# You Are On The Jury

My tongue-in-cheek response to Denyse’s last post got me to thinking seriously about a practical way to demonstrate the lunacy of materialists’ invoking the “multiverse” to get around the statistical impossibility of life arising though blind unguided natural forces through pure random chance . See here for an example of this hand waving in action. I came up with a thought experiment. See below for more.

First an explanation and a little math:

The materialists do not deny that the odds are stacked very heavily against them. For example, the peer-reviewed article cited above calculates the odds of the random unguided generation of life at 10^-1018. To put this number in context, many cosmologists estimate that the number of particles in the universe is between 10^72 to 10^87.

Materialists attempt to get around the math be invoking the “multiverse.” The term “multiverse” means a system that contains infinite universes. In other words, the thought is that the universe we live in is not the only universe. Instead, it is just one of an infinite number of universes. The materialist then says something like this: “Yes, if there were only one universe, the spontaneous generation of life from non-living matter through blind unguided natural forces would be so wildly improbable as to be considered, for all practical purposes, impossible. But if there are infinite universes, then every universe that is not logically impossible actually exists, and we happen to live in a universe where this wildly improbable – though not logically impossible – event is instantiated.

My thought experiment involves the Powerball lottery. The chance of winning this lottery is approximately 1 in 150 million. The chance of winning the lottery five times in a row is approximately 1.32*10^-41.

Now that the stage is set, here is the thought experiment:

Assume you are on a jury in a criminal fraud trial. The defendant’s name is Harry. Harry is charged with defrauding the Powerball lottery. The following evidence is presented a trial.

The district attorney puts on only two witness. The first witness is the police detective who investigated the case, and he testifies that the ONLY evidence of fraud he has is that on September 1 Harry showed up at the Powerball office with the winning ticket. Harry also showed up with the winning ticket on September 8, September 15, September 22, and September 29, for five wins a row. On cross examination the detective admits that he does not have any evidence or even any plausible speculations as to how Harry committed the fraud.

Next, the district attorney calls a math expert, Dr. Iksbmed. Dr. Iksbmed’s testifies that the odds against winning Powerball five times in a row are 1.32*10^-41. On cross examination, Dr. Iksbmed is forced to admit that, while winning the Powerball five times in a row is wildly improbable, it is not, strictly speaking, logically impossible. The prosecution rests.

Harry exercises his 5th Amendment rights and does not take the stand. His lawyer calls a single witness, Dr. Snikwad. Dr. Snikwad does not dispute Dr. Iksbmed’s probability calculations. Instead, he testifies that the overwhelming majority of scientists believe that life spontaneously arose through blind unguided natural forces. The probability of this event happening is 10^-1018. Therefore, the overwhelming number of scientists believe that we live in a universe in which an event occurred that is many hundreds of orders of magnitude more improbable than winning the lottery five times in a row. The explanation for this, explains Dr. Snikwad, is simple. We live in one of an infinite number of universes, and we just happen to live in a universe were the highly improbable event of the spontaneous generation of life was instantiated. Similarly, explains Dr. Snikwad in a condescending British accent, he has no doubt of Harry’s innocence. This poor, unfairly maligned, and falsely charged gentlemen simply lives in a universe where his winning the Powerball five times in a row, admittedly wildly improbably on its face, happens to be instantiated. But only stupid, insane, benighted or evil religious fundies would insist that Harry’s five-peat was anything other than the result of purely random unguided natural forces.

The defense rests; the prosecution elects not to put on a rebuttal case. The judge charges the jury and sends you and your fellow jurors to the jury room.

The comment thread of this post will substitute for your deliberations. Let the deliberations begin.

## 88 Replies to “You Are On The Jury”

1. 1
professorsmith says:

It is certainly true that if there are infinite universes, then there are bound to be some where life would occur and someone would win the powerball 5 times in a row in one of them. Just as infinite monkeys at infinite keyboards with infinite time would produce the works of Shakespeare….eventually. The problem, of course, is that the Materialists have no evidence for these supposed other universes. It is tied to their blind faith in materialism and a lame excuse for either not showing evidence for their wild conjectures about the origins of life, or a tacit admission that they have no evidence and are clinging blindly to their ideologies.

Dude’s guilty.

2. 2
O'Leary says:

Hey, wait a minute! According to the most advanced social theorists, everyone lives in their own universe now. So it’s, like, 6.5 billion times whatever number …

And if everything can happen to anybody – and the What the Bleep … ? film INSISTS on that – the probability he dunit is both zero and one, as well as everything in between.

So, dude is innocent with extenuating circumstances. Judge is guilty, and throws self on mercy of … court cafeteria staff.

Don’t ask me why. In another universe, the judge would get time off for bad behaviour.

3. 3
StuartHarris says:

Well, we live in a universe where Al Gore gets a Nobel Prize, an Academy Award, and \$100 million from Google for doing absolutely nothing. What are the odds of that?! I think they are beyond the probability bound of any single Universe.

I’m with Ricky Snikwad. The dude’s innocent.

4. 4
Jack Golightly says:

I think the Snikwad testimony “the majority of scientists” is hearsay, so he’s out.

5. 5
BarryA says:

Jack, objection overuled. Rule of Evidence 702 provides that experts may base their opinions on hearsay.

6. 6
bFast says:

BarryA, eligant rhetorical argument.

Back in highschool, I was presented with Gallileo’s simple rhetorical proof that all objects must fall at the same speed. His argument was simply this, “take a large ball and a small ball and drop them at the same time. You believe the small ball will drop slower than the large ball. Now tie the two balls together with a length of string. Will the two balls fall extra fast because they are now one ball?” Its a simple rhetorical case, no actual evidence is presented, yet it creates a logical canundrum that allows us to conclude that a consistent universe must have all objects falling at the same speed — just so that it can be consistent.

I, for one, am happy to conclude that anyone who wins the powerball five times in a row is the recipiant of cheating — his own, or someone else’s. Therefore, for the universe to be consistent, I must conclude that the multiverse theory is toast.

7. 7
DLH says:

In real life:
” . . .studies showed retailers in Atlantic [Lottery Corp.] Canada were winning 10 times more often than statistically probable over the last six years.” See:
Three-peat lotto win investigated

Now “Carl Hallet, 49, won \$100,000 in Atlantic TAG on Oct. 3. In 2005 he won \$50,000 and in 2006 he won \$5,000.”

Atlantic Lottery Corp. was skeptical enough over the 10 fold discrepancy that: “new security rules introduced in Atlantic Canada mean his win must be investigated for at least 30 days, and so far Hallet has not received his prize.”

In the hard reality of commercial enterprise, improbable lottery wins far less spectacular the 1.32*10^-41 of five in a row PowerBall wins are investigated for fraud and are not tolerated.

When commercial reality will not tolerate a 10 fold deviation from random chance who is going to fund an hypothesis with a probability of 10^-1018? – other than gullible politicians!

There is no evidence for multiverses. They are but a figment of torrid imaginations unwilling to face the music that the probability of their wishful thoughts is so unreasonably small as to be considered irrational.

A single PowerBall win is very rare. Two in a row would raise an immediate investigation. After “winning” five in a row, Harry loses.

8. 8
O'Leary says:

I have just realized why, in at least several zillion universes, the judge throws himself on the mercy of the court cafeteria staff. How could I have been so foolish as not to have immediately understood?

He and everyone else who eats there have been doing that every working day for like, forever.

9. 9
Matteo says:

It’s quite simple. We happen to live in a universe where even though I accept that Harry is innocent due to the best reasonings of Science!, I vote to convict anyway, and with an absolutely clean conscience. It’s weird what can happen if you have so many universes. Sorry, Harry.

10. 10
alan says:

but aren’t we forgetting something? – he is innocent AND guilty!

11. 11
alan says:

oh, sorry I forgot – its simple logic after all.

12. 12
Paul Giem says:

The “many universes” theory proves too much, and therefore can be disregarded. For example, in some universe the water molecules underneath the sandals of a Galilean rabbi will be going up 50.0001% of the time for an extended period of time (it’s statistically improbable but not impossible). Since we live in some universe, and we have reasonably reliable witnesses to the event, we are justified in believing that the person in question did walk on water, and that’s just the universe we live in.

In some universes all the statistics about smoking and cancer will happen by chance. We just happen to be in one of those universes, and smoking doesn’t really cause cancer. And it is just pure chance, which is sure to happen in some universe, that I received a check from the R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Company.

I’m with Matteo. In the universe that I happen to live in, I just happen to vote for conviction (actually, to be precise, conviction of someone. If Harry had only tried to throw the blame on someone else). Sorry again, Harry. When you ask me why, I’ll give you some cockamamie theory about statistics. That’s just the universe we live in.

13. 13
drel says:

“This … gentlemen simply lives in a universe where his winning the Powerball five times in a row … happens to be instantiated.” This is the claim, but it hasn’t been proven. If all multiverse instances are equally likely, then the probability of this statement being true is still the same, 1.32*10^-41.

The probability of a multiverse with Harry doing this is 10^-1018 * 1.32*10^-41, but given that there are multiverses like ours, the probability of an event like Harry’s happening in one is still 1.32*10^-41.

14. 14
Bob O'H says:

I know this isn’t Barry’s main point, but convictions have been made based on this type of reasoning.

Incidentally, the figure for winning 5 powerballs in a row is mathematically correct, but is not the relevant probability – we want the probability that Harry cheated, given he won 5 times is a row. If Dr. Iksbmed were a competent mathematician, he would be aware of this, as should the defence team. The prosecution is allowed not to be aware of it, otherwise how else could we call it the Prosecutor’s Fallacy?

Bob

15. 15
kairosfocus says:

Hi Bob et al:

THROW THE BOOK AT HIM!

(The odds that we live in a sub-universe where Harry just happened to win by chance and/or necessity only vs one in which the result is by agency are negligibly different from zero, even on a quasi-infinite multiverse model! In short, he almost certainly cheated — odds are far better than those on which I walk into this room confident the oxygen molecules have not all rushed to one end by chance, so it would asphyxiate me.)

As to the injection of a conditional probability above, actually, nope: we want the odds on whether he or another agent (obviously collaborating with him) cheated vs won by C + N only [the only two relevant alternatives . . .], five times in rapid succession; which BTW, lengthens the odds considerably.

The probability on cheating, even on a multiverse model, is negligibly different from 1. [In short, following John Leslie (cf. my always linked); if there is a very long wall, and locally there is just one fly on a 100 yard stretch that gets hit by a bullet, it probably happened by agency, even if a mile away there is a 100 yard section carpeted with flies; eek! Oddly, BTW, I once saw something like a 30-mile long stone wall by the main E-W highway in Cuba.]

Harry-O, Harry-O, it’s off to gaol you go . . .

That’s just how things are in this universe — the only one that we actually observe!

GEM of TKI

PS: You may want to look at my discussion of such points in my always linked, thanks to earlier exchanges with a certain Boonton, over at EO.

16. 16
William J. Murray says:

This is what I don’t understand about most IDers; it seems to me that their ideological bias against materialism is preventing them from seeing how the assertion of MWI in evolutionary biology is a good thing for ID theory.

Let’s posit that MWI is true; not only do you have this universe, but you also have every universe where everything exists and occurs. You haven’t increased your pool of chance as a reasonable explanatory force, you’ve eliminated it.

Random mutation, natural selection, and chance only have meaning in the context of one universe; the universe we have before bringing in MWI. Once you bring in MWI, what does “random mutation” mean? How does chance and natural selection explain anything, when literally everything happens no matter how improbable in some (read: ours) universe?

In the context of MWI, random mutation & natural selection has no meaning. MWI destroys the Neo-Darwinistic interpretation, because it has no meaningful value.

The only model that has value in MWI is one that begins with “what we have”, which would be “the goal”, and explains the particular historical sequences of events in relation to that goal. Under MWI, evolution can only be understood and properly modeled in terms of the goal – as a teleological process, because without expressing history in terms of reaching the goal, you have absolutely no means of explaining why one thing happened, and not another, in this particular universe.

17. 17
professorsmith says:

David Brennan,
I suggest you take a look at what I wrote. If the amount of universes is infinite, then all possibilities are realized due to the fact that so many attempts are made to realize each outcome. Further, there’s no guarantee that a coin flip in each universe would result in a 50% probability on each flip. To say that each universe would have equal probabilities would be incorrect.

William J. Murray,
MWI does indeed destroy chance and replaces it with inevitability. This is why the Materialists are enamored with it and why we should reject it as the unscientific pablum it is. With MWI, we don’t have “the goal” but rather multitudes of goals, where in one life was bound to happen and evolve to create humans. Materialists recognize the sheer improbability of it all and try to shorten the odds by invoking multitudes of tries. It does not support ID, but luckily for us it is also rather unscienfitic.

18. 18
William J. Murray says:

Quote: “MWI does indeed destroy chance and replaces it with inevitability.”

Inevitability that our universe exists doesn’t provide the best model to use in this universe when interpreting evidence, it only describes a materialist, untestable hypothesis to explain how this universe might have come to exist.

Quote: “This is why the Materialists are enamored with it and why we should reject it as the unscientific pablum it is.”

It isn’t unscientific pablum, it’s a hypothesis based upon a reasonable interpretation of quantum theory, one that many physicists believed to be the correct interpretation long before it was invoked in biology.

“With MWI, we don’t have “the goal” but rather multitudes of goals, where in one life was bound to happen and evolve to create humans.”

The hypothesis that there are infinite other universe has zero to do with what the best model is to describe and retrodict what happened – and how it happened – in this universe. You’re refusing to see the tree by being focused on the forest. That the forest exists has nothing whatsoever to do with figuring out the history of one particular tree.

“Materialists recognize the sheer improbability of it all and try to shorten the odds by invoking multitudes of tries.”

Whether or not it “shortens the odds” for such a universe to exist is irrelevant when it comes to useful, meaningful models that can be applied to the historical sequences in this universe. While invoking MWI grants a materialist hypothesis for the existence of this universe, it also destroys RM & NS as a meaningful model, and renders any model other than one that begins with “what we have” (teleological) as an irrelevant description.

“It does not support ID, but luckily for us it is also rather unscienfitic.”

It not only supports ID, it makes ID – a goal-oriented model that describes a telelogical process – the only model that can possibly be useful in describing the historical narrative and retrodicting the sequences leading up to this point in this universe.

While I understand your ideological point of view, calling the MWI “unscientific” is like calling ID “unscientific”; IMO it’s only a defense mechanism because one doesn’t like the philosophical implications.

19. 19
jstanley01 says:

Lately — in addition to playing the lotto five times a week — I’ve trying to get in touch with the “me” in the multiverse who actually won \$100 million, on the chance that I might live in the multiverse where, by sending emails to myself, they will show up out of the blue in the multiverse where “I” not only won, but where “I” am willing to share \$2 million of “my” winnings with the me in this particular multiverse. And, of course, that “we” both happen to live in multiverses where a monetary exchange between multiverses can be made by setting up Swiss Bank Accounts with matching numbers.

So far, I’ve still got only \$1 parked in Zurich. But BarryA has got me wondering whether that other multiverse may be the one in which “Harry” and his case aren’t a thought exercise on Uncommon Descent, but are real, and, in addition, the one where “I” am actually on the jury. So, in my latest email to myself, I’ve asked “me” what I think about the case.

After all, you never know.

I’ll be sure and report here what my deliberations actually were, just as soon as I hear from me.

20. 20
professorsmith says:

William J Murray,
“Inevitability that our universe exists doesn’t provide the best model to use in this universe when interpreting evidence, it only describes a materialist, untestable hypothesis to explain how this universe might have come to exist.”

My thoughts exactly.

“It isn’t unscientific pablum, it’s a hypothesis based upon a reasonable interpretation of quantum theory, one that many physicists believed to be the correct interpretation long before it was invoked in biology.”

You can’t have it both ways. If it is untestable then it is not scientific.

“Whether or not it “shortens the odds” for such a universe to exist is irrelevant when it comes to useful, meaningful models that can be applied to the historical sequences in this universe.”

Then it provides no support for ID.

“While invoking MWI grants a materialist hypothesis for the existence of this universe, it also destroys RM & NS as a meaningful model, and renders any model other than one that begins with “what we have” (teleological) as an irrelevant description.”

Again, you can’t have it both ways. If it is irrelevant in coming up with a model for this universe, then it can not destroy the model of RM + NS.

“While I understand your ideological point of view, calling the MWI “unscientific” is like calling ID “unscientific”; IMO it’s only a defense mechanism because one doesn’t like the philosophical implications.”

You’ve not supported that at all. MWI is unscientific for the very reasons you mentioned above, it is untestable, whereas ID is testable as pointed out by Gonzalez in The Privileged Planet and by myself on my blog (See “A Reply to Mr. Darrell). MWI lends no support to ID. I appreciate what you are trying to do, but I think your approach is mislaid. We should fight against unscientific ideas such as MWI, not co-opt them.

And, BTW, this has nothing to do with ideology. This is a discussion about science and my ideology has nothing to do with it. If MWI is scientific or not is not determined by whether I like it or not.

21. 21
professorsmith says:

jstanley01,
You remind me of an episode of Futurama called, “The Farnsworth Parabox,” where Professor Farnsworth creates a box that houses a parallel dimension where everything is the same, except that every decision made by coin flip comes up the exact opposite. Of course, in the other universe the other Prof. Farnsworth also creates a box that houses this universe.

22. 22
23. 23
Granville Sewell says:

As a mathematician, I would like to point out that there is no definite evidence that the concept of infinity exists anywhere in the real world, it may exist ONLY as an abstract concept in mathematics.
The equations of the general theory of relativity allow for two possibilities 1) our universe may be “finite but unbounded”. In this case there is obviously not an infinite amount of anything in the universe; or it may be 2) infinite in size. But there is no conclusive evidence yet that the second possibility is the case and in my opinion it is a logical impossibility, and leads to all sorts of illogical and bizarre possibilities. Thus, I think the idea of an infinite number of universes–or of anything else–is not a real possibility.

Of course I could be wrong–reality has a history of surprising us!

24. 24
William J. Murray says:

#21:

MWI is testable in exactly the same sense that ID is testable; where you refer to teleological design as the necessary implication of the existence of the virtually impossible, materialists would find MWI as the necessary implication.

There is no difference that I can see between the viewpoints. One might argue that it is more parsimonious to just have “one universe”; I would be more swayed by that if the MWI had not already been the most favored interpretation of a lot of theoretical physicists like Hawking and others. It’s not like biologists just invented MWI out of whole cloth.

Again, I don’t understand why IDers wish to make this fight when MWI can easily be co-opted as not only supportive of MWI, but would in fact establish teleology as the only way to effectively understand the historical lineage of our universe.

You’re picking a fight with an idea that is in effect proving not only your biological argument, but also you anthropic argument and, at the end of the day, makes a case for whatever personal, philsophical beliefs you have about the universe.

As far as I can tell, the only reason to make this fight is because one disagrees with the philosophical implications.

25. 25
BarryA says:

William J. Murray writes:
“[Multiverse theory] isn’t unscientific pablum, it’s a hypothesis based upon a reasonable interpretation of quantum theory, one that many physicists believed to be the correct interpretation long before it was invoked in biology.”

Mr. Murray, please explain how one would test this hypothesis. Can it be falsified?

26. 26
professorsmith says:

William J. Murray,
“MWI is testable in exactly the same sense that ID is testable; where you refer to teleological design as the necessary implication of the existence of the virtually impossible, materialists would find MWI as the necessary implication.”

I disagree. MWI is not testable, ID is. I’ve already given examples as to how to test for ID. ID passed a major test with the appendix and with junk DNA (which turned out to not be junk.) What tests have MWI passed?

“It’s not like biologists just invented MWI out of whole cloth.”

No, they stole it from the multiverse theories that were made up out of whole cloth as a way of attacking fine tuning. Really, there’s not much difference between the two and I usually don’t see a need to differentiate between them. Both of them are unscientific “explanations” made up to counter the fact that there are long odds to overcome in the realm of fine tuning and the origin of life. It’s hand-waving and not much else.

“Again, I don’t understand why IDers wish to make this fight when MWI can easily be co-opted as not only supportive of MWI, but would in fact establish teleology as the only way to effectively understand the historical lineage of our universe.”

For a couple reasons. One would be that we should not seek to rest ID science on unscientific principles. The second would be that your assertion is a non sequitor, it literally does not follow that MWI destroys RM + NS and installs ID in its place. I’ve already pointed that out to you and shown where your arguments were contradictory.

“As far as I can tell, the only reason to make this fight is because one disagrees with the philosophical implications.”

Again, you can leave my philosophical implications out of this, because they have nothing at all to do with the matter at hand. The only reason that I can see you making your argument is that you want to co-opt the materialists’ arguments into your own. Why would we want to do that, however? We might derive a bit of schadenfraude in cleverly turning their bad arguments into arguments for our position, but it should not rest on rhetorical flourishes, unscientific assertions, and non sequitor. That a materialist might not see through your argument does not mean that we should allow ourselves to stoop to their level of discourse.

27. 27
William J. Murray says:

BarryA: I’m not a physicist, but some proposed methods of testing MWI can be found here http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/qm-manyworlds/#5 and here http://www.citebase.org/abstra.....%2F0010030 and there are other proposed experiments one can find online and in the literature.

ProfessorSmith:

You can’t test for other universes yet (but who knows what you can do in the future); however there are empirical tests that can be done that favor the MWI over the Copenhagen Interpretation, such as the delayed double-slit photon experiment.

As far as your arguments about what your tests reveal, or your belief that I have contradicted myself, I’ll just have to differ. IMO, MWI necessarily destroys RM & NS as a meaningfully explanatory model, and necessarily validates a teleological model as the only viable descriptive model.

I have to once again assert that the actual ID theory and Discover.org specifically state that no “designer” is necessary, that it purports the model of ID is a better descriptive model for our universe; if MWI is true, then ID is the only model that can describe our universe, because its history could only be adequately described in terms of what it has produced, and not by what chance – as defined by the parameters of this universe – could provide for.

Whether or not MWI or ID points towards something “true” is irrelevant; outside of the realm of ideology and philosophy, they would essentially be the same model and say the same things about this universe – that it can only be described in terms of things happening in order to produce this goal – what we now observe.

28. 28
professorsmith says:

David Brennan

The fact that we are here means that with infinite universes life is inevitable. With infinite universes, all the possibilities are realized due to the sheer number of universes out there, especially if they are all different. That’s why the materialists pin their hopes on infinite universes. It reduces their long shot odds to certainty and relieves them of the need to invoke chance.

As to your coin analogy, I got it, so don’t worry about that. I’m afraid that you don’t get it though. If you are flipping an infinite amount of coins, the probability that you will get zero heads is zero. In this case, we do have 1/inf and it is zero, not error.

29. 29
professorsmith says:

“You can’t test for other universes yet…”

Well, good luck with that. Let us all know when we can actually test for it and then I’ll reconsider.

“IMO, MWI necessarily destroys RM & NS as a meaningfully explanatory model, and necessarily validates a teleological model as the only viable descriptive model.”

Considering that you said that MWI is irrelevant to the model of this world/universe, I find it surprising that you can also assert that it is not irrelevant when it comes to destroying RM + NS. That is an inherent contradiction.

“…if MWI is true, then ID is the only model that can describe our universe, because its history could only be adequately described in terms of what it has produced, and not by what chance – as defined by the parameters of this universe – could provide for.”

This makes no sense. You seem to be mixing two arguments that do not go together. Chance does not provide for the universe or living beings. MWI is an attempt to get around that problem by invoking so many attempts that the chance of life becomes more likely. You’ve got it backwards.

“Whether or not MWI or ID points towards something “true” is irrelevant; outside of the realm of ideology and philosophy, they would essentially be the same model and say the same things about this universe – that it can only be described in terms of things happening in order to produce this goal – what we now observe.”

No, ID has no need to invoke multiple worlds/universes. They are not the same model.

30. 30
gpuccio says:

William J. Murray:

Let’s try to stay simple. ID is a model to explain something which we daily observe: biological beings. It is a model based on the concept of design, which too we daily observe, in all things designed by humans. It can explain with ease not only the origin of life from inorganic matter, but also the complex and rich evolution of life, the many designs and body plans observed both in fossils and in today’s world. It can easily (but will not) be falsified by showing and proving a true natural pathway of non directed evolution. It opens a scenario where a lot of new lines of research can unfold, as we have recently discussed on another thread.

The multiverse hypothesis, instead, has nothing, absolutely nothing observable in its support. It can never be falsified, nor verified, regarding non observable universes which exist only in the minds of its supporters.

Even if it were true, thr multiverse hypothesis can at best explain cosmological fine tuning, not certainly the repeated occurrence of millioms of totally unexplainable designs “in the same universe”.

The only truth is that the multiverse hypothesis is only an alibi to avoid facing the unsurmountable evidence accumulating in favour of design.

31. 31
drel says:

Some people think that there is a good chance that we live in a digital simulation (http://www.simulation-argument.com). Invoking the multiverse argument, there would be universes where this is true. But this only moves the design vs. random chance issue up to the top of the simulation tree. I think the multiverse and simulation arguments overlap in their explanatary power, but I rarely see them discussed at the same time.

32. 32
bFast says:

Drel, the digital simulation hypthesis would be an ID hypthesis, would it not?

33. 33
Patrick says:

I’ve heard scientists discussing potential experiments to test for a multiverse in general. But how do you test to see if the multiverse is infinite? If we’re living in a limited finite multiverse that’s another issue altogether.

Oh, and if you dislike the concept of a multiverse in general due to your religious beliefs, all I have to say is that God does exist on another plane, so we’re at least a 2 level finite multiverse, right?

34. 34
William J. Murray says:

gpuccio:
Quote: “The multiverse hypothesis, instead, has nothing, absolutely nothing observable in its support. It can never be falsified, nor verified, regarding non observable universes which exist only in the minds of its supporters. ”

Funny, that’s exactly what fanatical materialists keep saying about ID. In both cases, it’s untrue. There have been several such experiments, and there are more in the works. Why would you claim that it can “never be falsified or verified”, unless it is an ideological assumption on your part? Not to be contentious, but several responses here – including yours – sound exactly like the kind of ideological dismissals that ID gets from materialists.

Quote: “Even if it were true, thr multiverse hypothesis can at best explain cosmological fine tuning, not certainly the repeated occurrence of millioms of totally unexplainable designs “in the same universe”.”

Sure it can; in fact, it very elegantly explains it, at least from a materialist viewpoint; “everything exists”. However, “everything exists” would be the materialist version of “god did it”; the question is, so what, where do you go from there? That’s when ID theory beats RM & NS as a descriptive model inside our particular universe.

Quote: “The only truth is that the multiverse hypothesis is only an alibi to avoid facing the unsurmountable evidence accumulating in favour of design.”

Sigh. When we start claiming to know the “only truth” about the motives of everyone who supports a hypothesis/theory, we’ve ventured into demagoguery – just as it is demagoguery for materialist to claim that all IDers are really Christians trying to get God put into science.

MWI did not gain initial support in the scientific world as an explanation for the anthropic principle or problems with NDE; many theoretical physicists adopted it because it was in their mind the best interpretative consequence of quantum physics and what actual experimentation revealed.

ProfessorSmith:

You’re making incorrect inferences about what I’ve stated.

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drel says:

bFast, yes it implies ID at this level, but in a multi-leveled reality (simulation within simulation), how did the original simulation come about?

36. 36
drel says:

Let’s say the average number of simulated realities in multiverses that chose to create them is N. Now let’s say the probability of a multiverse with observers to create simulated realities is S. So there are S*N simulated realities for every “real” reality. Depending on the values for S and N, invoking the multiverse argument can imply that most realities are simulated and designed.

37. 37
jstanley01 says:

drel

A reporter for the Gray Lady herself, in an article in the Science Section titled Our Lives, Controlled From Some Guy’s Couch, proclaims that:

In fact, if you accept a pretty reasonable assumption of Dr. Bostrom’s [Nick Bostrom, a philosopher at Oxford University], it is almost a mathematical certainty that we are living in someone else’s computer simulation.

Wow. I’ve long suspected a variant of this theory. Namely, that I’m the only real person in existence in this world, and that everyone and everything else is the product of a dream induced by an incorporeal evil wizard sent to torment me.

Either that, or too-liberal policies of loans, grants and tenure in higher education have produced cohorts of people with way too much education, and way way too much time on their hands, who would make more of a contribution to the world if they all got jobs balancing tires at NTB.

38. 38

I hate to tell ya’s, but you will find out very fast if you are ever successful at making your case in a peer reviewed journal, that evidence for non-random occurrence alone does not constitute evidence for ID, without proof that this is the case.

39. 39
bornagain77 says:

Since I haven’t seen this mentioned yet I thought I would point it out,

Since materialism requires an infinite number of universe’s of infinitely varying parameters both known and unknown, to explain the extreme fine tuning of this universe found in the anthropic principle, the they open themselves up to the possibility of it being infinitely possible for Almighty God to exist! If it is infinitely possible for Almighty God to exist then He certainly does exist, and since Almighty God certainly does exist all infinite possibilities automatically become subject to Him, for He is, by primary definition Omnipotent!

40. 40
Lurker says:

Even if you could find a way to test for other universes, you could never test for an infinite number of universes.

41. 41
rockyr says:

The multiverses and invoking infinity is the last trick of materialists. (They have invoked, and keep invoking the same tricks condemned long time ago!)

Re: “Materialists attempt to get around the math be invoking the “multiverse.” The term “multiverse” means a system that contains infinite universes.

Anytime an infinity is used in an argument, the proponents and arguers ought to be well versed in the meaning(s) of “infinity”, since such an misapplication can easily lead to fallacies and controversies. This is a really cheap trick of the last resort and many foolish errors and fallacies have been introduced in the history of philosophy by such “reasoning.”

Consider what Aristotle, the “father of infinity”, (or the father of the correct way of thinking about infinity), who was well acquainted with the various notions of other philosophers, had to say on the subject:

“Belief in the existence of the infinite comes mainly from five considerations:

(1) From the nature of time-for it is infinite.

(2) From the division of magnitudes-for the mathematicians also use the notion of the infinite.

(3) If coming to be and passing away do not give out, it is only because that from which things come to be is infinite.

(4) Because the limited always finds its limit in something, so that there must be no limit, if everything is always limited by something different from itself.

(5) Most of all, a reason which is peculiarly appropriate and presents the difficulty that is felt by everybody-not only number but also mathematical magnitudes and what is outside the heaven are supposed to be infinite because they never give out in our thought.

The last fact (that what is outside is infinite) leads people to suppose that body also is infinite, and that there is an infinite number of worlds.”

Please, let’s stick to the basic common sense Physics and Science! Anything else is babbling and daydreaming, and the materialists should be often reminded of that!

Also remember, that the modern proponent of the modern “revised” concept of infinity, Georg Cantor, finally ended up and died in the mental institution.

42. 42
vjtorley says:

Re Harry:

I completely agree with kairosfocus. Throw the book at him. Some contributors have suggested, perhaps tongue-in-cheek, that we could let Harry go free with a clear conscience on the grounds that the multiverse theory itself entails that if we let Harry off, that’s only because we happen to live in a universe where we decide (for good reasons or bad ones) to let him off. And in some other universe, Harry is rotting in jail (or gaol, depending on your spelling preference). But this argument won’t wash. It confuses ontology with epistemology.

The fact is that even if there is a multiverse, we don’t know WHICH universe in that multiverse we are actually in. That’s an epistemological question, and if the multiverse theory is true, then what we have to decide, as members of the jury. Are we in one where Harry got incredibly lucky? Or are we in one where Harry pulled a fast one? The Powerball Committee might be pretty hard to fool, but I’m sure the chance that someone could fool them is higher than the very low probability of Harry’s getting a five-peat. That’s why I’d vote to convict Harry.

The counter-argument, that it doesn’t matter what decision I make, because the universe will branch into different forks where the full range of judicial outcomes is realised (guilty, innocent, and other more bizarre possibilities where a verdict is never delivered), is only valid if one assumes the truth of reductionist materialism, which posits that all our mental states (including my decision to convict Harry) are determined in a bottom-up fashion by their underlying material states – in other words, mind supervenes upon matter. However, one could still believe in a multiverse without believing in this kind of materialism. The philosopher Richard Cameron has convincingly argued in his Ph.D. dissertation (available at http://web.archive.org/web/200.....s/diss.pdf) that top-down materialism is perfectly compatible with our current body of scientific knowledge. If he is right, then I shouldn’t just sit around and wait for my brain states to determine my choice. Causality can go both ways: my choice can determine the state of my neurons. Another alternative would be to simply reject materialism altogether – in which case, the objection clearly has no merit.

Of course, my case for convicting Harry WOULD be undermined if the multiverse turned out to be what I shall call an INFINIVERSE – a multiverse with an infinite number of universes. In that case, I could no longer argue that the number of universes in which Harry cheated is substantially larger than the number in which he got lucky. If the multiverse is an infiniverse, then BOTH numbers are infinite, and NEITHER is larger than the other (I’m appealing to Hilbert’s “infinity hotel” argument here), so then I could no longer vote to convict, in all good conscience. Of course, the absurdity of this situation – in an infiniverse, by the same logic, I could never vote to convict ANYONE – could be said to constitute a reductio ad absurdum argument against an infiniverse.

Re abiogenesis and ID:

Unfortunately, the fact that Harry’s argument that he just “got lucky” would be rightly rejected by any sensible court in the land does NOT, by itself, entail that we should reject the far less probable theory that life arose by chance. The reason why we rejected Harry’s plea was that we judged the likelihood of Harry’s tampering with the Lotto balls to be much higher than that of his getting a lucky five-peat. The analogy of abiogenesis with ID fails at just this point, because we simply cannot estimate the likelihood that some higher intelligence tampered with the organic molecules swirling around on the early Earth, and created a living cell. (To make that kind of estimate, we’d have to know: (a) whether higher intelligences exist, (b) what kind of intelligences they are, and (c) what their behavioural dispositions are likely to be. Aside from philosophical arguments and/or a direct religious experience, we know NONE of these things.) All we can say is that IF the first cell originated by a combination of chance and necessity, then it was an astronomically improbable event.

The only way to escape this impasse is to construct a metaphysical argument for the existence of a Higher Reality (let’s call it God), which is independent of all probability considerations. Right now, the best candidates seem to be Dr. Greg Bahnsen’s transcendental argument and Dr. Robert Koons’ modal ontological argument.

Re the multiverse:

I don’t think we should be overly alarmed if it turns out that the multiverse is real. Mathematically, the “many-worlds” interpretation of quantum mechanics DOES look pretty elegant, and some researchers argue that parallel processing can be better explained by positing other “worlds.” I don’t know who’s right here, but the fact that MWI has some pretty able defenders suggests that it deserves a second look.

What WOULD really worry me is if the multiverse turned out to be infinite, with a replica of me somewhere out there. It would be difficult to think straight in such an infiniverse: paradoxes relating to multiple “selves” (even worse, imagine if they met), and infinities that balance each other out (rendering probability judgements impossible – see my exmaple above) would make a mess of our reasoning. For that very reason, we should regard these paradoxes as a reductio ad absurdum against an infiniverse.

Re simulation:

Well OF COURSE we’re living in a simulation: God’s! This idea is by no means an original one. Consider the following quote from Hugh McCann’s article (at http://plato.stanford.edu/entr.....ce-divine/ ) in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, on Divine Providence: http://plato.stanford.edu/entr.....ce-divine/

“A useful analogy that may be drawn here is to the relationship between the author of a story, and the characters within it. The author does not enter into the story herself, nor does she act upon the characters in such a way as to force them to do the things they do. Rather, she creates them in their doings, so that they are able to behave freely in the world of the novel. On the traditional account, God’s relation to his creatures is similar. As creator, he is the ‘first cause’ of us and of our actions, but his causality works in such a way that we are not acted upon, and so are able to exercise our wills freely in deciding and acting. If this is correct, then as Augustine and Aquinas both insist, God’s creative activity does not violate libertarian freedom, for it does not count as an independent determining condition of creaturely decision and action.”

What I am proposing is that the relationship of God to the world is precisely that of an author to a story – the only difference being that in contemporary novels, the author does not interact with the characters, and the characters do not attempt to communicate with the author. However, future advances in computer games are likely to instantiate both of these features (if they do not do so already – I have no idea, as I don’t play the silly things). In that case, the analogy would be a perfect one.

Would anyone like to prove me wrong?

43. 43
BarryA says:

Rockyr, are you suggesting that people who try to wrap their heads around infinity wind up blowing their heads up (figuratively speaking)?

44. 44
gpuccio says:

William J. Murray:

I appreciate your arguments, but have to disagree on many points.

You say: “Funny, that’s exactly what fanatical materialists keep saying about ID. In both cases, it’s untrue. There have been several such experiments, and there are more in the works. Why would you claim that it can “never be falsified or verified”, unless it is an ideological assumption on your part?”

First of all, it is not an ideological assumption: it could be a false assumption (I don’t think I am always right), but it is not ideological in any way. And it is not only mine, or of ID in general: I cite here from wikipedia, which is not usually an ID think tank:

“Critics claim that these theories lack empirical correlation and testability, and without hard physical evidence are unfalsifiable; outside the methodology of scientific investigation to confirm or disprove; and therefore more mathematically theoretical and metaphysical than scientific in nature”.

Besides, I can very well accept the idea that many universes may exist, although I still think that we have no evidence for that. I just think that assuming the idea of multiple, or infinite, universes, never observed and probably never observable, just to “explain” what we observe in ours, is certainly not scientific.

I would be very interested in knowing which are the experiments which have verified or falsified any multiple universe theory. I think it is exactly the opposite. Existing theories about our universe have given rise to the hypothesis of multiple universes, in various forms, esepcially as a possible interpretation of some aspects of quantum mechanincs. This is correct, because at a speculative level we can postulate everything we want, but it is only if those assumptions can predict or explain something observable in our universe, and which cannot be explained in any other reasonable way, that those comcepts begin to be really interesting.

I don’t think that’s the state of the multiverse hypothesis. Therefore, while we are waiting for a possible testable aspect of some particular multiverse theory, which could never be found, it is absolutely incorrect to use such a feeble theory as an “explanation” of fundamental contradictions between observed facts and existing sicentific theories. So, it is methodologically incorrect to use the multicerse hypothesis to explain the ever more astounding evidence of fine tuning in physical laws, and above all it is a very mean intellectual trick to use the multiverse hypothesis, in its most metaphysical formulation, a la Borges, that “everything that can exist exists” to “explain” the emergence of design not only at OOL, but repeatedly, million of times, at different ages.

On the contrary, the affirmation, by those who you yourself call “fanatical materialists”, that ID is not testable, is completely false. ID consists of two levels of arguments, strictly connected. The first is the demonstration that all traditional darwinian ways of explaining design are false. This level includes arguments mathematical, statistical, biological, biochemical, paleontological and so on.

The second is the inference of design. That is based on the similarity between design as observed in the products of human intelligence and design as observed in the natural world.

It is not true that these leves of the ID theory cannot be falsified: they can both be falsified by “any” demonstration of the existence of a reasonable mechanical way that can generate, and has generated, those results which appear to be designed, without making use of design. In other words, evolutionary darwinian theory, if true, is a falsification of ID. What a pity that evolutionary darwinian theory is not true…

45. 45
William J. Murray says:

gpuccio:

Stating that, in your opinion there is no current evidence that supports a theory, is far different than your claim that ” It can never be falsified, nor verified.” I posit that the latter – your statement – can only be construed as ideological certainty. If you wish to rescind that certainty, no problemo.

As far as MWI being a weak explanation – more of a hail-mary pass “chance of the gaps” hypothesis, I fully agree; however, my argument here isn’t in support of MWI as a reasonable component of evolutionary theory, but rather that ID supporters must be wary of falling into the same ideological trap that funda-materialists have fallen into; i.e., ridiculing and attacking a hypothesis or theory because one dislikes the philosophical ramifications.

As to the last couple of parapgraphs, my point about MWI has been that it necessarily supports design theory – not the implication of a designer, but design theory itself, that many of the features of biology and the universe are only explicable in terms of being designed to accomplish what what we now observe.

This is apparently the difficult aspect of the MWI argument to understand; while it is an interesting and possible hypothesis that “explains” how such an interesting universe such as ours came to be, it offers no descriptive power over what we actually observe in this universe – it’s just a “chance of the gaps” model that has no real meaning or practical, functional, scientific power.

So, if MWI is true, then the only models that are going to be practical, functional, and meangingful descriptors of what has gone on in our interesting universe are teleological models like ID.

MWI isn’t the enemy of ID theory; it’s just the enemy of ID idealogues that demand the theory imply a designer.

Also, while funda-materialists might initially embrace MWI as a NDE savior, in the end MWI destroys materialism. MWI is going to backfire on them because they can’t see far enough ahead to see the actual consequences of embracing MWI.

46. 46
Joseph says:

If one wants to posit a “multiverse” scenario to get around any “fine-tuning” argument then one has to demonstrate a causal connection between the systems.

If that cannot be accomplished then the multiverse scenario is akin to the odds of hitting the jackpot with one ticket per lottery but on a daily basis- as opposed to the odds with just one ticket and one lottery (as would be the case if ours was the the only universe).

So if I was on the jury I would ask for the testimony that demonstrated such a connection.

47. 47
jstanley01 says:

William J. Murray

You’re point is noteworthy, that MWI originated in theoretical physics. I always assumed it was cooked up by a bunch of neo-Darwinists sitting around the living room bong with nothing to do on a Saturday night.

Wikipedia is worth consulting on the issue. It looks to me like MWI was postulated to try to account mathematically for the contradictions observed in quantum physics.

However, as far as I can tell as a non-scientist, a fair reading of the canvass of possible tests of MWI which you linked at a Stanford website — especially those that would verify MWI’s denial of wave function collapse — fully justifies BarryA’s and ProfessorSmith’s skepticism about a workable hypothesis forthcoming from experimental physics.

48. 48
William J. Murray says:

jstanley01: the MWI is also called the Everett interpretation and has been around 50 years. You can read several scientific efforts to examine this hypothesis here: http://users.ox.ac.uk/~everett/abstracts.htm – also, a more comprehensive examination of the hypothesis and who supports it can be found here http://www.physics.wustl.edu/~.....ieves%20in – they also describe some empirical tests that might be possible, as far as proving that other universes exist.

Materialists (at least, those in physics) by and large abhor the Everett Interpretation (MWI) because of the potential consequences – it breaks down any meaning to the term “materialism” and introduces all sorts of spiritual and non-material implications.

I seriously doubt biologists really comprehend the can of worms they are opening by resorting to MWI to bolster NDE.

49. 49
DaveScot says:

wjm

If there are multiple universes then are we in a universe where life on earth was intelligently designed or one where it wasn’t? How can we tell which it is?

50. 50
William J. Murray says:

#51

DaveScot: Let’s look at it this way; if you have two wristwatches, identical in every respect except one was created by a watchmaker, and the other was the product of the most astounding lineage of chance occurrences imaginable, how would you discern which one was **actually** intelligently designed, and which one just appears to be so designed?

To the actual theory of ID, there is no meaningful difference, because ID theory is the only model with sufficient explantory power to predict the existence of either watch in this particular universe, by starting with the watch (the goal) and describing it’s “coming-to-existence” in terms of a telological process towards the existence of the watch. “Watchmaker made it” or “MWI chance made it” are both irrelevant scientific descriptions of the “making of the watch” process.

To answer your question, the only practical way I can think of to find out if a watchmaker made that particular watch, would be to find and ask the watchmaker.

51. 51
rockyr says:

BarryA, many people who try to wrap their heads around infinity do eventually “blow up their heads,” as you have put it. If you haven’t read Rudy Rucker’s book “Infinity and the Mind: The Science and Philosophy of the Infinite” get it, it’s a great book for those who can follow it. In a nutshell the book could be summarized as:

“It is in the realm of infinity, he maintains, that mathematics, science, and logic merge with the fantastic.”

see

http://press.princeton.edu/titles/5656.html

52. 52
jstanley01 says:

William J. Murray

Hey, thanks for the links. But I dunno. Biologists like worms, don’t they? I imagine that MWI will remain a boon to those engaged in the speculative arts — such as science-fiction writing and NDE — for as long as it remains untestable.

Actually the Stanford article looks to me like it’s trying to put a happy face on a whole lot of bad news about the theory’s experimental viability. Viz:

The collapse leads to effects that are, in principle, observable; these effects do not exist if the MWI is the correct theory. To observe the collapse we would need a super technology, which allows “undoing” a quantum experiment, including a reversal of the detection process by macroscopic devices. See Lockwood 1989 (p. 223), Vaidman 1998 (p. 257), and other proposals in Deutsch 1986. These proposals are all for gedanken experiments that cannot be performed with current or any foreseen future technology. Indeed, in these experiments an interference of different worlds has to be observed. Worlds are different when at least one macroscopic object is in macroscopically distinguishable states. Thus, what is needed is an interference experiment with a macroscopic body. Today there are interference experiments with larger and larger objects (e.g., fullerene molecules C60), but these objects are still not large enough to be considered “macroscopic”. Such experiments can only refine the constraints on the boundary where the collapse might take place. A decisive experiment should involve the interference of states which differ in a macroscopic number of degrees of freedom: an impossible task for today’s technology.[8]

Gee. That doesn’t sound so good. Then it talks about experiments that have been attempted.

The collapse mechanism seems to be in contradiction with basic physical principles such as relativistic covariance, but nevertheless, some ingenious concrete proposals have been made (see Pearle 1986 and the entry on collapse theories). These proposals (and Weissman’s 1999 non-linear MW idea) have additional observable effects, such as a tiny energy non-conservation, that were tested in several experiments. The effects were not found and some (but not all!) of these models have been ruled out.

So keep on smilin’, folks!

An apparent candidate for such an experiment is a setup proposed in Englert et al. 1992 in which a Bohmian world is different from the worlds of the MWI (see also Aharonov and Vaidman 1996). In this example, the Bohmian trajectory of a particle in the past is contrary to the records of seemingly good measuring devices (such trajectories were named surrealistic). However, at present, there are no memory records that can determine unambiguously (without deduction from a particular theory) the particle trajectory in the past. Thus, this difference does not lead to an experimental way of distinguishing between the MWI and Bohmian mechanics. I believe that no other experiment can distinguish between the MWI and other no-collapse theories either, except for some perhaps exotic modifications, e.g., Bohmian mechanics with initial particle position distribution deviating from the quantum distribution.

Gee. That doesn’t sound very promising either. But fear not!

There are other opinions about the possibility of testing the MWI. It has frequently been claimed, e.g. by De Witt 1970, that the MWI is in principle indistinguishable from the ideal collapse theory. On the other hand, Plaga 1997 claims to have a realistic proposal for testing the MWI, and Page 2000 argues that certain cosmological observations might support the MWI.

Sounds optimistic, except for those words like “possiblility,” “claims to have,” and “might support.”

Fifty years is a long time for a physics theory (as opposed to an origins theory) to live with zero experimental confirmation. Given the facts — as divorced from the rhetoric — I’d guess that most candidates, pondering their dissertations in experimental physics, smell out that trying to devise experiments to test MWI is a project from which to steer wide away.

53. 53

ID theory is the only model with sufficient explantory power to predict the existence of either watch in this particular universe, by starting with the watch (the goal) and describing it’s “coming-to-existence” in terms of a telological process towards the existence of the watch.

No, John Wheeler already did it, and Paul Davies supports this approach. Let’s see… theirs is not the only alternative causality-responsible approach that doesn’t require an intelligent designer.

54. 54
professorsmith says:

William J Murray,
“Funny, that’s exactly what fanatical materialists keep saying about ID. In both cases, it’s untrue.”

Let’s not resort to such tactics as tarring our opponents with such a broad brush. There’s no need to keep trying to link my and other’s argument to the psycho-babble of the “funda-materialists.”

“Sure it can; in fact, it very elegantly explains it, at least from a materialist viewpoint; “everything exists”. However, “everything exists” would be the materialist version of “god did it”; the question is, so what, where do you go from there? That’s when ID theory beats RM & NS as a descriptive model inside our particular universe.”

Thus, you defeat your own argument. The best case (for you) scenario you have given us is that MWI can say nothing about this universe, so it is irrelevant as to whether ID or RM + NS is a better explanation.

“As to the last couple of parapgraphs, my point about MWI has been that it necessarily supports design theory – not the implication of a designer, but design theory itself, that many of the features of biology and the universe are only explicable in terms of being designed to accomplish what what we now observe.

This is apparently the difficult aspect of the MWI argument to understand; while it is an interesting and possible hypothesis that “explains” how such an interesting universe such as ours came to be, it offers no descriptive power over what we actually observe in this universe – it’s just a “chance of the gaps” model that has no real meaning or practical, functional, scientific power.”

In the space of two paragraphs, you contradict yourself. MWI supports design, but also has no descriptive power for our universe? Make up your mind already.

“So, if MWI is true, then the only models that are going to be practical, functional, and meangingful descriptors of what has gone on in our interesting universe are teleological models like ID.”

No, MWI does nothing of the sort. If we have multiple universes to choose from, then there is no need to invoke a designer to overcome the extremely long odds against fine-tuning, OOL, etc. You’ve provided no support for your position beyond your say-so. I’m sorry, but I’m not buying it.

“You’re making incorrect inferences about what I’ve stated.”

Then explain it better. Simply stating that I’m not getting your meaning does nothing to expand my understanding. If you have an argument to present, then present it. As far as I can see, all you’ve said is that MWI supports ID because ID is the best explanation for what we observe in this universe. In this case, MWI is, at best, superfluous. MWI would not lend any support to ID. At worst, you aren’t interpreting the implications of MWI correctly.

55. 55
magnan says:

William J. Murray: “MWI necessarily destroys RM & NS as a meaningfully explanatory model, and necessarily validates a teleological model as the only viable descriptive model.”

I agree with the first statement, but I don’t see the second as following.

With MWI our world is one of an infinite array in which just the right functional macromutations (“punctuated equilibrium”) or micromutations occurred in just the right individuals under just the right environmental conditions at just the right times to result in the present array of living organisms. This is regardless of probabilities calculated from the equal likelihood of vast numbers of alternate events.

It doesn’t matter whether the improbability of this series of mutations and other genetic changes is way beyond Dembski’s universal probability bound, or if Darwinian truly random variation plus NS really can do the whole job. If the infinite multiple universe concept is valid there must even be an infinite number of other universes with other different varyingly unlikely series of events leading to different living organisms.

Infinity is very large, so it is also possible that our world came into being ten years ago from a vast galactic dust cloud by a purely random chance coincidence of molecular motions. Of course with all the multiple apparent evidences of the past evolutionary history of the world, including the fossil record.

Even for ID, if the teleological cause behind or intervening in evolution is part of this universe, then we just happen to be in one which contains a designer and in which this designer just happened to decide this way.

This type of “explanation” seemingly explains absolutely anything (except logical impossibilities or miracles) and cannot therefore be falsified. So it really explains nothing in any scientific sense – it is just nebulous speculation.

56. 56
William J. Murray says:

ProfessorSmith:

I’m not sure what argument you think I’m trying to make that you believe I’m contradicting myself.

MWI is a hypothetical explanation of how interesting sequences exist in our universe, not a scientific description of those sequences. If MWI must be invoked for a sequence, then it is a de facto admission that models of non-directed forces and laws in our universe cannot describe the sequences; however, MWI itself has no descriptive power inside our particular universe.

So, if there is a de-facto admission that non-directed forces cannot explain the sequence, the only other kind of model is a design one – one that describes the sequence in terms of the result – a teleological model. In this way, any invocation of MWI directly implicates ID theory.

In other words (as it relates to the jury example) as a jury member if the defense attorney claimed MWI – that doesn’t have descriptive power, because it’s just a framework for why any model exists anywhere in any universe. But the only applicable model that describes the defendants behavior **in our universe** isn’t gravity, or chance (as it exists in this particlar universe), or inertia, or conservation of energy .. it’s Inteligent Design … goal oriented behavior. Verdict: guilty.

57. 57
William J. Murray says:

Magnan:

Invocation of MWI is a tacit admission that non-directed natural forces in this universe cannot account for the phenomena in question; that leaves teleological models.

I agree with your assessment of MWI, but I differ in your terms. Hypothetically, MWI explains everything, but describes nothing. What is required is a descriptive model; regardless of, for example, if gravity is different or nonexistent in other universes, MWI explains all such instances, but describes no individual universe’s gravity. Or any other emergent phenomena or natural law in any particular universe.

In THIS universe, we have what seems to be big sets of very unlikely sequences of phenomena that are not adequately described by any non-directed model, and are easily described via teleolgical models. Whether or not they really were designed is irrelevant; what gravity “really is” is irrelevant … to the success and validity of the model that descrbes the behavior.

This is why MWI isn’t worth fighting, and is actually a good thing for ID theory.

58. 58
kairosfocus says:

H’mm:

Pardon a bit of housekeeping and a few points esp on 44 above by VJT.

1] Bob O’H, in 14, points to a case on probability improperly used to convict.

What Bob failed to do was to cite the reason the conviction was overturned, as was stated in the Wiki article he cited:

Sally Clark (15 August 1964 – 15 March 2007)[1] was a British lawyer. She was the victim of a miscarriage of justice; her convictions in 1999 for the murder of two of her sons were quashed in 2003.

Clark’s first son died suddenly within a few weeks of his birth in 1996. After her second son died in a similar manner, she was arrested in 1998 and tried for the murder of both sons. Her prosecution was controversial due to statistical evidence presented by paediatrician Professor Sir Roy Meadow, who testified that the chance of two children from an affluent family suffering cot death was 1 in 73 million, when in fact it was closer to 1 in 200. [2] In an unusual intervention, the Royal Statistical Society wrote to the Lord Chancellor saying there was “no statistical basis” for Meadow’s figure.

This has utterly nothing to do with a situation where the probabilistic resources of the observed universe — the only one we have ACTUALLY observed to date — are exhausted by the outcomes in view that are complex and functionally specified.

In short, the ID issue is unaddressed by the sad case of Ms Sally Clarke and her children, save to underscore the significance of available probabilistic resources.

That’s not cricket, Bob.

Worse, the case is also one of blatant abuse of claimed scientific authority to manipulate the laypeople who sit on a Jury or even in a Magistrate’s bench. At least, the relevant Institution at length spoke out in protest.

I ain’t holding my breath on a similar outcome for NDT and OOL models.

2] VJT, 44: I completely agree with kairosfocus . . . . The fact is that even if there is a multiverse, we don’t know WHICH universe in that multiverse we are actually in. That’s an epistemological question, and if the multiverse theory is true, then what we have to decide, as members of the jury. Are we in one where Harry got incredibly lucky? Or are we in one where Harry pulled a fast one? The Powerball Committee might be pretty hard to fool, but I’m sure the chance that someone could fool them is higher than the very low probability of Harry’s getting a five-peat. That’s why I’d vote to convict Harry.

Thanks.

You will also note that I consistently speak of a Quasi-Infinite array of sub-cosmi [or, metagalaxies]in the cosmos as a whole. This is because I take the contradictions of Hilbert’s Hotel seriously.

(NB: Wiki’s gratuitous dismissal attempt on WLC, that arriving at the present from an infinite past does not implicate a supertask is also unimpressive. Has it occurred to them that if we set NOW = zero time, an infinite past of say seconds [i.e. finite, discrete increments acquired in succession] is of course a count-down “from” negative infinity and thus implicates a conundrum [however labelled], as WLC long since pointed out in his work on the area? That is, at what point does one exhaust a temporal, sequential countdown from negative infinity so to speak? And that is no Supertask, “a task occurring within a finite interval of time involving infinitely many steps (subtasks),” it is a need to incrementally in finite discrete steps taking a certain specified amount of time, traverse the countable infinity of negative integers from infinitely many negative to zero. If one can’t get TO infinity by such a traverse, one cannot get FROM negative infinity by such a traverse either; let’s for convenience call such an attempted traverse requiring infinite time to do a countably infinite traverse an ULTRA-task. That has nothing to do with traversing a finite continuum in time and space that one may mathematically divide up into a quasi-infinite cumulation of increments that in the limit go to “zero.” Notice, in the latter case, one does not actually go to zero-width slices, but exploits the properties of sequences and series, namely that in certain interesting cases, they converge to a limit as one increases the number of terms imaginatively without limit, i.e the “infinity” in question arrives all at once, not in finite, incremental succession. Thence calculus and its applications.)

So, IMHCO, it is unreasonable to speak in terms of a truly infinite set of sub-cosmi, especially if we are also talking of such arising at random at random points and enduring a finite quantum of time. (It begins to look like putting up an incredible, Russell 5-minute old universe-style proposed cosmos: explaining away our experience at the expense of discrediting the very minds and senses that one has to use to infer to such a cosmos.]

3] The reason why we rejected Harry’s plea was that we judged the likelihood of Harry’s tampering with the Lotto balls to be much higher than that of his getting a lucky five-peat. The analogy of abiogenesis with ID fails at just this point, because we simply cannot estimate the likelihood that some higher intelligence tampered with the organic molecules swirling around on the early Earth, and created a living cell.

But, VJT, we are NOT dealing with Likelihoods!

Instead, we start with a well-known fact: designers are possible and in every case where we directly observe the causal story, functionally specified complex information beyond the Dembski-type bound arises from such agent action, NOT from chance + necessity only. [Of course, wise design reckons with and may even exploit C + N in its work, as I discuss in my always linked.]

Second, we have relevant, highly reliable background knowledge on the world of molecules and similar particles, namely statistical mechanics. In that world, we easily see that the assemblage of complex, multi-part machines constituting a system that functions as a fine-tuned integrated whole, is statistically well beyond the reach of C + N in the observed cosmos. [Cf my Appendix A.]

Third, we know that the nanotechnology of the cell constitutes a self-replicating, self-maintaining highly complex automaton embedding a highly sophisticated information system.

Simple estimates for even the minor components of such systems immediately run well beyond the Dembski-type bound, and that does not begin to address the force of the integrated, 3-D interlocking nature of the involved multitude of elements and of the related computer languages and algorithms.

We can therefore see rapidly that OOL by C + N only on the scope of our observed cosmos is a hypothesis maintained in the teeth of abundant empirical data and knowledge. And, the multiverse hyp is in effect a resort to naked metaphysics to try to save the phenomena for a worldview that is in deep trouble on this front. [As I have pointed out elsewhere in this blog in recent months, and summarise here, it is in even deeper trouble on the front of trying to account for the origin of a credible mind relative to forces tracing to C + N only. And so it becomes self-referentially incoherent thus false by logical necessity.]

The required extensions of such a system to create the body-plan level biodiversity by C + N only on the gasmut of the cosmos [leave alone the Earth] runs into the same barrier over and over.

Thus, on a very confident inference to best explanation, design is implicated. Of course, once one provides an adequate empirical demonstration that such a task is feasible by C + N only, then it would be overthrown. But, relative to abundant empirical data [cf. here Behe’s Edge of Evolution] and well-tested models and theories related thereto, I ain’t holdin my breath waiting for that.

In fact, things look more and more like a desperate doomed defence of a worldview now long past its sell-by date [Evolutionary Materialism] and its major intellectual and rhetorical prop, NDT. That explains the shrill polemics and resort to utterly indefensible behaviour as Expelled (for instance) documents.

GEM of TKI

59. 59
merlin wood says:

Only developing a theory in a way that no physicist is ever likely to discover will a truly scientific teleological model be constructed.

So that, firstly, a quantum hypothesis needs to be justified and developed that assumes and describes in enough detail the action of a cause that acts with non-local effects in addition to all the forces . And then large scale natural evidence of where such a cause can be thought to act needs to be found to support the quantum hypothesis.

Such is an account that could be called a general theory of natural organisation.

http://foranewageofreason.blogspirit.com

60. 60
country6925 says:

I’ll put a little humor in here. At work, myself and my coworkers frequently email each other stuff that is sometimes humorous. Earlier today, my coworker emailed me this:

I FELT SOMETHING IN MY SHOE SINCE I PUT IT ON THIS MORNING….FINALLY TOOK IT OFF AND A DIME FELL OUT…WHY COULDN’T IT HAVE BEEN A \$100 BILL?..LOL

My response:

I WAS READING A BLOG EARLIER AND THEY WERE TALKING ABOUT THE “INFINITE MULTIVERSE THEORY”, THE THEORY THAT THERE IS AN INFINITE NUBER OF UNIVERSES WHERE THINGS ARE DIFFERENT THAN THEY ARE TODAY. IF IT’S TRUE, IN ONE OF THOSE UNIVERSES, A \$200 MILLION WINNING LOTTERY TICKET FELL OUT OF YOUR SHOE.

His comeback:

THANKS…I FEEL MUCH BETTER NOW…LOL

61. 61
professorsmith says:

William J Murray,
“I’m not sure what argument you think I’m trying to make that you believe I’m contradicting myself.”

That’s why I quoted it and explained what I thought was contradictory.

“MWI is a hypothetical explanation of how interesting sequences exist in our universe, not a scientific description of those sequences. If MWI must be invoked for a sequence, then it is a de facto admission that models of non-directed forces and laws in our universe cannot describe the sequences; however, MWI itself has no descriptive power inside our particular universe.”

MWI does indeed mean an admission that natural law can not account for this universe due to the sheer improbability of it….unless you have many, many tries at it, where the improbable now becomes probable. I’ve said this now multiple times, but you refuse to acknowledge it.

“In other words (as it relates to the jury example) as a jury member if the defense attorney claimed MWI – that doesn’t have descriptive power, because it’s just a framework for why any model exists anywhere in any universe.”

No, it’s a framework for why many models exist, including one where chance *is* a sufficient explanation for this universe. Therein lies your fundamental misunderstanding. If I flip one coin, I have a 50% chance of getting heads. If I flip two coins, I have a 75% chance of getting at least one head. If I flip 100 coins, I have (1 – 1/2^n) chances of getting at least one head. And the odds go up as I add more and more coins. The materialists only need one head, so they throw infinite universes at the problem. Now, a probability of 10^-120 for one head becomes a certainty with infinite universes. Hence, with MWI, there is no need to invoke a designer since heads is bound to come up on its own.

62. 62
William J. Murray says:

Professorsmith:

Quote: “MWI does indeed mean an admission that natural law can not account for this universe due to the sheer improbability of it….unless you have many, many tries at it, where the improbable now becomes probable. I’ve said this now multiple times, but you refuse to acknowledge it.”

I don’t acknowledge it because I don’t understand how you think it relates to my argument.

I think this is where we are having a disconnect. There is no “unless you have many, many times …” in **our** universe, because while MWI might explain how such a universe with that feature exists, it doesn’t meaningfully describe the feature itself, in scientific terms, in our universe. It scientifically explains its **presence**, but it doesn’t describe the behavior in question in any practical, useful, scientific way like gravity or intertia has been described.

IF MWI were true, then it also explains how we have the gravity we have, the inertia we have, conservation of energy, strong and weak nuclear forces … but asserting MWI doesn’t give you a descriptive model of the behavior of those forces in this universe. You can ask, “why do we have gravity like we do?” and answer “MWI”, but it doesn’t meaningfully or usefully describe gravity.

Asserting MWI doesn’t give us a descriptive model in this universe of the behavior of the phenomena in question; the only models that can (currently) successfully describe the sequences in question are teleological models. Assertion of MWI directly implicates that only a teleological model can be successful in describing the phenomena or process in question.

Quote: “No, it’s a framework for why many models exist, including one where chance *is* a sufficient explanation for this universe.”

Chance only has meaning INSIDE a universe that has defined what chance can or cannot do. Inside our universe, where “chance” has meaning, chance cannot describe certain features.

Quote: “Therein lies your fundamental misunderstanding. If I flip one coin, I have a 50% chance of getting heads. If I flip two coins, I have a 75% chance of getting at least one head. If I flip 100 coins, I have (1 – 1/2^n) chances of getting at least one head. And the odds go up as I add more and more coins. The materialists only need one head, so they throw infinite universes at the problem.”

Therein lies your misunderstanding, not mine. The ability of chance, or undirected processes, to successfully describe a sequence inside our universe has no connection to whether or not there are billions of other universes. The supposed existence of billions of other universes doesn’t describe how gravity works in our universe, and it doesn’t model how inertia works in our universe.

Chance and undirected forces in our universe (as defined by the rules and laws of our universe) can successfully model a lot of sequences and phenomena, but there are other phenomena and sequences that chance and undirected forces **in our universe** cannot model. MWI hypothesis is an explanation for the existence of both; it is a description of neither. We must develop in-universe models of behaviors and phenomena regardless of whether or not they just happen to be what MWI manufactured in our particular universe.

Quote: “Now, a probability of 10^-120 for one head becomes a certainty with infinite universes. Hence, with MWI, there is no need to invoke a designer since heads is bound to come up on its own.”

Intelligent Design Theory doesn’t postulate nor require a designer – you might want to read it again. This is part of our disconnect, I think, and it speaks directly to the point I’ve been making; IMHO your disagreement with the philosophical implication of MWI (no designer required to achieve intelligent design sequences) is clouding your assessment of the argument and what MWI means to ID theory.

While the MWI hypothesis removes the implication of a designer, it directly implicates and requires ID theory (a teleological process) to successfully model certain sequences we find in our universe. Invocation of MWI is a tacit acceptance that non-teleological models in our universe cannot describe something; if they could, there would be no invocation of MWI; MWI itself doesn’t describe the behavior in question, it only allows for it.

Look at it this way; both “MWI did it” and “God did it” are meaningless explanations that merely provide for the existence of the sequences we are talking about.
Neither assumption provides a scientific description of the processes in question.

We can also claim that MWI gave us the gravity we have, or that God gave it to us – both assertions are meaningless when it comes to functionally describing the characteristics of gravity in our universe.

ID theory – teleological models – provide the only useful scientific or functional description of the sequences in question. That’s what biologists don’t really understand about their invocation of MWI, and what materialistic physicists have understood about MWI – and hated about it – for decades.

An invocation of MWI is an actual abandonment of materialist description and a direct admission that certain things in or about our universe defy non-teleological description. They hate it because asserting MWI represents a failure of the descriptive capacity of materialistic determinism, and the inevitable conclusion is that there are literally infinite universes branching off from every quantum action, eliminating all reasonable materialistic determinism.

63. 63
Patrick says:

Intelligent Design Theory doesn’t postulate nor require a designer – you might want to read it again.

Murray, based upon your previous comments I thought that might be what you were arguing. While, yes, the specific identity or knowledge of a designer(s) is not required for ID theory–since it currently does not incorporate formalized methods for designER detection–the existence of an intelligent agency in relation to the designed object is presumed from the outset. Hence the confusion by all the ID proponents on here. You cannot throw out design detection pointing to intelligent agency and still call it ID theory!

64. 64
professorsmith says:

William J Murray,
“I think this is where we are having a disconnect. There is no “unless you have many, many times …” in **our** universe, because while MWI might explain how such a universe with that feature exists, it doesn’t meaningfully describe the feature itself, in scientific terms, in our universe. It scientifically explains its **presence**, but it doesn’t describe the behavior in question in any practical, useful, scientific way like gravity or intertia has been described.”

All the materialists need to do is explain the presence of life in order to claim that we don’t need to invoke a designer to account for it, and that chance is equal to the task.

“You can ask, “why do we have gravity like we do?” and answer “MWI”, but it doesn’t meaningfully or usefully describe gravity.”

No, it doesn’t tell us what the gravity constant is, but it does allow the materialist to say that it could have been anything and we happen to be in the universe where it is where it is. It’s a cheap and easy way of explaining why without having to invoke odds beyond the UPB.

“Asserting MWI doesn’t give us a descriptive model in this universe of the behavior of the phenomena in question; the only models that can (currently) successfully describe the sequences in question are teleological models. Assertion of MWI directly implicates that only a teleological model can be successful in describing the phenomena or process in question.”

Again, this is contradictory. If MWI is NOT descriptive of the processes of our universe, how can it describe a universe in need of teleology. You can not have your cake and eat it too.

“Chance only has meaning INSIDE a universe that has defined what chance can or cannot do. Inside our universe, where “chance” has meaning, chance cannot describe certain features.”

That is incorrect. The “chance” of this universe being the way it is is definitely dependent on whether there is one universe or many. Again, it’s like the coin flip argument. The more coins you have, the better the probability of getting at least one head.

“Therein lies your misunderstanding, not mine. The ability of chance, or undirected processes, to successfully describe a sequence inside our universe has no connection to whether or not there are billions of other universes.”

Sigh. If I have a universe that has the perfect constants to form, the probability is very low. If I have many universes which run the gamut of constants, then the probability of having the right constants in at least one of those universes goes up significantly. The MWI is the same thing, only writ into a slightly different framework. Alas, it is not my understanding that is faulty.

“We must develop in-universe models of behaviors and phenomena regardless of whether or not they just happen to be what MWI manufactured in our particular universe.”

And again you argue that MWI is superfluous to our understanding of the universe…meaniing it lends no support to ID. This is your “at best” scenario. At worst, it explains why we have life overcoming the odds and works against ID.

“Intelligent Design Theory doesn’t postulate nor require a designer – you might want to read it again.”

I think you know what I meant.

“This is part of our disconnect, I think, and it speaks directly to the point I’ve been making; IMHO your disagreement with the philosophical implication of MWI (no designer required to achieve intelligent design sequences) is clouding your assessment of the argument and what MWI means to ID theory.”

Again, back to arguing about philosophical implications? I find this rather distasteful. I could easily turn this around and claim that you are holding to your preconceptions, which is why you’ve been unwilling to recognize the blatant holes that I and others here have pointed out in your pet theory. I could also point out that you are argue as the materialists do; that if we don’t accept your pet theory, it can’t be because it has no merit, it must be because we are mindless fundamentalists that don’t understand science and only shoot from the hip with a Bible in one hand and a cross in the other. This method of argumentation, however, should be beneath an IDist and you would do well to abandon it and face the facts and the arguments as presented.

“While the MWI hypothesis removes the implication of a designer, it directly implicates and requires ID theory (a teleological process) to successfully model certain sequences we find in our universe.”

Explain how. Keep in mind that you also assert that MWI is completely non descriptive of the models of this universe. So, please do tell us all how it can not describe the models of this universe while simultaneously describing a teleological model. I’ve asked you this multiple times and all you’ve done is make assertions that it is so and impugn my ability to scientifically examine this argument.

“Invocation of MWI is a tacit acceptance that non-teleological models in our universe cannot describe something…”

No. Once again it is an end around to avoid teleological explanations by showing how chance can account for the model of this universe.

“ID theory – teleological models – provide the only useful scientific or functional description of the sequences in question.”

Which is quite separate from MWI, according to you. So, whether we have MWI or not, we still find that teleological models best describe the “sequences in question.” Again, at best MWI is superfluous, not beneficial to ID.

65. 65
BarryA says:

GEM of TKI writes,
“We can therefore see rapidly that OOL by C + N only on the scope of our observed cosmos is a hypothesis maintained in the teeth of abundant empirical data and knowledge. And, the multiverse hyp is in effect a resort to naked metaphysics to try to save the phenomena for a worldview that is in deep trouble on this front.”

Nicely put.

66. 66
William J. Murray says:

#65

Patrick:

As stated here http://www.discovery.org/scrip.....038;id=697 and in many other documents describing the difference between intelligent design and creationism by leading ID proponents, and describing why ID is a scientific theory, a “designer” is only a possible implication of the theory and isn’t pertinent to the descriptive validity of the model.

A “designer” is not required by the theory, nor is it “presumed from the outset” by the theory.

Quote: “You cannot throw out design detection pointing to intelligent agency and still call it ID theory!”

Unless Prof. Dembski or any other leading proponent of ID would like to contradict me, that is exactly what current ID theory does in order to be considered a scientific theory. The implication of a designer is one possible philosophical ramification, but isn’t necessary to the theory at all.

#66

Professorsmith:
Quote: “All the materialists need to do is explain the presence of life in order to claim that we don’t need to invoke a designer to account for it, and that chance is equal to the task.”

Nobody is invoking a designer, including ID proponents, so they hardly have to avoid it by resorting to MWI. ID theory isn’t about promoting a designer – that is, if the proponents are being honest – it’s about asserting that a teleological model is the only one that can describe certain features and sequences.

Quote: “It’s a cheap and easy way of explaining … ”

So is saying “A Designer Did It”. Explaining why is irrelevant, as I pointed out. Describing the process is what ID theory is supposed to be about. You’re making an ideological argument here; I’m not.

Quote: “Again, this is contradictory. If MWI is NOT descriptive of the processes of our universe, how can it describe a universe in need of teleology. You can not have your cake and eat it too.”

It is an explanation of how our universe can come into existence; it describes nothing in particular inside it. An analogy: sexual reproduction explains how billions of humans can come into existence with many diverse features; sexual reproduction doesn’t describe how adults behave, or how their behavior developed over time.

Quote: “And again you argue that MWI is superfluous to our understanding of the universe…”

It’s superfluous to describing how features of this universe actually behave in our universe. If part of your “understanding of the universe” includes how it could have come to exist in the first place, then it’s not superfluous in that context.

Quote”…meaniing it lends no support to ID.”

It does if it is invoked as explanation in lieu of non-directed descriptions.

Quote: “This is your “at best” scenario. At worst, it explains why we have life overcoming the odds and works against ID.i”

It explains why, just as “God did it” explains why. Explaining why is a philosophical matter and irrelevant in science; describing the process is what science is about. Whether “MWI did it” or “God did it” is irrelevant to describing the process.

Quote: “Explain how.”

MWI is an explanation for how this universe could exist. So is “God created it.” Neither hypothesis describes forces and processes in this universe. When a scientist resorts to “God did it” or “MWI did it”, what they are tacitly admitting is there is no model using non-directed “natural” (as defined by our universe) forces and materials that can explain the phenomena. There is no reason to invoke MWI unless non-teleology clearly fails – unless the phenomena is clearly defying what we see as the natural order of known forces and material interactions. The only model left available is teleological – ID, whether “god did it” or “MWI did it”.

Quoye: “Once again it is an end around to avoid teleological explanations by showing how chance can account for the model of this universe.”

I’m sure that’s what they think it does, and that’s clearly what you think it does, but again, they (biologists invoking MWI) haven’t thought this through. I don’t think most ID proponents have clearly thought this through, either, and are reacting out of ideological bias.

Furthering the analogy above: Let’s say we are examining the behavior of an autistic savant – a very interesting individual, and we run up against something we cannot explain in terms of material history – lets say the savant can effotlessly and without instruction play any any tune on a piano and can invent incredible tunes without any instruction.

One person argues “hey, we have billions of people, so eventually you get a person like this”. So what? What have you described about the phenonema in question? How is asserting the existence of billions of non-autistic savants useful in understanding the autistic-savant qualities of the individual you are examining?

I don’t know how else to say this, but again, MWI is like “god did it”; it offers an explanation for the presence of our universe; it scientifically describes nothing in it, and is a tacit admission of ID as the only available option in regards to the phenomena in question.

Quote: “I could easily turn this around and claim that you are holding to your preconceptions, which is why you’ve been unwilling to recognize the blatant holes that I and others here have pointed out in your pet theory.”

What is my pet theory? I’m not advocating for MWI; my argument is that there is no reason for IDers to attack it. It describes nothing inside our universe. It leaves a big gaping hole where there is no capable descriptive model other than ID. Let them invoke it all they want, wherever they want. The more they toss up their hands and bleat, “MWI DID IT!” the better.

67. 67
professorsmith says:

William J Murray,
“So is saying “A Designer Did It”. Explaining why is irrelevant, as I pointed out. Describing the process is what ID theory is supposed to be about. You’re making an ideological argument here; I’m not.”

Nice red herring, but I am emphatically NOT stating “A Designer Did It” as a catch-all argument for ID. Again your attempts to tar my ideology are beneath us both.

“It is an explanation of how our universe can come into existence; it describes nothing in particular inside it.”

Then it has nothing to say on the question of RM + NS vs. ID. Thank you, but you’ve just proved yourself wrong. MWI does NOT support ID.

“It does if it is invoked as explanation in lieu of non-directed descriptions.”

No, it does not. This is a non-sequitor. If I invoke MWI as a way of subverting a design theory, it doesn’t actually support just because you want to play cute rhetorical games and say, “Nyah nyah, you had to explain design away, so therefore you are supporting it.” That would be like a Darwinist arguing that when you argue against RM + NS that you are actually strengthening his case because you are having to come up with claims to counter his claims.

“It explains why, just as “God did it” explains why.”

And, I whole-heartedly agree, which is why I say it is no more science than to claim “God did it.”

“The only model left available is teleological – ID, whether “god did it” or “MWI did it”.”

What you mean to say here is, “The only model left when not invoking MWI is teleological.” MWI is invoked to destroy the necessary teleological explanation. That you don’t understand why that is doesn’t mean that this somehow supports ID.

“I don’t think most ID proponents have clearly thought this through, either, and are reacting out of ideological bias.”

And you would be wrong. I object because it simply isn’t science, just as “God did it,” is not science. Further, I think your interpretation of it and your understanding are sorely lacking.

“How is asserting the existence of billions of non-autistic savants useful in understanding the autistic-savant qualities of the individual you are examining?”

That’s not the intent though, is it? The intent is simply to show that the potential outcome, no matter how improbable, can and will come true. That’s what you are not getting here. That’s what my coin flip example was about. If the odds of life arising are beyond the UPB for one universe, well with multiple universes you get that many more cracks at it and eventually you get one where life does arise. It destroys the long odds and replaces them with near certainty. With MWI, the materialists are free to rely on chance creating life because it is no longer improbable. Why do you not get this?

“I don’t know how else to say this, but again, MWI is like “god did it””

And I agree with that completely. What I don’t understand is how you can think it is scientific while fully admitting that it carries the same impact as “God did it.”

“What is my pet theory? I’m not advocating for MWI; my argument is that there is no reason for IDers to attack it.”

Your pet theory is obviously that MWI would somehow support ID if it were true. You seem unwilling and unable to recognize what MWI is, why it pertains to the question of ID, and what its implications are.

“The more they toss up their hands and bleat, “MWI DID IT!” the better.”

Agreed, but only if we show it to be the unscientific pablum that it is. If we sit back and let the materialists dictate another unscientific “theory” onto us and try to co-opt it as our own, it will backfire. This is especially true because it simply does not support ID science.

68. 68
William J. Murray says:

Professorsmith: I appreciate the great conversation, but I think we have somehow divergent understandings of what it means when a biologist invokes MWI.

You seem to think it is an avoidance of teleological theory because it avoids the implication of a designer; I see it as submission to teleological theory as long as no designer is required; since ID doesn’t postulate a designer, I don’t see why IDers argue against it.

I don’t see any meaningful scientific difference between “design by god” or “design by MWI”; either way, it’s still an admission of an apparent teleological process.

I guess it comes down to ascertaining the intent of the biologist who invokes MWI; in every paper I’ve seen that invokes MWI, it is to explain an apparent teleological process that has no apparent undirected explanation.

Whether one calls it the “Theory of Intelligent Design” or the “Theory of Massively Unlikely Events Achieving Virtually Impossible, Seemingly Organized and Deliberate Outcomes Made Possible Without Conscious Direction By MWI”, it’s the same theory, unless one is wedded to the designer implication.

69. 69
professorsmith says:

William J Murray,
Agreed, we have divergent understandings and it doesn’t seem as though we will agree. I still see inherent contradictions in your position that I don’t feel you have cleared up to my satisfaction. And, while we agree that design is the better model for understanding our world, we do not agree whether MWI leads to design. I also don’t agree that “Theory of ID” = “Theory of Massively Unlikely Events Achieving Virtually Impossible, Seemingly Organized and Deliberate Outcomes Made Possible Without Conscious Direction By MWI.”

And, once again, I deny your smears on my ideology by saying that I would accept your theory if I weren’t “wedded to the designer implication.” This is no way to debate, it is the tactics that evolutionists use, as I stated above. Your aim is to link me to some irrational rube that has no inkling of how great your theory is and only responds based on emotional belief, most likely based on my less evolved religious sensibilities. Much like how the materialists dodge the problem of improbabilities beyond the UPB by invoking “MWI did it,” you dodge the problems of your own inherent contradictions by invoking, “Your ideologies made you do it.”

70. 70
William J. Murray says:

Professorsmith:

I completely apologize if it seemed I was making a smear on your character, intelligence, ideology or position. I intended no such thing.

I certain never meant to offend you or anyone else on this blog. I completely appreciate your efforts to discuss this with me.

If I am currently incapable of understanding the resistance to MWI as anything other than an ideological bias, the problem lies in my inability to understand, and certainly not in others.

71. 71
Patrick says:

Murray,

As stated here http://www.discovery.org/scrip…..amp;id=697 and in many other documents describing the difference between intelligent design and creationism by leading ID proponents, and describing why ID is a scientific theory, a “designer” is only a possible implication of the theory and isn’t pertinent to the descriptive validity of the model.

I’m assuming you’re talking about points 1 and 4. It’s talking about a SUPERNATURAL designer being an implication of ID, NOT designer(s) in general. In point 14 Behe is discussing the specific identity of the designer and how he derives that outside of ID, not whether ID assumes that formalized design detection can infer a designer in the first place. In short, your entire argument in this thread appears to be based upon a misunderstanding of ID theory. If we’re using formalized design detection (ID theory) in a scenario like a court case if ID theory cannot claim a designer then…well, ID theory seems pretty useless to me.

Also, it seems to me you are conflating “goal-oriented” and “inevitability”. With infinite MWI everything is inevitable, not goal-oriented.

72. 72
William J. Murray says:

quote: “If we’re using formalized design detection (ID theory) in a scenario like a court case if ID theory cannot claim a designer then…well, ID theory seems pretty useless to me.”

ID doesn’t need to claim a designer in a court case, it only needs to make the distinction between wrongful death and death by natural causes – it doesn’t even require a suspect or deliberately caused death. While a designer is an obvious inference, it is left out of the theory as stated for good and specific reasons, IMO.

Quote: “Also, it seems to me you are conflating “goal-oriented” and “inevitability”. With infinite MWI everything is inevitable, not goal-oriented.”

As far as a scientific description of any relevant, interesting phenomena or processes, there is no difference between “inevitable” and “goal-oriented”; IMHO, one is mostly a materialist term for the process in question, and the other is a mostly non-materialist term for the process in question.

And unless one is arguing ideology, I see no reason to debate the difference. Regardless if one calls it “inevitable” or “goal-oriented”, the model describing the actual behavior is going to be the same.

73. 73
bFast says:

Patrick:

If we’re using formalized design detection (ID theory) in a scenario like a court case if ID theory cannot claim a designer then…well, ID theory seems pretty useless to me.

Let me just help you out here a little bit with this lovely example. If I win the powerball 5 times in a row any court in the land will conclude that shenanigans happened. What the court cannot determine from this simple fact is wether I fooled the powerball system or somebody else.

Maybe somebody fooled it, but gave me the money to throw the world off of its trail, with the promise that I cut him in later. Maybe my ex-wife did it figuring that I would get caught and charged with it. IE, we know that a cheat for powerball was designed, we don’t know who the designer is. Simple.

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Patrick says:

IE, we know that a cheat for powerball was designed, we don’t know who the designer is. Simple.

That’s my point to Murray. You cannot have design detection without a designer but you do need different methods to connect the designed object to the designer.

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bFast says:

You have design detection without a designer! With this scenerio, you have design detection without identifying the designer, or knowing how it was designed.

If I win the powerball 5 times in a row, we know that the cheat was designed before knowing how the cheat was implemented or who implemented the cheat.

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StephenB says:

William J Murray wrote, “ID doesn’t need to claim a designer in a court case, it only needs to make the distinction between wrongful death and death by natural causes – it doesn’t even require a suspect or deliberately caused death. While a designer is an obvious inference, it is left out of the theory as stated for good and specific reasons, IMO.”

Well, not exactly. It is not possible to discern wrongful death without positing the presence of an intelligent agent. To experience a wrongful act is to be the victim of an abuse of intelligence. The term “designer” does not apply because the intelligent agent in a court case is analogous to the designer in nature.

In a broader sense, you seem to want to reduce ID to to a level at which teleology can no longer serve as a guiding principle. Granted, the ID bar can drop below the level of supernatural intelligence to the level of human intelligence or even to the level of a rational principle in nature, but no lower. There must be something there to detect.

But how do you detect the presence of intelligence in a cosmic madhouse that has no boundaries? Where is the unity to contextualize all that diversity? Yes, you can hypothesize, but you can’t detect. Unless the universe has been set up in advance such that our rationality corresponds to a single rational universe that can be identified as THE object of investigation, there is simply no way to know what you are investigating.

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DaveScot says:

wjm

The real problem with putting stock in a multiverse in order to explain extraordinarily improbable things is that it nullifies statistical mechanics which is underpinned by the 2nd Law of Thermodyamics. If you start throwing out laws of physics because they don’t fit into your theories, and this is acceptable to the scientific establishment in general, then they might as well pack their bags and go home because they are no longer scientists. Fortunately engineers will still be around so progress will continue.

Let’s take a hypothetical example of statistical mechanics in evolution: it’s theoretically possible for cockroaches to acquire through mutation fangs and toxic venom like a brown recluse spider on steriods, and a highly aggressive nature to go along with it. So why don’t we worry more about this possibility? Because statistical mechanics informs us that the mutation in question is such a complex spontaneous reorganization of matter that we can rest assured it won’t happen. Now suppose we actually saw a cockroach population like these suddenly appear? How would we best explain it? We could suppose that something nearly impossible happened and rule it a rare exception to probabilistic predictions. Personally I think an intelligent agency would be a better explanation because we know intelligent agency is possible. We positively know intelligent agency exists on the earth and acts to alter heritable traits in ways that statistical mechanics otherwise predicts is so improbable it’ll effectively never happen. So the most reasonable explanation is not that there was some fluke exception to the laws of probability but rather that intelligent agency, which routinely manipulates matter into exceedingly unlikely patterns, was the culprit – whether we witnessed the act or not.

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ReligionProf says:

Fellow members of the jury, I put it to you that the only way to reach a verdict is to carefully examine the evidence. If there is clear evidence of tampering, we must convict. If not, then there is reasonable doubt, and in spite of Dr. Snikwad’s condescending British accent, according to the principles of American justice, we must find him not guilty. The sheer improbability of his multiple consecutive wins cannot be a basis for conviction, since improbable things do sometimes happen. Unless we can demonstrate his winning streak to be not merely improbable but impossible in the absence of tampering, then we have reasonable doubt and must find him not guilty.

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William J. Murray says:

#79 & everyone:

I appreciate the conversation and debate, but I can see that I’m either failing to express myself adequately, or I’m misunderstanding some basic component of the ID debate.

I’ll ponder this and for now wish you all the best.

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Bob O'H says:

kairosfocus @60 –

What Bob failed to do was to cite the reason the conviction was overturned, as was stated in the Wiki article he cited:

The reason is (largely) the same as the one I gave for the powerball problem – the prosecutor’s fallacy. Read what the RSS wrote. That’s the main reason why the probabilities diverge so much.

If you don’t want to believe me (and the RSS), then look at Dr. Dembski’s explanation of the maths behind the Jesus Tomb affair.

Bob

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kairosfocus says:

Bob:

You have again, unfortunately missed the point — exhaustion of probabilistic resources.

Without diverting the thread, I will note on the point.

1] Clark and RSS

Cf again my excerpt in 60:

[Ms Clark’s] prosecution was controversial due to statistical evidence presented by paediatrician Professor Sir Roy Meadow, who testified that the chance of two children from an affluent family suffering cot death was 1 in 73 million, when in fact it was closer to 1 in 200 . . .

The reason for that, in effect was, as the RSS said in their press release:

“This approach [multiplying individual probabilities on the assumption of independence without proper warrant therefor] is, in general, statistically invalid. It would only be valid if SIDS cases arose independently within families, an assumption that would need to be justified empirically. Not only was no such empirical justification provided in the case, but there are very strong a priori reasons for supposing that the assumption will be false. There may well be unknown genetic or environmental factors that predispose families to SIDS, so that a second case within the family becomes much more likely.

“The well-publicised figure of 1 in 73 million thus has no statistical basis. Its use cannot reasonably be justified as a “ballpark” figure because the error involved is likely to be very large, and in one particular direction.

By contrast, on the reasonable assumption that Powerball lotteries are designed to be fair, a run of five wins would indeed be highly improbable, i.e BarryA’s calculation is valid [as an upper bound — the “run” factor implies a large further reduction in the probability!].

Thus, the null hyp just mentioned now becomes highly suspect in light of the observed outcome and leads to the point that Harry is implicated in agent action that subverts what should not be.

2] WD, Talpiot, Prosecutor’s statistical Fallacies, etc

I am not surprised, given the long thread on conditional probabilities in statistical inference we had at UD some time ago, that you would introduce this sort of issue. (That time it was the NJ politician, Caputo was it, who had an inexplicable run of D-favouring outcomes on ballots. He was a D, too . . .]

The answer to the point is simple: when conditional probabilities can be worked out, that’s fine. But, equally, that does not invalidate other estimates of relevant probabilities, especially where we can see that the available probabilistic resources are exhausted relative to a contingent outcome which would be dominated therefore by either agency or chance.

In the case of Talpiot, WD was able to develop a conditional probability argument, relative to the observed high frequencies of certain names in C1 Jewish tombs from Palestine.

He was also able to show that the researchers fudged certain names to fit their intended conclusions.

Also, they failed to address the basic problem that Jesus’ family was Galilean and working class, not Jerusalem based and upper class.

This is, again, simply not relevant to the case in view.

3] Back to the Design Inference issue.

Bob, why not look at my always linked, Appendix A?

Address the scale of the configuration space for small particles in a liquid medium moving about at random, relative to reasonable statistical thermodynamics approaches. [You will see that I simplify to deal with locational cells in the phase space only.]

Then show why my argument and conclusion that the probabilities of random clustering to form the key molecules and integrated machines, codes and information systems of life by chance + necessity only are vanishingly different from zero on the generally acceptable scale of the observed cosmos. (That is, some 10^80 particles and 13.7 BY.)

4] Quasi-infinite arrays of sub-cosmi

I simply note here that lotteries are designed to not exhaust the available probabilistic resources. The sudden rise in popularity of so-called many worlds models is precisely due to the challenge just above.

5] Inference to design:

Note, we begin with an observation — chance, necessity and agency are the observed causal forces.

Then, in cases dominated by large contingency, i.e large configuration spaces/complexity, we see that outcomes are driven by chance and/or necessity.

When the outcomes – such as this blog post — are in addition to being complex, functionally specific and often fine-tuned, then we routinely infer to agency. Indeed, in every such directly observed case, the cause is an agent. (Cf e.g. the posts in this thread, which are of course multi-state digital strings.)

So we have excellent grounds for an empirically well-anchored inference to agency as the best explanation inter alia for OOL.

But that cuts across a strongly entrenched worldview, evolutionary materialism. So, resort is now being made to raw metaphysical speculation [it is certainly not observationally anchored science] to avoid — or at least stave-off — the collapse of the worldview.

The true balance of the case on the merits should be obvious. [And the gap between balance on the merits and balance of institutional power easily explains the pattern of misbehaviour by the powerful we are now increasingly observing. Appeal tot he stick is a well known fallacy, in short.]

GEM of TKI

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BarryA says:

ReligionProf. There can be no reasonable doubt that there was fraud. And all the evidence points to Harry as the culprit for the simple reason he’s the one with all the money in his pocket. Remember, he put on no evidence concerning a frame; as members of the jury our deliberations are bound to the evidence, not speculations about what might have happened. He is clearly guilty. There can be no reasonable doubt.

Your post illustrates confusion between proof beyond a reasonable doubt and apodictic proof (i.e, necessarily true or logically certain). When you are on a jury, you NEVER get apodictic proof. Instead you must determine whether the evidence proves guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. In your post you seem to be insisting on apodictic proof when you say that the math is not sufficient. No, the fact that Bob took five winning tickets in a row down to the office to collect means that beyond a reasonable doubt he is guilty of fraud.

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Patrick says:

bfast,

With this scenerio, you have design detection without identifying the designer, or knowing how it was designed.

That’s not the point…and I’ve already discussed those distinctions above. The point is that Murray said “MWI isn’t the enemy of ID theory; it’s just the enemy of ID ideologues that demand the theory imply a designer.” If the explanatory filter results in a positive how can there not be an intelligent causation in the form of a designer? The identity and nature of the designer and how the design was enacted are separate issues which may be discovered through alternate methods.

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William J. Murray says:

#85:

Quote: “If the explanatory filter results in a positive how can there not be an intelligent causation in the form of a designer?”

You know there is a designer; I know there is a designer. However, the designer is irrelevant to the success of the theory. If materialists wish to avoid the implication of a designer by referring to MWI as the originator of design sequences in our universe, so what?

Something causes design sequences in our universe – and might have even caused the design sequence of our universal laws. What that something is (God, MWI) is irrelevent to finding a model that successfully describes those design sequences – not explains them, but describes them scientifically.

In other words, you can’t get from A to Z without God or MWI (or something) organizing the steps in an apparent teleological method. DESCRIBE that method, i.e. … what is the search formula? How many steps must be organized? Does it look more like “A builds B to get to C, then finds potential for E and builds D to get to E …”, or is the only explanation that A is trying to get all the way to Z from the onset? How much entropy must be overcome to keep, develop and encode the necessary information? Can we model the information code necessary to express such design sequences? Can we use that to predict certain interesting aspects of biology or the universe?

Is the intelligent organization of historical events consciousness-related, like the collapse and instantaneous transmission of information in wave-collapse experiments? Can one alter historical pathways according to the nature of observation? Does DNA react to intelligent observation the same way photons do?

Can we predict evolutionary changes based on extrapolating a “motive” by considering the interesting variations in a sequence? Can we find a way to test that motive? Can it be extrapolated into some kind of formula that can be meaningfully tested?

This is why “the designer” is irrelevant. Whether one calles the designer “God” or “MWI”, you still have to develop a scientific description of the design sequences.

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Charlie says:

Of course the incident is not merely highly improbable but also conforms to an independent specification.

In the real world …
Here in Canada there is suspicion concerning the number of lottery wins by lottery vendors.
Here we have a statistical analysis of the events, a conclusion of design, the use of a probability bound (1 in 10^9), and an admission that the analysis cannot, and need not, invoke a mechanism.

“We note that the statistical analysis does not (and cannot) describe the mechanism giving rise to the excess wins. Therefore, this mechanism must be identified by other means.”

http://www.alc.ca/English/Abou.....oryId=1000

The problem seems widespread in Canada’s lotteries:
http://www.thestar.com/News/article/196088

The odds against the number of vendor wins in Ontario:

The Fifth Estate reported that retailers in Ontario won large prizes nearly 200 times in the past seven years. There are roughly 60,000 lottery ticket sellers in Ontario.
A University of Toronto statistician, who crunched the numbers for the television show, said the chance of retailers winning that often is “about one chance in a trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion,” and estimated the number of wins should be closer to 57.

http://www.cbc.ca/consumer/sto.....probe.html

Yes, improbable things happen all the time.

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StephenB says:

Patrick wrote, “If the explanatory filter results in a positive how can there not be an intelligent causation in the form of a designer?”

I agree with that statement, if it allows for the possibility that the designer may be an organizing principle in nature and not necessarily a person. Those that insist that the designer must be a person would be setting the bar TOO HIGH for ID science. Having said that, I have always believed that an impersonal designing force is implausible, because my experience teaches me that intelligence is always been associated with personality.

William J. Murray wrote, “Whether one calles the designer “God” or “MWI”, you still have to develop a scientific description of the design sequences.”

I agree with WJB that, from a scientific perspective, the identity of the designer is irrevant. But I disagree that multiple universes can ever serve that purpose. It does matter “what” the designer is insofar as the designer, whoever or whatever, must be capable of planning and directing. In that sense, I think WJB sets the bar TOO LOW for ID.

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StephenB says:

Obviously, I meant that intelligence HAS always been associated with personality.

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Patrick says:

Something causes design sequences in our universe – and might have even caused the design sequence of our universal laws. What that something is (God, MWI) is irrelevent to finding a model that successfully describes those design sequences

and

if it allows for the possibility that the designer may be an organizing principle in nature and not necessarily a person. Those that insist that the designer must be a person would be setting the bar TOO HIGH for ID science.

The explanatory filter is a criterion for distinguishing intelligent from unintelligent causes. At the first stage, the explanatory filter determines whether a law can explain the object in question. I’m not sure if a self-organizing principle/law in nature or the inevitability of infinite MWI should be considered an intelligent causation. That would be like calling the physics behind snowflakes a minor intelligence.

Now let’s assume the MWI is correct but it is only infinitely expanding into the future but has a finite past. If the original verse in the multiverse self-organized into an intelligence or hivemind via an organizing principle that makes MWI more compatible with ID theory. But, this scenario is entirely speculative and goes beyond my main point.