God vs The Multiverse

Click here for God vs The Multiverse: a rational argument for the Existence of One God who intelligently designed one universe.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

God vs The Multiverse (Part 3: The Solution)

The major breakthrough in our understanding of the constants became widespread in 1986 with the publication of Barrow and Tippler's landmark book called the The Anthropic Cosmological Principle.  In it, they explained the constants using the strong anthropic principle.  (It comes in a weak form and a strong form, as well as many other misused forms.  Different authors use it in different ways, which has led to much confusion.  The key thing is not the labels, but rather an understanding of the different logical arguments employed. See the Hawking article from the introduction for a specific example.)

The significant advance in our knowledge was the recognition that the constants were not arbitrary.  Rather, the constants were fine tuned in a way that only these specific values, within a very small range of variation, result in a universe with order, structure, complex life, etc.  Even slightly different values of the constants would lead to a random, chaotic, meaningless universe.

Some particular examples, among many, deal with stars.  Stars produce energy by fusing two hydrogen atoms into a single helium atom. During that reaction, 0.007 percent of the mass of the hydrogen atoms is converted into energy.  If the percentage were 0.006, the universe would be filled only with hydrogen.  If it was 0.008, the universe would have no hydrogen, and therefore no water and no stars like the sun. 

Another example is the fine tuning of the fine structure constant of the previous post.  Barrow showed that if the constant was greater or smaller by 4%, the nuclear fusion in stars would not produce carbon, thereby making carbon-based life impossible.  (Max Born was actually the first physicist to recognize the key role this constant played in determining atomic structure in 1935 when he gave a lecture called The Mysterious Number 137.  It was only after 1986 however, that this type of explanation for many of the constants became widely understood.) 

One of the deeper ways to look at it is, if the fundamental laws of physics stayed the same but the values for different constants changed, we would still have physics but we wouldn't have cosmology, astronomy, chemistry, or biology.  Change one number, and right after the big bang the universe either collapses in on itself or blows up too quickly to produce galaxies.  Change a different constant and stars don't form.  Change a different number and there are no atoms or the periodic table.  Change another one and life never evolves.  Yet all the constants are perfectly fine tuned just right so we have these complex phenomenon, and areas of beauty and wisdom in addition to physics.

We want to make it clear that we are not saying that the constants of nature were set for human existence exclusively (as the terminology 'anthropic principle' implies).   On the contrary, we believe that man should draw a very different conclusion about a human being's significance in the vast cosmos.  (We will develop this idea more in a later post.)  Rather, we are arguing that the constants were fine tuned to produce all the myriads of wonderous creations in the cosmos on all orders of magnitude, i.e.  galaxies, nebulae, stars, quasars, pulsars, solar systems, planets, carbon based DNA, the possibility of non-carbon based life, intelligence, molecules, atoms, etc.

It is important to realize how this teleological explanation (which is one usage for the anthropic principle) removes the difficulty presented by Feynman in the prior post.  The mystery of the constants was how seemingly arbitrary numbers could be fundamental.  What was discovered was that these numbers were neither arbitrary or fundamental as they seemed at first.  Rather, they were fine tuned in the sense that only these numbers in conjunction with the qualitative laws of relativity and quantum mechanics would lead to the universe we observe.

A teleological explanation is an explanation of something based upon a final cause or a purpose.  For example, we could explain why a salt shaker has little holes on its top, based upon it's purpose of sprinkling salt on people's food.  That doesn't tell us what made the little holes, but it does explain why they are there based upon the concept that the salt shaker was made to serve a certain purpose.

Similarly, the reason why the constants and the laws are designed the way they are, is in order for the universe to result from them.  Were they to be even slightly different, all that would exist would be chaotic nonsense.  The particular number for the constants was chosen because the purpose of the laws and constants of physics are to produce a meaningful universe.

This explanation only became possible once science had an understanding of the laws of physics and the critical role that these quantities play in them.  Prior to this understanding, it would have been totally speculative to posit any type of teleological explanation.

The solution to the mystery is that the constants are not ultimately fundamental.  The Fundamental of the 'fundamental constants' is an Intelligent Agent who selected the specific values.   It is important to understand why this solution is not beset by the problem of having to determine the values of the constants to the 120th decimal place.  The demand to explain every last decimal place is only upon the Master Mathematical Equation theory which speculates that there exists some unique mathematical equation which precisely determines the numbers.  A unique equation does not determine a range of values.  (In fact, the Necessary Existence theory fails, not because it doesn't explain the number to precision, but because it fails to explain why it's even in the range.)

An Intelligent Agent is able to choose between a range of numbers (i.e. between 130 and 150) all of which yield the same result.  We can explain and understand why He didn't choose 129 or 151, because since they are outside the range of values, He wouldn't have accomplished His purpose.  Unless we have more knowledge, we can't explain why he picked the exact number 137.03597.  If we discover in the future that it mattered more (meaning the range is only 136-138), then we will know why He didn't choose 135.  And if it didn't matter which value He chose so long as it was within the range, an Intelligent Agent is capable of choosing one value among many choices that all serve His purpose. (You do it all the time.)

Explaining the constants with a final cause was unacceptable to many scientists.  'Purpose' is something we attribute to an Intelligent Agent.  While most physicists were willing to accept eternal, non-physical, non-intelligent laws as the cause of the universe, they were unable to consider that the cause of the universe was an Intelligent Agent who works with a final cause.  An Agent that was able to understand the result of His own actions was simply unacceptable.

Nevertheless, the point was clear.  The tie between the fine tuning of the constants and the order in the universe was undeniable.   It was incumbent upon scientists to either accept a teleological explanation and the clear inference to an Intelligent Cause, or to explain why the universe seemed like it was designed. The fine tuning directly pointed to an Intelligent Designer, and the burden of proof was on those who denied intelligent design to explain the illusion of design based upon some unintelligent mechanism.

The theories mentioned in the first post, that of the constants being necessary existences and that of the Master Mathematical Equation of the Universe, were no longer sufficient in any sense at all. They were developed when the conceptual problem of the constants was one of arbitrariness.  Given our new knowledge of the connection between the values for the constants and the resultant order and complexity in the universe, these theories rapidly fell even further out of favor. It is too coincidental to assume that the values determined by the hypothesized necessary existences or the Master Mathematical Equation of the Universe happen to be those which result in order and complexity many years later.

To illustrate the point, consider the following hypothetical example.  After years of unsuccessfully looking for life on Mars, scientists discover "something" which they cannot quite figure out. After years of analysis of its various parts, they realize that it is a one million year old spaceship which is perfectly suited for travelling on and around Mars.  Despite the fact that we have not as of yet found life on Mars, the perfect design of the spaceship is clear evidence that it was designed by some intelligent being (which we would know nothing about, other than the fact that it was intelligent).  If someone wanted to deny this and claim that it emerged by random chance or some master mathematical equation that necessitates spaceships on Mars, the burden of proof would be on them to develop a compelling theory of how this could have happened.

It should be clear that the spaceship on Mars is a crude analogy. The wisdom and design found in our universe is much more profound, deep and extensive than that of any advanced spaceship. All of man's scientific endeavors lead him to realize that he is but scratching the surface of the deep wisdom abound in our universe.

We have included a short video about the cosmological constant and fine tuning with Leonard Susskind (one of the fathers of string theory and an advocate of the multiverse).  The cosmological constant (also known as dark energy) is recognized as one of the most striking examples of fine tuning, and also plays a critical role in big bang cosmology.  It is an excellent example of fine tuning as it is exceedingly simple to comprehend the consequences of varying it, on a basic level.  As a natural dimensionless value, the cosmological constant is on the order of 10−122 (a decimal point, followed by 121 zeroes, then a 1).  If it had a few more zeroes, the universe would have collapsed in on itself.  A few less zeroes and the universe blows up without forming any structure at all.  It is an excellent video that will blow your mind.


88 comments:

  1. Ok, finally after all the build-up we're getting to the fine-tuning argument. Let me just point out that the first 2 posts appear to have little to do with this argument, as the question they ask is "why this very specific number 1.23923094032034029834096..." or whatever. As I mentioned (though credit goes to Maimonides) the question is not really informative. In the end fine-tuning argument does not even answer the question of specific numbers, it answers a question of a "goldilocks zone", which is basically a range of numbers that would produce a universe of some complexity (rather than one of pretty much pure chaos). As a matter of fact there is mathematically an infinite number of points between 0.006 and 0.008 (not including) that would produce a universe of some complexity, I gather.

    As to the fine-tuning argument itself, it's somewhat intriguing, but first there is some dispute as to the size of the "goldilocks zone" referenced in the "disputes" section here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fine-tuned_Universe. Apparently Stenger was able to produce complexity with a wide range of parameters; I'm not sure what the scientific reaction to his work is. Second, 1 in a 1000 (probability of being in a life-sustaining) is somewhat surprising, but not overwhelmingly so. The big question is, of course, how big is Everything? If there is a multiverse, 1/1000th (or even one trillionth) of which is populated with life, any specialness sort of goes away (similar to a man winning the lottery having no claim that he is the Chosen one Son of God or something - since normal processes will produce X winners like clockwork).

    The closest I personally came convinced in a deistic argument was the Big Bang, but upon further reflection it is clear to me that I do not (and probably never will) have the mental capacity to understand the issues with sufficient clarity to really be convinced one way or another.

    As an extension of that I want to take an issue with the Rambam (and by extension, Rabbi Chait's) formulation of this "mitzvah". Basically having the dialog we're having now puts us in the lucky 1% club of being born with a really decent mental capacity. Call me a silly egalitarian, but I find the idea that the pretty much the "main" mitzhvah is accessible to a select few morally perverse. If God created us with a certain human nature that is supposed to be in line with the commandments, requiring 2+ standard deviations of IQ (and a leisurely lifestyle to use it in the desired direction) to even come close to fulfilling it just seems plain cruel. I've considered "it's best effort, everyone gets ice-cream in the end", and unfortunately cannot be comfortable with it. I think an honest average person will feel acutely feel the lack of capacity for the sciences required to do this research; they will basically know that they will never get clarity in this area and if they are honest they will not be satisfied with extremely tentative conclusions. It's like asking people to poll vault on "best effort" basis: they can try hard, but hitting the bar will hurt every time.

    Dr_Manhattan

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    1. You shouldn't get so down on yourself. Most people of average intelligence can grasp the phenomenon of fine tuning in the constants, as it is very obvious. Many scientists believe in a multiverse because of the fine tuning and they write profusely about it. If you apply yourself we think you do have the mental capacity to understand the issue.

      As for your first paragraph: It is important that you see the conceptual link between the 2nd and 3rd post. In the Feynman post we explained that the question is "what determined these constants?"

      In this post we explained "why these constants?". Once we see that only a small range of values for the constants was conducive to a meaningful universe, we were in a position to answer the question from the Feynman post. An Intelligent Cause determined the particular values of the constants in order to create a meaningful universe.

      In regards to the fact that there is a range of values in which these constants can be set and still be conducive to life, we think you did an excellent job in quoting the Rambam from his philosophical book in the previous post that actually answers this question. (For other readers, see the comment thread from post 2)

      If there is no meaningful difference between 136.75, 137, and 138.5 then it is silly to ask why 137 was chosen. It doesn't matter so long as God chose one of those values, and not a number outside the range like 0.34 or 150.

      Having to predict the number to the 100th decimal point is only a problem for the Mathematical Equation of the Universe theory. An Intelligent agent is more than capable of choosing between 136 and 137 even though there are in fact, an infinite number of real numbers in between 136 and 137. Human beings do it all the time.

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    2. Dr_Manhattan-

      Do you: (a) believe in an infinite multiverse or (b) believe in a really big, finite multiverse or (c) believe in a universe, but think that 1/1000 is not too big of a coincidence

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    3. What difference is it what I believe? I'm not a physicist (and neither are the authors of this blog, may I point out).

      But since you're asked me for my 2c...The consensus seems to be for the multiverse of some sort, and it is caused by the need to answer experimental data in quantum physics, and not just by an attempt to escape deistic fine-tuning arguments. As an aside most 20-century physicists stopped caring about religion one way or another (I'm anticipating the forthcoming "scientists are all biased" argument); if you don't believe in a personal god this stops being an emotionally laden question. I'm personally agtheist - I don't see the evidence there, but won't deny some possibility that our universe was created due to some "intelligent" process, whatever that means on that scale. This makes little difference if you do not believe in providence (I think evidence is against that, unless you believe god is a pretty sick creature, which I don't); at the end of the day even if you're so inclined, you're (well, I am) stuck with unknowable creator and universe run by physics, which seems like the important thing.

      Dr_Manhattan

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    4. I just want to make sure I'm on the same page.

      Following Dr. Manhattan’s questions I think that the strongest argument for the randomness of the universe is a multiverse which is large enough to account for the particular improbability of life and laws of physics which allow for it. The increase in size accounts for the particular result - no matter how unlikely. This, together with the selection bias of the weak anthropic principle, explains life and the universe.

      I understand your response to be "That is correct. If there were evidence of a multiverse that increased the size of physical reality to the point where the improbable would occur (just like the one lottery winner out of millions) then there would not be evidence (from the improbability of life at least) to the existence of G. But no such evidence exists and rather scientists posit its existence to answer their very question which is a circular argument in which their conclusion is synonymous with their evidence."

      So in understanding both of you, it seems that you both agree that certain constants are observed and that these constants are essential for the existence of life and that very little order exists amongst these constants save their predilection toward life production which implies an intelligent design as it follows a focused end: life.

      It seems fair to me that with a strong indication that the universe is suited toward life that the burden of proving intelligent design is shifted to those who would disprove such a position

      I have a question, therefore to both you and Dr. Manhattan with more burden upon Dr. Manhattan: If it is agreed that many physical constants tend toward life, what indication is there that a) the universe is large enough to account for the improbable possibility of life and b) that the laws of physics are malleable to allow for randomness in them (otherwise the universe could be gargantuan and still follow the same laws which are incredibly suited for life)?

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    5. excellent summary of the issues, though we think that the 2 questions in your last paragraph should only be directed at Dr Manhattan.

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    6. I direct them at you only to ask if you know of any scientific evidence that proponents of the multiverse endorse or rely upon.

      To you it is a Sh'aila.
      to him it is a Kushia.

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    7. We're going to present a video by Brian Greene in a couple of posts that goes through the "proofs" of support for the multiverse theory

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    8. We wanted to address the issue you raised about our credentials to present the scientific fact of fine tuning. We added the paragraph below to the introduction in post 1 to clarify. Thanks for the feedback.

      "There will be three stages to the proof. In stage one we will be following along with the scientists. We are aware that we are not world renown physicists, and we do not expect you to accept the facts of modern science based on our authority. We will be presenting well established science using the scientists themselves in videos, articles, and Wiki links. We will generally link to scientists we mention. Please read the two articles above which present their views. We will be explaining the material ourselves as well as linking to numerous sources, so that you can try to understand the proof first hand to the best of your ability. We will depart from the scientists in stage two when they argue that the evidence points to a multiverse."

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  2. I just happen to be reading Brain Greene's book "The Hidden Reality" while following this blog post, so I would like to share a couple of questions I have on the blog post.

    1. Quote from pg. 366: "In an Inflationary multiverse, the "constants" of nature can and generally will vary from bubble universe to bubble universe.....the different Higgs field values permeating each bubble give rise to different particle masses and properties." Doesn't this idea of the constants not really being so constant slightly go against the point you are trying to make here?

    2. According to the widely held theory that if space is in fact infinite there must be countless Doppelganger Universes, how can such Constants that seem to be essential to your argument so far be significant. They may be perfect for life on earth, but they are also seemingly fine for life in distant universes. I assume since this is more of an discussion on intelligent design and not the proof of the existence of God as described in the bible such a question isn't as relevant here. Nevertheless, if there are in fact doppelganger universes what makes them any different than us when we say "Ata Bachartanu.."--especially if in an infinite universe there is bound to be one that is identical to ours (though still we are chosen and not them to be God's chosen people)

    I would like to say that I do not have any formal background in physics and am just reading the book out of mere curiosity, and therefore there is a good chance that I might be misunderstanding what he calls a long-shot theory as a commonly held belief- So please let me know if I am mistaken in any way

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    1. The multiverse is a commonly held belief among physicists who are aware of the fine tuning. If a multiverse theory were true in which the constants varied at random in every one of an infinite set of multiverses, it would explain the fine tuning, and there would be no proof of God. We are going to discuss the multiverse theory in future posts.

      (If the multiverse theory were true, they would not be called 'constants'. They would be called 'variables'. The reason we still call them constants, is because to the best of all our current observations, they do not change.)

      You are correct that, as we stated in our introduction, we do not seek to prove Divine Providence. We only seek to prove the God who created the universe.

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    2. I'm sorry, but what we call these numbers is immaterial. Everyone agrees that they are constant for either our unique universe, or out slice of the multiverse, and do not change in our observations. While you're not making the argument explicitly, your phrasing is terribly fallacious - "If the multiverse theory were true, they would not be called 'constants'" - implying since they are called 'constants' multiverse is not true. I hope it's clear this is laughable as an argument and I think it's below your intellectual dignity to propose it. Shall we call it a "slip of tongue"?

      Dr_Manhattan

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    3. see our response to anonymous below

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  3. As you said, it was merely a slip of the tongue. All I was trying to do was to introduce the idea that the constants in our universe may not be the same in others- opening up the possibility the all of the conditions just came together perfectly by chance. I understand that it is not a strong argument but I thought that it was at least worth putting it out there because at least I belief it is one held by many in the field today. I did not intend to make a semantic argument based on the use of the word "constant"

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    1. we were making a conceptual point, not a semantic one. The concept of a constant is something that doesn't change. A variable is something that changes based upon certain conditions. Empirical observations all show that these numbers do not change. The particular multiverse theory you mentioned above was speculating that these numbers changed in the other hypothesized bubble universes. There is no evidence that these constants vary. We will deal with the particular flaws in multiverse theory in future posts.

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    2. Thank you for clearing that up. As someone very little formal background in physics, most of what am writing is based off of books that I have read on the topic. Since the last book I read was entirely devoted to the Multiverse and the varying of 'constants', I just assumed that the author had some amount of evidence. Upon rereading the section on the varying of the constants I see that there were no citations whatsoever, leading me now to believe that it was more speculation than anything else. I apologize for bringing it up without rereading the section beforehand.

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    3. We understand. Scientists usually don't make it a point to emphasize where they're totally speculating (Brian Greene is better than most, as he generally will say at the outset he's speculating, though he gives way to much credence to these figments of his imaginations.)

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  4. This is gibberish.

    What does percentage changes or # of decimals of precision have anything to do with the probability of a certain realization of these numbers.

    We can't discuss "probabilities" or "odds" or "likelihood" of these numbers at all. In order to do so we would need to define the sample space of outcomes, the sigma-algebra of events, and a probability measure over the events. REF do you agree with this assertion or not? Yes or No? If so, what are these?

    This step is crucial because otherwise we have no idea whatsoever whether a different spin on the dials is "close" to the actual values. This is the crux of the whole argument and it's completely under the rug as presented.

    You are relying on "popular scientists think its improbable" or something like that to create "the problem". Then you don't like their solution and thats the point where I think we are all over our heads because the multiverse is relevant to issues beyond the constants. Those are some complicated issues.

    Luckily, we do understand undergrad probability theory so we can tackle this issue head on. Why is there any problem? Why should we expect any other constants if we are completely ignorant of the process that generates them?

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    1. I'm not sure I fully understand what is bothering the above poster but I think part of the answer may depend on the following. Different values of these constants would not change the overall theories of physics. If these constants were changed there would still be gravity and electromagnetic forces etc. they would just be stronger or weaker based upon the changes in the constants associated with them. This means that so far as we understand (maybe, understood) things these constants really could have been anything. I think the "unlikeliness" associated with the ranges of the constants stems from the fact that intrinsically (i.e. based upon the laws of physics themsleves) the constants could really have been any real number.

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  5. You're absolutely right. We're only using 'dials' as an imperfect analogy to help people totally unfamiliar with the standard model try to understand what these constants are. We've added that qualification to post 2 to make it explicit. The idea of dials has no role in the proof until the multiverse theory makes recourse to randomness and probabilities to try to explain the fine tuning.

    In so far as science has no theoretical reason to believe these constants are ever different, science has no real way to define a probability set. That in fact is one of our arguments against the multiverse.

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  6. But what then is the problem? Again you are relying on authority that big smart scientists think fine tuning is this big problem. That's poor reasoning. If there are good reasons to accept a multiverse that are unrelated to fine-tuning, then a realated benefit may be that it offers an insight into the constants. Since no one here is qualified to address those issues, that isn't really relevant. However, if the constants aren't really unlikely, then what is the problem at all? I think that you are implicitly making wrong assumptions about the probability space associated with the constants. You try to say that it is the multiverse folks that are in error, but you are the one positing that there is an improbability that needs to be explained away. This comes before any multiverse related speculation. If there is no improbability, then the constants are what they are and we can't really speculate any further concerning their origin or the set from which they are drawn. Game over.

    This is God-of-the-gaps nonsense. The exact same arguments were wrongly applied to the complexity of living organisms.

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    1. We're not relying on calculating probabilities for the proof from the constants, as we too recognize the saying that the constants were randomly selected from a infinite set of all real numbers (which can not be legitimately defined) is a dubious assumption.

      We are going to elaborate on why this is not God of the gaps reasoning in a later post. The short answer is that the fallacy of God of the gaps is that is based on an argument from ignorance. This proof is only possible after we have knowledge of fine tuning. Had we made the argument after post 2, that would have been an argument from ignorance.

      Just to be clear, are you arguing that the 25 constants are all necessary existences which have no cause? If not, please distinguish your position from that.

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  7. what are your thoughts on victor stenger's argument that there is no fine tuning? (e.g. http://www.colorado.edu/philosophy/vstenger/Briefs/FineBrief1.pdf and http://www.colorado.edu/philosophy/vstenger/Fallacy/FTCosmo.pdf and at length in his book 'The Fallacy of Fine Tuning' )

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    1. Stenger, by his own self admission, is the only physicist who denies the fact of fine tuning in the universe. (We find this claim too hard to believe in full, as there probably are some others, but we haven't heard of any others either.)

      In so far as Stenger denies almost all fine tuning, he argues against the other scientists in many fields in many, many independent areas (think about this point), such as the logical necessity of the laws of nature; objectivity, invariance and symmetry; theoretical physics and possible universes; entropy in cosmology; cosmic inflation and initial conditions; galaxy formation; the cosmological constant; stars and their formation;the properties of elementary particles and their efect on chemistry and the macroscopic world;the origin of mass; grand unified theories; and the dimensionality of space and time.

      Nevertheless, it is important to see why he is wrong for yourself. It is fairly easy for even the layman to see, as some of his arguments are blatantly stupid. (He does not understand the actual problems so he thinks he has come up with solutions that know one else realizes.)

      Please read:

      http://winteryknight.wordpress.com/2012/04/22/luke-barnes-reviews-victor-stengers-critique-of-cosmic-fine-tuning/

      as it summarizes the main, obvious flaws in his thinking.

      For a much more thorough, rigorous explanation, at least skim:

      http://arxiv.org/PS_cache/arxiv/pdf/1112/1112.4647v1.pdf

      They are both excellent presentations of the some of the more detailed supports for fine tuning in the universe. If you have any particular question from Stenger that those sources don't explain or you can't understand, let us know. We're happen to try to clarify to the best of our abilities

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  8. i am so confused! what is your starting point? do you believe in a GOD or not or you are investigating?

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    1. Our starting point is the mystery of post 2. We conduct an investigation about the constants, and we find that they are not arbitrary, but are rather fine tuned. We infer from the fine tuning that an Intelligent Agent caused them (we'll tip our hand here, the Intelligent Agent is God).

      We are aware that the proof is not complete until we show the flaws with the multiverse theory and then reject it. We will do so in later posts. Right now we want the reader to be convinced that the fine tuning points to an Intelligent Agent (unless the multiverse theory is true).

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  9. how we can ignore that great scientists such as Newton when they reached the edge of their knowledge said they see the hand of GOD/intelligent cause, HOWEVER IT WAS NOT THE HAND OF GOD, mans knowledge answered and explained the problem and now is faced with a new question. the hypothesis suggested to explain this "problem" is a multiverse which might or might not be true. if your starting point is not GOD then man should be patient abnd let science continue to explain and answer what it can with the humleness that anytime in man's history he thought he saw the hand of GOD he was wrong as well as admit he might never explain it due to his limited knowledge. it is hubris to say - "well we finally have enough to know and science will not be able to explain it".

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    1. Good question. We're sure a lot of people have this question. The key to answering it, is realizing that it is a form of skepticism by taking it to its logical conclusion.

      If we followed your logic, we would tell scientists to close up shop and stop pursuing scientific knowledge. Don't they realize that man never gets it right. Aristotle thought he understood the universe and was wrong. Newton thought his laws explained everything and was wrong, and along came Einstein with relativity and Quantum Mechanics. No doubt, one day we will realize how they too are wrong. So what's the point of it all? Man simply cannot know anything about science!

      The answer is that man simply has no choice but to use his mind and probe reality to the best of his abilities. He knows that it's a good chance that further developments will uproot many of his ideas, but cannot help but use his mind. All knowledge of man, anything that man can hold on to as worthwhile is all based upon his trusting his mind as a tool to probe reality.

      This is true in man's pursuit of science as it is in his pursuit of ultimate reality behind the physical world and the question of God. Although proofs of God have been overturned by science, that is because the science itself has been overturned. As much as it is not hubris for scientists to have a degree of confidence about their knowledge, with a realization that it could be overturned, the same is true with a proof of God. If science points to God, then our conviction in God is as good as our conviction in the science we used to prove Him. Although this is not certain, it is as good as man's knowledge can ever be (without some sort of Revelation). The fulfillment of the aspect of the Torah's commandment to know God from nature, is for God to be as real to you as scientific knowledge is. This is what we are trying to do with this posts.

      Secondly, the systems of science of Aristotle and Newton were not totally wrong. They were still an approximation of reality to a certain degree. We just have closer, better models with modern science. And even if and when, our science is replaced, our science will not have been completely wrong. There is something right about it.

      Man wants absolute knowledge, but the reality of the matter is, that our knowledge is imperfect. It is of value (the most valuable thing we actually have) but our knowledge is not absolute.

      As an aside, Newton was a bad example for you to use. His basis of accepting God was not because of the particulars of his theory. His conviction in the hand of God was based upon the deep wisdom and intelligence found in the universe which Newton held pointed to God (we will elaborate on this and brings quotes to this effect in a later post).

      There is nothing about modern science which overturned that. We are fortunate to be in an era in which a proof of God is available based on the particulars of scientific knowledge itself (the fine tuning of the constants of nature). We therefore are not resorting to Newton's conviction which is only available to one who can truly appreciate the immense wisdom found in the universe.

      An interesting thing to note is that while Aristotelian physics was replaced by Newtonian physics, which was replaced by Einsteinian physics, all three great men believed that the underlying source of reality was Intelligence. In fact, we could argue that the one thing that has remained constant throughout, is the recognition by science that the source of reality is Intelligent.

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  10. i think you just made my point. without GOD all knowledge is subjective and in our minds, pointing to GOD demands that you can know, science shows we dont know - we only think we do. and even if you want to say there is objective truth all we can say is we have been proven wrong in our "absolute" conclusions and we "move" closer to the truth but we never capture it. regarding newton i used him specifically b/c he never points to GOD in his works of the particular until he is stumped and says thats GOD. that is what you are doing and just as he was wrong so will you be although maybe not in your lifetime. you ask well what is the point - who says there is one?

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    1. Could you clarify your position. Are you making a skeptical claim that since all our knowledge might ultimately be wrong, there is no value in human knowledge and therefore no point in science trying to gain knowledge about reality?

      If you are not saying this, please distinguish your view from the above.

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    2. lets narrow the scope. if i asked you; is lightning a sign that there is a GOD and he is angry, you would of course say no and go on to explain the phenonomona in scientific terms, correct? years ago man thought that lightning meant the above. was that correct thinking? or was generated from fear and the question of what is that and what causes it should have been addressed by - let us study and observe it let us live with the question until we do know. i do not believe that is a skeptics approach. consider this, if GOD was disproven (which is impossible, but if it were) how would you approach the "constant"?

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    3. We are not aware of any great thinkers who thought that lightning is a proof that God is mad. Perhaps you are thinking of pagans from Greece (Zeus and his lightning bolts).

      Are you claiming that until science knew about electromagnetism as the cause of lightning, a rational thinker would logically have inferred from the phenomenon of lightning that God is mad? (And only the skeptical doubt about all scientific knowledge would have saved him from this error.)

      To answer your final question. Were the theory of an Intelligent Agent logically impossible, we think the only possible explanation left is a multiverse. Ultimately, it is God or the multiverse to explain the fine tuning.

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  11. Adam was the first great thinker and he assumed that when the days got shorter the sun was dying b/c he sinned against GOD.
    regarding your last point, which is the main point, it is hubris to say there ARE only two possibilities especially in consideration of that we (humans) seem to be in the infancy of our knowledge and more in the discovery stage. AND positing GOD is unscientific especially in consideration of the mathematical elegance of string theory which although is unscientific at present b/c it cannot be tested but it is a theory or many theories, and not a posit rather a mathematical explaination. of course this might turn out to be wrong but it is rational to accept a rational possibilty then a posit of an existence outside of the universe or univereses.

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  12. i missed your middle point - of course not! man should have done what scientists are doing now, observing and testing not positing made up things produced from fantasy.

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  13. i would like to admit that i accept the existence of GOD, and i try to reconcile these questions which produce great doubt.

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    1. We are glad to see that you are seeking to remove your great doubts. Your initial question was an excellent one that we think many people wonder at. We hope that our posts up until now, and the ones we post in the future will be of some assistance to you.

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  14. Since this thread has grown thick I'm going to reply with a single comment, mostly replying to the RAZ/REF comment condecsendingly starting with "you shouldn't be so hard on yourself, most people of average intelligence..." (I'm not, so I don't think they have read my point).

    I am of the opinion that unlike what the authors are implying here,
    * these are really difficult topics, confusing very smart and qualified people
    * authors, while being relatively smart, are out of their depth, and have no qualifications to publish their conclusions with any authority
    * their arguments, without qualifications of authority, are not new, just the old fine-tuning argument being fed to perhaps a new audience, with the additional red herring of asking about the precise number in the first two posts (which was never a part of the classical fine-tuning argumen, for (I claim) a good reason, in line with my comment about Maimonides earlier). I am not going to expand further on this directly,
    * There are many specific problems with the fine-tuning argument that require significant intelligence and time to research. I will illustrate this with some specifics and references.

    To start with, let me unpack the fine-tuning argument.

    1) The 'free parameters of physics' are suitable for intelligent life.
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    2) There is very low probability of that happening, crying for explanation
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    3) Clearly, this requires an intelligent designer who created the universe and set the parameters in just such a way, QED.

    While it hard to disagree with 1), 2) and especially 3) is as they say "dragons be here".

    (Here the blogging software demands me to split the post, continued below)

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  15. Regarding 2), the proper research is required in two areas, in order to determine the improbability of intelligent life. a) What is the true range or parameters that allow for life as we understand it (this is usally accepted to mean carbon-based lifeforms, since we know of no other). Strenger did some simulations in this area that indicate that the parameters are much wider than previously accepted (I haven't read the article, but I believe this would be a good starting point http://www.colorado.edu/philosophy/vstenger/Cosmo/FineTune.pdf). b) The possibility that these are not really fundamental constants, and that theories of physics can be reduced to something simpler such that the fine-tuning will disappear. I believe the authors have already brushed off this possibility in their second post, but I'm not at all satisfied with "This too did not satisfy most physicists as it does not seem plausible that any qualitative law would naturally generate the specificity of numbers required by observation." I certainly do not know enough physics to verify the accuracy of the above concsensus, but the "constants" have been around for 50 years and there was over 200 years between Newton and Einstein, and that was just theory of gravity (a much smaller goal). We do have more physicists now working on stuff, but the theories are are also getting harder, possibly reaching limits of normal human intelligence. So my guess the jury is still out on whether these constants are as fundamental as claimed.
    c) The other question is whether this is really the only intelligent life possible, and my personal feeling is that this is a much underexplored area. E.g. Wolfram showed that rather simple setups in the "Conway's Game Of Life" simulations can produce a lot of complexity, and we certainly know very little about the non-carbon-based possibilities that lie outside of our imagination.
    This is as much as I want to say about 2, but I will suggest that strong confidence in this area will only go to people who now something about * statistics * computer science * biology/complexity research. I'd say the price of admission into this area is at least 130+ IQ (that's 5% of the people just based on IQ score, setting appropriate training and time available for research aside)

    (Splitting to the next post due to Blogger limitation, continued below)

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  16. Regarding 3), there are several more objections.

    a) Alternative theories/multiverses. There are many versions of this hypothesis, most of which remove the "improbability" premise of the argument. I saw someone suggesting that the "burden of proof" is on me to show this (evidence for multiverses), to which I can only say that I (and the authors) are not qualified to comment on how good these theories are as theories of physics, but I should point out that even if they're motivated by the fine-tuning argument (which might be primarily, but not completely the case), that is a part of normal scientific methodology - there is something that lends itself to mathematical/scientific explanation and scientist go out and provide one (of course looking for evidence is a further necessary part of the process, but it's easier in some caases than others). Had the scientists followed the methodology of waiting until the life-affirming fine-tuning is found and then stopping and singing hymns they could have done this 300 years ago with gravity+clockwork universe. How much credence we can give these theories? I think it's a question only a person scientifically qualified (e.g. writing peer-reviewed published papers in the area) can form a strong intuition about. I REALLY don't want to be a marine biology student offering some free surgeries for friends since "an average person can understand how circularion works.
    b) (Even assuming the constants are "final") The very need for explanation in cases where there is self-selection biases (only an intelligent being who exists due to the specific values of the constants can as the question about their setting) has been questioned by philosophers of science, such as Nick Bostrom; reading a survey of their opinions in his book makes it clear that this area is incredibly confusing to the brightest (like Ian Hacking) See here. http://anthropic-principle.com/book/anthropicbias.html#Ch2.
    c) This is largely my objection, though I cannot imagine it's original. Basically the teleological explanation "world is clearly created to produce us" depends on a large and unproven assumption that the supposed designer exists and cares for such a thing. This is mind-bonglingly anthropocentric. Haldane put it well: 'The Creator, if He exists, has "an inordinate fondness for beetles"'. If there is a being that is capable of producing this (http://scaleofuniverse.com/, thank authors for the link), should we just assume, from physics, that he cared for about this - http://www.mit.edu/people/dpolicar/writing/prose/text/thinkingMeat.html? This proof claims to not assume providence, Torah, etc, but it does assume this. Judge for yourself.

    In conclusion I want to reiterate my opinion that a) the authors have not done due diligence in these areas (and are most likely out of their depth altogether due to lack required training and possibly raw intelligence required (same goes for me, btw, but I'm not the one trying to sell this theory)), and oversimplified them to achieve their goals b) having this kind of "mitzvah" (the main mitzvah in the Torah!) is rather ungenerous to the great majority of not-super-smart people and to the time required of the "intellectual elite" (this area could consume lifetimes given the state of modern science and I think our brightest have better things to do with it than seek confirmation of deism - world has many ills and sufferings that require that intelligence to solve). c) if such a mitzvah really exists I do not think it was fulfilled by taking an off-the-shelf fine-tuning argument and dumping it on an unsuspecting audience. I invite them to do better.

    Dr_Manhattan.

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    1. You still do not understand the role post 2 plays in the argument.

      You summarize our argument as "1) The 'free parameters of physics' are suitable for intelligent life. 2) There is very low probability of that happening, crying for explanation 3) Clearly, this requires an intelligent designer who created the universe and set the parameters in just such a way, QED."

      No where in post 2 (the mystery that all good theoretical physicists worried about for 50 years) do we bring in the fact of fine tuning or use any probabilistic arguments.

      You are entirely leaving post 2 out of your conceptual formulation of the proof. This should indicate to you that you have missed some key conceptual point in the argument, and are merely stuffing our words into a preconceived notion you have of how you think the fine tuning proof works.

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    2. I find your anti-hubris hubris humorous. :)

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    3. In addition, you misunderstood the role mankind in particular plays in the proof. Perhaps it was not clear enough. We added the following paragraph to make it more explicit. Thank you for the good question.

      "We want to make it clear that we are not saying that the constants of nature were set for human existence exclusively (as the terminology 'anthropic principle' implies). On the contrary, we believe that man should draws a very different conclusion about a human beings significance in the vast cosmos. (We will develop this idea more in a later post.) Rather, we are arguing that the constants were fine tuned to produce all the myriads of wondrous creations in the cosmos on all orders of magnitude, i.e. galaxies, nebulae, stars, quasars, pulsars, solar systems, planets, carbon based DNA, the possibility of non-carbon based life, intelligence, molecules, atoms, etc."

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    4. (Clarification: my comment was intended for Dr_Manhattan)

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    5. Note: This comment is being posted almost a month after Dr Manhattan mentioned Bostrom. We got a chance to do research on the matter. Thus, when looking at comments on later posts regarding Bostrom, note the dates and realize that they may have been written without knowledge of this and future comments:

      Regarding b), first a quote from Bostrom's book regarding the evidence for fine tuning:

      "There is quite strong reason to think at least some of these parameters are fine-tuned—the universe would have been inhospitable to life if their values had been slightly different " - pg 13

      Next from Bostrom regarding the "very need for explanation(quote from Dr Manhattan above)" for the fine tuning:

      "Thus, one should admit that there is something intellectually dissatisfying about a cosmological theory which tells us that the universe contains a large number of fine-tuned constants. Such a theory might be true, but we should not be keen to believe that until we have convinced ourselves that there is no simpler theory that can account for our data. So if the universe looks fine-tuned, this can be an indication that we should look harder to see if we cannot find a theory which reduces the number of independent assumptions needed. This is one reason for why a universe
      that looks fine-tuned (whether or not it actually is fine-tuned) is crying out for explanation." - pg 15

      If there are other parts of the book which you think support your assertion, please reference them.

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    6. RAZ/REF I agree that Bostrom comes out in favor of "fine-tuning requiring an explanation. But I would recommend reading the thing rather than looking for the first confirmatory quote. Or at least go to the conclusion section, that contains the confirmation you're looking for.
      http://www.anthropic-principle.com/book/anthropicbias.html#2f

      After a more thorough (but still not sufficient) read I lowered my estimate that fine-tuning does not cry for an explanation (with the appropriate increase in mass by multiverse/design slice, in the same proportions).

      I largely brought Bostrom in to illustrate how really fine philosophical minds (such as Ian Hacking) have trouble with these issues. This was part of the "ridiculous mitzvah" argument, which I believe ve have moved on from at this point.

      Dr_Manhattan

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    7. We already quoted the conclusion section which you reference in the comments in post 4. Sorry for the mixup.

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  17. The authors aren't basing the argument only on their interpretation of physics (that you claim is beyond their intelligence and training to understand). It's grounded on the understanding and clear statements of all the physicist they quoted. Namely Hawking, Linde, Rees, and Susskind. These are considered by their peers to be some of the greatest minds in physics and I'm sure well above your 130 IQ standard (btw why 130 and not 120 or 140?..jk). As quoted they clearly (some more directly than others) say that the fine tuning problem leaves you with only 2 options- God or the multiverse. Thus without years of training and an above 130 IQ I think it's fair to take the quoted physicists word for it and move forward to hear why the authors think that the multiverse option that these great physicists opt for is not valid. (Btw this also addresses your mitzvah question)

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    1. Truth Seeker- I am perplexed by many of the comments of some of the participants on this site.Why is it if rational arguments are made that lead to logical conclusions, one must posit that the proponents of the arguments are not qualified. Do you follow your mind in all areas of your life or are you unable to reach any conclusions because it is not backed by qualified experts.
      Do humans enjoy sporting events.I would speculate that there are more ardent sports fans in the civilized world today than religious people of any faith.However the participants in professional sports are the most highly trained naturally gifted people with the physical prowess that only the top percentile of the human population can aspire to.Do you think its cruel to the sporting fan to follow these events and even to play them at times himself or to the many who actively aspire to their ranks. One does so and enjoys them even knowing that he can only do so to the best of his ability. Is this cruel and and rather ingenerous to the great majority of not super talented physically gifted people for these sporting events to be staged and for people to follow them given the time required of the
      " professional elite athlete" to hone his skills and his lifetime of training for these events. I think the sporting fan is delighted to paticipate to the best of his ability and can appreciate the skills of the participants.Similiarly in intellectual pursuits one participates to the best of his ability and reaches conclusions and leads his life based upon what his mind tells him and can be very happy. Is this cruel because there are smarter people who can pursue these endeavors to a greater extent.
      I think it is disingenuous to project cruelty or epithets of inequality at matters that one has personal prejudices that blinds him from seeing the truth. Let us keep all arguments simply to what makes sense to the indiduals mind.Let us not obfuscate matters by questioning the qualifications of one making arguements or by diverting attention away from what one can understand by increduously asserting there are smarter people who should be involved in these pursuits. This will not help anyone who is seeking the truth.
      Should we close all the playgrounds and gymnasiums where young athletes and casual participants engage because there are more gifted physical specimens.We can only function, and i say this because you admit the existence of G-d-, with our G-d given talents and are happy to live life on that basis.
      I do not seek a reply and prejudicial replies based upon ones emotional predilections is just a waste of energies for those seeking the truth-

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    2. David,
      * these are not the only two possibilities, as I pointed out (particularly see reference to Bostrom). Yes, the authors are selectively quoting people like Hawking, where it's convenient, then claiming that they're biased when it comes to the multiverse consensus.
      * why 130? Let's say it's a "view from above"? Just a guess really. Mine hovers somewhat above that and I have some idea of how hard these subjects are. BTW, the average Ashkenzi IQ is ~115 (average means 1/2 of the group is below that). Yes, that's just Ashkenazi.
      * TruthSeeker - yes, people get to place sports nonprofessionally. But is this really a good analogy
      to an area that many people think is most important. IMO that's like saying William Tell "shot recreational crossbow" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Tell). This is an area where people dedicate their lives to an idea, live and die by it. Not recreational sports. Which leads me into the next point.
      * Yes, it is ok to live in the gray area of not drawing strong conclusions in the are. It's a mark of honest intellectualism. Let me illustrate it with 2 quotes

      Socrates: "I am wiser than this man, for neither of us appears to know anything great and good; but he fancies he knows something, although he knows nothing; whereas I, as I do not know anything, so I do not fancy I do. In this trifling particular, then, I appear to be wiser than he, because I do not fancy I know what I do not know."

      Bertrand Russell: “The trouble with the world is that the stupid are so confident while the intelligent are full of doubt.”

      Dr_Manhattan

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    3. Are you making the skeptical claim that the truly wise man is full of doubt that he knows anything at all?

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    4. Bostrom is your example? He is a philosopher of science and doesn't have any technical physics training (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nick_Bostrom). He falls into the same group as the authors of the blog. Hawkings on the other hand is a Nobel laureate. It appears you are selectively applying your "experts only" qualifications
      Umm...average of 130 doesn't mean that half are below it-- there might just be some really unintelligent Ashkenazi Jews out there bringing down the average (you sure about that "view from above"?)

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    5. David, look at Nick Bostrom's degrees and publications. He is a full-time philosopher of science and an Ivy-class school. Please list similar for authors of this blog...

      The average is 115, not 130. And yes, I'm sure, that's what the tests are for. And yes, while you're correctly implying that average does not mean 1/2 are below, median does, and as far as I know it's about the same for a normally distributed population. Considering your snark I can only mention that maybe some people are also bringing up the average? In any case, I am not Ashkenazi, and as far as I know the authors might be more intelligent than me; just in this context they have little to show for it other than regurgitating popular science books combined with same old fine-tuning arguments.

      Yes, I am skeptical in many areas outside ones I have spent many years researching. It is a long list, and I'd love it to be shorter, but realism demands otherwise. Authors have not demonstrated any special knowledge or insight in the area under discussion.

      My "obsession" with IQ was only to point out how hard actually knowing something in modern science is, additionally I mentioned it in the context of fairness to the not-so-lucky, not as a status claim, though it accidentally might have been that also

      Dr_Manhattan.

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    6. Regarding fine tuning and whether there are other good possibilites to explain the fine tuning besides for a Designer and the multiverse, a quote from Bostrom:

      " Even if we knew that our universe were not fine tuned, the issue of what fine-tuning would have implied could still be philosophically interesting. But in fact, the case for fine-tuning is quite strong.

      Given what we know, it is reasonable to doubt that there is a plausible physical theory on which our universe is not fine-tuned. Inflation theory, which was originally motivated largely by a desire to avoid the fine-tuning regarding the flatness and smoothness of the universe required by the ordinary big bang theory, seems to require some fine-tuning of its own to get the inflation potential right. More recent inflation theories may overcome this problem, at least partly; but they do so by introducing a multiverse and an observation selection effect—in other words by making exactly the kind of move that this chapter will scrutinize. The present best candidate for a single-universe theory that could reduce the number of free parameters may be superstring theories (e.g. (Kane 2000), but they too seem to require at least some fine-tuning (because there are many possible compactification schemes and vacuum states). The theories that currently seem most likely to be able to do away with fine-tuned free parameters all imply the existence of a multiverse" - pg 14

      Again, if there are other parts of the book which you think support your assertion, please reference them.

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  18. Dr. Manhattan.
    You seem to be pretty into your IQ. It's pretty convenient that yours hovers around the number that you objectively determined is needed for these areas. How often to you check yours to know where it hovers?

    I don't know if Socrates helps your case. It is true that Socrates was against people thinking that they knew when they didnt. However, he was no skeptic nor did he limit the role of thinking to recreational decisions. Didnt he give his life for what he deemed to be truth? BTW, do we know his IQ or that of the youth he sought to teach?

    I think truthseeker's point was that each person has no choice but to conduct his own research and decide what seems true to him and how to live his life. The authors of this post are not waving authority and telling people to trust them. They are spelling out their arguments and citing references. They are presenting an argument for each person to assess on their own. If someone determines that this pursuit is beyond them, that's their own personal decision. But I dont see why they should accept your authority (even though your IQ hovers around 130) to tell them that they're not smart enough to assess these matters.

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    1. I agree with this post. I'd simply like to further the point that this blog is setting forth modern conclusions of cosmology and attempting to logically question whether a random multiverse or an intelligent design best explains physical reality as we see it.

      If readers find these conclusions to be relevant and trustworthy, so be it. If they find that the conclusions of the authors are appropriate so be it. If the opposite is true, so be it as well.

      If Dr. Manhattan considers himself too smart to have an opinion on the issue, so be it. If he considers himself too dumb to understand the arguments so be it. If he considers Strenger to have disproved every proponent of fine tuning and multiverse theory, so be it.

      It seems to me that Dr. Manhattan is pushing very hard to prevent further understanding. Much more so than the readers and bloggers who seem to politely be trying to gain clarity.

      Dr. Manhattan, if you truly think that your methodology is preserving your "intellectualism", I wish you the best, but it genuinely seems more like you are fighting than thinking.

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  19. Can we get back to the actual topic...is there a specific question on the table?

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  20. If a person does not understand the physics (including the evidence for fine tuning), and is relying on experts, is that a fulfillment of the first mitzvah? Doesn't the first mitzvah need first hand knowledge (hence the rambam's lengthy discussion in the moreh about the proof of a matzui rishon)? Also, is the first mitzvah one everyone fulfills, or are most people only going to reach the level of emunah (rational conviction based on rhetoric) while only those able to enter davar gadol will have conviction based on demonstration (or as the authors claim dialectic)? Isn't this topic part of the subject of the first four chapters which the rambam says is not for everyone?

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  21. Good question.
    In the introduction (post 1), we say "it is rational and in fulfillment of the commandment to use your mind to the best of your ability to establish what you believe to be true."

    We also say "We will be explaining the material ourselves as well as linking to numerous sources, so that you can try to understand the proof first hand to the best of your ability. "

    We think that the fulfillment of the first mitzvah is not all or none, but lends itself to varying degrees, depending upon a person's abilities. The highest level is if a person can investigate everything himself (almost everything. it's not rational to doubt all physicists measurements of the electron's mass)and have totally first hand knowledge. In areas where a person cannot do this and deems it rational to rely on the scientists in the area of their expertise, than that is all that he can do. This is also a fulfillement of the mitzvah, albeit at a lower level.

    The main idea is that a person's attachment to God as a reality is based upon a conclusion he reaches by applying his mind, to the best of his abilites, to scientific knowledge available to him.

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    1. Do you have any evidence to this interpretation, as opposed to the implication of the rambam that this mitzvah is in the domain of davar gadol

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    2. a) the first 4 chapters of the mishne Torah (specifically 2:2)
      b)teshuva 10:6
      c)sefer hamitzvos: aseh 3 - this is what Avraham did (also avoda zara 1:3 on this point)

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    3. I don't understand your answer. aren't those sources indicating that it takes an advanced thinker to engage this area (e.g. yesodei hatorah 2:11-12, 4:13 teshuva 10:2), and that for the rest of us we should be involved in gaining knowledge of davar katan (and also having ahavat hashem from davar katan as he mentions in sefer hamitzvot mitzva 3)
      Could you clarify where you see that scientific exploration is for everyone? And where you see that second hand presentations qualify for scientific understanding and proof?

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    4. A person relies on second hand knowledge in all areas of life. When you go to a new doctor, how do you know he is a qualified doctor? You rule out a mass conspiracy that is falsely pretending he is a qualified doctor. You would not be able to lead a normal life otherwise. The same goes for accepting the scientific fact of fine tuning from the scientific community. This is physicists area of expertise, and if you do not understand physics first hand, you have no choice but to rely on second hand knowledge. It is a reasonable thing to do. You won't appreciate the wisdom and beauty in the creation as much, but you can still have reasonable knowledge.

      We see from the Rambam that scientific knowledge is for everyone as he grounds the commandment of loving God in a study of the creation, and also says that it is one of 60 or so commandments that are constantly on every man and woman (in his list at the end of the sefer hamitzvot).

      While these are fascinating areas of inquiry, we would like to focus on the essential concepts in these posts. We hope our answer suffices.

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    5. This doesn't answer the question since one can have rational conviction through proof of sinai and can have the mitzvah of ahavat hashem through learning Torah (as per the rambam in sefer hamitzvot).
      how are you explaining the halacha which says that the areas of these chapters are extremely difficult and beyond the capacity of most people.

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    6. We're trying to keep all questions regarding the Rambam and the mitzva to post 1, and have the comments on the later posts pertain to the science. Please post your comment there. (Maybe you can reformulate it to make it clearer to someone who hasn't read this particular thread.)

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  22. If, as it seems, intelligent design is so strongly pointed to by the existence of these constants, why do so many scientists reject that theory? The video might have touched upon this point but I don't understand it.

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    1. We will try to refrain from speculating about that,though we will bring down a quote from Einstein which expresses his thoughts on the matter in a future post.

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  23. We would like to direct the conversation to the core issues of post 2 and 3. Are the ideas we express in the two posts, and the relationship between post 2 and 3, clear and understood by everyone?

    (We know everyone does not agree with us. What we are asking is if you understand what we are saying.)

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  24. Raz/RAF
    How can you say that the first mitzvah is tied to science..wouldn't that mean that people today have better yedias hashem than Moses or Abraham?

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    1. I was wondering that myself....

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    2. It's a good question. Nevertheless, the Rambam openly says in the beginning of the 2nd chapter of the Mishna Torah that the path to loving God is through a scientific study of the creation.

      We think the core idea that will help you understand the solution to your question is in an exchange we had with an Anonymous poster above. The comment thread is time stamped June 22, 2012 10:47 AM.

      If it still is not clear, perhaps at the end of this series of posts you will have a better sense of the solution. We are going to try to focus on the main line of thought in these posts.

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  25. Okay. Thanks. I'm not sure how that thread answers the question. To me it seems it only makes the questoin stronger in that it shows hom much science has progressed in 3000 years, yet, noone would say we have greater knowkledge of ahavas hashem than the Avos.

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    1. We most certainly do not have a greater love of God than Avraham. It is also true, that modern science is closer to the ultimate truth about the nature of the creation than was available to Avraham. Finally, the Rambam grounds the commandment of loving God in a study of the creation.

      You are perplexed and believe these three statements to be in contradiction of one another. You are under a misconception about what the Rambam means when he says that love of God comes from the study of science.

      you asked about having a "greater knowkledge of ahavas hashem".

      Loving God is not knowledge of love. Love is a passion; an emotion, not an intellectual abstraction. Shlomo compares the love of God to the love of a woman. The man is lovesick, mentally consumed by thoughts of the woman. He is preoccupied night and day over her.

      Scientific knowledge of the creation arouses this passion in a person. When you study the creation and see the infinite wisdom manifest throughout, you are overcome with a passionate desire to know and understand more about this Infinite Intelligence.

      Great men of science throughout the ages have spoken about this feeling. Avraham, David, Shlomo, Rambam, Plato, Newton, Einstein. There are many more. In is not contingent on knowing the ultimate truth, as man with his limited intellect and the fact that we observe from within the universe, will probably never know the ultimate truth. We aim for the ultimate truth, but we have no guarantees we will ever get there.

      Love of God is not knowledge of the facts of science. Two people can know the same facts, and one will not love God and the other one will. How? Man is a complicated create with a twisted psyche. But now we are entering Mishlei.

      The genuine pursuit of scientific truth and the recognition of the infinite wisdom observeable in the creation, will naturally engender the love of God in all generations. But Avraham was a great man who is the paradigm for someone who is consumed with the love of God. Who in our generation can compare themselves to Avraham? While our knowledge of science might be slightly closer to the ultimate truth, our corresponding love of God is much farther away.

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    2. I think your explanation answers the mitzvah of ahavas hashem but not the main questoin which was about the mitzvah of Yedias hashem....

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    3. Rabbi Chait gave a shiur a number of years ago (quoted in comments on the first post) in which he explained the mitzva of yedias Hashem as follows: the mitzva is for a person to use his mind to analyze the knowledge available at his time and conclude that God exists. The idea of the mitzva is that a person should relate to God with his mind, the same part of him with which he assesses all other truths. This mitzva's fulfillment does not come from having a absolutely true science (which may never be fully possible), but from his commitment arising from an intellectual investigation of the area.

      Based upon this idea, the fact that our scientific knowledge is greater than that of the avos does not mean that we fulfilled this mitzva more than them.

      Please direct any further questions or comments regarding the mitzva to post 1.

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    4. We most certainly do not have a greater love of God than Avraham. It is also true, that modern science is closer to the ultimate truth about the nature of the creation than was available to Avraham. Finally, the Rambam grounds the commandment of loving God in a study of the creation.

      You are perplexed and believe these three statements to be in contradiction of one another. You are under a misconception about what the Rambam means when he says that love of God comes from the study of science.
      ========================
      Actually I believe Maimonides pretty clearly said that "love is in proportion to knowledge".

      You can claim that Avos had some other kinds of knowledge, or they "related to it" differently (you'd have to explain whatever that means of course).

      Or you can dispense with Maimonides on this issue.

      Actually I'm pretty sure I know the feeling Maimonides is speaking about, the appreciation of awesomeness of a vast and complex universe. The funny part is that it seems orthogonal to religion: I'm pretty close to an atheist, and so were people who expressed it and I'm sure felt it much more than I - Einstein (agnostic) and Feynman (atheist).

      Dr_Manhattan

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    5. It really doesn't matter, but we think Feynman was an agnostic, and that Einstein believed in a source of Intelligence that he frequently referred to as God. He was very angry that atheists and agnostics quoted him to support a view contrary to the one he obviously held.

      Try to direct any future comments regarding the mitzva to post 1

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  26. Sorry to ask this so late. I was rereading the posts and realized I didn't quite understand this.

    The mystery of fine tuning was that all the constants fall into the narrow range which produces complexity, right? So then you're saying that the most logical conclusion (philosophically, not scientifically, since we can't conclude any solution based on observation) is that there is an Intelligent Agent which determined the laws of physics and the constants, and chose constants which allowed for galaxies, DNA, etc. Correct?

    But Occam's-razor-wise, is that really the best thing to conclude? It seems like by positing a non-physical entity you are assuming far more than you should. On the other hand, I can't think of a good alternative... perhaps you could say that complexity is somehow necessary and therefore the constants align themselves with it?

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    1. We think you are suggesting that there is a Necessary Existence which is the final cause of Complexity. Essentially, you are saying that the purpose of the universe, it's laws and constants is the Necessarily Existing concept and purpose of Complexity which causes everything to exist.

      Do we understand you correctly?

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    2. Yes, I guess so.

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    3. So that this concept called "Complexity" is both the efficient cause and the final cause of the constants?

      See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Four_causes if you aren't familiar with the terminology.

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    4. I don't think it's the efficient cause. It would just be the final cause. (This leaves a question of what aligns the constants to "complexity," but it's not worse than the multiverse that way, is it? Because the multiverse also doesn't answer what determines the constants.)

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    5. You are going to need to posit two Necessary Existences. The final cause of 'Complexity' and the efficient cause which for simplicity let us call 'Simplicity'.

      You are only positing 2 gods so that you can make 'Simplicity' unintelligent. For if 'Simplicity' was intelligent, It could act for the purpose of complexity and you would no longer need to posit the second Necessary Existence of 'Complexity'.

      Barring any prior bias towards Duotheism over Monotheism, it is simpler to say there is One, Simple, Intelligent Cause of the universe that set the constants for the purpose of producing complexity.

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  27. So you're saying that positing a necessary "intelligent agent" is positing less than assuming a necessary "unintelligent agent" + a necessary "complexity" (purpose or whatever)?

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    1. We're saying even more than that. The inference you should make from observing order and complexity is that the cause of that thing is intelligent. Think about the spaceship example. It not simply a question of one being less than two.

      Besides for the theory of a second Necessary existence being a highly contrived way to avoid the inference to an Intelligent Cause, it also posits a very strange concept of having a purpose but no intelligence. It's not a very clear idea in its own right.

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  28. Wow, that's fascinating. I have to think about it some more.
    Thanks for this series!
    TL

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  29. I wonder how to respond to the "So What?" objection to deriving intelligent design from fine-tuning of the universe. Basically the idea is that since any particular set of values for the fundamental constants is equally probable, the fact that our universe seems fine-tuned for life does not require an explanation unless we assume that life is somehow intrinsically special. But, goes the argument, the "specialness" of life is something that is superimposed upon an indifferent universe by the human mind, and we of course suppose life to be "special" simply because we are alive ourselves. I wonder if the argument I just stated might be likened to a dealer in a poker game who continually deals himself royal flushes and face cards defending himself against a charge of cheating by noting that the likelihood dealing out any particular hand of poker, including useless hands, is exactly equal as dealing out a royal flush.

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    1. A few points. Firstly, we are not discussing the specialness of life, but the specialness of our universe- its order, structure, complexity on all orders of magnitude. Life is one aspect of this, but is one part of a bigger picture. Without the initial conditions and constants tuned as they are, our universe would be total chaos with no order or structure.

      Thus, the specialness is not based upon our bias towards thinking that life is special because we are alive. It is however based upon our mind's judgement that order and design are different than chaos and randomness - that if one encounters a system that is arranged and ordered in a way that results in a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts, than this calls for an explanation. If we reject our mind's assumption, than we reject all of science which sets out to explain the phenomenon in our universe in a way that is pleasing and acceptable to the human mind. Rejecting the mind is a bottomless pit of skepticism which undermines all of science.

      Regarding the poker analogy, it is a good analogy for the initial conditions of the universe (which had low entropy). While it is true that any one hand (initial condition of the universe) has an equally low probability, if we consider the set of hands that ensures a win for the dealer (royal flush) vs the set of hands which do not (all other hands), than the event of a royal flush is very unlikely as opposed to its complement. Similarly, the set of initial conditions which lead to a universe is much more unlikely(1 out of 10^10^123!) than the set of all other possible initial conditions.

      The argument from the constants (as we developed it) is different and does not involve probabilities (as we cannot legitimately define a probability function for the selection of values for constants). Rather, it begins with physicists attempt to explain fundamentals in our universe - the mystery of finding an explanation for the fundamental constants. Then the discovery of fine tuning solves this mystery and explains the significance of the values of the constants. The natural interpretation of this fine-tuning to explain the constants is that they were chosen by an Intelligent Designer for the purpose of bringing about our complex, ordered universe.

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