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Poaching Alan Lightman on the multiverse

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At Greg West’s follow-worthy blog, The Poached Egg, Wintery Knight summarized cosmologist Alan Lightman on the multiverse (in Harper’s 2015, but worth repeating):

If such conclusions are correct, the great question, of course, is why these fundamental parameters happen to lie within the range needed for life. Does the universe care about life? Intelligent design is one answer. Indeed, a fair number of theologians, philosophers, and even some scientists have used fine-tuning and the anthropic principle as evidence of the existence of God. For example, at the 2011 Christian Scholars’ Conference at Pepperdine University, Francis Collins, a leading geneticist and director of the National Institutes of Health, said, “To get our universe, with all of its potential for complexities or any kind of potential for any kind of life-form, everything has to be precisely defined on this knife edge of improbability…. [Y]ou have to see the hands of a creator who set the parameters to be just so because the creator was interested in something a little more complicated than random particles.”

Intelligent design, however, is an answer to fine-tuning that does not appeal to most scientists. The multiverse offers another explanation. If there are countless different universes with different properties—for example, some with nuclear forces much stronger than in our universe and some with nuclear forces much weaker—then some of those universes will allow the emergence of life and some will not. Some of those universes will be dead, lifeless hulks of matter and energy, and others will permit the emergence of cells, plants and animals, minds. From the huge range of possible universes predicted by the theories, the fraction of universes with life is undoubtedly small. But that doesn’t matter. We live in one of the universes that permits life because otherwise we wouldn’t be here to ask the question.

Wintery Knight appends,

I thought I was going to have to go outside this article to refute the multiverse, but Lightman is honest enough to refute it himself… More.

In short, it is a philosophical preference that does not depend on any evidence at all.

See also: This is exceptionally silly even for current cosmology

In Search of a Road to Reality, co-starring Alan Lightman

and

Assuming that evidence still matters, what does it say? also co-starring Alan Lightman

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