Intelligent Design

Multiverse: Getting comfortable with a zillion of everything that is unique?

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In “How to map the multiverse” (04 May 2009), Anil Ananthaswamy explains:

Greene’s transformation is emblematic of a profound change among the majority of physicists. Until recently, many were reluctant to accept this idea of the “multiverse”, or were even belligerent towards it. However, recent progress in both cosmology and string theory is bringing about a major shift in thinking. Gone is the grudging acceptance or outright loathing of the multiverse. Instead, physicists are starting to look at ways of working with it, and maybe even trying to prove its existence.

If such ventures succeed, our universe will go the way of Earth – from seeming to be the centre of everything to being exposed as just a backwater in a far vaster cosmos. And just as we are unable to deduce certain aspects of Earth from first principles – such as its radius or distance from the sun – we will have to accept that some things about our universe are a random accident, inexplicable except in the context of the multiverse.

Also

However, if our universe is part of a multiverse then we can ascribe the value of the cosmological constant to an accident. The same goes for other aspects of our universe, such as the mass of the electron. The idea is simply that each universe’s laws of physics and fundamental constants are randomly determined, and we just happen to live in one where these are suited for life. “If not for the multiverse, you would have these unsolved problems at every corner,” says Linde.

Let’s see. We don’t need to prove fine tuning. It’s just there. But there’s no evidence for the multiverse; it is an attractive idea because it makes our current cosmological values and fine tuning appear random. I love this line: ” … starting to look at ways of working with it, and maybe even trying to prove its existence”.

Question: How fit are people in this state of mind to evaluate what they are seeing?

22 Replies to “Multiverse: Getting comfortable with a zillion of everything that is unique?

  1. 1
    Granville Sewell says:

    “…The result has been the calculated or careless erasure of the line separating disciplined physical inquiry from speculative metaphysics. Contemporary cosmologists feel free to say anything that pops into their head”–David Berlinski, p38 of Was There a Big Bang?

  2. 2
    Oramus says:

    Ms. O’Leary, physicists are outside of the fitness landscape. Didn’t you know?

    It was an ‘accident’ of nature that certain organisms would develop that would ‘accidently’ ‘learn’ to recognize ‘accidents’, which is needless to say is all just a big ..er ‘accident’.

    And noooo, I’m not gonna stick a smiley to that sentiment! Er, I’m freakin’ out that this post could just all be a freak accident.

    Ah, noooo!. Come aaawwwn! This isn’t real????

    Hey, where are we, anyway? At UD. Phew, that’s good. Coulda sworn it was an ….er, never mind.

    Question: How fit are people in this state of mind to evaluate what they are seeing?

  3. 3
    Jason Rennie says:

    Question: How fit are people in this state of mind to evaluate what they are seeing?
    I think the short answer is “not even slightly”.

    Funny how nobody from Richard Dawkins’ camp is jumping up and down about this sort of ideologically driven fanaticism that makes even the zaniest YEC seem entirely rational and level headed.

  4. 4
    herb says:

    Dr Sewell,

    “Contemporary cosmologists feel free to say anything that pops into their head”–David Berlinski, p38 of Was There a Big Bang?

    It’s refreshing to see this article linked to here. There are still a few of us around who haven’t been snookered by the Big Bang cosmologists! 😀

  5. 5
    Seversky says:

    Question: How fit are people in this state of mind to evaluate what they are seeing?

    Unless there are any theoretical physicists here, fluent in the esoteric mathematics of their discipline, they are fitter than any of their critics here.

  6. 6
    lamarck says:

    Seversky,
    “Unless there are any theoretical physicists here, fluent in the esoteric mathematics of their discipline, they are fitter than any of their critics here.”

    Physicists denounce other physicists for being full of it. So none of them are full of it? Or a select few have already met god and you grab lunch with them? I mean it’s a long way from red shift to mystic time in the lower fourth dimension don’t you think?

  7. 7
    JTaylor says:

    larmark: “So none of them are full of it?”

    Yes, very likely many of them are. And we have a long history of scientists who have “been full of it” (even including Einstein). But this is the realm of speculative science, of hypothesizing and postulating. I don’t think any of these people are saying “this is reality” or that this is a proven theory (and most of it barely makes the hypothesis stage). But isn’t this often this kind of speculation that eventually could lead to a workable (and maybe testable) hypothesis that may lead to a breakthrough? So should scientists stop this kind of speculative science altogether then?

    Also, Ms O’Leary implies that the idea of a multiverse was ‘invented’ to counter the fine-tuning argument. The limited research I’ve done on this indicates the opposite – that multiverse concepts have arisen as a matter of course from string theory and particle physics (and of course not all scientists accept it).

    Some would say too that ID (or parts of ID at least) are also very speculative – particularly about the when or the ‘how’ of ID. But this speculation could eventually yield fruit or at least promote innovative thinking.

  8. 8
    Granville Sewell says:

    Herb,

    My link to “Was There a Big Bang?” didn’t work, it is:

    http://www.discovery.org/a/2674

    I’ll let you read it and decide for yourself what Berlinski believes about the big bang, sometimes with Berlinski it’s hard to tell. But in any case, he is clearly not referring to the big bang, but to other theories with much less supporting evidence when he says “contemporary cosmologists feel free to say anything that pops into their heads.”

  9. 9
    CannuckianYankee says:

    Granville,

    Thanks for getting the link corrected. I found the following quote interesting:

    “Cosmologists write as if they are quite certain of the Big Bang, yet, within the last decade, they have
    found it necessary to augment the standard view by means of various new theories. These schemes are
    meant to solve problems that cosmologists were never at pains to acknowledge, so that today they
    are somewhat in the position of a physician reporting both that his patient has not been ill and that
    he has been successfully revived.”

    Still does not answer your question as to what Berlinski’s views are on the Big Bang. He seems frustrated with the whole issue. I think it’s still a great puzzle in many respects. We have to approach this with some humility.

  10. 10
  11. 11
    herb says:

    Dr Sewell,

    Thanks for fixing the link, and for the clarification!

  12. 12
    jerry says:

    I have watched several courses on cosmology and the evidence for the big bang is fairly convincing. From expansion, to new star formation, to red shift etc. There is no credible alternative since the steady state model was debunked 45 years ago and that was the favorite of the atheists.

    The Big Bang was derogatorily called the Catholic Model since it was first proposed by a Belgian priest in the 1930’s.

  13. 13
    CannuckianYankee says:

    jerry,

    “There is no credible alternative since the steady state model was debunked 45 years ago and that was the favorite of the atheists.”

    I agree. vjtorley linked 2 sites that contain disagreements with the BBT. It appears that people disagree with it on ideological grounds, rather than actual contrary evidence. There’s also appears to be some guesswork going on like the following quote from the 1st link:

    “The universe has too much large scale structure (interspersed “walls” and voids) to form in a time as short as 10-20 billion years.”

    How would anybody know that?

  14. 14
    lamarck says:

    JTaylor I don’t disagree with you that physics should continue. I was reacting to physics paraded around as a coherent theory. What is apparent is known but I don’t think people can conceptualize other dimensions or non-locality, and physics goes forward with heuristics quite a lot. In fact I support physics more than biology because they’re getting closer to the truth or exterior minds etc.

  15. 15
    dbthomas says:

    jerry @ 12:

    The Big Bang was derogatorily called the Catholic Model since it was first proposed by a Belgian priest in the 1930’s.

    Gotta cite on that? First time I’ve heard that. Not that it matters in the least. Most of those horrid, derogatory atheists ended up following the evidence didn’t they? So what’s the point of bringing that up? To get in a dig at “close-minded” atheists?

  16. 16
    jerry says:

    ” So what’s the point of bringing that up? To get in a dig at “close-minded” atheists?”

    Read the Wikipedia article.

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

    Someone else in Cosmology a few years ago made the comment about the “Catholic Model.” It was apparently a comment his colleagues used years ago. I do not remember who or when this was made but it introduced me to this aspect of Cosmology and I believe Stephen Gold referred to Lemaître in his Teaching Comp[any course on 20th century science.

    The comment was aimed at those who are currently questioning the Big Bang. But you are behaving according to form.

  17. 17
    Khan says:

    jerry,

    The comment was aimed at those who are currently questioning the Big Bang

    and how many of those are there?

    But you are behaving according to form.

    as are you, continuing to push fallacies (i.e. saying natural selection and Lamarckian mechanisms of evolution are entirely different concepts) even after you’ve been corrected.

  18. 18
    jerry says:

    “and how many of those are there?”

    I have no idea but sensed that some did.

    ” continuing to push fallacies (i.e. saying natural selection and Lamarckian mechanisms of evolution are entirely different concepts) even after you’ve been corrected.”

    This is interesting. See if you can get anyone to agree with you here.

    Seversky, JTaylor and dbthomas are all anti ID and commented on this thread so they should be able to back you up. On other threads, try Paul Burnett, Nakashima, Hoki, anthony09, David Kellogg, R0b, sparc, or maybe others will come out of the wood work to support you. Maybe appeal to the crew at Panda’s Thumb to give you support.

    But before you do, you should read the following from Wikipedia, that notoriously famous pro ID site:

    “Darwin’s Origin of Species proposed natural selection as the main mechanism for development of species, but did not rule out a variant of Lamarckism as a supplementary mechanism.[1] Darwin called his Lamarckian hypothesis Pangenesis, and explained it in the final chapter of his book Variation in Plants and Animals under Domestication, after describing numerous examples to demonstrate what he considered to be the inheritance of acquired characteristics. Pangenesis, which he emphasised was a hypothesis, was based on the idea that somatic cells would, in response to environmental stimulation (use and disuse), throw off ‘gemmules’ which travelled around the body (though not necessarily in the bloodstream). These pangenes were microscopic particles that supposedly contained information about the characteristics of their parent cell, and Darwin believed that they eventually accumulated in the germ cells where they could pass on to the next generation the newly acquired characteristics of the parents.

    Darwin’s half-cousin, Francis Galton carried out experiments on rabbits, with Darwin’s cooperation, in which he transfused the blood of one variety of rabbit into another variety in the expectation that its offspring would show some characteristics of the first. They did not, and Galton declared that he had disproved Darwin’s hypothesis of Pangenesis, but Darwin objected, in a letter to Nature that he had done nothing of the sort, since he had never mentioned blood in his writings. He pointed out that he regarded pangenesis as occurring in Protozoa and plants, which have no blood.[2] With the development of the modern synthesis of the theory of evolution and a lack of evidence for either a mechanism or even the heritability of acquired characteristics, Lamarckism largely fell from favor.”

  19. 19
    Khan says:

    jerry,
    read the last line of your quotation. see how heritability of acquired characteristics is just one part of Lamarckism? Darwin accepted a modified version of that one idea, as i have said several times now. but that was just one part of Lamarck’s larger theory of evolution.. it is this larger theory that Darwin’s theory replaced.

    I don’t need anyone to back me up, you just showed that I am correct with your own quotation. so from now on I’ll call you Jim Marshall.

  20. 20
    dbthomas says:

    Jerry, you didn’t really answer my question: why point out that (unspecified) people (allegedly) got on Lemaitre’s case for being Catholic at all?

    I mean, look at the context:

    I have watched several courses on cosmology and the evidence for the big bang is fairly convincing. From expansion, to new star formation, to red shift etc.

    IOW, the Big Bang theory is credible and supported. But then:

    There is no credible alternative since the steady state model was debunked 45 years ago and that was the favorite of the atheists.

    The Big Bang was derogatorily called the Catholic Model since it was first proposed by a Belgian priest in the 1930’s.

    “[F]avorite of the atheists” immediately followed with “Oh, BTW, they made fun of him for being Catholic”. Again: what’s the point of bringing that up? It’s not really relevant to anything here, or your point about the Big Bang being convincing. To me, it just looks like a gratuitous swipe at the ever-denigrated-at-UD materialists.

    Also, I wasn’t asking for a cite on Lemaitre’s being a priest. I wanted a verifiable source for the “Catholic Model” thing specifically (which apparently you don’t have). That’s why I quoted only that part, and not any of the rest of your post.

  21. 21
    jerry says:

    dbthomas,

    You are getting very tiresome. But as I have said you are acting in form.

    Let me hold your hand and explain things to you since you do not know how to read between the lines. My comments were a knock against those who do not believe the Big Bang scenario and these people tend to have ideological restrictions because the Big Bang happened 13.7 billion years ago. The Big Bang was also anathema to atheists because it meant the universe had a beginning and this sounded like a creation event which was repugnant to many of them. So if these people had come to believe it when it was distasteful to them, then apparently it must have a strong basis in truth for them to swallow it because they would much prefer a steady state universe. To emphasize this fact, there was the comment about the Catholic Model which someone said was a common derogatory comment going around before the Big Bang became established. This further showed their aversion for the Big Bang model. In other words if such a group has come around to believing the Big Bang when it was so unappealing it must be true. The social psychology term for this is attribution.

    And I said the comment about the Catholic Model was on a forum about 5-6 years ago and I do not know who said it except he said he worked at Cal Tech or some other high level physics laboratory. For all I know it could have been just at his place of work. If you want to doubt me, go ahead. I see no point in it but be my guess. You seem to get hung up in minutiae and using it to prove someone is wrong. It is not a very desirable characteristic.

  22. 22
    djmullen says:

    I’ve never heard of anybody calling the Big Bang theory the Catholic model, but any Protestant Christian might have said that prior to Vatican II.

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