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 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.

77 comments:

  1. Defenders of the multiverse sometimes say that they are not positing infinitely many universes, just a very large number. Our first response to this is that many multiverse theorists openly say there are infinitely many of them. (For instance, the current most popular mechanism for the multiverse is eternal chaotic inflation, which must posit an infinite number of actual physical universes.)

    Even those who want to argue that all you need is a finite number of universes, say x, to explain the constants or the initial conditions, the number x is simply calculated and posited to fill the gap in our knowledge of explaining these unknowns. Whenever science comes up against an unsolvable problem (an unexplained gap), they just invoke multiverse theory and increase the value of x as necessary for the probabilities to work out.

    Thus, we sometimes use the term 'infinity' (becasue multiverse theorists often do) and we sometimes say 'near infinity' (to indicate that they increase this number x as high as they want, whenever they need to). The multiverse of the gaps critique of this post applies equally, whether they use infinity or near infinity.

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  2. I think your argument confuses the cause of our universe (infinite randomness)and the reuslt of our particular universe which has order. The two are not mutually exclusive.

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    1. They are certainly not mutually exclusive. We make the point explicitly in the post that the multiverse theory can explain order, disorder, or anywhere in between.

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  3. > 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.

    > 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.

    Two points: First, giving different values to Rees's six knobs does not imply everything is "random" - different laws of physics would exists, just not the ones that lead to intelligent life (as far as we can imagine it). That's not absurd. Physics would still exist, and everything.

    Second, intelligent life is terribly unlikely to evolve in universes where splitting of the sea is a normal occurrence. Evolution will only work in a universe with high amount of regularity.
    So in fact a universe where evolution succeeded but also allowed physical laws such that a single special jolly fat man can ride in a reindeer-powered sleigh through the air around the world in 24 hours and reward the good children would be several mega-orders of magnitude more improbable than ours.

    In summary: twiddling the Six Holy Knobs would in fact produce some improbable configurations, they would not be "any configuration you can imagine". There would still be things that are highly improbable and cry out fo grater explanation. If you see Santa, please give Martin Rees a call, I think he will have some work to do.

    Dr_Manhattan

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    1. Watch the first few minutes of the video on post 7. We are not making this up. In fact, we couldn't make this stuff up if we tried.

      You are not appreciating the concept of infinity. According to multiverse theorists who believe in an infinite number of universes, there are an infinite number of universes where the sea splits once in their history.

      There are also an infinite number of multiverses where the sea splits quite frequently, and in those multiverses there probably isn't any life and they are therefore inconsistent with our universe (weak anthropic principle).

      Alan Guth summarizes this point: “In an eternally inflating universe, anything that can happen will happen; in fact, it will happen an infinite number of times.”

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    2. Another point:

      Even if you want to limit yourself to a finite number of universes, the number that you need to explain the arrangement of matter in the initial conditions (which cannot be accomplished with simple 'knobs') is 10^(10^123)!!!

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    3. > Watch the first few minutes of the video on post 7. We are not making this up. In fact, we couldn't make this stuff up if we tried.

      Watched the video. No mention of Santa or "everything is possible". Did you make it up?
      "Strange things we're not used to possible" - yes, "everything possible" - no. There are still laws. There are still more and less likely things, there is still science.

      Dr_Manhattan

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    4. BTW, the video nicely traced the historical aspect of the multiverse theories, which, contrary to your previous assertions,

      "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"

      did not stem from the need to explain away the Magical Constants.

      Dr_Manhattan

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    5. Regardless of the first couple minutes of the video, what do you do with Guth's statement? “In an eternally inflating universe, anything that can happen will happen; in fact, it will happen an infinite number of times.”

      You also didn't respond to what near infinite represents (10^(10^123)).

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    6. Did you see the part of the video where Greene imagines himself being a orchestra conductor in one of the parallel infinite universe?

      For your second question, we are going to copy and paste a response we gave to you in the previous post. We are not claiming that the multiverse theory originated because of the fine tuning. We are saying that it has become mainstream physics largely because of that.

      The multiverse theory is an ancient one. Our generation of scientists are not the first to speculate about alternate, parallel realities. Prior to the problem of fine tuning, the belief in an infinite number of one's own clones leading alternate lives, was enough to get someone certified as mad.

      We will explain why the other "proofs" for the multiverse are not valid supports in later posts.

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    7. > Guth's statement? “In an eternally inflating universe, anything that can happen will happen; in fact, it will happen an infinite number of times.”

      First of all, what is "can"? Will a different setting of the constants make Santa "can happen"? I think you'd have to prove that.

      I believe Maimonides warned not to think that anything you can imagine (like a flying elephant, IIRC) is actually possible.

      And even if very "unusual" things can happen, there are still more or less probable things, which is what is required for science to function. "Our Universe+Santa" will be much less probable than some
      sort of clever deception, which will make science work.

      Dr_Manhattan

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    8. > You also didn't respond to what near infinite represents (10^(10^123))

      What do you want me to respond? That's it's a biggish number? Somewhat more than number of 2-d games of chess? I have no way to say anything about the magnitude of this number.

      Dr_Manhattan

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    9. We don't think you will be moved by this, but you have to rethink how big this number is. The number of chess games is 10^120. For this number, 10^123 is the EXPONENT! Look at it carefully, 10^(10^123). Each chess games is another zero on this number!

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    10. If it is infinite, everything that can happen will happen, and I am not sure how you could say that any particularly ordered universe would be improbable. If it is just one out of an infinite, it's not improbable at all, it's just that iteration.

      As far as what 'can' means - I'm pretty sure that it is possible for some pretty strange things to happen, especially because of quantum mechanics. There would be universes where Santa does exist and flies around once, or twice, or for thousands of years. Once you say that there isn't an infinite amount, you might be able to get out of some of that problem (because it is so improbable) but you have other problems, which the authors spoke about in the first comment to this post.

      If it is not infinite, but merely (lol) 10^(10^123), then you still have the problem of just plugging in whatever number will allow your multiverse to work. Undermining scientific knowledge, etc.

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    11. According to the laws of quantum mechanics, there is a finite probability that the atoms in the north pole will randomly combine to form Santa and his little helpers. It is highly improbable, and it would violate the second law of thermodynamics, but it is statistically possible.

      You are not appreciating the concept of infinity. Everything statistically possible happens, even if you keep the constants the same, but have an infinite number of parallel universes.

      Think about this point. It is critical that you grasp it in order to understand this post.

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    12. RAZ/RAF, can you explain infinity please.

      SH

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    13. Good question.

      The concept of infinity is derived from mathematics (in the context of limits) where it is used to represent a process (of growth, for instance) which has no limit, which never terminates.

      When used in the context of describing a set of objects (universes, for instance), it is used as if it were a number. Saying that a set is infinite means that it has more elements than any finite number. In this case, it means that there are more than 1 million, more than 1 billion, more than 1 trillion,... universes. Thus, if we have an event that has a probability of 1 out of a trillion in our universe, since there are more than a trillion universes, the event will happen, despite its low probability. By the same reasoning, anything which is possible (i.e., the probability is not zero) will happen in some universe. Since there are infinitely many universes, there are certainly more than enough universes to make it happen in at least one of them. (In fact, if you think about it, you will realize that it will happen in as many universes as you want!)

      We'll address whether it makes sense to apply the concept of infinity to actual physical universes (like many multiverse theories do), in a later post.

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    14. RAZ/REF
      so in the multiverse theory the amount of universes is unlimited and the varying constant in each universe is unlimited? if so, why is this crazy? it seems like a bigger leap to posit an infinite source who "willed" one universe. am i missing something?

      SH

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    15. The theory of an Intelligent Agent is One Intelligent Cause for the one universe we observe with fine tuning. We are not saying that God's essence is infinite or has any essential plurality at all. (His power and wisdom certainly seem to be, but not the Agent Himself.)

      We'll discuss this idea more in stage three of the proof, where we will try to clarify the concept of One God.

      Multiverse theory proposes an infinite number of universes, together with a unintelligent mechanism that randomly selects numbers, to explain the one, fine tuned universe we observe.

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    16. RAZ/REF, I have no idea what the first paragraph means.

      SH

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    17. Stick around for stage three of the proof. We think you'll really enjoy it.

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  4. I have a general question. Why is this blog entitled God v. Multiverse. Even if the multiverse theory to explain fine tuning is correct it still does not explain where or how the infinite universes originated?

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    1. Multiverse theorists implicitly assume the eternal existence of the laws of physics. They believe these laws are blind and unintelligent. They explain fine tuning by randomness and infinite tries.

      They explain the cause of what originated the different multiverses as either the eternal, unintelligent laws themselves (Steven Hawkings) or that there is a in addition to the laws a primordial, chaotic, unintelligent energy which randomly fluctuates universes (Andre Linde).

      The motivation for them to posit this is only there if they first deny an eternal, Intelligent Cause for the universe. They could in theory also say God, but that would defeat the very reason why they said multiverse.

      You are correct in a more limited sense, that if someone were to believe in a near infinite amount of ordered universes like our own, they would also have to believe in an Intelligent Cause that created them (according to this proof).

      The fundamental question to explain the fine tuning, ultimately comes down to God (Intelligent Cause) or the Multiverse (Unintelligent Cause). Hence the name.

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  5. I dont understand hawkings or Linde's theory. How can you have a "law" that exists eternally. The law only exists relative to the objects it expalains.

    Lindes theory begs teh questoins what created the primordial,unintelligent "energy"

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    1. We don't really know Linde's metaphysics. (Perhaps you can try to email him.) We believe Linde does hold that the primordial chaos is eternal and not created, so it would seem that the laws coexist eternally with the chaos.

      The main issue in the proof it whether the ultimate source of the observed order in the universe is Intelligence or randomness and infinite tries. It's not really worth getting into an ontological debate over the nature existence for the laws of physics.

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  6. Wow, First of all, amazing post! I know that there are a lot of viewers of this blog who don't comment as often as its detractors and I can't speak for them, but I know that this has been my favorite post yet. I find that this really illustrates the absurd near meaningless of the multiverse theory and perfectly explains how it is the modern day "God of the gaps" argument.

    I wanted to comment on the previous post about the abandonment of the cosmological principle because I was thinking about it a bit over the weekend, but it seems pertinent here because it conforms to the general abandonment of the scientific method and wishful thinking you've illustrated in this post.

    Abandoning the cosmological principle is tantamount to abandoning all logical inference. Gravity is only a Law because it HAS happened consistently. We accept it as a Law because we infer that it is within the nature of things and will continue in the future and for all things. There is no absolute proof of this, though. The "laws" of the universe could change tomorrow. We could go further and say that forces just randomly began at some point. We could say further that no observation of gravity has ever in fact been legitimate due to other forces at work. We could say further that there were no forces at work ever and everything is completely random and nothing is actually perceivable at all!

    Each and every one of those assertions is possible but none are rooted in evidence, experimentation, or logic. They are mere possibilities, each more ludicrous than the last as they further abandon reality. To accept as a starting presumption to a theory that logic cannot predict nor inference suggest the nature of things is literally to abandon logic and the mind. Probability is not science. It's barely even theory. Saying "it could be" is exactly as scientific as treating the possibility of gravity stopping suddenly one day with as much plausibility as the Law of gravity itself.

    I think that part of the problem with the detractors of this blog is the idea of G. I find this unfortunate because even though the word G is used a lot in this blog (as well as its title), it is not supposing the G everyone is thinking of or relating to. This blog has not attempted to show that G is merciful or Just or an old man on a chair.

    The blog simply and clearly points out that Physicis suggests design to the universe. Providence and religion are totally irrelevant to these blog posts. The question is one of order. Is the universe ordered or is it not? Once it is agreed that the universe is so improbably ordered, does it make more sense to posit near infinite randomness to "out-possibility" the alternative, or accept the order and move on?

    Forget G, the universe is ordered.

    Once again, amazing post!

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    1. This post and comment confuse the issue. Multiverse theory doesn't say this universe isn't ordered it just says that the order was not designed. Multiverse doesn't reject science and reason.

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    2. But if you posit an infinite number of universes with random constants this isn't order it's just apparent order. It's not really ordered it's just a necessary result of infinite randomness. What you may call 'gravity' I can more accurately describe as 'random'. Correct me if I am not understanding multiverse theory or the original post.

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    3. Correct. That is the theory. My point is that it is a theory devoid of logical inference or scientific scrutiny.

      You found a thousand year old spaceship on Mars and rather than accept the apparent reality of order assume enough randomness to "out-possibility" the alternative. You could just as easily "out-possibility" any scientifically proven theory, or more-so any observed fact!

      Applying the theory of the multiverse (or abandoning the cosmological principle) fundamentally disproves every observation, conclusion, and fact. The world might as well disappear when I shut my eyes.

      I am not saying that the awareness of the possibility should be completely ignored. Possibilities are possibilities. I am mainly scrutinizing their methods. If you ignore logic and no longer think that it has the capacity to infer laws and principles of the universe then you abandon rational thought altogether.

      In order to maintain the multiverse theory, it must be maintained that at some point in physical reality the laws of physics stop and are completely different. There is no proof of this whatsoever. it is merely posited so that if we then posit it an infinite amount of times, any problem we see with the natural laws disappears. With enough tries every possibility becomes a reality - in fact, it will happen infinitely.

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    4. >Applying the theory of the multiverse (or abandoning the cosmological principle) fundamentally disproves every observation, conclusion, and fact. The world might as well disappear when I shut my eyes<

      This is a misunderstaindg of the theory. Scientits who posit the multiverse study and accept the laws of physics. They are simply explaining the cause of those laws.

      Insofar as our universe is concerned it would be absurd to say that "you can no longer ... infer laws and principles." You are confusing the randomness of the cause with the ordered outcome in our particular universe.

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    5. He's saying that by explaining the cause of those laws using the multiverse theory they undermine what it means to be a law.

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    6. I know but one statement doesn't follow from the other... the laws are laws of our universe...the laws work for our universe. There is nothing "absurd" about that

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    7. As the authors stated in the original post, multiverse theory renders explanations such as gravity its formulation as a law as superfluous. You don't need to say gravity is causing this pattern of behavior, you can just say the random number generator spewed out some constants that give these results. There's no law it just appears orderly by chance. Gravity as a law or concept in its own right has no meaning outside of practical considerations. But when you want to talk about knowledge it would be inaccurate to say we know gravity to be a law in our universe unless by law you mean randomly generated outcome number 1849502837492019374927517304847291048462... and so on. Whereas before we would use the term law to describe a real principle of our universe, now the term would merely mean one random iteration out of an infinite series. By doing that you have moved from the assumption that there is an underlying order to believing that fundamentally existence is randomness and chaos. If so why bother categorizing biology, chemistry and physics except for purely practical purposes? Its not like you are uncovering any actual knowledge, you are simply sketching out the randomness of our universe. Please correct me where I am wrong. Thanks.

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    8. You're right, but I'm also saying more. If I understand your interpretation correctly, you're pointing out that the extreme randomness theory undermines the laws of the universe. This is true. The law of gravity has significantly less meaning when it's more of a guideline.

      My point is more fundamental. If extreme randomness is treated as a legitimate tool for explaining discrepancies, such discrepancies are not in fact discrepancies. Any eventuality is likely when the attempts are infinite. In effect, all of science is disproven.

      Consider Gravity. It has happened consistently throughout all of recorded history. We can even measure it to absolute predictive abilities. We came to these measurements by identifying a seeming order in the world. Why don't things fly away from the world? It's certainly possible. The theory, and its calculations, answered these questions with a unified theory of gravity. The observed discrepancies were identified as order and then studied as a singular idea which we found to be so pervasive that we labeled it a law.

      But if we assume multiverse, then our inference of the law of gravity is merely one possibility. It is also possible that there have been numerous quantum fluctuations which have resulted in the appearance of gravity throughout the entire universe and will end one day because of some other strange force. It is highly unlikely, but in the world of infinite attempts the unlikely becomes not only likely but infinitely certain. With this foundation, Gravity isn't a law at all. It's just a record of past events. Without logical inference, how is it possible to predict what will happen when I throw the ball?

      With this interpretation, it is not even practical to record biology, chemistry, and physics. Their laws can legitimately (as legitimately as the multiverse theory is) simply cease functioning at some point. Nothing is known at all.

      The universe might actually disappear when I shut my eyes because with enough possibilities certainly such a universe could exist.

      The multiverse theory is 100% a possibility. But it is not a possibility that is confirmed or supported by science. Much like the tooth fairy.

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    9. wiki Boltzmann Brain Paradox

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    10. "But if we assume multiverse, then our inference of the law of gravity is merely one possibility. It is also possible that there have been numerous quantum fluctuations which have resulted in the appearance of gravity throughout the entire universe and will end one day because of some other strange force. It is highly unlikely, but in the world of infinite attempts the unlikely becomes not only likely but infinitely certain. With this foundation, Gravity isn't a law at all. It's just a record of past events. Without logical inference, how is it possible to predict what will happen when I throw the ball?"

      This!

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    11. (reposting after previous lost comment)
      The problem with this is that everything (and really, not no serious scientist would claim that actually **everything**) possible is not the same thing as everything is equally probable. Weird stuff can happen, like (ok, let's just pretend for the sake of this argument) Santa, but hearing someone trying to crawl through your chimeney will be so improbable that it will require simpler explanations in a universe like ours. In a Harry Potter universe, where you observe magic-like things all the time, "Santa" will be a pretty reasonable explanation (though there will still be science to it!, see http://hpmor.com/)

      This is how science works already ANYWAY, since completely accepted principles of quantum mechanics will tell you that subatomic particles behave probabilistically, tunneling through walls and such, nevertheless scientists do experiments with large numbers of these particles and formulate laws of gases, etc. relying on the fact that the strange behavior is by far not the simplest explanation.

      So, in multiverse, where many strange things are indeed possible, they will be highly improbable and science will function just fine. It **already does**, thank you very much.

      Dr_Manhattan

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    12. As a general note this is kind of thinking will be hard on people who are highly trained to think in categories, such as students of Aristotle (and probably lawyers). Talmud encourages categorical thinking (unsurprisingly) at the expense of more modern methods.

      Dr_Manhattan

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    13. This is precisely the point. Science works because strange things, although possible, are so improbable that they are rejected and a simpler explanation is sought after.

      However, when faced with the occurrence of fine tuning, which is one of those strange really low probability (1/(10^10^123) for initial conditions), their explanation is that although it is HIGHLY improbable, it must happen in at least one of the multiverses. They don't look for a simpler explanation (or accept the one which is suggested by the facts, Intelligent Design) as is usually their practice.

      A scientist who puts forth such an explanation is going against what you say: how science already works ANYWAY.

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    14. Would you please stop throwing around that number? I'm just not impressed (as you already realized), and neigher frankly should be anyone else. It's completely out of context. It would only be meaningful at all if it goes against the current set-of-multiverses size proposed by the multiverse theorists. 42.

      Which part of science falls apart if I make the deduction that we live in a multiverse? Answer: none,except for your conclusion about a "designer". I addressed your assertion that science within the specific universes will fall apart.

      Let me illustrate this. Let's say you're driving on cross country trip and pass through an unknown neighbourhood, and pass by a bunch of teenagers firing Kalashnikoffs into the air, and no cops. You get scared and get the hell out of there, not even remembering which city you drove through. Thinking about it later you're likely to conclude that this was a crime-ridden neighbourhood, and this was not an unusual occurence there. You're UN-likely to conclude that your friends planned a great prank and set up the whole scene for your amuzement.

      Dr_Manhattan

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    15. Finally I will point out that your explanation is far from "simple" (unless you're frankly a card-carrying theist). To unpack it, it relies on the fact that there is a being that cares to "create intelligent observers" in the universe. That is the essence of the teleological argument, and the simplicity of your hypothesis HAS to include at least the notion of an "intelligent observer". Can you define "intelligent observer"? I can help. For all the complexity of today's computers, we did not produce produce general intelligence, let alone "conscience". Of course this may be because CS haven't found the right algorithm, etc, but let's agree you can't have an "intelligent observer" in a couple of K-bytes, right? So your teleological explanation is not as simple as you're letting on, in the formal sense. It's the old "god can do anything" thing creeping in. Caveat emptor.

      Dr_Manhattan

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    16. The snark is strong in this one. Once again, if you posit the multiverse the part of science that falls apart is the part where you explain things based on orderly laws. There becomes only one law - randomness. Everything else is superfluous and simply a way of describing this particular randomness because in some other one of the infinite universes the 'laws' are almost the same as this one except we have 3 arms instead of 2, or chickens and snakes can talk, or Santa is a tyrannical dictator of the entire world, or you are agreeing with me. There are no laws as we currently conceive of them, there is only infinite possibilities being actualized infinitely because of the Eternal Random Number Generator.

      Delete
    17. Because again, as Michael said, we could be in a universe where everything looks lawful until the next instant, and since there are an infinite number of universes and everything that can happen will happen, then you invalidate any kind of REALITY to the laws we formulate based on observation, because all observation is of past or current events. You are implicitly admitting that this may indeed be the universe where the earth spontaneously splits into two pieces, killing us all, but it just hasn't happened yet. There are no laws, only randomness!

      Delete
    18. In fact you could use the multiverse argument to say that all the events that happened to the Jews in Egypt that are seemingly beyond science or literal interpretation actually did happen that way due to extremely unlikely quantum fluctuations. Even though they are extremely unlikely, given an infinite number of tries, they will happen infinitely! So there's no problem explaining these so called supernatural phenomenon, just invoke the multiverse theory and you have explained them. Same thing with plain ol' gravity, dropping an apple on the ground. Why go through the explanation of mass attracting mass when you can simply say well this particular time in our particular multiverse the constants made it happen this way. It reduces science to one idea that doesn't actually give any insight into nature at all.

      Delete
    19. I particularly like your multiverse extrapolation that Dr_Manhattan agrees with you in another universe :-)

      Delete
    20. Dr Manhattan-
      I assume that you realize that this number is incomparably larger than the 10^500 universes in the string theory landscape.

      It is hard to beat infinite multiverses, but are you currently betting on the infinite multiverses (it was previously a straw man)?

      Delete
    21. >Would you please stop throwing around that number? I'm just not impressed (as you already realized), and neigher frankly should be anyone else. It's completely out of context. It would only be meaningful at all if it goes against the current set-of-multiverses size proposed by the multiverse theorists. 42.

      I was unaware that multiverse theorists proposed the theory of 42 universes. I checked online but couldn't find any source. I was hoping you could point me in the right direction.

      Additionally, I would be curious to see how 42 universes can explain the low entropy. I know you are not swayed by the number 10^(10^123) but it it is surprising to me that merely 42 different random alternatives can explain it.

      42 could make sense to me if certain limitations on the random alternatives were in effect like gravity must exist and must be between A and B, though I don't really know how such a thing could be determined without direct evidence of such alternatives. It's pointless to speculate until I see your source and try to understand how 42 can explain 10^10^123.

      As to your dangerous neighborhood example, I really don't understand why you don't see that the very same principle which directs your mind to conclude order behind the gun toting teenagers and infer a dangerous neighborhood is exactly the tool your abandoning when you find a thoroughly ordered universe and infer instead that there must be enough randomness out there to allow for this perceived order.

      As to your point about theism bias, I agree with you very much so. I do happen to think that there is a G. I was also raised being taught that there is a G. This creates a tremendous bias, the root of which is too deep for me to ever honestly claim to understand. But all I can do is accept it and move on.

      I am aware that I probably have a tremendous internal desire to reach a theistic conclusion, but if I take that possibility and allow it to invalidate my reasoning regardless of its soundness, then I am truly abandoning my mind and simply following my bias in a different way by running completely away from it.

      As to your particular point, though, that I am assuming things about G. On that I must disagree. I have not positted anything about G. The posters of this Blog have not positted anything about G. They and I have spoken only ever about the universe and its highly ordered nature. They have then shown that a unifying theory explains the surprisingly low entorpy as well as several other fine tuning problems by showing an underlying commonality between them. This theory directly implies a Designer.

      I'm not assuming G can do anything so the theoretical G is a legitimate choice. I see an underlying theory which explains the nature of the universe (much like gravity). The Designer is merely a natural extension of that.

      Delete
    22. > 42

      Sorry MZ, I sent you on a bit of a wild goose chase.
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/42_(number)

      > I am aware that I probably have a tremendous internal desire to reach a theistic conclusion, but if I take that possibility and allow it to invalidate my reasoning regardless of its soundness, then I am truly abandoning my mind and simply following my bias in a different way by running completely away from it.

      I'm quoting from memory here, but "it's not a crisis of faith until it could as well have gone the other way". While I think it requires real "should I really take the red pill?" kind of thinking regarding religion, and I'm not about to preach my side of it, I think it's a good principle in the areas where you already decided complete intellectual honesty is in your favor.


      > As to your particular point, though, that I am assuming things about G. On that I must disagree. I have not positted anything about G. The posters of this Blog have not positted anything about G

      This is incorrect. Teleological explanation, which is being offered as an alternative to multiverse here, is equivalent to saying "there is a designer who created a universe such that intelligent beings are created in it". "Intelligent being" is a hypothesis of specific complexity. Complexity is approximated by the shortest computer algorithm that can reproduce it (think of it as a recipe for creating a brain). So the teleological hypothesis has a certain (non-trivial) level of complexity. Saying that it's simple is a false intuition based on the fact that humans "know intelligence when they see it"

      Dr_Manhattan

      Delete
    23. Dear REF/RAZ
      > I assume that you realize that this number is incomparably larger than the 10^500 universes in the string theory landscape.

      Again, clear instance of selective evidence search. Here is my algorithm: search for "how many multiverses are there" and go to the first hit that names an actual number. Here we go

      http://io9.com/5382576/how-many-universes-exist-in-the-multiverse-physicists-may-have-a-number

      (all the first hits seem to refer to this paper anyway)

      The number is 10^(10^(10^7)) = 10^(10^10000000) vs your 10^(10^123). How do you like them apples?

      Dr_Manhattan

      Delete
    24. >I'm quoting from memory here, but "it's not a crisis of faith until it could as well have gone the other way". While I think it requires real "should I really take the red pill?" kind of thinking regarding religion, and I'm not about to preach my side of it, I think it's a good principle in the areas where you already decided complete intellectual honesty is in your favor.

      I'm just responding off the top of my head here but "It's not a 'crisis' unless you're afraid of Truth, and it's not 'faith' if you root it in reason." I never said I believe in G or fear a "crisis". My whole point is that bias does not necessarily = wrong and that aggression to bias does not necessarily = right. Both are biases and both are resolved by re-examining their reasonings.

      As to your point about the complexity of intelligence, are you saying that it is incredulous to you that an intelligent being exist outside of the universe and create things? Aren't you intelligent? Don't you create things? Do you find your own existence impossible? Improbable? More improbable than positing 10^(10^(10^7))?

      I had thought your attack against a Designer conclusion was the acceptance of a Divine benefactor. That objection makes sense to me so I was pointing out that the proof doesn't posit that. Now I understand your question to be almost silly. You're saying that your complaint against a creator is that it would have to be intelligent which is very very unlikely - when you yourself have intelligent!?

      Your objection to an intelligent Designer is that we can't come up with a computer program that's intelligent, when babies are born every day? I mean, aside from the fact that an intelligent things doesn't NEED to be created at all so it's unlikelihood is irrelevant, you see it every day! Intelligence exists. I mean, if not, what have you been arguing about for the past weeks?!

      I'm getting a little carried away here but how can your objection to an intelligent design be the necessary Intelligence? I just don't get it.

      By the way, I'm pretty sure that the computer programming test used to determine whether or not artificial intelligence is reached is exactly "humans know intelligence when they see it".

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Turing_test

      Or more specifically, they recognize it when they compare it to other intelligences.

      As to your question to RAZ/REF, isn't that number really really big without, like any evidence at all?

      Delete
    25. Dr Manhattan-
      Thanks for the reference.
      We first want to mention that it is not consequential to our proof how many universes are conjectured by scientists. There is no evidence for more than one universe. Our questions still stand. We will discuss their 'proofs' in future posts.

      However, if you look into the paper (2010) which the headline you
      linked is based upon (http://arxiv.org/pdf/0910.1589v3.pdf), we think
      that you are making a mistake.

      First, an apparent contradiction. In this paper, Linde talks about
      10^(10^(10^7)) multiverses. However, in 1986
      (http://www.stanford.edu/~alinde/Eternal86.pdf), Linde proposed the
      theory of chaotic inflation which suggests "an infinite process of
      self-reproduction of inflationary mini-universes." . Again, in his
      paper in 1999 (http://mukto-mona.net/science/physics/Inflation_lself_prod_inde.pdf),
      he wrote, "It consists of many inflating balls that produce new balls, which in turn produce more balls, ad infinitum." Also, see
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chaotic_Inflation_theory for further
      indication that Linde holds by infinitely many multiverses.

      One could argue that Linde has changed his mind (which he is certainly 'allowed' to do). However, we do not think this is the case. It seems to us that the apparent contradiction can be resolved as follows:

      A careful look at his 2010 paper reveals the following "Our work is a part of the general effort towards finding the probability to live in a universe with some particular set of properties. This requires finding the probability measure in the multiverse, see e.g. [12–24].
      However,before embarking on that grand quest, it may be useful to
      solve a simpler problem: to classify and count all possible
      universes. This is the main goal of our paper." Later in the paper he writes, "Our goal was to estimate the number of distinctly different classical geometries which may appear as a result of this effect."

      Allow us to explain. One problem which physicists have with infinitely many multiverses is that it is difficult (arguably impossible) to legitimately define a probability of existing in a certain type of universe, since probabilities ordinarily demand a finite set. There are various ways of getting around this problem (more on this in later posts). The way that Linde appears to be dealing with it in this paper is as follows. Instead of considering all universes which he proposes to exist (infinitely many), he is counting the number of UNIQUE universes that may possibly exist. This is a finite number, as the infinitely many universes are bound to have duplicates. He then hopes
      (in the future) to use this number of unique universes to compute his probabilities.

      If you accept this interpretation (reread his quote above and research the matter yourself), Linde is not claiming that he has proposed that this is the number of universes that actually exist. He believes in infinitely many. This is just the number of "POSSIBLE" universe which "MAY" exist.

      PS We just emailed him and he confirmed our interpretation. See next comment.

      Delete
    26. Our email to Professor Linde:

      Dear Professor Linde-

      I have read some of your papers and am a bit confused about your position regarding how many universes exist in the multiverse.

      In your 1986 paper, you say chaotic inflation predicts "an infinite process of self-reproduction of inflationary mini-universes."
      In your Scientific American paper ('94 and '98), you say "It consists of many inflating balls that produce new balls, which in turn produce more balls, ad infinitum." .
      These references imply that there are infinitely many universes in the multiverse. However in your 2010 paper, you compute 10^(10^(10^7)) possible multiverses.

      I think I can reconcile the difference, but I wanted to confirm that I understand correctly.

      It seems to me that you maintain that there exist infinitely many universes, but that there are only 10^(10^(10^7)) unique universes. This finite number will be useful in computing probabilities of particular universes, which is more reasonable when dealing with finite sets.

      Am I interpreting your position correctly?
      Thanks alot.

      Best Regards,
      Professor Elie Feder
      Department of Mathematics
      Kingsborough Community College - CUNY


      His response:

      Dear Elie,

      Your interpretation is correct: Our universe permanently produces new and new "babies" ("universes") of all possible types, but after a while it begins producing babies of the same types. So there will be unlimited number of universes in the multiverse, but only a limited number of them are physically distinct.

      Best wishes

      Andrei Linde

      Delete
    27. Dr_Manhattan

      You continue to make reference to the complexity of intelligence and I'm pretty sure that it is rooted in an article you posted once about misapplication of Occams Razor, which explains that a "simplest answer" is best expressed by the shortest comupter program necessary to arrive at the same result. I might not be stating it perfectly, but I think that it's something like that.

      Either way, I think that the generally accepted philosophical, rational, reasonable approach is to follow Occams Razor. I could go into the reasons Occams Razor is a good method but it suffices to accept that rational thinkers the world over accept its authority.

      But one of the principles of the Razor is being ignored, I think. It's not just the simplest theory that is accepted as true, as I understand you to be applying it. If it were, complete randomness would always be the answer as it is a very simple "program" - no program.

      As an aside, you may try to argue that random generating programs are developed all the time. I'm very far from an authority on computer programming, but I'm pretty sure that this is true and it has something to do with making use of prime numbers.

      I have two basic responses to this: 1) If a program were written to randomly generate 10^(10^(10^7)) distinct universes it would likely need to make use of either an extremely complicated random generating program or have significantly more tries (considering REF/RAZ's email to Linde, approaching infinite tries). 2) No matter how you compute it, if you have infinite tries and the absolute simplest random generator, of course you will always be able to generate this and any other universe. This brings me to my main point.

      The second requirement of Occams Razor is that both conclusions are equal in their assumptions and explanation of the facts. Though multiverse theory explains the facts, it also assumes 10^(10^(10^7)) distinct universes. That's an incomprehesibly large amount of entire universes assumed into existence by fiat, as well as flexibility of universal laws by fiat, and some sort of random generator force by fiat, not to mention all the duplicate universes that must happen as a result. Intelligent Design theory, by contrast, assumes an Intelligence that guided/guides the development of the universe and doesn't assume the flexibility of laws or a random generator force.

      Even granting that intelligence is a complicated program, how can you argue that it either a) is more complicated than a random generating program to account for so many variations efficiently or b) assuming more than a theory which hinges on a minimum of 10^(10^(10^7)) distinct universes (aside from the other necessary assumptions)?

      In what way can it be said that multiverse theory is a better application of Occams Razor than a Creator?

      Delete
    28. (sorry the reply is a bit behind, having trouble keeping up with all this)
      MZ,
      > As to your point about the complexity of intelligence, are you saying that it is incredulous to you that an intelligent being exist outside of the universe and create things? Aren't you intelligent? Don't you create things? Do you find your own existence impossible? Improbable? More improbable than positing 10^(10^(10^7))?
      > Your objection to an intelligent Designer is that we can't come up with a computer program that's intelligent, when babies are born every day? I mean, aside from the fact that an intelligent things doesn't NEED to be created at all so it's unlikelihood is irrelevant, you see it every day! Intelligence exists. I mean, if not, what have you been arguing about for the past weeks?!

      I think you're missing the point. In this objection I'm specifically addressing the "simplicity" of the proposed teleological explanation. I'm pointing out that quite a bit of complexity is packaged in the hypothesis, from a formal perspective. The only reason intelligence seems simple to you is b/c you're using your already intelligent brain to detect it by comparing it to yours (hence the conversational Turing test). In fact "intelligence" is a very loaded notion, and I was trying to illustrate how complicated it actually is by comparing it to the "smartest" computers (which are obviously complicated). In fact, babies are born with it b/c it took billions of years for evolution to fashion it.

      (Which makes me think of an additional point: since we seem to largely agree on evolution here, thankfully, the teleological explanation is not only that a designer created a universe that would produce a minimal intelligence, but did it through a very complex method, which included forming galaxies, stars, and elements and particular occurences such that intelligence would be guaranteed to arise. This is in fact much more complex than just poofing it into existence, and has a flavor of this http://xkcd.com/378/. The right values of constants only allow intelligent life to arise, but it seems clear that it takes much more complex set up to *force* intelligence as an outcome, which must be tallied as a part of teleological explanation's complexity)

      > I had thought your attack against a Designer conclusion was the acceptance of a Divine benefactor. That objection makes sense to me so I was pointing out that the proof doesn't posit that. Now I understand your question to be almost silly. You're saying that your complaint against a creator is that it would have to be intelligent which is very very unlikely - when you yourself have intelligent!?

      Please read the above, I hope it answers the question. And yes, one *additional* objection was that "a being with a will to create intelligent life" is completely presumed by the explanation, if that's what you meant by "acceptance of a Divine benefactor"

      > As to your question to RAZ/REF, isn't that number really really big without, like any evidence at all?
      Is 7-foot animal 'big'? It depends whether it's a giraffe, bear or a hamster. A big number means nothing in itself, you need something to compare it to.

      >As to your dangerous neighborhood example, I really don't understand why you don't see that the very same principle which directs your mind to conclude order behind the gun toting teenagers and infer a dangerous neighborhood is exactly the tool your abandoning when you find a thoroughly ordered universe and infer instead that there must be enough randomness out there to allow for this perceived order

      My point with that example is to point out that you quite legitimately infer properties and size of a neighbourhood after being there once and never coming back again (that's why I made it a cross country trip). You infer that this was not a special setup/prank, but a reflection on the larger neighbourhood.
      Hope this helps.

      Dr_Manhattan

      Delete
    29. >My point with that example is to point out that you quite legitimately infer properties and size of a neighbourhood after being there once and never coming back again (that's why I made it a cross country trip). You infer that this was not a special setup/prank, but a reflection on the larger neighbourhood.

      So you would agree that it makes sense to naturally attribute the perceived laws of the universe, which are observed in every corner of the universe yet observed, to the entire universe?

      Delete
    30. > Dr Manhattan-
      Thanks for the reference.
      We first want to mention that it is not consequential to our proof how many universes are conjectured by scientists

      Ok, but I was not the first one here to drop in 10^10^123 out of context, either as an honest attempt to create difficulty for the current multiverse theories in explaining fine-tuning or as an attempt to just impress people with a Huge Number, which it seems that you accomplished to some degree. In any case, thanks for clarifying the Linde thing, but do we agree now that having 1/10^10^123 outcome is not a big deal for Linde's 10^10^10^7 - sized multiverse? (as a matter of fact it seems almost assured)

      Dr_Manhattan

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    31. Dr Manhattan-
      We think that you still do not follow the Linde point. There is no theory which proposes a 10^10^10^7 - sized multiverse. Linde's chaotic inflation holds of an infinite multiverse. However, in an infinite multiverse, there are only 10^10^10^7 possible DIFFERENT universes, each repeated infinitely many times (if you are not convinced that this is his position, please reread the emails).

      In this infinite multiverse, of course a 1/10^10^123 outcome is not a big deal. It happens infinitely many times. So does Santa Claus, Greene being a composer, people having 4 arms each,...

      We thought that you didn't really like the position of an infinite multiverse (as you originally called it a straw man). Is that your current position (where your money is), based upon Linde and the others who hold of this theory?

      Delete
    32. >We think that you still do not follow the Linde point.

      I understand the point. 10^10^10^7 is the important number here.

      > We thought that you didn't really like the position of an infinite multiverse (as you originally called it a straw man).

      I called infinite universes a straw man because it's not *necessary* in order to make fine-tuning a common occurrence in the multiverse. Only a large number is needed (10^10^10^7 will do). I do not have a current position on the issue, I'm not a physicists! But I'm somewhat capable in "the science of chances".

      Dr_Manhattan

      Delete
  7. There is Richard Dawkins and there is Stephen Hawking. If there is someone out there named Stephen (or Steven) Hawkings, he is not relevant to our discussion. That is all.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Re: Boltzmann Brain Paradox

    I'm not exactly clear on his theory. is he saying that it makes more sense to assume that his brain was randomly put together with imagined memories than to assume a whole history of physical laws arriving at the same conclusion?

    Also, is he bringing this theory as a disproof to the "out-possibility" the alternative approach? Since he claims that it is easier to assume a random occurrence of brains with false memories than it is to assume a whole history of physical laws coupled with random interplay resulting in the same thing, is he saying that reality as it is perceived and all of its laws are therefore false?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We're going to take up the paradox in a later post. We just mentioned it because it was in line with what you saying.

      Delete
  9. Rejecting the idea of an intelligent creator in favor of a multiverse is obviously motivated by the desire to reject the idea of g-d.

    It’s just obvious that when you come across something as wondrous as the universe (especially in light of fine tuning) that it didn’t just get here by numerous/infinite chances. Cars, houses, planes ect. have designers they don’t just appear…why would anyone posit something different for the universe absent some kind of emotional antipathy towards the notion of g-d?

    The Multiverse is simply a silly idea. All this discussion gives it more credence than it deserves.

    ReplyDelete
  10. This might be slightly off topic, but I just wanted to get your take on the following question:

    I understand how you have shown that the God of the gaps argument is a fallacy. But would you then say that the Rambam was guilty of espousing this fallacy in Hil. Yesodei Hatorah 1:5? (Unless you posit that the Rambam in the MT had no intention of advancing a proof of God, as can be demonstrated by his treatment on the subject in the Moreh (section II), where he used a completely different proof from his comments in MT; in which case the quetion is, what was the Rambam trying to do in the MT - to the extent that he followed up that statement with 1:6, that "knowledge of this fact is a positive commandment"?)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Aristotle's proof of a Prime Mover was not wrong because of the God of the Gaps fallacy. It was wrong because it was based on a scientific framework which held that the natural state of an object is one of rest, and motion needs a cause.

      Given Aristotle's scientific framework, it was the correct philosophical conclusion to draw from the observation that the heavenly bodies persist in permanent state of motion.

      Delete
    2. Jacob:
      From the context of the halacha he does not seem to be giving a proof, rather he seems to be showing what he means by "Elohei haolam adon kol haaretz" meaning, that this is an idea that we should have about God.
      והוא המנהיג הגלגל בכוח שאין לו קץ ותכלית, בכוח שאין לו הפסק, שהגלגל סובב תמיד, ואי אפשר שיסוב בלא מסבב; והוא ברוך הוא המסבב אותו, בלא יד ולא גוף.
      note he doesn't mention the idea of proof.

      Delete
    3. Thanks anonymous. Though I hear what you are saying, I prefer RAZ/REF's approach that it is a shorthand reference to a proof. The Rambam starts off the perek by saying "leyda" sheyesh Eloka matzui, "to know" - i.e. through the establishment of a proof. His statement in 1:6, "Knowledge" of this idea is a positive coomand..., is including everything from 1:1 thru 1:5, which leads me to believe that he is offering some sort of proof rather than simply a description of "Elokei haolam Adon kol haaretz".

      Delete
    4. of course one must know, and of course that is through proof, but it doesn't mean the rambam lists the proof (since that is a very complex thing as demonstrated in the moreh hanevuchim)see the nosei keilim mentioned in sefer hamafteach of frankel

      Delete
    5. sorry, this anonymous is me

      Delete
  11. Yes, but what I'm asking is within the framework that they were working with which they held to be the correct model of the universe, isn't the lack of explanation for the cause of movement of the heavenly spheres, and their automatic attribution of the cause of that movement to Divine intervention, just another God of the gaps argument? How is that different?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We are explaining the following based on our understanding of Aristotle, but we aren't Aristotelian scholars.

      If Aristotle had tried to explain the motion of iron filings that are close to a magnet by positing that God moved them, that would be God of the Gaps.

      The idea of a Prime Mover (a Mover with no prior cause to its motion) is very different. Aristotle reasoned that there must be some Fundamental source of motion, in so far as every motion has a cause. Since an infinite regress is impossible, there must be a Mover with no cause.

      It's not filling in a gap in the middle of the chain, but rather a question about the ultimate, most fundamental cause of motion.

      Delete
    2. Thanks for your reply. Just a clarification. I think there are two arguments that are being conflated here. The first is Aristotle's idea of a Prime Mover or First Cause, which, (as far as I can tell but correct me if I'm wrong), from a philosophical standpoint, has not been disproven by science (i.e. can be worked into the Big Bang theory).

      The second argument is one which is presented in the Rambam's MT (cited above) that God is continuously and uninterruptedly supplying the force necessary for the movement of the Heavens. This, of course, has since been explained scientifically through our understanding of the Laws of Gravity. My question is that if Gravity has since filled in the gap in the Rambam's understanding of the universe by demonstrating natural motion, then doesn't that just expose the Rambam's original proof of God's perpetual intervention as another God of the Gaps theory?

      Additionally, how can he then state that this belief is a positive commandment?

      Delete
    3. We thought that the Rambam in the Mishne Torah is referencing shorthand the full proof of a Prime Mover from the Moreh. Their belief was that God caused the outermost sphere to rotate, which caused the sphere inside it to rotate, etc. So ultimately, the constant motion of the innermost sphere was only explicable if there was a Prime Mover.

      If there are in fact two different proofs, then we're really not qualified to answer your question as we are unaware that they are even two. (We asked one of our friends who is more well versed in Aristotle to take a look at your question if he has time.)

      For any questions regarding the positive commandment, see the comment section of post 1 where we addressed many of the issues. If you have any further questions about it, please post it on post 1.

      Delete
    4. Thanks. Going back to the MT, I'm not so sure, since the Rambam references God's cause in the present tense rather than past tense (long before, mind you, the discovery of a time-space continuum). But I see how it could possibly be read according to your understanding.

      Delete
    5. First of all, the god of the gaps is not relevant over here. God of the gaps, means using god to explain that which science cannot yet explain (thus limiting god to nonscientific realms, and making God less important with each scientific advance) The Rambam is showing a philosophical problem which shows the necessity of God’s existence to allow for all of science to stand. In other words, the movement of the spheres was not a case where the scientific explanation was absent, but rather was a case where the entire edifice of science demanded an explanation. Interestingly the fallacy was first identified by Christian theologians who didn’t want God relegated to areas science couldn’t understand and preferred to see God in the entire creation (see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/God_of_the_gaps) this idea the Rambam definitely agreed with, see e.g. yesodei hatorah 2:2 and 4:12)
      In the Moreh, the rambam is not arguing for a God who started the universe at some point in time(see end of book 1 e.g. ch 72), but rather for a cause of the spheres ongoing motion (an idea compatible with aristotle). Thus he is seeking a cause in the sense of a logically primary and more exalted existence not in the temporal sense. If he is providing a proof in the mishneh torah, it is the same (however it seems to me that the mishneh torah is not providing a proof, but rather the meaning of God as the manhig haolam, since in his science the motion of the spheres caused all other motion, saying God causes the spheres is pointing to God as the cause of the laws of nature, pointing us towards the idea that we only know God through his ‘actions’ in the creation, in other words his general providence as the cause of law in the universe).

      Delete
    6. continuation:
      With all of that said, The Rambam’s proof is not so simple. The Rambam himself knew that his science was limited and potentially wrong (see: for example moreh hanevuchim book 2: ch 3, 19, 24). The Rambam does not seem to merely be arguing from the lack of the concept inertia, but rather from a more fundamental philosophical issue.
      In order to understand his argument we need to realize that the definition of motion in Aristotle is not limited to change of position. (note: that Aristotle deals with the issue of motion and existence, and the need for an unmoving mover, through most of the physics and metaphysics, it was not a religious afterthought) Aristotle defines motion as “The fulfillment of what exists potentially insofar as it exists potentially” (Physics 3:1) elsewhere he explains that this means motion can be of quality, quantity or place (of which the first two have nothing to do with inertia.) all of this motion he identifies as being a result of the motion of the spheres, And then he needs to find a cause of the spheres constantly actively realizing fulfillment(he considers whether they could have an internal principle of motion like a person or a fire and rejects it), so he concludes that there must be an unmoving mover (in other words, a prime existence who is the aspiration of their knowledge, which causes them to endlessly circle) In other words, he understands their motion as being a result of knowledge of God (again, it is a different framework from the one we are used to) . (for more depth, see the moreh hanevuchim 1:72 and 2:1-5 (etc.) and follow footnotes to see the sources in aristotle, if you want to discuss this more, maybe we should do so over email since this discussion exceeds the objective of these posts)
      The closest parallel to his argument would be asking what causes the everlasting motion of the laws of physics (or how do subatomic particles endlessly move etc.) , whether such a question is legitimate philosophically with modern physics is a good question, but it is clearly distinct from the God of the gaps.

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    7. Thank you Yaakov. You have definitely provided alot to chew on and I will need a chance to review the sources you cite in your comments before I can respond. I'm beginning to see the distinction you are making (I think RAZ/REF were also saying something similar earlier) but I still need to get it more clear myself.

      You are probably right in questioning whether this post is the proper forum for our continued discussion so you are welcome to email me at jouziel @hotmail.com.

      Good Shabbos.

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