ is less than Planck length, in which case we can disregard the dimensions. So is your ‘being’ less than Planck length ?

    you need to think bigger here

    In fact ,you need to think lot smaller.

  73. 73
    Box says:

    Me_Think: If there is a being,there is dimension.Without dimension, there can’t be a ‘being’, unless the ‘being’ is less than Planck length, in which case we can disregard the dimensions. So is your ‘being’ less than Planck length?

    Is your ‘being’ less than Planck length? What are the dimensions of your consciousness? What is the length of the average thought? What is the weight of happiness?

  74. 74
    Me_Think says:

    Is your ‘being’ less than Planck length? What are the dimensions of your consciousness? What is the length of the average thought? What is the weight of happiness?

    For me a ‘being’ is living thing occupying space, So you think the higher being is just consciousness or energy ?

  75. 75
    Me_Think says:

    Is the game first person or third person game?

  76. 76
    Zachriel says:

    Silver Asiatic: Your sample is biased. Our universe would have to be randomly selected from the set of all universes, not just from those that produce life.

    If you are in the universe, then it has to be a universe that has you in it! The sample IS biased.

    Box: Is your ‘being’ less than Planck length? What are the dimensions of your consciousness? What is the length of the average thought? What is the weight of happiness?

    What is the mass of two-ness? Abstractions have no physical properties. Just because you can frame the question doesn’t mean it is coherent.

    “Colorless green ideas sleep furiously.” — Noam Chomsky

    Querius: Before there was a big bang, there was nothing, not even space existed and there was no such thing as time or chance. There was simply nothing.

    That is not known at this time. Even the concept of ‘before’ is problematic when there is no space or time. The physics of the singularity are still unknown. String theories are proposed to solve this problem.

    Querius: To make matters worse, astrophysicists tell us that this big bang event happened only once in our universe and apparently it will never happen again.

    That is also not known, and many astrophysicists suspect that the Big Bang is not a unique event. However, this is speculative at this time.

    Querius: So, here’s where the Easter bunny comes in. All the stories that people have made up about the multiverse with long, scientific-sounding words, can also be imaginatively applied to the Easter bunny.

    That is incorrect. String theories can predict quantum phenomena, while the Easter Bunny is not good at maths.

    fifthmonarchyman: By the way a quick check of Wikipedia reveals that 7 of the 14 interpretations of QM require the observer. Are you ruling all of them out or just some?

    The observer can be a mechanical device without consciousness. Experiments seem to show that it is interaction with the macroscopic world that collapses the wave function, but, frankly, it is still enigmatic.

  77. 77
    Box says:

    Zachriel,

    Box: What are the dimensions of your consciousness? What is the length of the average thought? What is the weight of happiness?

    Zachriel: What is the mass of two-ness? Abstractions have no physical properties. Just because you can frame the question doesn’t mean it is coherent.

    Congrats Zachriel, you have outdone yourself yet again. This is the most asinine response from you thus far.

  78. 78
    Me_Think says:

    Box @ 78

    Congrats Zachriel, you have outdone yourself yet again. This is the most asinine response from you thus far.

    That was sarcasm, in case you didn’t notice. It means your question was asinine too.

  79. 79
    Box says:

    Me_Think,

    And why would my sarcasm – “congrats Zachriel” – mean that my question is asinine too?

  80. 80
    Me_Think says:

    Box @ 80,
    Your sarcasm doesn’t make your question asinine. It is because, as zac explained:

    Abstractions have no physical properties

    Me and fifthmonarch were discussing dimensions and entanglement and you came in with questions which was irrelevant to entanglement and dimensions and mean nothing at all, as zac aptly showed with this semantic nonsense statement:

    “Colorless green ideas sleep furiously.” — Noam Chomsky

  81. 81
    Box says:

    Me_Think,
    In #74 I quote you and provide a relevant response. Contrary to your claim consciousness (‘the observer’) is very relevant wrt QM indeed. You also seem to hold that consciousness is unrelated to ‘being’, which is just about as silly as Zac’s idea that consciousness is an abstraction.

  82. 82
    Zachriel says:

    Box: idea that consciousness is an abstraction.

    Consciousness is more akin to a sensation.

  83. 83
    fifthmonarchyman says:

    Me_Think says

    Every entanglement begins with two (or more) particles in physical contact. Without contact initially, there can be no entanglement.

    I say

    How could you possibly prove this claim?

    I would offer the counter claim that entanglement occurs when information is exchanged regardless of how this exchange occurs and offer the evidence of “faster than light” information transfer paradox as possible evidence.

    You say,

    If there is a being,there is dimension.

    I say,

    Spoken like a true materialist.

    Again how on earth could you begin to prove this claim?

    I would offer the counter claim that existence is not necessarily tied to the physical as the discussion of the weight of non-materiel things like twoness so clearly illustrates

    zac said

    Abstractions have no physical properties.

    I say

    I completely agree. Yet abstractions clearly exist (have being)so you make my point for me.

    Me_thinks says

    In fact ,you need to think lot smaller.

    I say,

    Well apparently not.

    Unless you make the unwarranted assumption that terms like big and small can only refer to relative physical size.

    peace

  84. 84
    fifthmonarchyman says:

    Zac says,

    Consciousness is more akin to a sensation

    I say,

    Consciousness is both what it feels like to be a soul and a noun describing a being that has that feeling.

    peace

  85. 85
    Zachriel says:

    fifthmonarchyman: “faster than light” information transfer paradox

    Just to be clear, information can’t be transmitted faster than light.

    fifthmonarchyman: Yet abstractions clearly exist (have being)so you make my point for me.

    That would certainly depend on how we are using the term “being”, that is, “to exist”.

  86. 86
    fifthmonarchyman says:

    Zac said,

    Just to be clear, information can’t be transmitted faster than light.

    I say

    Geez I said it was a paradox. Zac I assume you are a smart guy but often you come off like a chatbot.

    Why not give yourself and us a break and try to assume a minimum level of adroitness and familiarity in others. It would sure make conversations more pleasant if we did not have to wade through the condescension all the time

    peace

  87. 87
    fifthmonarchyman says:

    Zac says,

    That would certainly depend on how we are using the term “being”, that is, “to exist”.

    I say,

    Mainly it depends on using definitions that are not biased in-favor of a materialistic worldview.

    We saw this same materialistic tendency with the definition of nothing.

    You are nothing if not predictable.

    peace

  88. 88
    Zachriel says:

    fifthmonarchyman: I said it was a paradox.

    Your phrasing, even with paradox, implied that information could be transmitted faster than light.

    fifthmonarchyman: It would sure make conversations more pleasant if we did not have to wade through the condescension all the time

    fifthmonarchyman: Mainly it depends on using definitions that are not biased in-favor of a materialistic worldview.

    Not an argument. For instance, we may have a beautiful theory, the abstraction, destroyed by an ugly fact, the being.

  89. 89
    Box says:

    Zachriel,

    Your #77 – equating consciousness with an abstraction – was very much off-base and so is your #83. Without consciousness no abstractions, no sensations and not much of anything. Consciousness is primary even for those who desperately want to deny it.

  90. 90
    Zachriel says:

    Box: very much off-base

    Brain experiments suggest that what people experience as consciousness (sensation), and what people talk about as the consciousness (abstraction) are not accurate or complete descriptions of what is happening.

  91. 91
    fifthmonarchyman says:

    Zac said,

    For instance, we may have a beautiful theory, the abstraction, destroyed by an ugly fact, the being.

    I say,

    How do you destroy something that does not exist? Come on Zac you can do better.

    Open your mind to the vast world on the outside of the cave.

    peace

  92. 92
    Zachriel says:

    fifthmonarchyman: How do you destroy something that does not exist?

    It’s not as complicated as you make it. People use the word “to be” in different manners; sometimes referring to abstract existence, other times to physical existence.

    The different uses are standard and don’t depend on whether the speaker is a materialist or not.

    fifthmonarchyman: Open you mind to the vast world on the outside of the cave.

    We’re not a troglodyte.

  93. 93
    Box says:

    Zachriel: Brain experiments suggest that what people experience as consciousness (sensation), and what people talk about as the consciousness (abstraction) are not accurate or complete descriptions of what is happening.

    The scientists who perform the experiments register these experiments with …? ‘People’ experience consciousness with what exactly? ‘People’ talk about consciousness from what point of view exactly? What are ‘people’? Consciousness an “abstraction”??

    It doesn’t make any sense. Please reconsider your ways. Start over.

    Bottom line: if we start to doubt consciousness all search for the truth ends. Consciousness is primary.

    edit: the mere suggestion that anyone is capable of providing an accurate and complete description of one’s consciousness ….

  94. 94
    Zachriel says:

    Box: The scientists who perform the experiments register these experiments with …?

    Split brain experiments are especially illuminating.

  95. 95
    mike1962 says:

    Zachriel: Split brain experiments are especially illuminating.

    They certainly are. Certain aspects of ego, perception and choice are shown to be not so straightforward as one might assume. One need not split a brain to observe that. (Trust us.) Hallucinogenics offer similar opportunities.

    But does anyone’s consciousness ever split in split-brain experiments?

    No. One’s consciousness remains a unified observer of the alterations.

  96. 96
    fifthmonarchyman says:

    Zac says,

    People use the word “to be” in different manners; sometimes referring to abstract existence, other times to physical existence.

    I say,

    People use all words in different manners it is the nature of everyday rough and tumble language.

    However words have meanings and when we are being thoughtful we should if possible defer to the actual meanings of words instead of the vast semantic range inherent in everyday speech.

    If you want to say physical existence by all means say physical existence. If you want to say everything sans the physical by all means say everything sans the phyiscal.

    If you are being thoughtful don’t limit “being” to the physical and don’t call the nonphysical “nothing” unless you want to be rightly be seen as a troglodyte.

    peace

  97. 97
    Zachriel says:

    mike1962: But does anyone’s consciousness ever split in split-brain experiments?

    Yes, it can be shown that the two halves are working independently, but when provided a similar experience will try to cooperate. The verbal side will even provide a plausible (though sometimes very odd) narrative to explain the person’s actions.
    http://physics.weber.edu/carro....._brain.htm

  98. 98
    Zachriel says:

    fifthmonarchyman: However words have meanings and when we are being thoughtful we should if possible defer to the actual meanings of words instead of the vast semantic range inherent in everyday speech.

    The actual meaning depends on context. In scholarship, words often have very specific meanings distinct from common usage.

    Does the consciousness exist? It depends what you mean. If you mean the sensation, sure. If you mean as a distinct empirical entity, that’s hardly been demonstrated, and evidence suggests that what we think of as consciousness is not what it seems.

    Does a perfect circle exist?

  99. 99
    mike1962 says:

    Zachriel: Yes, it can be shown that the two halves are working independently

    Working independently does not indicate that the two halves are independently conscious. The processes involved in speaking and describing what it experiences are the set involved with consciousness.

    Empirically, at best one can say that the conscious observer chooses to do some actions, and the unconscious processes, no longer under conscious control per normal, does some actions. There is no justification for the interpretation that two conscious entities are operating independently. Rather one conscious and one subconscious.

    But, of course, humans are always “split” between conscious and subconscious actions. Split-brain experiments alter what parts of the brain are directly related to conscious action and what parts are not. The reports are consistent with the view that a single consciousness is reporting. There’s no evidence that necessitates the interpretation that two consciousnesses are at work. Occam’s Razor, and all that.

    Have you ever walked in your sleep? Does you think about every move you make when you walk across the room? Or drive a car? I doubt it. You’re already “split.”

  100. 100
    Zachriel says:

    mike1962: Working independently does not indicate that the two halves are independently conscious.

    Experimentation shows that they are independent in their experience of the world. Some split-brain patients even have two speech centers, so you can even talk to them individually about it. They are separate, like two half-people stuck together.

    mike1962: The processes involved in speaking and describing what it experiences are the set involved with consciousness.

    The non-speaking half can match up objects based on non-verbal clues. It’s conscious, just non-verbal.

  101. 101
    mike1962 says:

    Zachriel, Experimentation shows that they are independent in their experience of the world. Some split-brain patients even have two speech centers, so you can even talk to them individually about it. They are separate, like two half-people stuck together.

    Sources please.

    Can you talk to “them” individually at the same time?

    Can they talk to “each other?”

    How would you go about proving that both are conscious?

    Is a sleep-walking person who chats with others conscious?

    Have you ever engaged in sleep-walking-and-talking yourself?

    Do you acknowledge that a sleep-walking-and-talking person can appear conscious and yet not be?

    If so, do you acknowledge that one “side” of a split-brain person may be conscious and the other “side” may not be?

    If not, why not?

    The non-speaking half can match up objects based on non-verbal clues. It’s conscious, just non-verbal.

    How can you prove “it’s conscious?”

    (Interested parties can start here)

  102. 102
    Box says:

    An atheist like Zachriel is a truly remarkable creature. At times all buttons are set on self-destruct. All will-power is set on death and meaninglessness.
    In this discussion we are again witnesses of this typical behavior. Every half-baked ‘fact’ is used to discredit consciousness. Degrading himself, the search for truth and what not? Simply because everything that is worth something must be destroyed. Motivated to the core. Willing to fight for … ?

    What on earth is wrong with these guys?

  103. 103
    fifthmonarchyman says:

    Zac says,

    Does a perfect circle exist?

    I say,

    Do you really have to ask? Of course it does. I can’t see how could any one possibly think otherwise unless they had their nose firmly stuck in the cave.

    You can even objectively compare a perfect circle to the imperfect circles that exist physically.

    Must every conversation with you go over the same well worn ground?

    Is there any critic here who is not constrained by this materialistic bias?

    peace

  104. 104
    Zachriel says:

    mike1962: Sources please.

    You could start with Wolman, The split brain: A tale of two halves, Nature 2012.

    Paul S, a child when his brain was split, had speech centers on both sides of the brain. One side wanted to grow up to become an automobile racer, the other side a draftsman.
    http://www.psychologytoday.com.....lit-brains

  105. 105
    Zachriel says:

    fifthmonarchyman: Of course it does.

    Do unicorns exist?

  106. 106
    fifthmonarchyman says:

    zac says

    Do unicorns exist?

    I say

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Narwhal

    geez

  107. 107
    fifthmonarchyman says:

    unicorns are not like perfect circles and consciousness

    quote:
    The myth describes the unicorn only in stereotypical terms: looking like a horse, having a horn protruding from its forehead, etc. Suppose that there are objects with all such stereotypical features of the unicorn. This seems perfectly possible and Kripke accepts such a possibility. But he rejects its sufficiency for establishing the possibility of unicorns. Suppose that among the objects with the stereotypical unicorn features, some have a genetic makeup, an evolutionary history, or some other potentially defining essential unicorn characteristic which is radically different from the corresponding characteristic had by the others with the same stereotypical unicorn features. Which ones among those with the stereotypical unicorn features would then be real unicorns and which ones fool’s unicorns (à la fool’s gold)? There is no fact of the matter. Given that the unicorn is an animal species, not everything that looks and behaves like a unicorn is guaranteed to be a unicorn. To be a unicorn, an object has to possess the defining essential characteristics of the unicorn. But there are no defining characteristics of the unicorn; the myth does not specify them, and the universe does not instantiate them.

    end quote:

    from here

    http://plato.stanford.edu/entr.....e-objects/

    Once again, must every conversation with you take this route?

    All of this effort to just to get you past your aversion of simply accepting the obvious fact that nonphysical things can exist.

    It must be so exhausting maintaining your worldview.

    It would be even more difficult for you if you were merely playing devils advocate when you argue this stuff so I find that explanation implausible

    peace

  108. 108
    Box says:

    Related to Zachriel’s latest ploy to discredit consciousness this article on DID (dissociative identity disorder).

    Excerpt: “For people who suffer from it, this disorder is ultimately a way to express distress,” McNally said. “Cultures provide certain envelopes for people to express suffering or psychological pain and DID is one such cultural trope. In the 19th century, women would do that by getting the ‘vapors’ and swooning — you don’t see that anymore. Quite frankly, I don’t think much would be lost if the diagnosis were eliminated from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual — people will simply begin expressing their suffering in different ways that are more tractable to treatment.”

  109. 109
    Me_Think says:

    fifthmonarchyman @ 84

    Every entanglement begins with two (or more) particles in physical contact. Without contact initially, there can be no entanglement.
    fifthmonarchy: How could you possibly prove this claim?

    Huh ? What do you think entanglement is ? Haven’t you read through ‘Methods’ of any entanglement experiments?

    I would offer the counter claim that entanglement occurs when information is exchanged regardless of how this exchange occurs and offer the evidence of “faster than light” information transfer paradox as possible evidence.

    Information doesn’t exist in superposition. What would be it’s Hamiltonian ? I am not sure you understand what entanglement in Physics is.

    Again how on earth could you begin to prove this claim?
    I would offer the counter claim that existence is not necessarily tied to the physical

    So the higher being is just energy ? Even then, without mass there can be no energy e=mc^2 and if there is momentum – which is needed if the being has to create something, then E^2 = (mc^2)^2 +(pc)^2 , where p is the momentum, so either way you need mass initially. It follows that you need dimensions – unless the being is less than Planck length (in which case we can disregard the dimensions, although they will still exist).

  110. 110
    velikovskys says:

    box,
    An atheist like Zachriel is a truly remarkable creature.

    As loathe as I am to rain on your psychological insight, as far as Zach goes, I believe they are not an atheists

    At times all buttons are set on self-destruct. All will-power is set on death and meaninglessness.

    Do you find it odd that reality is so different from your description of it?

  111. 111
    Querius says:

    Lou Jost wrote:

    The case is different for the multiverse. There are even some empirical predictions that can be made from the hypothesis.

    There’s about as much scientific data on the multiverse as the Easter bunny. No one has observed or better yet filmed them in action. We don’t have any measurements on their temperatures. We don’t have any measurements on their masses. Both of them are responsible for magical events that require superpowers. Both seem to exist outside of the constraints of time. Both of them were INVENTED by people as explanatory stories.

    But I do agree with you that the multiverse idea does not answer the question of why there is something rather than nothing. That is not its purpose.

    Exactly, it doesn’t answer the question—but that is indeed its purpose! Why else to we have this science fantasy promoted everywhere?

    The god concept also does not help answer the question of why there is something rather than nothing. It only adds an extra layer.

    There you go again. I never mentioned God, but you keep doing so. Why the obsession?

    And if you want to use logic, you would also agree that whatever caused Something to exist, including the universe, space, mass-energy, time, dark matter, dark energy, quantum foam, probability, the laws of physics, etc. must have existed *Outside* the universe because . . . the universe cannot create itself out of *Nothing* before it even existed!

    The universe had a cause for it to come into existence out of non-existence! There’s your evidence, the footprints of something!

    -Q

  112. 112
    fifthmonarchyman says:

    Me thinks asks

    Huh ? What do you think entanglement is ?

    I say,

    from here

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quantum_entanglement

    quote:

    Quantum entanglement is a physical phenomenon that occurs when pairs or groups of particles are generated or interact in ways such that the quantum state of each particle cannot be described independently—instead, a quantum state may be given for the system as a whole.

    end quote:

    notice “generated or interact” phyiscal contact is not necessary only interaction.

    you say.

    Haven’t you read through ‘Methods’ of any entanglement experiments?

    I say,

    Just because we can’t at this point create entanglement except by phyiscal contact does not in any way mean that entanglement with out physical contact is impossible.

    How on earth could you possibly prove that it is?

    you say,

    Information doesn’t exist in superposition.

    I say,

    I agree. However I see no reason that relation requires physical contact. Do you? how would you possibly prove this claim?

    You say

    What would be it’s Hamiltonian ?

    I say,

    Are you asking for a precise number? I don’t have one but in the particular case I’m speculating about I would say off the top of my head it would be the sum of total energy in the universe.

    you say,

    So the higher being is just energy ?

    I say,

    No the being exists entirely outside the physical universe it is non-materiel.

    I think we went through this already

    peace

  113. 113
    fifthmonarchyman says:

    velikovskys says,

    as far as Zach goes, I believe they are not an atheists

    I say,

    walks like a duck……. by their fruits….. and all that

    It’s possible that Zach is an elaborate avatar created by a theist to explore the worldview of materialism, But I believe the effort required for such an undertaking renders such an explanation implausible.

    peace

  114. 114
    Zachriel says:

    fifthmonarchyman: geez

    In other words, you sidestepped the question. If you answered yes, then you would be saying that anything anyone imagines exists. If you answered no, then you would be contradicting your previous statement.

    Existence has multiple meanings which we normally understand from context, but the existence of abstractions is of a different kind than the existence of a rock.

  115. 115
    Zachriel says:

    Box: Related to Zachriel’s latest

    While dissociative identity disorder is interesting, ignoring the evidence we provided doesn’t make it go away. Split brain experiments show that consciousness is not a unitary entity, and that what we think of as consciousness is not what it seems.

  116. 116
    velikovskys says:

    FFM:

    I say,

    walks like a duck……. by their fruits….. and all that

    Not everyone shares your particular view of a diety or how He might choose to act.

    It’s possible that Zach is an elaborate avatar created by a theist to explore the worldview of materialism,

    The problem with that conjecture is the false assumption that explaining the material world without invoking a diety is necessarily materialism.

    Of course your conjecture could be a deist exposing that fallacy.

    But I believe the effort required for such an undertaking renders such an explanation implausible.

    I don’t know, people around here are pretty quick to label those who disagree with their worldview as atheistic materialists.

    peace

  117. 117
    Me_Think says:

    fifthmonarchyman @ 113

    Just because we can’t at this point create entanglement except by phyiscal contact does not in any way mean that entanglement with out physical contact is impossible.
    How on earth could you possibly prove that it is?

    Because entanglement is wave function of the particles in N coordinates (N depends on number of particles entangled Eg 6 for 2, 9 for 3 etc.). It is a single wave function of entangled particles. How would you entangle something which is non-physical ?

    Are you asking for a precise number?

    There is no Hamiltonian of information since there is no superposition of information.

    No the being exists entirely outside the physical universe it is non-materiel.

    If it is not a form of energy, what other possibility is left which could interact with material and have no dimension ?

  118. 118
    Box says:

    // Some comments on the split-brain //

    From the article linked by Zachriel #105:

    Split personality is a rare consequence of a split brain.

    This fact underscores the unitary power of consciousness.

    In some cases, impaired interhemispheric communication leaves personality intact but still allows people to use the two hemispheres to complete independent intellectual tasks.

    So independent intellectual tasks does not imply split consciousness.

    On a different occasion, this same patient’s left hand made an attempt to strike the unsuspecting wife as the right hand grabbed the villainous limp to stop it.

    Similarly this does not imply split consciousness, rather it implies ‘split motorics’. I don’t find it difficult to view this as a struggle with different impulses – which we all can relate to – which is expressed at an unusual level ; see ‘Vicki’ below.

    Gazzaniga and Sperry’s split-brain research is now legendary. One of their child participants, Paul S, had a fully functional language center in both hemispheres. This allowed the researchers to question each side of the brain. When they asked the right side what their patient wanted to be when he grew up, he replied “an automobile racer.” When they posed the same question to the left, however, he responded “a draftsman.”

    The interesting thing is that in many cases consciousness, after a while, gets things unified again. Again: hail to the unitary power of consciousness!

    For example the case of Vicki:

    In the first months after her surgery, shopping for groceries was infuriating. Standing in the supermarket aisle, Vicki would look at an item on the shelf and know that she wanted to place it in her trolley — but she couldn’t. “I’d reach with my right for the thing I wanted, but the left would come in and they’d kind of fight,” she says. “Almost like repelling magnets.” Picking out food for the week was a two-, sometimes three-hour ordeal. Getting dressed posed a similar challenge: Vicki couldn’t reconcile what she wanted to put on with what her hands were doing. Sometimes she ended up wearing three outfits at once. “I’d have to dump all the clothes on the bed, catch my breath and start again.”

    Now witness the unitary power of consciousness:

    After about a year, Vicki’s difficulties abated. “I could get things together,” she says. For the most part she was herself: slicing vegetables, tying her shoe laces, playing cards, even waterskiing.

  119. 119
    Zachriel says:

    Split personality is a rare consequence of a split brain.

    Box: This fact underscores the unitary power of consciousness.

    Yet it happens some of the time, the frequency largely related to the degree of interhemispheric impairment.

    In some cases, impaired interhemispheric communication leaves personality intact but still allows people to use the two hemispheres to complete independent intellectual tasks.

    Box: So independent intellectual tasks does not imply split consciousness.

    In some cases, in some cases not.

  120. 120
    mike1962 says:

    Zachriel: Split brain experiments show that consciousness is not a unitary entity, and that what we think of as consciousness is not what it seems.

    This has not been demonstrated. They only show split functionality.

    Are you going to answer our other questions @ 102?

  121. 121
    Zachriel says:

    mike1962: This has not been demonstrated. They only show split functionality.

    If you can talk to each hemisphere and they give different answers, then it does demonstrate they have different consciousnesses by reasonable criteria.

    It isn’t necessary to show that the hemispheres are completely distinct. Indeed, they presumably aren’t as they share a brain stem, a body, as well as a lifetime together. It is only necessary to show that they act in some ways that are unexpected based on the hypothesis of a unitary consciousness.

  122. 122
    Zachriel says:

    mike1962: Can you talk to “them” individually at the same time?

    In some cases.

    mike1962: Can they talk to “each other?”

    Most don’t have independent speech centers, and don’t know if that has been tried. They do communicate through their mutual interactions and experiences.

    mike1962: How would you go about proving that both are conscious?

    Typically by looking for activities that are associated with consciousness, but sure, they could be zombies. Everyone is a zombie!

    mike1962: Is a sleep-walking person who chats with others conscious?

    Consciousness is not necessarily a unitary entity with clearly defined edges. The person is somewhere between waking and sleeping, or perhaps some other state. Everyone is a zombie!

    mike1962: Do you acknowledge that a sleep-walking-and-talking person can appear conscious and yet not be?

    Consciousness is not necessarily a unitary entity with clearly defined edges. Everyone is a zombie!

    mike1962: If so, do you acknowledge that one “side” of a split-brain person may be conscious and the other “side” may not be?

    They both act conscious. Everyone is a zombie!

    mike1962: How can you prove “it’s conscious?”

    Everyone is a zombie!

  123. 123
    mike1962 says:

    Mike1962: How can you prove “it’s conscious?”

    Zachriel: Everyone is a zombie!

    Is that suppose to be a scientific answer?

    Or is that your intuition talking?

    ID: It looks designed so it must be.

    Anti-ID: That’s just your intuition talking.

    You: It looks conscious so it must be.

    Us: That’s just your intuition talking.

    Science please.

  124. 124
    Box says:

    mike1962: Can you talk to “them” individually at the same time?

    Zachriel: In some cases.

    Reference please

  125. 125
    fifthmonarchyman says:

    Me_thinks

    How would you entangle something which is non-physical ?

    I say,

    Do you not think it’s even possible that information present in Krauss’s nonphyisical “nothing” has any real effect on the physical universe that it produced?

    I’ll admit that incarnation is a profound mystery but I see no logical reason why such a thing is impossible at least in in theory. Do you?

    You say,

    If it is not a form of energy, what other possibility is left which could interact with material and have no dimension ?

    I say,

    I don’t have an answer but you must allow for that possibility unless you want to break new scientific ground here and rule out Cartesian dualism all together.

    Do you have any possible scientific justification to do such a thing? Of course not

    The more I discuss these subjects the more I realize that it all boils down to incompatible presuppositions.

    Materialists like you simply rule out everything that does not conform to their limited worldview from the beginning.

    forgive me if I’m not so constrained

    peace

  126. 126
    Zachriel says:

    mike1962: Is that suppose to be a scientific answer?

    Sorry. Thought you would understand the analogy.

    There is no completely reliable scientific test for consciousness as commonly construed. We can only test for behaviors that are consistent with what we think of as consciousness. As consciousness is not a unitary entity, this can lead to paradoxes.

    Box: Reference please

    Paul S, a child when his brain was split, had speech centers on both sides of the brain. One side wanted to grow up to become an automobile racer, the other side a draftsman.

    fifthmonarchyman: Do you not think it’s even possible that information present in Krauss’s nonphyisical “nothing” has any real effect on the physical universe that it produced?

    Nearly all the information of the primordial Big Bang is lost during inflation.

  127. 127
    Box says:

    Zachriel: Paul S, a child when his brain was split, had speech centers on both sides of the brain. One side wanted to grow up to become an automobile racer, the other side a draftsman.

    Yes, I know; see #119. However the question put to you, by mike1962 was: “Can you talk to ‘them’ individually at the same time?” According to you we can.
    So, how can we talk to ‘automobile racer’ and the ‘draftsman’ individually at the same time?

  128. 128
    fifthmonarchyman says:

    @ Zac two questions

    1) Do you honestly think I am unaware of what happens with inflation?

    2) Do you honestly not see the obvious difference between nearly all information being lost and all information being lost?

    also check this out

    http://phys.org/news/2015-01-h.....on-be.html

    quote:

    There are a number of other interesting future directions that this work could take. For instance, implementing correction measures at various times during the evolution of the universe could reduce the degradation of the stored information. More speculatively, future research might focus on entanglement-assisted communication in Einstein-Rosen bridges—better known as wormholes—and even entanglement between different eras in the universe. This research could have implications for understanding dark energy and the evolution of the universe overall.

    end quote:

    peace

  129. 129
    Zachriel says:

    Box: So, how can we talk to ‘automobile racer’ and the ‘draftsman’ individually at the same time?

    Don’t know if it has been tried at the same time, but there’s only one mouth, so that would have an obvious difficulty. However, Kim Peek, who was missing the normal interhemispheric connections, could read two books simultaneously.

    fifthmonarchyman: 1) Do you honestly think I am unaware of what happens with inflation?

    Have no idea. Our comment appeared to be relevant.

    fifthmonarchyman: 2) Do you honestly not see the obvious difference between nearly all information being lost and all information being lost?

    The answer was “not very much”, and even that might be overly optimistic. However, it is certainly possible that some information survives cosmic expansion. So, what is your conjecture from this possibility?

  130. 130
    Box says:

    Zachriel: Don’t know if it has been tried at the same time, but there’s only one mouth, so that would have an obvious difficulty.

    Ok, so you admit that your answer in #123, to the question posited by mike1962, “In some cases” was nonsensical. And so was your anwer to me in #127.

    Zachriel: However, Kim Peek, who was missing the normal interhemispheric connections, could read two books simultaneously.

    Irrelevant, as I have pointed out in #119, independent intellectual tasks do not imply split consciousness

  131. 131
    Zachriel says:

    Box: Ok, so you admit that your answer in #123, to the question posited by mike1962, “In some cases” was nonsensical. And so was your anwer to me in #127.

    We reasonably read “at the same time” as during the same session. Ask one, then the other. Otherwise, it was your question that was nonsensical.

    Box: independent intellectual tasks do not imply split consciousness

    It would seem that if one side of the brain wants to be an automobile racer and the other a draftsman, that each are expressing their own conscious desire.

    You might want to provide a clear operational definition of consciousness.

  132. 132
    fifthmonarchyman says:

    zac says,

    So, what is your conjecture from this possibility?

    I say,

    well,

    Since according to my speculation information is transferred and preserved by means of entanglement I’m not sure if inflation is relevant at all.

    In fact it’s possible that entanglement between an observer inside and one outside the universe might actually shed some light on some things like the expansion of the universe itself

    again check it out

    http://arxiv.org/abs/1302.5884

    Remember I’m just playing around with ideas no telling if there is anything here or not

    peace

  133. 133
    Box says:

    Zachriel #132,

    Different desires does not imply a split consciousness; see the story of Vicki at #119.

  134. 134
    Box says:

    Zachriel: We reasonably read “at the same time” as during the same session. Ask one, then the other.

    Ok so you took ‘at the same time’ as meaning ‘not at the same time’ …. I guess it can happen to anyone.
    Mike1962’s question is an important one, because if we indeed can only ask one and then the other, we cannot rule out that there is one consciousness alternating between two ‘contents’. One consciousness who is temporarily unable to ‘get things together’; see the story of Vicki in #119.

  135. 135
    Zachriel says:

    fifthmonarchyman: I’m not sure if inflation is relevant at all.

    You just cited a study concerning information and the expansion of the cosmos, but now say it’s not relevant.

    fifthmonarchyman: In fact it’s possible that entanglement between an observer inside and one outside the universe might actually shed some light on some things like the expansion of the universe itself

    The evidence indicates that entanglement only occurs through some sort of interaction.

    fifthmonarchyman: again check it out http://arxiv.org/abs/1302.5884

    The entanglement in the study involves interactions within the universe, albeit across the time dimension. However, it is conceivable for there to be interactions in a multiworld scenario, however, none of these possibilities seem amenable to a ‘telic channel’.

    Box: Ok so you took ‘at the same time’ as meaning ‘not at the same time’

    Yes, otherwise it was the question which was incoherent.

    Box: Mike1962?s question is an important one, because if we indeed can only ask one and then the other, we cannot rule out that there is one consciousness alternating between two ‘contents’.

    Or zombies all the way down.

    You might want to provide a clear operational definition of consciousness.

  136. 136
    fifthmonarchyman says:

    Zac,

    You just cited a study concerning information and the expansion of the cosmos, but now say it’s not relevant.

    I say,

    The cite was to show that the experts believe entanglement is a way around information loss due to inflation.

    You say,

    The evidence indicates that entanglement only occurs through some sort of interaction.

    I say,

    Leave it to the materialist to assume that interaction necessitates physical contact.

    You say,

    However, it is conceivable for there to be interactions in a multiworld scenario, however, none of these possibilities seem amenable to a ‘telic channel’.

    I say,

    lack of imagination is not scientific evidence.

    peace

  137. 137
    Lou Jost says:

    Zachriel, nice to see a calm, sensible voice here.

    Querius, you are wrong about the purpose of the multiverse hypothesis. It is not to explain why there is something rather than nothing. It arises mainly from the proposal of inflation, which tries to solve some puzzles regarding the observed homogeneity and flatness of space-time. Some people also use it to help explain the fine-tuning of the universe.

    Zachriel answered your claim that my “sample was biased”. This is a problem in conditional probabilities. The random sample has to be taken from the set of universes that contain life.

    And in spite of your Easter bunny analogy, the multiverse hypothesis does make some very general predictions, as I explained in my linked BioLogos comment. I hope you read it. I’m not saying the predictions are so detailed that they prove the hypothesis. I just wanted to emphasize that the hypothesis does have (statistical) empirical consequences.

  138. 138
    Zachriel says:

    fifthmonarchyman: Leave it to the materialist to assume that interaction necessitates physical contact.

    There has to be interaction, which is either through spacial or temporal proximity.

    fifthmonarchyman: lack of imagination is not scientific evidence.

    Lack of evidence is not evidence.

  139. 139
    Me_Think says:

    fifthmonarchyman @ 133

    In fact it’s possible that entanglement between an observer inside and one outside the universe might actually shed some light on some things like the expansion of the universe itself

    It is not possible to have an inter-dimensional entanglement, as the properties of particles or energy will be completely different from our dimension (3d universe). It is simple physics, as I said earlier- there will be more p orbitals, which would change atom’s structure.
    How in the world is dark energy (which is responsible for expansion of universe) tied to entanglement ?

  140. 140
    DATCG says:

    from Nature, 2012…

    The split brain: A tale of two halves

    The researchers read the stories aloud, which meant that the input was directed to the left hemisphere, and asked for verbal responses, so that the left hemisphere, guided by the interpreter mechanism, would also create and deliver the response. So could the split-brain patients make a conventional moral judgement using just that side of the brain?

    No. The patients reasoned that both scenarios were morally equal. The results suggest that both sides of the cortex are necessary for this type of reasoning task.

    But this finding presents an additional puzzle, because relatives and friends of split-brain patients do not notice unusual reasoning or theory-of-mind deficits. Miller’s team speculates that, in everyday life, other reasoning mechanisms may compensate for disconnection effects that are exposed in the lab. It’s an idea that he plans to test in the future.

  141. 141
    Me_Think says:

    fifthmonarchyman @ 137

    Leave it to the materialist to assume that interaction necessitates physical contact.

    Entanglement requires either that a single particles split in 2 entangled particles or two particles touch orbitals initially to entangle.
    There is nothing exotic about entanglement. You can just buy radioactive sodium 22 disk and a pair of Geiger counter to detect entanglement, as the sodium 22 will create electron positron pair now and then and the Geiger counters present at opposite ends will detect the gamma ray photons of sodium 22. I am sure there are many websites which give a through description of this setup.

  142. 142
    DATCG says:

    The video to the Nature paper by Wolman above…

    1) did they do experiments that did not allow the image within sight of both eyes? 2) If they did, what were results? 3) Did they tape those as well? 4) Did they create more test with exclusivity in mind? Specific images never seen again by either side? And importantly new images and/or words never seen? To eliminate memory or other possible conflicts?

    I’d like to know if overlap of images in the line of eyesight was ruled out.

    Focusing on a dot may cause left/right hemisphere input frame focus thereby fully limiting opposite hemisphere cross-reference frame. But you need to be sure to rule out any interference pattern via other possible cross-hemisphere connections. The Corpus Callosum is not the only link between left and right hemisphere, but certainly the major broadband link.

    Video of Expermental Testing done with both eyes focused on a Dot on a Screen

  143. 143
    Querius says:

    Lou Jost wrote:

    Querius, you are wrong about the purpose of the multiverse hypothesis. It is not to explain why there is something rather than nothing. It arises mainly from the proposal of inflation, which tries to solve some puzzles regarding the observed homogeneity and flatness of space-time. Some people also use it to help explain the fine-tuning of the universe.

    The “multi” in multiverse comes from a need to have a nearly infinite collection of magically generated universes to make it probable that one of them will be finely tuned enough to remain in existence bringing us to the relative comfort of the anthropic principle.

    The fact that the universe exists is not evidence of the existence of the multiverse any more than my counterclaim that the Easter bunny is grimly conjuring a nearly infinite number of eggs ex nihilo, each of which are actually curved universes. These curved universes then hatch with a bang into flat, fried-egg universes such as ours, flattening out over time. The roiling, bubbling nature of quantum foam is the equivalent of what happens when you fry an egg. Dark energy is the frying pan. See how my hypothesis explains things?

    And now for some stunning predictions.

    Judging by the space-time flatness of our universe, in about another billion years come June, our universe will be “done,” and a branching point will be reached as to whether our universe will remain “sunny-side up” or experience an inversion called “over-easy.” Should we remain “sunny side up,” our universe will be overdone, turn dark, smell bad, and will be consumed by an extra-dimensional black hole which I’ve termed The Great Disposal Unit (GDU).

    Zachriel answered your claim that my “sample was biased”. This is a problem in conditional probabilities. The random sample has to be taken from the set of universes that contain life.

    You must have gotten confused. I made no such claim.

    And in spite of your Easter bunny analogy, the multiverse hypothesis does make some very general predictions, as I explained in my linked BioLogos comment.

    My Easter bunny hypothesis is not an analogy, and it’s much better than the multiverse hypothesis at explaining the reason for a big bang.

    I hope you read it.

    Yes, and the author misspelled the word “balloon.”

    I’m not saying the predictions are so detailed that they prove the hypothesis. I just wanted to emphasize that the hypothesis does have (statistical) empirical consequences.

    And my Easter bunny hypothesis has exactly the same amount of measurable evidence as the multiverse hypothesis. And mine is simpler and makes more sense. 😉

    -Q

  144. 144
    Me_Think says:

    Querius @ 144
    Your Easter Bunny is an external entity, not a point in space. So you can’t compare quantum fluctuations to the Bunny.Easter Bunny analogy is closer to God creating universe than to Quantum fluctuations.
    Any creature which creates the universe can’t remain in the universe, so it has to be in higher dimensions.The 3d bunny’s innards will fall off in higher dimensions, so forget creating universe, your bunny will cease to exist in higher dimension.

  145. 145
    Zachriel says:

    Querius: And my Easter bunny hypothesis has exactly the same amount of measurable evidence as the multiverse hypothesis.

    Multiverses are an entailment of chaotic inflation theory which predict the large-scale structure of the cosmos. The Easter Bunny does not.

  146. 146
    fifthmonarchyman says:

    zac said,

    There has to be interaction, which is either through spacial or temporal proximity.

    I say

    I love speculation it really gets the juices flowing. Buckle up buttercup 😉

    When we are talking about Quantum entanglement the most important thing to remember is..

    quote:

    the quantum state of each particle cannot be described independently—instead, a quantum state may be given for the system as a whole.

    end quote:

    now remember the most important element of the definition we were using for irreducible complexity when thinking about my “game” .

    quote:

    there is a greater amount of information in the repertoire of a whole system regarding its previous state than there is in the sum of the all the mechanisms’ considered individually.

    end quote:

    let that sink in

    There is a strange and deep correlation and parallelism in the concepts of

    Integrated Information
    Quantum Entanglement
    and
    Irreducible Complexity

    we are describing integrated systems instead of individual particles

    Individual Shakespearean sonnets are in some sense entangled even though they don’t share spacial or temporal proximity.

    Individual elements of an ideal Bacterial Flagellum are in some sense entangled even though they don’t share spacial or temporal proximity

    The same thing goes for individual thoughts in my unified consciousness.

    I think the concept we are talking about here goes well beyond just physical relation in the quantum realm.

    In fact I think it is possibly THE unifying principle of all reality both physical and not physical.

    Zac says

    Lack of evidence is not evidence.

    I say

    I’m just speculating here.

    Before we can even talk evidence we need to understand the full implications of the speculation. I think you guys need to think a lot Bigger

    peace

  147. 147
    Zachriel says:

    fifthmonarchyman: I love speculation it really gets the juices flowing.

    Speculation is fine, but it doesn’t change what we observe about entanglement. Your speculation seems to be based on analogy by woo.

    Shakespearean sonnets are tightly integrated. Organisms are tightly integrated. How is quantum entanglement relevant?

  148. 148
    Lou Jost says:

    144 Querius:

    The fact that the universe exists is not evidence of the existence of the multiverse

    I agree. But the multiverse hypothesis also makes statistical predictions about the typical life-containing universe. See my BioLogos link.

    You’re right that I was confused about who said that my sample was biased. It was Silver Asiatic, #71.

    So let’s see, how does your Easter Bunny theory fit in with the rest of physics? Your predictions don’t sound like they will be consistent with general relativity, nor is there evidence of a frying pan or the universe beginning to smell bad, and an Easter bunny is a very complex entity. I agree with Me_think that the “Easter bunny did it” is actually more similar to the “a god did it” than to the multiverse hypothesis. I do agree that the multiverse hypothesis is by no means proven and might be wrong.

  149. 149
    Andre says:

    LJ

    I’m trying my best here to understand you, so we can make statistical predictions about the multiverse? what are they and how do we test them? We don’t even know where the universe ends, and neither do we know if the physics are the same, so please do tell how we’re pretty sure about this multiverse, but not God?

    I’m really trying to be as open minded as I can be but the unreasonableness of accepting the one but not the other as I understand from your pov drives me crazy.

    Also, you seem to either ignore or not factor in that even if there is such a thing as a multiverse, the multiverse generator itself has to be fine-tuned. You seem to think, fine tuning automtically equates to a multiverse and that may be, but I’ll bet my underpants that you just find the possibility of a creator unacceptable due to your materialism that compels you to reject it.

  150. 150
    Andre says:

    LJ

    C.S Lewis in man or rabbit says;

    “The Christian and the materialist hold different views about the universe, they can’t both be right and one will act in such a way that simply does not fit the real universe.”

    LJ are you acting in a way that fits the real universe?

  151. 151
    Silver Asiatic says:

    LJ @ 138

    The random sample has to be taken from the set of universes that contain life.

    Why that and not from the set of all universes?

  152. 152
    Lou Jost says:

    152 Silver Asiatic, it would be impossible for the question of multiverses to arise in universes that did not support intelligent life. Since we are considering the question, we must necessarily be in a universe that supports intelligent life.

    This is what is known as a conditional probability. Here’s a simpler example. I find a brown egg in my well-stocked chicken coop. What’s the probability of that? Well, the probability of finding a brown egg at any random spot in the universe is vanishingly small, so I might consider this a miracle. But that is not the relevant probability, because my egg was not randomly drawn from the whole space. I need to calculate the conditional probability of finding a brown egg given that I looked in a chicken coop. That probability is not small. No miracle.

    It is always important when doing probability calculations to consider the proper sample space. Since we could not be doing the calculations if we weren’t in a universe that supported intelligent life, we have to condition our calculations on the fact that whatever universe we find ourselves in MUST support intelligent life. Look at the BioLogos post and my comment on it:
    http://biologos.org/blog/does-.....-us-to-god

    Note that the multiverse hypothesis does agree with you that most of the universes will not support life.

  153. 153
    Lou Jost says:

    151 Andre, note that the quote you gave doesn’t say who is right. And it also misses the very real possibility that we are both wrong.

  154. 154
    Lou Jost says:

    150 Andre,

    I’m trying my best here to understand you, so we can make statistical predictions about the multiverse? what are they and how do we test them?

    Thanks for trying to understand my point. Please read the BioLogos post and my comment below it for the answer to that, or see my comment above on conditional probabilities. Here is an example of the kinds of predictions we can make: based on the observation that conditions have to be very fine tuned to support intelligent life, most intelligent-life-supporting universes are going to be just barely suitable for life. Therefore a typical randomly-chosen universe from this set should just barely support life. Nothing should be perfectly optimized for it.

    please do tell how we’re pretty sure about this multiverse, but not God?

    First, we aren’t “pretty sure” of the multiverse hypothesis, but it is gathering steam in cosmological circles for theoretical reasons. It is part of some theories of inflation which explain some otherwise-puzzling aspects of the homogeneity of the universe.

    Second, we haven’t got much evidence of gods acting today, and past arguments crediting gods with direct creation of people and animals and other things turned out to be false. Does the god hypothesis really help us understand the world or does it just make us feel better? If you look at the productivity of ordinary secular science in explaining things, versus the productivity of an ID journal like Bio-complexity, you’ll see that there is no comparison. The hypothesis that there is a designer seems like an empty one, not leading to any real insights. Wanting to believe something does not make it so.

  155. 155
    Box says:

    Lou Jost: (…) it would be impossible for the question of multiverses to arise in universes that did not support intelligent life.

    Can you please rephrase the question? I’m unable to grasp it in its current format.

  156. 156
    Andre says:

    LJ

    If we are not created, then you need to give evidence for such a claim…

  157. 157
    Andre says:

    LJ

    Or the universe was created but because people just can’t stomach that idea they’ve conjured in our imaginations the multiverse, an instant God vaporizer, or not because who created the universe generator?

  158. 158
    JDH says:

    Lou Jost,

    I commented in another thread, but you probably will not see it. I don’t understand something. In another thread you made the comment that

    for many scientists…naturalism is an empirical conclusion based on the lack of evidence for the action of Mind directly on nature without physical intermediaries.

    I don’t see how this is not a self contradictory statement.

    You claim that there exists a subset of a class of people called scientists,that analyze the existing evidence with their MIND. Because of what their MIND chooses based on empirical ( observation and analysis ) reasoning, they choose to use their natural bodies ( hands and speaking apparatus) to alter natural materials such as paper and electronic memories to create books, create articles, create blog posts, make speeches and in many other ways create concentrations of information which are not possible to be generated by chance alone.

    Is the practice of these scientists whose bodies take direct action based on the decision of their MINDS

    1. evidence of “action of MIND directly on nature without physical intermediates.”

    OR

    2. Just deterministic conclusions based on neurons and hormones in their bodies.

    IF you choose option 1 then your argument is over because they provide the evidence you lack.
    IF you choose option 2 then your argument is over because they did not make up their minds based on empirical evidence because they actually do not have a “MIND” they only respond to physical stimuli.

    I don’t think this is a false choice. I don’t see a choice other than 1 or 2.

  159. 159
    Lou Jost says:

    159JDH, I did see it on that other thread, and answered it there.

  160. 160
    Lou Jost says:

    158 Andre, you know that your answer (a creator) has the same problem, and more.

  161. 161
    fifthmonarchyman says:

    Zac says,

    Your speculation seems to be based on analogy by woo.

    I say,

    In the beginning it was analogy. like all good speculations It’s beginning to take a life of it’s own however.

    For example there are testable predictions that flow from the idea that entanglement is the same as IC/II.

    You say.

    Shakespearean sonnets are tightly integrated. Organisms are tightly integrated. How is quantum entanglement relevant?

    I say,

    Sonnets are not physical.

    Organisms are ‘bridge the gap’ hybrids partly phyiscal and partly not.

    Entanglement is what happens on the other side of the bridge.

    It would be cool if the same non algorithmic integrating principle undergurds all these systems.

    It’s information integration all the way down

    peace

  162. 162
    Lou Jost says:

    Box #156, not sure where the ambiguity lies.
    I’ll try it like this: We are intelligent, so if the multiverse hypothesis is true, we know our universe was drawn from the subset of universes that contain intelligent life.

  163. 163
    Box says:

    Lou Jost: (…) it would be impossible for the question of multiverses to arise in universes that did not support intelligent life.

    Box:

    Can you please rephrase the question? I’m unable to grasp it in its current format.

    not sure where the ambiguity lies.

    Lou Jost: I’ll try it like this: We are intelligent, so if the multiverse hypothesis is true, we know our universe was drawn from the subset of universes that contain intelligent life.

    Is that your rephrasing of the question you were talking about – “the question of multiverses to arise in universes ….”? I’m sorry but I’m not able to discern a question in your rephrasing.

  164. 164
    Lou Jost says:

    164 Box, ah, maybe you are grouping my words differently than I intended. “….the question of multiverses” is the question of whether or not multiverses exist. So in the line that you quote, I am just saying that this question (the question of whether multiverses exist) could never arise in a universe that did not support intelligent life. The fact that we are here discussing multiverses implies that we must be in a universe that supports intelligent life. That’s all.

  165. 165
    Querius says:

    Me_Think @ 145,

    For there to be quantum fluctuations, you need time. Because time began at the big bang, so did quantum fluctuations. Thus, quantum fluctuations could not have caused their own existence.

    Think about it.

    -Q

  166. 166
    Querius says:

    Lou Jost @ 149,

    But the multiverse hypothesis also makes statistical predictions about the typical life-containing universe. See my BioLogos link.

    The Easter bunny hypothesis also makes statistical predictions on the chance that life forms out of one of its eggs!

    So let’s see, how does your Easter Bunny theory fit in with the rest of physics? Your predictions don’t sound like they will be consistent with general relativity,

    Since physics didn’t exist before there was space, mass-energy, time, etc. the Easter bunny hypothesis doesn’t have to deal with it—just the same as the multiverse theory.

    nor is there evidence of a frying pan

    Yes, there is. Dark energy delivers enough energy to result in quantum foam, just like a cosmic frying pan. Quantum foam has certainly been observed.

    or the universe beginning to smell bad,

    I boldly predicted that the smell definitely might happen in a billion years come June. Be patient.

    and an Easter bunny is a very complex entity.

    Really? How would you know?

    I agree with Me_think that the “Easter bunny did it” is actually more similar to the “a god did it” than to the multiverse hypothesis.

    Not at all. My Easter bunny hypothesis explains the big bang and the flattening of space-time.

    I do agree that the multiverse hypothesis is by no means proven and might be wrong.

    I also agree that my Easter bunny hypothesis is by no means proven and might be wrong, being that there’s not a shred of evidence for either of them.

    -Q

  167. 167
    Me_Think says:

    Querius @ 166,

    For there to be quantum fluctuations, you need time.

    No, if you want multiverse, may be quantum fluctuations in an existing universe’s space-time can be considered, but for starting the ‘first’ universe, ‘nothing’ is enough!
    ‘Nothing'(Quantum vacuum) means absence of matter,radiation and space-time. True vacuum bubble can be created in Metastable (Metastable is just the local minima) false vacuum by quantum fluctuation alone. If the true vacuum bubble expands,you have Big Bang.

    Querius @ 167,

    Since physics didn’t exist before there was space, mass-energy, time, etc. the Easter bunny hypothesis doesn’t have to deal with it

    May be not during the ‘first universe’, since Easter bunny would be external to the universe – in another dimension, so Easter bunny has to deal with problems in 4th or 5th or whatever dimension it is in.

    Not at all. My Easter bunny hypothesis explains the big bang and the flattening of space-time.

    How? Easter Bunny is an external entity, not a quantum fluctuation.

    Yes, there is. Dark energy delivers enough energy to result in quantum foam

    Quantum foam as the fabric of universe is a defunct theory.

    and an Easter bunny is a very complex entity.
    Really? How would you know?

    because of the bunny shape and it’s macro size, unless you mean atom is shaped like bunny.

  168. 168
    Box says:

    Me_Think: for starting the ‘first’ universe, ‘nothing’ is enough!‘Nothing’(Quantum vacuum) means absence of matter,radiation and space-time.

    So, no space-time is needed? Can you quote Krauss on that? One only needs to assume the existence of physical laws? IOW from physical laws alone one can explain the universe?

    Me_Think: True vacuum bubble can be created in Metastable (Metastable is just the local minima).

    Wait a minute, there is no space nor time. No space, so how can there be a ‘true vacuum bubble’ or a ‘metastable’? No time, so how can there be ‘creation’ – or any activity?

    Me_Think: false vacuum by quantum fluctuation alone.

    Quantum fluctuation in what? Space? Fluctuation in time? If there is no starting point in time of the fluctuation – if there is no time – how can there be a fluctuation?

    Me_Think: If the true vacuum bubble expands,you have Big Bang.

    The true vacuum bubble resides / expands in what? Not in space right? So where is it? Also, is there a starting point in time? If not, how can there be a bubble that starts expanding?

  169. 169
    Querius says:

    Nicely stated, Box.

    When time doesn’t exist, then neither do fluctuations over time.

    Me_Think and Lou Jost need to have an external cause, either the multiverse or the Easter bunny. Both of these are imaginative constructions based on metaphors, neither have a shred of evidence behind them, and my Easter bunny is cuter. 😉

    -Q

  170. 170
    Box says:

    Me_Think and Zachriel have on several occasions claimed that Krauss’ “Nothing” doesn’t contain space and time. The time has come for them to offer some reference.
    I don’t have Krauss’ book, but I found this quote on the web, it shows that Krauss’ “Nothing” assumes ‘space’, ‘the laws of physics’ and from the looks of it also ‘time’:

    Krauss: The simplest version of nothing, namely empty space. For the moment, I will assume space exists, with nothing at all in it, and that the laws of physics also exist. Once again, I realise that in the revised versions of nothingness that those who wish to continually redefine the word so that no scientific definition is practical, this version of nothing doesn’t cut the mustard.

    [page 149 of Krauss, ‘A Universe From Nothing’.]

    BTW David Albert, an atheist philosopher of physics at Columbia University, criticizes this scenario also:

    The fundamental laws of nature … have no bearing whatsoever on questions of where the elementary stuff came from, or of why the world should have consisted of the particular elementary stuff it does, as opposed to something else, or to nothing at all. The fundamental physical laws that Krauss is talking about in A Universe From Nothing — the laws of relativistic quantum field theories — are no exception to this. The … elementary physical stuff of the world, according to the standard presentations of relativistic quantum field theories, consists (unsurprisingly) of relativistic quantum fields. And the fundamental laws of this theory … have nothing whatsoever to say on the subject of where those fields came from, or of why the world should have consisted of the particular kinds of fields it does, or of why it should have consisted of fields at all, or of why there should have been a world in the first place. Period. Case closed. End of story…

    —-

    @ Querius, my vote is for the Easter bunny. I find the theory much more plausible than any multiverse – especially in conjunction with the cosmic frying pan which existence seems to be confirmed by the observation of quantum foam.

  171. 171
    Lou Jost says:

    Querius, ok, I am convinced. I agree with your reasoning. The Easter bunny, lying outside of time and space, created the universe. So I guess that means the entity known in some parts as Yahweh is actually an Easter Bunny. Great, that explains why everything was vegetarian before the Fall. And also explains the whole Resurrection thing, so that Christians would be led to make Easter Bunnies through divine providence.

    Christians have been worshipping the Easter Bunny all along, mistakenly thinking Yahweh was some other kind of being outside of space and time. Good to know.

    There are probably heretics reading this, who will still cling to the simplistic belief that Yahweh is not the Easter Bunny (in spite of the vegetarian thing). But can those heretics prove Yahweh is not an Easter Bunny? I bet not.

  172. 172
    Lou Jost says:

    171 Box, I actually agree with you here; David Albert in your quote is exactly right.

    Now back to multiverses:

    The multiverse hypothesis does not address why there is something rather than nothing. It is not intended to address that.

    The only people who don’t understand this are the anti-multiverse commenters here like Querius and Andre, who keep insisting that atheists think it does address that question.

    The multiverse addresses the fine-tuning problem, which is different from the problem of why there is something rather than nothing.

  173. 173
    Querius says:

    Lou Jost,

    I’m sorry that I frustrated you.

    My intent was to point out that the multiverse can only be a philosophical speculation and a scientific mythology due to a lack of any observed or observable evidence.

    Incidentally, a more reasonable attempt IMHO was made in the 1960’s proposing that block holes could break free from our universe resulting in new ones, and destroying the black hole in the process.

    But you brought up God again. Why do you do this?

    -Q

  174. 174
    Me_Think says:

    Box @ 169

    So, no space-time is needed? Can you quote Krauss on that? One only needs to assume the existence of physical laws? IOW from physical laws alone one can explain the universe?

    No.What do you think ‘Universe from Nothing’ is all about?. As I said earlier in the other thread, why don’t you just see the numerous Krauss lectures on YouTube if you want to understand ‘Nothing’ ?
    You could check out William Lane Vs Krauss (North Carolina University March 20,2011 First rebuttal by Kruass) but I doubt you will try to learn. If you hate Krauss, see arxiv papers I linked to in the other thread where we were arguing about the semantics of ‘Nothing’.

    Wait a minute, there is no space nor time. No space, so how can there be a ‘true vacuum bubble’ or a ‘metastable’? No time, so how can there be ‘creation’ – or any activity?

    What do you think is Quantum level? Is there a dimension to a point close to Planck scale ? If you think there is space-time at Quantum level, what is the geodesic distance between 2 points at quantum level?
    Time is not a fundamental physical constant. It is a variable arising from the fundamental constants, just like Planck length, so you don’t need ‘time’ for Quantum fluctuation.

    The true vacuum bubble resides / expands in what? Not in space right?

    In quantum vacuum – where else? Now I get to question – In which part of universe was God when He created universe? If He was in other dimensions then how was the other dimension created?
    Querius @ 170

    Nicely stated, Box.
    When time doesn’t exist, then neither do fluctuations over time.

    See answer to Box above

    Box @ 170

    Me_Think and Zachriel have on several occasions claimed that Krauss’ “Nothing” doesn’t contain space and time. The time has come for them to offer some reference.

    Again,Check out material available in the vast cyberspace. Eg: Lane Vs. Krauss’s 1st rebuttal

    I don’t have Krauss’ book, but I found this quote on the web, it shows that Krauss’ “Nothing” assumes ‘space’, ‘the laws of physics’ and from the looks of it also ‘time’:

    That’s Chapter 9. He continues in Chapter 10 and beyond.
    Again,you don’t have to own the book. See his debates and lectures on YouTube.

    @ Querius, my vote is for the Easter bunny. I find the theory much more plausible than any multiverse – especially in conjunction with the cosmic frying pan which existence seems to be confirmed by the observation of quantum foam confirmed by the observation of quantum foam

    Of course you and Querius can observe Quantum foam and create Bunny’s in next dimensions. It is so easy to observe quantum foam which exist at Planck scale – you don’t even need your glasses. Do you guys even realize that if Bunny is the fundamental structure, it is not even metastable ? Just the 2 ears orbitals will collapse the structure.

  175. 175
    Lou Jost says:

    174 Querius,

    My intent was to point out that the multiverse can only be a philosophical speculation and a scientific mythology due to a lack of any observed or observable evidence.

    I appreciate that part. It’s just that as I’ve taken pains to explain here and on BioLogos, the multiverse hypothesis does make statistical predictions about some properties of this universe. The predictions aren’t enough to prove the theory, but repeated violations of them could make the theory untenable.

    The other thing that’s important to realize is that the math of inflation seems to suggest multiverses. Again not strongly, but that’s something. There is a long history in physics of the math suggesting new phenomena that sound like science fiction. Dirac’s equation for relativistic QM suggested antiparticles, and he was right about that. It happens a lot. Again, not proof, but it is unfair to imply that the theory comes from nowhere but our imaginations.

    The comment about gods was directed at other commenters who did bring it up in response to me. I don’t know or care what religion you have (if any), and I agree with you that this is irrelevant to the technical issues at hand (though of course it is relevant to the big picture).

    Anyway thanks for the civil if creative responses!

  176. 176
    Zachriel says:

    Box (quoting Krauss): The simplest version of nothing, namely empty space. For the moment, I will assume space exists, with nothing at all in it, and that the laws of physics also exist.

    Krauss is discussing various conceptions of nothingness.

    A century ago, had one described “nothing” as referring to purely empty space, possessing no real material entity, this might have received little argument. But the results of the past century have taught us that empty space is in fact far from the inviolate nothingness that we presupposed before we learned more about how nature works. Now, I am told by religious critics that I cannot refer to empty space as “nothing,” but rather as a “quantum vacuum,” to distinguish it from the philosopher’s or theologian’s idealized “nothing.”

    So be it. But what if we are then willing to describe “nothing” as the absence of space and time itself? Is this sufficient?

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