Multiverse speculations routinely take a beating on Uncommon Descent for various reasons – the lack of falsifiability, the entirely speculative nature, the near complete lack of scientific evidence. All, in my view, quite good reasons to reject it all.
But I think ID proponents are missing the boat by reacting to multiverse speculations so negatively. So, I’m going to offer up several reasons why I think it’s a good idea, from an ID perspective, to accept and take part in multiverse speculations.
* If we live in an infinite multiverse, Intelligent Design is no longer a possibility – it is a certainty.
I have in mind here Max Tegmark’s Ultimate Ensemble, but really – any multiverse that is infinite and allows for some variation will typically do the trick. The best way to explain my thinking here is to take a look at one of the more infamous arguments against design – Richard Dawkins’ Ultimate 747 Gambit. Courtesy of the wikipedia:
The argument is a play on the “tornado sweeping through a junkyard to assemble a Boeing 747” argument, usually deployed to decry abiogenesis and evolution as vastly unlikely, and the existence of life as better explained by the existence of a god. According to Dawkins, this logic is self-defeating, as the theist must now explain if the god itself was created by another intelligent designer, or if some process was able to create the god. If the existence of highly complex life on Earth is the equivalent of the Boeing 747 that must be explained somehow, the existence of a highly complex god is the “ultimate Boeing 747” that truly does require the impossible to explain its existence to Dawkins.
Yes, I know – Plantinga destroyed this argument, Feser destroyed this argument, and it doesn’t apply to the God theists talk about. But if the argument is accepted – if God is viewed as some material being – then something funny happens once an infinite multiverse is added to the mix: the ultimate Boeing 747 is not some vastly improbable thing. It is, in fact, a certainty. God exists. In fact, quite a lot of gods exist. As do a whole lot of designers, and simulated universes, and… well, pretty much each and every form of Intelligent Design on offer.
Accepting an infinite multiverse requires accepting the reality of Intelligent Design – even large-scale, grand, galaxy-sized design. ID shifts, upon the instant, from possibility to certainty – at least somewhere, somehow. And that somewhere and somehow may well be right here. Of course, some will reply that this would also suffice to get evolution over any hurdles in its way too – which leads me to my next point.
* While Intelligent Design becomes a certainty (at least somewhere), Darwinism becomes obsolete and obscure.
If there exist an infinite number of universes (and thus an infinite number of chances with this or that development of life and anything else), then the problem Darwinism was drummed up to solve would seem to vanish. No longer is it necessary to appeal to the supposed power of natural selection to explain this, that or anything else in the history of life – simple inevitable luck is now on offer as a real life possibility. Now, this doesn’t mean natural selection disappears entirely as a possibility in evolution – but it would mean that the anthropic principle has the potential to kick in. While ID becomes an absolute certainty, Darwinism no longer occupies a place of intellectual necessity even for the wannabe naturalist – and that means the history of life has gotten far messier. Granted, this isn’t a very big deal intellectual – at most it’s mere schadenfreude. And if we’re going to deal in that, well… there’s a juicier bit the multiverse provides.
* Theism becomes true on the spot – specifically, polytheism.
Since ID becomes a certainty in an infinite multiverse, that means that just about any small-g god you can think up – Zeus, Apollo, etc – really exists, somewhere, or at least a close enough analogue to be worthy of the name, while at the same time the God of classical theism remains untouched. Even Dawkins would have to admit that God exists, since remember, his ultimate 747 gambit merely spoke to the improbability of his (weird, hypothetical) God existing – but an infinite multiverse turns that extreme improbability into a certainty. Thus, for anyone who accepts such a multiverse, atheism dies on the spot – and polytheism at the very least obtains. Granted, it still remains possible that these gods are remote and may not be encountered – but a god is a god is a god. And if schadenfreude is on the menu, we may as well have some fun with it and call Sean Carroll and company what they actually are, insofar as they embrace such a multiverse: polytheists.
However, it may not actually come to that – because there’s one more good reason ID proponents should consider embracing the multiverse (at least in some way.) Namely, because it’s a self-defeating proposition – but ironically, this is where losing is winning.
* If ID proponents embrace the multiverse, there’s a good chance the scientific community will drop it like a hot potato.
If multiverse speculations now, in their arguably earliest stages, are seen to be embraced by the dreaded and reviled ID community – if they are rallied to show the legitimacy, even inevitability of Intelligent Design speculations – then the door will be opened to a swift and decisive reaction against it. Let’s face it – at least part of the drive to embrace the multiverse comes from the desire to avoid anything so much as resembling an ID inference. But if ID proponents weaponize the idea for their own purposes, the shine will come off this speculative proposition straightaway. Nothing would make the Ultimate Ensemble and similar models go radioactive quite like a William Dembski or Michael Behe talking about the ID inevitabilities in such a universe.
Let me sign off this post by pointing out: embracing the multiverse doesn’t require believing it’s true, or even dishonestly presenting yourself as if you believed it were true. All you have to do is enthusiastically point out what follows from these speculations – and when we’re dealing with infinite multiverses, what follows is ID, polytheism, and more. Crash the multiverse party. It will be worth it for the reactions alone.
33 Replies to “What should the ID proponent do with multiverse speculations? Embrace them.”
And there will be good multiverses and evil multiverses. With an infinitely Good One and an Infinitely evil one. Awesome and not so much.
Multiverse may appear to answer fine-tuning questions, but does it help clarify the many ‘chicken-egg’ dilemmas we see in molecular/cellular systems biology?
Regardless of the number of universes, we have to answer questions about this one, where we happen to be in. If this particular universe we are in had a beginning, then how much time is required from its beginning to the appearance of complex bio cells?
Infinite number of universes before and after this one don’t seem to help us to answer the questions associated with the time elapsed from the beginning of this particular universe.
Embracing speculations does not seem very encouraging in general.
History shows that some people embraced the speculations that they were superior and invincible and ended up grossly humiliated and defeated after causing much death and destruction.
Many embraced the speculation that the complete genome sequence will answer the remaining questions. However, apparently it raised new questions too. Many embraced the speculation that the portion of DNA that apparently does not code for proteins was junk, but lately new ideas have been posed on this subject.
Seems a similar approach used where “given enough time” resources: The possible becomes probable, and the probable becomes certain. 😉
With an infinite universe, everything must be. There is even a universe where a 747 takes of from one city to another. And a tornado destroys that 747 (and all people inside), then the tornado re-assembles that 747 around all the people inside.. and this occurs at millions of a continuum of positions of the actual planned flight… repeatedly until destroying and re-assembling the airplane all the way to it’s destination where the passengers all arrive safely. 😀
And everyone’s return trip is canceled because of sharks raining from the sky onto the runway.
Anyway, one approach I’ve used in this infinite multiverse argument was similar as yours (maybe) but from a different direction. I called it something like the super killer particle theory of refuting the multiverse. It goes something like this…
Given one assumption: that universes in a multiverse do not absolutely lack interaction. Then in an infinite multiverse, there would exist some particle that can interact with all the universes. And this particle, which doesn’t interact with the multiverse generator itself (yet), has a property whereby it physically interacts with every universe it passes through and instantly reduces all physics in those universes to essentially non existence. So, basically it does something that instantly destroys a universe. And there are an infinite number of these particles, and they travel at infinite speed.
Since we are still in existence, that particle does not exist. So, with the given, it seems almost certainly that the multiverse does not exist.
(and all people inside)”
people survive… they get to see the plane disassemble and reassemble around them.
I don’t have any major problem with others bringing up multiverse speculation to the discussion arena, but I don’t feel like embracing it. History shows that embracing speculations does not guarantee beneficial results at the end of the day. Speculations are used in politics to manipulate public opinion. But we are dealing with science The multiverse speculation, though appearing to answer the fine-tuning questions, does not seem to substantially affect the issue of time elapsed from the beginning of this universe we are in. And that’s one of the problems with the OOL. Infinite number of universes before and after this one still leaves the “where is the beef?” question unanswered on the subject of OOL, if the time elapsed from the beginning of this universe (specially this planet) until now is not infinite. Don’t we want to see serious detailed descriptions of how the biological complexity we observe today came to be to begin with?
Well, no. You’re really not. You’re dealing with speculative fantasy. In fact, it’s vastly more speculative than postulating God ever was – at least God is a conclusion arrived at via some great arguments, logic and reason. Multiverse speculation – particular Tegmark’s – are far closer to flights of fancy.
So have fun with it. Point out what follows from the ideas – and what follows is polytheism, intelligent design and more. Strange and interesting things happen when we start taking infinities and multiverses seriously – so do their thinking for them.
JGuy @ 3
Wow! That’s quite a refreshing story. Thank you.
Do they have it on flight simulators yet? 😉
Can we use B787 Dreamliner or A350 or A380 in lieu of the B747? Just to refresh the story 😉
By the way, would it help if the airline is mentioned in the story?
I’ve heard a story about a flight boarding conflict that occurred when first class ticket holders found their seats occupied by mistaken passengers who did not want to move from first class to economy class, even though their tickets were for economy class seats. The flight crew was not capable of resolving the conflict, because they did not know how to convince the stubborn passengers to move, so they called the captain, who fortunately knew how to handle the situation. The captain simply whispered to the stubborn passengers that first class was not going to the destination indicated in their tickets. The troubling passengers thanked the captain for the information, quickly moved to economy class and the flight took off at last.
Sometimes I have the impression we behave like the stubborn passengers of that story. Sometimes we stick to an idea even when others present strong arguments that show us that our ideas appear to be wrong. Sometimes we believe some hogwash just because someone with alleged “authority” (like the captain in this story) says so. Thinking and reasoning are not popular activities these days.
nullasalus @ 6
is it possible you misunderstood what I wrote? Or just took those 2 sentences out of context?
Aren’t we both on the same side (kind off) of this argument?
nullasalus @ 6
my main point was that I don’t feel like embracing speculations. When we talk about embryonic development, cell fate determination mapping, cell migration and polarity, signaling pathways, epigenetic regulatory networks, and the whole nine yards along with their cousins, we are dealing with serious science, not speculation. Therefore speculations don’t help us to answer the many serious questions science have to answer, not even related to OOL.
I quit a nice job on engineering software development with a 6-digit income, so I could study the functional/informational aspects of systems biology at the molecular/cellular level. There are not many things more fascinating to a person with IT background than the wonderful elaborate choreographies that biological science research is finding these days.
The more information we get out of research, the more amazed we are with what it describes.
Multiverses or not, the OOL remains a mystery. Speculations are fine, but I don’t like to embrace them.
And that’s what I thought your original post was suggesting.
Maybe I misunderstood it?
Have a good day. It’s past noon here in this part of the world. However, the time stamps on the comments show a much earlier time.
Null: Two things
1: You don’t need an actual infinity, a quasi-infinite multiverse will do fine.
2: Plantinga’s maximaly great being argument kicks in also, with a vengeance, and that raises the issue, that he multiverse is an opening the door tot he modal ontological argument.
PS: Boltzmann brains also come in the door . . .
OK wait- a multiverse scenario gives materialists more verses that they cannot explain. OTOH a multiverse scenario could imply multiple competing designers or one designer comparing designs.
So yes, IDists should embarce the multiverse scenario in that light and it will drive our opponents more crazy than they are now.
Embrace the Multiverse? And make fools of ourselves?
We should laugh at it. Especially because its Atheism’s Last Stand, in the face of Fine Tuning.
Top Physicists tell us “In the infinite multiverse, anything that can happen that is consistent with the laws of conservation, will happen, an infinite number of times.”
We need always to bring up our favorite corollaries. Mine is: President Obama and Sarah Plain had a love child. Actually, an infinite number of them.
Let our nice Atheist friends admit this is what their theory means.
chris haynes, ‘you just don’t understand the multiverse!’ 🙂
Why is question anymore? Super killer particle theory in #3 above refutes it… well, I suppose one can propose a super-duper anti-super-killer-particle theory… but then this leads to an infinite progression or regression and we should not exist, because there would be infinite chaos… if anything at all… proposing anything viable in between seems unreasonable.
The original title of this post rightly refers to the multiverse idea as speculation, which we may kindly discuss, if someone brings it up, but don’t have to embrace it. Simply show that multiverse does not resolve the OOL mystery at all. It leaves the questions of functional specified purposeful information unanswered. We have so much work ahead, trying to understand the universe we are in, don’t have time to waste on speculation that does not seem to shed light on the real issues we try to understand. We can discuss multiverse for relaxation when we find some spare time to take a break from the serious stuff.
We read that scientists are overwhelmed with so much bio data coming from the research labs, still waiting to be interpreted. That’s real data we can work on. That requires time and resources. I’m simply neutral on that multiverse subject. Either way is fine with me. Don’t have any problem with infinite almighty God creating multiverse. But either way, multiverse or not, this universe we are in is the only one we can observe and study so far.
There are many unanswered questions in molecular systems biology waiting to be addressed without having to deal even with the OOL questions. Real functionality questions. Let’s concentrate our resources and energy on that. Every discovery will amaze us more. Let’s enjoy it!
Although nullasalua used the word “embrace,” I don’t see where nullasalus is asking anyone to convert from “universalism” 😉 to “multiversalism.” He is simply suggesting that we “universalists,” who have no need of the multiverse nonsense, “answer a fool according to his folly” by pointing out that “multiversalism” replaces the problems they confront with the same problems on steroids. If they come to realize or even suspect that the IDist is not in the least concerned about the ramifications of “multiversalism,” a very large part of their motivation is nullified. There would be little to be gained from their efforts to press forward with their wild speculations at least as far as it impinges on ID thought or theism, for that matter.
IDist should let them know that universe vs. multiverse is a non-issue for IDist. IDist should engage with the speculation in so far as to say “If you fools insist on pursuing this folly, OK, but understand what you are really getting for your trouble. Accordingly, it makes no never-mind to us and what we think is true with regard to the inference that, at minimum, at least one intelligent artisan is the best explanation for much of what we see in the what-ever-verse.”
In an infinite subset of the infinite number of universes, there exists some extremely advanced civilization that has discovered a way to communicate with our universe. In an infinite subset of that subset, they can communicate with us directly. In an infinite subset of that subset, by the time I type the reverse number sequence from 10 to 0 in this post, Richard Dawkins will appear to me dressed up as Lady Gaga. So here we go: 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 0…….Nothing happened.
Make up your own bizarre multiverse communication nightmare and give it a shot.
As SteRusJon pointed out, I didn’t come across as perfectly clear. Let me make a second attempt at that now.
I’m not saying anyone should accept the multiverse(s)’s as true. That would be silly. But, I think there’s a typical way of talking about it and arguing against it from the ID or multiverse-skeptical point of view: you start talking about the evidence for it, the evidence there could possibly be for it, the scope of scientific explanation, the falsification issues, etc. All intellectually valid, and important.
But, I think there’s an alternative available that is not being explored – and I tried to highlight that alternative in my OP.
The fact is, if there’s an infinite multiverse (or, as KF said, if it’s just sizable enough), then thoughts and possibilities and certainties regarding intelligent design, evolution, theism and more fall out automatically. I’m saying that critics should focus on these possibilities. Have some fun. Be a little belligerent, with good humor. Be willing to accept the multiverse for the sake of argument, and run with it. And when dealing with those who do accept it, don’t let them off the hook for what follows from it.
I say that if someone accepts an infinite multiverse, they become polytheists on the spot. They embrace a concept of existence which makes Intelligent Design – again, even large-scale, designed-the-planet, designed-the-universe, designed-a-universe Intelligent Design – not a mere possibility, but a certainty. It’s now only a question of where it’s taken place.
Well you are already causing convulsions and belligerence in this verse. And it ain’t from us.
Nicely done. 😎
Darbots will just say, “sure, maybe the multiverse implies that there are creator ‘gods’, as you say, but we don’t need them to explain the varieties of life on earth since the modern synthesis is sufficient, yada, yada, yada…”
Interesting post. Speaking of ID and the multiverse, here’s what physicist Professor Paul Davies, of Arizona State University, author of the acclaimed best-sellers, God and the New Physics and The Mind of God, had to say on the subject in 2003:
Finally, here’s Professor Dembski’s article, “Tha Chance of the Gaps”:
Well, a few things.
First, not just ‘implies’ – we’re at ‘makes certain’. These things, in an infinite multiverse, exist. No getting around that.
Second, a god is a god is a god. If you believe in god – or if your beliefs lead to a god’s existence by necessity – it doesn’t matter how far away that god is. You are a theist, in this case a polytheist. In fact, you’re a polytheist even by Dawkins’ own right. He’s the one who came up with that inane Ultimate Boeing 747, not me. Neither I nor anyone else can be blamed if speculative cosmology belted him one after the fact.
Third, that’s the funny thing. We don’t ‘need’ evolution either – we’ve got designers. We don’t ‘need’ Darwinism either – chance alone will do. We have infinite chances in a cosmic lottery. We know these things exist, granting those sorts of multiverses.
The only question that remains is if they’re nearby. In a way, it makes ID more relevant than ever.
Paul Davies had me thinking about this years ago, in fact. Back then it was just speculation, since multiverses were far less popular.
But now they’re more popular, and it’s time to start talking about what buying the infinite multiverse REALLY gets you. It turns out there are surcharges.
I don’t think that the argument for multiverses demands that there be “infinite” universes.
That’s why I qualified my statement – I’m aware there are a variety of multiverse speculation on offer.
But quite a number of them deal with infinities of the relevant type.
I was using “implied” in the strict logical sense.
p ? q
Materialist/naturalists may not have a problem with that… just as long as any of those gods are not “over” us, i.e, they didn’t create us and demand nothing of us. But I don’t know, it would be interesting to hear what they have to say in reply that point.
That’s a good point. In fact, it makes nothing certain beyond our immediate senses because we could be in a “weird” universe were the most bizarre things happen, like “last-thursdayism.”
Interesting post. I, for one, will chew on it further.
Don’t get me wrong, I understand where you’re coming from here. You say naturalists/materialists won’t have a problem with that because those gods are not ‘over’ us. In a way, I can see what you mean. Feser makes a similar point.
But you know what? That’s a little like saying they’d never mind intelligent design, because their concern is God, not mere designers. And yet here we are.
There is one more interesting property of the multiverse that bears emphasis. It destroys science’s (that is, naturalistic science’s) veto on history. For example, if only a very small excess percentage of water molecules head up instead of down, that water will support the weight of a man. Here it is statistically implausible that this could happen (without intelligent design), but in some universe it is bound to happen just as a man tries to walk on water. So if we have reliable reports of something like this happening, it doesn’t matter that this would violate the Second Law of Thermodynamics. It is bound to happen in some universe, and given the reports, ours must be that universe, or one of those universes. So I don’t want to hear any more “scientific” nonsense that Jesus couldn’t walk on water. We have reliable witnesses that it happened.
Somehow, I don’t think that this is quite how the multiple universes argument was intended to be used.
In my experience, a certain minority, such as Dawkins, doesn’t seem to mind ET “designers” having a hand in earth’s biology. (Which puzzles me, actually.) But it seems like most of the materialists/naturalists I’ve encountered simply hear “God”, with all the “horrors” associated with that word, when anyone suggestions any sort of designer whether ET or transcendent. Say “designer” and their little noggins immediately imagine a Christian theocracy.
The typical atheist counterargument to the fine-tuning of the universe reads something like this: “Of course the observable universe is capable of supporting human life. If it weren’t, we wouldn’t be here to worry about it. So there’s really nothing to explain. We’re just here, and that’s all there is to it.”
That’s not really an answer. And it’s definitely not a satisfying explanation for human existence.
Another argument is that it will someday be proved that only one possible set of numbers can work in the equations that express the fundamental laws of nature. That is, the dials mentioned above had to be turned to the right settings for the universe to exist at all. The argument goes, ‘It’s that way because it had to be that way!’ Even if this circular reasoning were true, it would still not provide an ultimate explanation for our existence.
In efforts to explain by natural processes alone the design and fine-tuning evident in the cosmos, still others turn to what has been called the multiverse, or many-universe, theory. According to this hypothesis, perhaps we live in just one of countless universes—all of which have different conditions, but none of which have any purpose or design. Now according to that line of reasoning and the laws of probability, if you have enough universes, eventually one of them should have the right conditions to support life. However, there actually is no scientific evidence to support the multiverse theory. It is pure speculation.
After stating that he did not subscribe to that hypothesis, Nobel Prize-winning biochemist Christian de Duve said: “In my opinion, life and mind are such extraordinary manifestations of matter that they remain meaningful, however many universes unable to give rise to them exist or are possible. Diluting our universe with trillions of others in no way diminishes the significance of its unique properties, which I see as revealing clues to the ‘Ultimate Reality’ that lies behind them.”
Paul Giem, as to Jesus waking on water, I found another tidbit that you might delightful:
Here are the verses in the Bible Dr. Ross listed in the preceding video, which were written well over 2000 years before the discovery of the finely tuned expansion of the universe by ‘Dark Energy’, that speak of God alone ‘Stretching out the Heavens’; Job 9:8; Isaiah 40:22; Isaiah 44:24; Isaiah 48:13; Zechariah 12:1; Psalm 104:2; Isaiah 42:5; Isaiah 45:12; Isaiah 51:13; Jeremiah 51:15; Jeremiah 10:12. The following verse is my favorite out of the group of verses:
Here is the paper from the atheistic (and one agnostic) astrophysicists, that Dr. Ross referenced in the preceding video, that speaks of ‘would have required a miracle’ to explain the finely tuned expansion of the universe (1 in 10^120 cosmological constant):
Besides the evidence that Dr. Ross listed for the 1 in 10^120 finely tuned expansion of the universe, this following paper clearly indicates that we do live in universe with a ‘true cosmological constant’. A ‘true’ cosmological constant that is not reducible to a materialistic basis in any way, shape, or form. Thus, atheistic astrophysicists are at a complete loss, once again, to explain why the universe expands in such a finely tuned way. Whereas Theists are, once again, vindicated from another angle of evidence in their belief that ‘He alone stretches out the heavens and treads on the waves of the sea!’
Picture, music and verse: