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.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

God vs The Multiverse (Part 12: The Theory of Inflation)

It will be very helpful for the understanding of the next two posts to watch the video on post seven, between the 8-25 minute marks.

In this post, we'll discuss the theory of inflation, the final pillar of support which Greene brings for the multiverse.  First, we'll begin with an introduction to the concept of inflation, and then differentiate between the theory of inflation and the various models of inflation.  Lastly, we will demonstrate why inflation does not prove the existence of a multiverse.

Inflationary cosmology is one of the most exciting areas of modern physics.  The theory of inflation states that a point very early in the universe's historyit expanded at a very rapid rate before slowing down to the rate of expansion we observe today.

Note: If you are afraid of physics, you can skip until the paragraph "The main idea..." and still get the main point of this post.  However, we recommend reading the entire post, and taking what you can from the next few paragraphs.

According to the theory, the universe was in thermodynamic equilibrium immediately prior to the rapid expansion.  This basically means that the universe was very small with all the energy close together (in causal contact), and therefore (according to the second law of thermodynamics) everything had approximately the same temperature.  It wasn't exactly the same temperature everywhere because of quantum fluctuations (the famous uncertainty principle).

During this short time period (sometimes called the Inflationary Epochthe universe underwent rapid expansion because of unique properties of a hypothesized energy field (called the inflaton field, of course).  In order for inflation to work (without a multiverse), it is critical that there be fine tuning in the inflaton field.  The fine tuning is associated with the potential energy curve of the inflaton field.  The implications of this fine tuning is subject to a similar analysis as previously applied to the constants and the initial conditions; it requires either a Designer or a multiverse to explain.  

When first proposed by Alan Guth in 1981, the theory of inflation was a significant advance in cosmological knowledge because it solved two major problems in cosmology, and was later supported by a prediction consistent with observation.

The first is called the Horizon Problem.  This is essentially the problem of explaining why the cosmological principle is true.  Why does everywhere we look in the observable universe have pretty much the same temperature and other physical properties?  This is explained by the theory of inflation based upon the fact that before inflation started, there was thermodynamic equilibrium in what is now the observable universe.

The second difficulty that inflation solves is the Flatness Problem.  This problem was tied to the fine tuning of the critical density of the universe, but there is a better way to see the problem which has to do with the shape of the universe as governed by General Relativity.  Why is it so flat (so close to a Euclidean space)?  One simple example of this is that on large scales the angles of a triangle sum to 180 degrees.  In a spherical geometry, for example, the angles of a triangle sum to greater than 180 degrees.  The theory of inflation explains this flatness, as inflation smooths out the rapidly expanding space, and renders it very close to the flat space that we observe.

The theory of inflation is a genuine scientific theory that makes a quantitative prediction which is spectacularly confirmed by observation.  It predicts the distribution of energy that we observe in the cosmic microwave background radiation (light that was produced at a later stage of the universe's subsequent evolution) with impressive accuracy.  It also provides an amazing conceptual insight into the early universe.

Remember those small temperature differences caused by quantum fluctuations.  Those small differences end up becoming galaxies.  It's a pretty cool concept.  Inflation blows up the effects of the quantum uncertainty principle to galactic proportions.  The seeds of the galaxies were the temperature irregularities caused by quantum mechanics, which inflation caused to grow into galaxies.

The main idea that is relevant for the proof is to distinguish between the theory of inflation itself (which has some confirmation by observation), and the particular model of inflation which concretizes this theory.  There are many different models to describe the mechanism for inflation (see the Ellis/Carr article which states that there are over 100 competing models).

Some of these models are for eternal inflation (which claims that there are an infinite number of inflating big bangs that randomly occur in an eternal, primordial chaos of an infinite amount of energy, and thus a multiverse).  Other models are for finite inflation (which claims that there is one universe which inflates shortly after the big bang, and no multiverse).

Consider the following oversimplified example which illustrates the difference between a theory and models for a mechanism that explain the theory.  Let's say you take a hot cup of water and place it in a cold room, and find that after a sufficient amount of time the water is the same temperature as the room (i.e., they are in thermodynamic equilibrium as measured by a thermometer).

You can generalize this observation and develop a theory: whenever two objects of different temperatures come into contact with each other for a sufficient amount of time, they end up having the same temperature.

To explain how this happens, you can propose several possible models to describe the mechanism that produces this result: (a) heat in the cup flowed out of the cup into the air of the room, causing the cup to lose its heat; (b) cold of the room flowed out of the air of the room into the cup and cooled it down; (c) some combination of heat and cold exchange; (d) perhaps temperature is related to motion, and the particles in the cup and the particles in the room bumped into each other until they ended up with the same average amount of motion per particle.

These are only four of the many other possible models consistent with the observation that the cup and room are the same temperature.  You can do experiments to test the theory by placing hot objects next to cold objects and seeing if they always end up at the same temperature.  If they do, you can conclude that there is empirical evidence that your theory was correct.

However, which of the four models does this evidence support?  None.  Any of the models can equally explain this experiment.  A proof for the theory is not support for any particular model.  You would need to find some sort of crucial experiment that would work for only one model and not the others.  Only then could you rightly claim that there was evidence for any particular model.

Based upon this point alone, we think it is fairly obvious that the theory of inflation (and its confirmed experimental prediction) does not constitute evidence for the particular model of inflation which contains an infinite number of multiverses. This theory can equally be explained using models that yield only the one universe that we observe, as long as you do not find it impossible to accept the possibility that the inflaton field was fine tuned to produce inflation.  Despite this point, the model of eternal inflation is frequently (and misleadingly) touted as a pillar of support for the multiverse.  

We highly recommend this readable article by Paul Steinhardt in 2011 about the theory of inflation and the model of eternal inflation.  We will be making significant use of it in the next post, where we will discuss the problems of eternal inflation in more depth.  (Chaotic eternal inflation was developed by Andrei Linde in 1986, after it was discovered that Guth's original model for inflation was flawed.  Steinhardt, Linde, and Guth all won the Dirac Medal in 2002 for their work on inflation.)

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

God vs The Multiverse (Part 11: String Theory)

It will be very helpful for understanding of this post to watch the video on post seven, between the 34-41 minute marks.

In the past three posts, we have discussed serious problems with multiverse theory. We will now turn to refuting the "proofs" which are proposed in support of the multiverse.  We believe there is a deep relationship between the past three posts, and these next few posts.

In the Greene video/article, he cited three pillars of support for multiverse theories: (1) the apparently fine-tuned value for the dark energy (the cosmological constant); (2) the 10500 different possible universes predicted by string theory; (3) observations supporting inflation which mathematical analysis revealed to be eternal inflation.

It should be clear from the previous posts that the fine-tuned value of dark energy (as well as the other constants) is in no way a proof for the multiverse.  Rather, it is a proof for an Intelligent Designer, which forces multiverse theorists to desperately posit as many chaotic universes as they need to get out of the problem.  In this post, we will explain (and thereby undermine) the proof from string theory. After that, we will discuss the proof from inflation.

String theory is currently the most popular theory of fundamental physics, and many physicists believe it to be the best candidate for a Theory of Everything.  String theory is widely acknowledged to contain truly beautiful and elegant mathematics, which is one of its main appeals.

String theory attempts to unify all of physics (General Relativity and Quantum Mechanics) by assuming that all particles are really tiny, vibrating strings.  To get an idea how tiny they are, scroll down all the orders of magnitude on the scale of the universe interactive site.  There is a very large gap between the tiny strings and anything else we actually have evidence for.  In fact, it is far and away the biggest gap in orders of magnitude between any two things.  That is how tiny strings are.  They are the smallest fundamental objects.

(This exercise with the scale of the universe, as well as this video from 1977, will help give you a good intuitive sense for orders of magnitude and complexity, which is a basic aspect of our understanding of the universe.  It is not entirely clear if string theorists believe that there isn't anything in between these tiny strings and the known 'fundamental particles' (i.e., electron, quark, neutrino); or they just think that it isn't necessary to go step by step in discovery, and they've been able to guess the ultimate, most fundamental reality.)

In order for string theory to be mathematical consistent, it needs to posit at least 7 extra dimensions of space.  M-Theory (according to it's creator Edward Witten, the 'M' could mean Magic-Theory) is the most prevalent form of string theory and requires 8 extra dimensions.  One problem is that no one has ever observed these extra dimensions.  It is therefore assumed that these extra dimensions are curled up so small that we can't observe them.  (We would like to point out that there is another logical explanation for why we cannot observe them.)

It turns out that the geometry of these hidden dimensions is very important.  Depending on how you curl them up, the theory results in very different properties of particles and values of the constants.  These different geometries are called the string theory landscapes.  There are currently known to be so many possible different ways (10500) that really small, unobservable dimensions can be curled up and hidden away, that string theory can explain just about any universe with any set of constants.

That is not a good feature of a scientific theory trying to explain one particular universe.  It order to be tested, a theory needs to make credible, unique predictions.  Since we don't know the shape of these really tiny, never before seen dimensions, any phenomenon at all can be explained by the theory.

At first, this was a major cause for chagrin amongst string theorists (see video), and the theory came under heavy criticism.  It seemed like string theory was beautiful mathematics and interesting speculation, but it had a fatal flaw.  Until physicists could show some compelling reason to select one particular landscape out of the 10500 different possibilities, string theory is just beautiful speculation with no hopes of any empirical tests to support it.

In 2005, Leonard Susskind came out with his ground breaking book (The Cosmic Landscape: String Theory and the Illusion of Intelligent Design), in which he 'arranged a marriage' between string theory and multiverse theory.  Susskind recognized that if the multiverse theory were true, then having many different possible geometries might not be so bad.  It might even be a good thing.  Maybe every multiverse has a different geometry of these hidden dimensions and therefore has different values for the constants of nature.  It even explained the fine tuning of the constants!  And the origin of life to boot! A Theory Of Anything!

If everything is really tiny strings, and if there are 7 too tiny to be observed hidden dimensions, then maybe the 10500 different landscapes really exist, if there are at least 10500 different multiverses. (None of these things have ever been observed or experimentally supported).  It should be obvious to the reader that this does not constitute evidence for the multiverse.  Rather, the landscape problem of string theory is a fundamental flaw in the theory.  If it can't be solved, it prevents string theory from being a credible scientific theory.  A fatal flaw in a theory is not 'proof' for the multiverse.

Ultimately, what their proof amounts to is faith that string theory is true.  Since string theory is assumed to be true, and if there were not 10500 multiverses then string theory would have a fatal flaw, it must be that there is a multiverse. The belief that string theory is a true valid scientific theory necessitates the belief in the multiverse.  Somehow, they extrapolate that "String theory proves the multiverse!"

We're including a video by Lee Smolin (who had his own fecund multiverse theory), author of a great (and controversial) book called The Trouble With Physics.  Smolin discusses the scientific merits of string theory, as well as how scientific consensus should only form after a theory makes predictions that are confirmed by experiments and observations (which is something that string theory has failed to do).

Sunday, July 15, 2012

God vs The Multiverse (Part 10: Mathematical Wonderland)

In the previous post, we suggested that multiverse theory is not truly science, but is bad philosophy. We did not mean that the average technical paper on multiverse theory reads like a philosophy paper. This is certainly not the case, as they certainly appear like mathematical physics papers. Rather, we mean that multiverse theory is rooted in a bad philosophy, which renders all the rigorous mathematics as details of a false system.  Confusing rigorous mathematics for the science of physics is a serious philosophical and scientific error, that leads to the decay of the physicist's mission of discovering the true reality of our universe.

The following video is from Max Tegmark, who is featured prominently on the Wikipedia multiverse page for his classification of different types of multiverses.  The main focus of this post will be on the last 4 minutes of the video (from the 10:45 minute mark), as other posts in this series deal with his first two levels of multiverse.  (If you only watch the last 4 minutes of the video, you can skip the next two paragraphs.)

Tegmark's level 3 multiverse is the semi-popular philosophical interpretation of quantum mechanics called the Many Worlds Interpretation.  We do not take up the standard understanding of this theory in depth as it has no bearing on the fine tuning of the constants, since the laws of nature and the constants do not change in the different worlds/multiverses.  It is similar to his level 1 multiverse, in the sense that while it posits an infinite number of alternate universes that are each ordered, it does not try to posit a combination of randomness and infinite tries to explain apparent order.

There are some physicists (Hawking as elaborated on by Sidney Coleman) who try to apply Quantum Mechanics to yield the constants themselves.  This approach uses Quantum Mechanics in an unconventional manner (as a meta law that determines the fundamental constants, as opposed to a law which governs the interactions of energy) to try to provide a model for the number generator that multiverse theory requires.  We aren't going to focus on this point, as our main problem with multiverse theory is not that it has a speculative model for the random number generator.  There are bigger problems.

What is particularly disturbing about this interview is that it is being conducted under the pretense of a true representation of reality, as determined by science.  The interviewer tells Tegmark that he is seeking reality and is coming to Tegmark to find out from him what is real. Tegmark proceeds to present his level 4 multiverse which he says would be nuts if it were not true.

Tegmark confuses mathematical possibility with physical reality.  Mathematics is a special language which is used to quantitatively describe the physical world we observe.  Mathematics is not physics.  The theory that every conceivable, mathematically consistent law is actually real is not even wrong.  It is simply crazy.

This theory implicitly undermines all truth that science has discovered or will ever discover, by granting equal existence in reality to every possibility that any mathematician can imagine.  What truth value do the scientific discoveries of General Relativity and Quantum Mechanics have, if they are just two laws out of the infinite set of all the laws that actually exist?  Faith in Mathematical Wonderland is tantamount to denial of the very Foundations and Pillar of the sciences.

While most scientists do not believe in this theory, Tegmark's respected place in the scientific community is truly astonishing to us.  (He is a professor at MIT with over 200 publications, 9 of which have been cited over 500 times each.)  Tegmark's theory is an extreme form of a problem which exists in various degrees in all multiverse theories. The theory of Mathematical Wonderland reveals more about the current state of theoretical physics than it does about the rest of reality.

Putting aside the problems with Tegmark, there is a more general point with regards to all multiverse theories which posit an infinite number of actual physical universes.  It is no small claim that there exists an actual physical infinity.  This is a very questionable philosophical issue.  Infinity commonly arises in pure mathematics, but is usually a sign of a problem in a theory of physics which describes the real world. (See the Ellis/Carr article where even Carr doesn't seem to believe in it.)

Georg Cantor was one of the most important mathematicians who did believe in actual infinities. Cantor was the originator of set theory, and was the first to show (1874) that there are different levels of mathematical infinity.  He did so again in a more elegant manner with his diagonal argument (1891). Cantor also had a philosophical theory, whereby he equated the Absolute Infinite with god.

Mathematicians generally accept set theory and the levels of infinity in mathematics, but disagree with Cantor's philosophy.  The Wiki page on Cantor explains his philosophy in a way which seems very similar with Tegmark's statements:
Cantor's philosophy on the nature of numbers led him to affirm a belief in the freedom of mathematics to posit and prove concepts apart from the realm of physical phenomena, as expressions within an internal reality. The only restrictions on this metaphysical system are that all mathematical concepts must be devoid of internal contradiction, and that they follow from existing definitions, axioms, and theorems.
Carl Gauss, physicist and arguably the greatest mathematician ever, wrote "I protest against the use of infinite magnitude as something completed, which is never permissible in mathematics.  Infinity is merely a way of speaking, the true meaning being a limit which certain ratios approach indefinitely close, while others are permitted to increase without restriction."

The great mathematician David Hilbert said "Let us draw the conclusion from all our reflections on the infinite. The overall result is then: The infinite is nowhere realized. Neither is it present in nature nor is it admissible as a foundation of our rational thinking."

Aristotle and Wittgenstein are among the many philosophers who emphatically denied the existence of actual infinities.  Any actual, countable (observable) infinity would come under Hilbert's Paradox of the Grand Hotel, in addition to many other absurd beliefs you are forced to accept when you realize what infinity really means.

Despite these serious philosophical issues, many multiverse theorists are quick to invoke infinitely many universes.  Perhaps it is because they don't realize that they are engaging in philosophy, but rather believe that they are involved in the discovery of scientific theories like Mathematical Wonderland.

Click here to continue to Stage 2b

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

God vs The Multiverse (Part 9: The Scientific Method)

In the previous post we showed that it is faulty to use the multiverse theory to explain anything because it is a theory which can equally explain everything. Therefore, explaining fine tuning with a multiverse is a 'multiverse of the gaps' argument which is desperately put forth to deny the indications of Intelligent Design.  In this post we will put that problem aside and explain why we believe that multiverse theory is not even science, but is rather bad philosophy of science.

One of the pillars of the scientific method has been the requirement that a theory should make predictions which can be reasonably tested.  This has allowed science to build solid foundations, as consensus forms only when there is objective confirmation in reality that a theory is true (or close to it).

Every theory of a multiverse is, almost by definition, not testable.  Sometimes its proponents invent far-fetched hypothetical tests (mentioned by Greene in the article), like maybe our universe collided with another universe and maybe we could somehow see the effects of that collision in the background radiation.  That is not what it means in science for something to be reasonably testable.  (In any event, even if we could somehow observe such a collision between one other universe, that still does not mean we could observe an infinite number of multiverses.  Nor could we ever know if the constants of nature or the laws themselves varied in these other multiverses.)

The question of whether the cause of the universe is intelligent or not, is a philosophical question.  The answer does not lead to testable conclusions.  It could be proven in the positive, if for example, the Intelligent Cause communicated its existence before millions of witnesses.  But that is not a reasonably repeatable test, and would therefore not come under the scientific method either.  Not all knowledge is subject to the scientific method (i.e., certain historical knowledge).

Our answer to this philosophical question, that the cause of the universe is Intelligent, is based upon mankind's understanding of modern physics.  It is a testament to the efficacy of the scientific method that we have enough knowledge about the physical universe to answer this philosophical question by virtue of our understanding of the fine tuning of the constants.  It is a philosophical conclusion rooted in verified scientific facts.

The theory of the multiverse is an attempt to answer a philosophical question with a near infinite number of unobservable universes and some hypothesized unintelligent number generator which randomly selects the values of the constants.  Despite what its proponents profess, the multiverse theory is not science.  It is untestable, non-falsifiable, metaphysics. In fact, because it is clear that it is not science, multiverse theorists are beginning to suggest that the definition of science be changed. (The requirements of prediction and testability.  See the Carr/Ellis article.)

The inquiry into the ultimate cause of the physical universe is bound to go beyond science and into philosophy.  Nevertheless, it is a worth while pursuit, and an important question that we would like to know as much about as the human mind is capable of comprehending (which might not be that much).  However, the answer cannot be tested, as it makes no concrete predictions.

It is therefore of paramount importance in this area to exercise proper methodology in thought.  One false step, based on poor philosophical reasoning, can send a person into the world of fiction and fantasy.  Without the check that empirical testing provides, a person's speculations can run reckless.  Physicists need to clearly separate between science and metaphysics.  To confuse the two areas of thought in a speculative theory of infinite physical universes with an unintelligent random number generator, is to do injury to both science and philosophy.

We would like to quote from the opening paragraphs of Stephen Hawking's book The Grand Design (2010), which is indicative of a general attitude of disdain physicists have towards philosophy.  This attitude has severely hampered their ability to develop proper methodology in philosophical thought.
"What is the nature of reality?  Where did all this come from?  Did the universe need a Creator?...Traditionally these are questions for philosophy, but philosophy is dead.  Philosophy has not kept up with modern developments in science, particularly physics.  Scientists have become the bearers of the torch of discovery in our quest for knowledge."
(Needless to say, philosophers do not take too kindly to this sentiment.)

Physicists steal the crown of science, the prestige that science has rightly attained because of its adherence to the scientific method, and use it to impress upon people the belief that the multiverse is a credible scientific theory. The multiverse is bad philosophy if believed to be true, and decent science fiction when it is recognized as a form of entertainment.

We have illustrated that based upon a correct knowledge of modern physics (which demonstrates fine tuning in the constants of nature), a reasonable person will conclude that the best, most likely explanation is that the constants have their specific values in order to bring about the unique universe that we observe.  This conclusion is not scientific knowledge itself, but rather philosophical knowledge derived from scientific knowledge.  There is no experiment we can set up to prove or disprove it.  It is philosophical reasoning applied to understanding the laws of physics and the constants, as they have been understood by science.

The division of Natural Philosophy into the two separate branches of knowledge of 'Science' and the 'Philosophy of Science', was the foundational move that gave rise to modern Science, and greatly improved both areas of knowledge.  If the foundation of Science is removed, the scientific model that rests upon it crumbles.  Scientific knowledge is the inheritance of Mankind, not the possession of a  community of people who do not practice the methodology of science itself.

The leading physicists of our generation, in their attempt to deny an Intelligent Agent, are destroying the bedrock of science.  When they put forth a philosophical theory of randomness and infinite possibilities under the guise of science, when they hide behind mathematical equations in an effort to avoid common sense reasoning, they are abandoning the methods of the great men of science who bequeathed to them the invaluable tools of proper investigation into the ways of nature.  They are replacing science with bad philosophy.

We have included a video of Richard Feynman discussing the scientific method.  What do you think he would say about the scientific merit of multiverse theory?

Sunday, July 8, 2012

God vs The Multiverse (Part 8: Multiverse of the Gaps)

In the previous post we introduced multiverse theory, which is the main theory proposed by scientists to explain away the fine tuning found in the universe, in a way which denies the teleological explanation from part 3.  We showed that the comparison between explaining the origin of life based upon chance as compared with explaining the constants based upon chance does not hold up.  In the next few posts we will lodge several questions on multiverse theories and refute their supposed proofs.

Before we take up specific critiques against the main proofs for the multiverse, we would like to set forth what we believe to be the most general, devastating argument against multiverse theory.  What we mean by 'multiverse theory' is any theory which attempts to explain order and apparent design through randomness and a near infinite number of tries.  (See the first comment for some discussion of 'infinite' and 'near infinite').  Any theory of many, ordered universes designed by an Intelligent Agent, has no relevance to the proof and we are not speaking about it when we say 'multiverse theory'.

Every multiverse theory commits a fallacy which is nearly identical with the God of the gaps argument.  A good illustration of this kind of reasoning would be if someone tried to explain the mystery of the seemingly arbitrary constants to Feynman in 1985 (before we fully realized the fine tuning) using the argument that "God made the number 137.03597 and we no longer need another explanation for it."  To simply posit that "God did it" is not a satisfactory explanation.

The theory that every time there is a gap in our knowledge we should posit God as a solution, commits the fallacy of an argument from ignorance.  Everything can be explained by saying that God did it.  An answer that can always be employed to explain anything, in truth explains nothing at all (this is a critical point that is worth thinking about for a moment).  When a reasonable person is ignorant, he admits that he simply doesn't know.  It is a mystery.  When we gain more knowledge, maybe we'll be able to understand where these numbers come from, and why they are the way they are.

By the late 1980's however, patience paid off and we did develop more knowledge about these numbers.  We started to realize that these numbers were not arbitrary. Rather, we understood that they needed to have their particular values in order for the universe to be ordered, complex, structured, etc.  This teleological explanation (which implies an Intelligent Cause) is an argument from knowledge, not from gaps. We have knowledge about the values of the constants (their fine tuning) which points towards an Intelligent Designer, and away from an unintelligent, random cause.

God of the gaps is a fallacy that someone commits when they plug a hole in their understanding of the already existing universe by saying "God did it". The only reason to be positing God in such an instance is because they have no other answer. There is no direct inference to God, only the lack of knowledge.  This is a fallacy because science is attempting to explain the existing universe in its own terms. A particular gap in a scientific explanation is likely due to our current lack of knowledge, and is no indication of the failure of science.  Positing Divine Intervention at each gap in our knowledge is bad methodology and hinders the advancement of science.

However, here we are discussing the fundamental constants of nature and the initial conditions which were set at the big bang, the observed beginning of our universe. This begs a metaphysical explanation about the cause of our physical universe, its constants and initial conditions, as physics (even if it didn't break down at the first moment after the big bangcannot go any further.  Since fine tuning is manifest in the big bang and the fundamental laws, the metaphysical explanation which is indicated by knowledge (not by a gap), is an Intelligent Designer.

On the other hand, the multiverse theory falls prey to a very similar fallacy as the ordinary God of the gaps argument.  It posits an infinite number of universes with random numbers.  The combination of an infinite number of tries together with chance is the essence of multiverse theory, and can be used to explain any configuration of particles that you can imagine.  It can be used to explain the sea splitting and allowing a nation to cross through.  It even explains Santa Claus.  It can be used to explain this universe, or any other logically possible universe.  (This is because according to the laws of quantum mechanics, just about everything is statistically possible.  While it is highly improbable to get a quantum fluctuation of Santa and his little helpers, if there are an infinite number of universes, it will happen an infinite number of times.)

In fact, if there really were a near infinite number of multiverses and everything was random, we no longer need the laws of physics or the laws of biology.  Even if it really was totally random whether any two particular masses attracted or repelled (lets assume 50/50 each time), there would be at least one of the infinite multiverses where by chance alone, masses always came together.  It would look to observers in that multiverse like there is such a thing as gravity, but since only in a universe with gravity or something close to it, is it even possible to have observers (as the phenomenon of masses attracting is a necessary condition for the existence of life), physicists should simply reject the explanation of gravity as superfluous.

The same arguments can be made to explain biology.  Randomness and infinite multiverses explains chickens too. There is no need for the theory of evolution altogether.  It would also explain unicorns and flying pigs.  It would explain total chaos too, which is the key point.  No matter what the universe looked like (incredibly ordered, totally disordered, or anywhere in between), a theory of randomness coupled with infinity provides an explanation.

There is a subtle point here.  Multiverse theory does not predict unicorns.  (In fact, it makes almost no predictions at all.  More on this in later posts.)  Rather, the multiverse theory would explain an observation of unicorns.  We'll illustrate with the example of the lottery from the previous post.

If you and a trillion other people each had one lottery ticket, you would not predict in advance of the lotto drawing that you are likely to win.  However, after the drawing and the observation that you did win, you would be able to explain it by saying that someone had to win and apparently it was you.  It would be unnecessary to look for another explanation (i.e., cheating, Divine Providence, etc.), since someone had to win.

Likewise, since according to multiverse theory there are universes with unicorns (an infinite number of them in fact), while you would not be able to predict in advance that you would observe a unicorn (since most universes conducive to intelligent observers do not contain unicorns), after you observed a unicorn you would be able to explain the observation by positing that apparently you're one of the lucky observers in a multiverse which does have unicorns.

On the other hand, an Intelligent Cause is only validly inferred because we observe a meaningfully ordered, intelligible universe.  Were the universe nonsensical chaos, it would be God of the Gaps to posit an Intelligent Designer. (In fact, in that case unintelligent randomness would be a good explanation.)

Multiverse theories could explain any possible observations without demanding any knowledge of the phenomenon.  To put it simply, the theory of the multiverse, when taken to its logical conclusion, undermines all scientific knowledge.  It takes the observation-based belief that the universe we live in is full of order and wisdom (thereby lending itself to explanations like the laws of physics and biology), and it replaces it with a meaningless, chaotic mess of total randomness with a coincidental illusion of order in our universe.

The multiverse of the gaps is the same fallacy as God of the gaps, except it substitutes chance and infinite tries in place of one all-powerful force.  Even before we knew about the fine tuning, it would be fallacious to try to explain away the mystery of the constants by positing a multiverse and random chance.  How much more superficial is the argument of the multiverse after we have concrete knowledge that there is a real relationship between the fundamental constants of the laws of nature, and the universe that results from those laws and constants.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

God vs The Multiverse (Part 7: The Multiverse)

As we saw in the prior posts, scientists (we will be using the generic terms 'scientists' and 'physicists', but please understand by the context that we mean 'multiverse scientists') were loath to accept a teleological explanation for the fine tuning of the constants, as that implied an Intelligent Agent which caused the universe.  Intelligent beings do things for a purpose.  Intelligent beings do 'x' because 'y' will result.  That is what we mean by an Intelligent Cause.

There was one alternative solution left for scientists.  They could try to change the problem of the constants from one which implied a teleological explanation (how we used the strong anthropic principle), to one which could be solved involving a very different form of causal relationship (the weak anthropic principle of post 5).

They speculated as follows: If there are a nearly infinite number of universes (by 'near infinite' they generally mean as big a finite number as is necessary to explain the constants through chance), then maybe each universe has a different set of values for its constants (we should probably call them 'variables' in this theory).  Almost all of these multiverses would be chaotic nonsense (the term 'multiverse' can sometimes refer to the entire collection of universes, or sometimes just one of the many different universes), but a few of them would by chance alone have the perfect values for the constants.  Since the illusory fine tuning of the constants is a necessary condition for the existence of life and intelligent observers, it is no longer surprising that we find ourselves in this beautiful universe.  There are no intelligent observers in the other multiverses.  This argument is identical in form to the solution for the origin of life on Earth after knowing that there are many planets.

It is readily apparent that there is a big 'if' and a big 'maybe' going on here.  Scientists frequently try to justify these speculations by appealing to a slippery slope argument.  (See the video below.)  They argue that humans once thought the universe was really small.  Then we observed it to be bigger.  Then we observed it to be even bigger... Even though we haven't observed it to be, it's most definitely even bigger than we think now.  Maybe it's an infinitely big multiverse.  Maybe, in all the other multiverses the constants are different, thereby leading to meaningless chaos in almost all other universes.

We can understand the sense of awe one has from realizing just how small humans are relative to the vastness of the cosmos. We can also appreciate the intuitive sense that the universe is bigger than the diameter of the observable universe.  We simply don't know just how big.  We can start speculating, but then we have left the province of science.  All other times in history that science has expanded the size (or age) of the known universe, it was based upon observation.  Never has it been extended purely based on the speculation that it should be bigger.  Certainly not infinitely bigger.

This is the first major difference between how the weak anthropic principle was used by biologists to explain the origin of life, and how physicists are attempting to use it here.  Regarding biology, we know that there are many, many planets that are theoretically hospitable to life, because we observe them.  First, biologists observed the planets, then they made use of the weak anthropic principle.  Physicists are using the weak anthropic principle (and the fact of the fine tuning of the constants) as one of their proofs for the existence of other universes! (See the video.)

There is a second major difference which is a far more critical mistake.  This flawed logic contradicts the cosmological principle, which has been one of the guiding principles in cosmology since the time of Newton.  The cosmological principle essentially says that every observer in the universe sees the same universal features.  (Without this principle, universal features don't even exist.)  It says that our point of observation from Earth is not special.  Just about every physicist holds by this principle in every other context.  But it gets tossed out the window because of the pressing need to explain the fine tuning of the constants.  (See the first comment and response for an elaboration on this point.)

There is no evidence whatsoever that the constants have different values in these speculated alternate realities.  None.  The only theoretical reason to believe that they do vary, is the fact of fine tuning itself, in conjunction with the a priori rejection of an Intelligent Designer.

Even if we grant that there are an infinite number of universes, we have every reason to believe that just like we suppose that the qualitative laws of nature (general relativity and quantum mechanics) are the same in those parallel universes, so too the constants of nature are the same and do not vary.  To say the point more clearly, this slippery slope reasoning fails because this logic itself would lead us to believe that this new region of  space is also ordered and structured with the same laws and constants that we observe in our current universe.  In no way could slippery slope logic lead us to posit a different type of universe as a logical inference from the universe we see.

The theory of the multiverse is riddled with holes from every angle of analysis.  We will try in the following posts to concentrate on its major flaws and we will point out some of the absurd conclusions scientists have embraced in their effort to deny the Intelligent Cause of the universe.

The first modern usage of the multiverse was by the discoverer of the statistical law of entropy, Ludwig Boltzmann in 1895, to answer the entropy problem of post 4.  The theory is even more ancient than that.  The Roman philosopher Lucretius (55 B.C.E.) is the first recorded multiverse theorist.  (The argument of design goes back even further than that.)  Twenty years ago, multiverse theory was considered a speculative, non-scientific theory held by very few people.  It has now become mainstream physics, and many physicists believe and have faith in it.  New books are coming out about it at an increasing rate.  However, some physicists do realize its flaws and speak against it.

This 53 minute entertaining video by Brian Greene presents a very lucid explanation of the major pillars of support for multiverse theory.  It shows Steven Weinberg, among others, saying that the multiverse "is a pretty good bet."  It also shows a few physicists who think it's not science.  We will be assuming in the next few posts that you will have either watched the video or read the recent article in Newsweek, May 21 which is a fairly concise summary of the video.

We encourage the more advanced reader to read a slightly more sophisticated article entitled Universe or Multiverse, written by Bernard Carr and George Ellis.  In this article, the two authors debate the merits and flaws of the multiverse.  It does a good job of explaining the theory of the multiverse, as well as exposing many of its serious problems.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

God vs The Multiverse (Part 6: Summary of Stage One)

Before moving on to the second stage, which is primarily about the multiverse, we want to summarize the proof up to this point.  In the proof, we used inductive reasoning from the fine tuning to infer an Intelligent Designer of the universe.  What we mean by 'proof' is that a reasonable person would logically draw the same conclusion after understanding the arguments.  We do not mean 'proof' in the sense of a mathematical proof or deductive reasoning.

We have presented, explained, and supported the fact of the fine tuning of the constants of nature and the initial conditions of the big bang with many renowned scientists (like Stephen Hawking, Martin Rees, Roger Penrose, Leonard Susskind, etc.  We will present even more multiverse scientists who agree with the fact of fine tuning, and use it as proof for the multiverse.)  In stage two, we will explain why we believe that the scientists' position of a multiverse is not a viable scientific theory.

Our main objective for stage one was to reject two theories as possible explanations for the fine tuning of the constants and the initial conditions:  the Master Mathematical Equation theory and the Necessary Existences theory.  We have tried to establish that the only two viable theories at this point are either an Intelligent Agent or the multiverse.

Based on the excellent feedback we received from the readers, it seems that the most abstract part of stage one was the relationship between Feynman's mystery in post 2, and the teleological explanation for the fine tuning in post 3.  This is the key point, and is what separates this proof of an Intelligent Designer from most of the other ones that we've seen.  (The way it is commonly presented is by starting with the fact of fine tuning, and arguing from the improbability of getting fine tuning by chance alone.)

The main idea is that the mystery that all good theoretical physicists worried about for 50 years had nothing to do with fine tuning.  It is a problem that is rooted in the aim of fundamental physics of uncovering the most basic, simple reality in the universe.  All good theoretical physicists realized that an arbitrary number has no role as a fundamental (Necessary) Existence.  All good theoretical physicists realized that it was highly implausible that arbitrary, highly specific numbers would ever be derivable from a Master Mathematical equation.

The discovery of the fact of fine tuning in the constants provided an excellent solution to this mystery.  The numbers were not fundamental, nor were they arbitrary.  They had a purpose.  The purpose of the numbers was in order to create an ordered and complex cosmos, in all its beauty and grandeur.  It is the natural solution to one of the greatest mysteries in physics.  Fine tuning did not create the problem.  Fine tuning is the solution.

We inferred from the fact that the constants of the universe were designed to produce an ordered universe, that the Cause of the fine tuning of the constants was Intelligent.  (Meaning, God knew what He was doing when He chose those numbers.  He didn't just get lucky.)

The discovery of fine tuning dealt the death blow to the other two theories mentioned above, as they could not explain the causal relationship between the numbers and the universe.  The significant knowledge we had about the constants could not be incorporated into those theories.  In both theories, the relationship between the particular numbers and the resultant ordered universe was purely coincidental.  This flew in the face of the fact of fine tuning. 

Even though we had sufficiently made the case for the fine tuning of the constants and rejecting the two theories from posts 2 and 3, we added an additional proof from the fine tuning of the initial conditions in post 4.  What was unique about this proof (as opposed to that of the constants) was that it was probabilistic.  The nature of the problem with regards to the initial conditions is so great because it is not even clear how the two alternative theories could even be formulated. This is because the "law for initial conditions" seems to have a qualitatively different character than our current understanding of physical law.

We noted that if someone wanted to deny an Intelligent Designer, the burden of proof is upon them to develop a theory to explain how the correlation between the fine tuning and the resultant ordered universe occurred through chance alone.  In the next post, we will begin the second stage and present the main attempt among scientists to provide such a theory.  As we will see, the essence of multiverse theory is the combination of random chance and a near infinite number of tries.

(See post 17 for a rigorous discussion of why the only four possible explanations for the values of the constants are: (i) an Intelligent Designer; (ii) the multiverse; (iii) the Master Mathematical Equation; and (iv) Necessary Existences.) 

In summary, we have shown that an Intelligent Designer is the best logical inference, and it is upon atheistic (or agnostic) scientists to establish a valid scientific theory which explains the fine tuning based on some unintelligent mechanism, thereby invalidating our proof.

Click here to continue to Stage 2a