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.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

God vs The Multiverse (Part 15: Are We Real?)

The following video by Martin Rees called "What We Still Don't Know: Are We Real?" is the best video we have ever seen on this matter.  We know it is a bit long (48 minutes), but it is well worth the time.  We saved the best for last.

The video presents, in a very candid fashion, how multiverse scientists have chosen to believe in a multiverse to explain the fine tuning, in order to avoid the conclusion that God exists.  This is explicitly said multiple times throughout the video, along with the claim that multiverse speculations are actual science.

Besides for this, the video has other excellent points as well.  It begins with a good description of how complexity arises from simplicity, a theme we will develop more in stage three of the proof regarding the concept of One God.  The final part of the video is an incredible illustration of the philosophical abyss that scientists have wandered into because they have denied the Intelligent Creator of the universe.


We will list our comments in an order that corresponds to the minutes of the video.

6-10: Mathematician John Conway's invention of the Game of Life, is an excellent example of how complexity emerges from simplicity.  However, Conway's makes a specious argument (9:45 minute mark) that there was no design whatsoever in the Game of Life, and that it behaves the way it does as a result of random behavior.  Upon simple analysis this claim is seen to be totally false.

An intelligent designer (Conway) chose a set of simple rules in order to produce complexity and structures.  He was not creative enough to invent new, simple laws (he says that they tried out many rules that didn't work), but rather had to mimic and copy the biological laws found in nature (which are also designed by an Intelligent Agent).  In addition, his creatures exist on a computer that itself was designed by another intelligent agent!

It is hard for us to comprehend how Conway can claim that the Game of Life inspires faith that the ordered complexity of his little creatures can be the result of random behavior, without a Designer.  It would seem that the Game of Life proves just the opposite conclusion.  Perhaps Conway just means that the utmost simplicity can lead to the great complexity if something intelligent chooses the right laws.  In that case, we most emphatically agree.

11-21: This is a very clear and honest presentation of the problem of the fine tuning of the constants. There are very clear statements made by the co-founder of string theory, Leonard Susskind (this part was in post 3), about physicists' feelings towards the theory of an Intelligent Designer to explain the fine tuning.  Scientists did not want to entertain the assumed-to-be-impossible idea of a Designer.  (The narrator says at minute 27 that "to avoid the conclusion that an Intelligent force had a hand in our creation, scientists invoked the principle of multiple universes.")

21-26: Rees says that some people want to give a religious explanation for the fine tuning, whereas he thinks it is a scientific question that should be addressed by cosmologists.  These cosmologists have found the simple and elegant explanation of the multiverse, which might require a leap of faith as profound as any religious belief.  There is no longer a need for a Fine Tuner.

26-29: Is multiverse theory science?  Max Tegmark says that what makes good science is whether you can rule the theory out or not.  (It would seem that he thinks the theory of demons is also good science, as it too can not be ruled out.)

Can we ever prove the multiverse is true?  Susskind says that we might have to wait some fraction of 2500 years, like they had to wait to prove the atomic hypothesis.  We will have to rely on the ingenuity of future physicists to figure it out, because we can't figure out any way to do it. 

34-46: Philosopher Nick Bostrom explains the Trans-human stage of human evolution which he believes is just beginning.  Bostrom says that his theory that we're not actually real, but are rather the simulation's of trans-human gods is meant to be taken literally, not metaphorically.  Of course, this theory is based on empirical considerations.

46: "In searching for an alternative explanation to the religious accounts of our creation, cosmologists have uncovered a possibility that seems incredibly similar.  An all-powerful, all-knowing, super intelligent being.  An entity whose motives are unfathomable and whose existence is unprovable." Rees says we would not be able to comprehend what a super intelligence would be able to achieve any more than a dog could comprehend quantum mechanics.

This alternative, modern-day god is based upon the Simulation Hypothesis, formalized by Nick Bostrom as follows: 
At least one of the following propositions is true: (1) the human species is very likely to go extinct before reaching a “posthuman” stage; (2) any posthuman civilization is extremely unlikely to run a significant number of simulations of their evolutionary history (or variations thereof); (3) we are almost certainly living in a computer simulation.
Based upon this hypothesis, Bostrom concludes (italics added): 
If (1) is true, then we will almost certainly go extinct before reaching posthumanity. If (2) is true, then there must be a strong convergence among the courses of advanced civilizations so that virtually none contains any relatively wealthy individuals who desire to run ancestor-simulations and are free to do so. If (3) is true, then we almost certainly live in a simulation. In the dark forest of our current ignorance, it seems sensible to apportion one’s credence roughly evenly between (1), (2), and (3)
We think that Bostrom is making a critical error in thought. The assignment of probabilities to an event is a type of knowledge and, as such, should be based upon knowledge, not ignorance. If one is in a "dark forest of ignorance", he is simply ignorant and cannot legitimately assign probabilities. Unfortunately, he must admit his ignorance, avoid speculating in this area, and move on to a more realistic, fruitful area of analysis. 

There are many speculative dichotomies or trichotomies that one could formulate for which we have no idea how to resolve.  It is not legitimate to simply "apportion one’s credence roughly evenly" to each of these outcomes.  For example: either there are demons or there aren't demons.  Given the dark forest of our knowledge of demonology... (It is entertaining to try to come up with your own.)

In his FAQ's regarding the simulation hypothesis, Bostrom says (question #2):
I note that people who hear about the simulation argument often react by saying, “Yes, I accept the argument, and it is obvious that it is possibility #n that obtains.” But different people pick a different n. Some think it obvious that (1) is true, others that (2) is true, yet others that (3) is true. The truth seems to be that we just don’t know which of the disjuncts is true.
This proves that no one has any way to intelligently approach the problem. This being the case, it is pseudoscience to make this an area of serious research and discussion.  When asked "Isn’t the simulation-hypothesis untestable?", Bostrom responds (Question #9):
There are clearly possible observations that would show that we are in a simulation. For example, the simulators could make a “window” pop up in front of you with the text “YOU ARE LIVING IN A COMPUTER SIMULATION. CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION.” Or they could uplift you into their level of reality.
It's almost comical.  We are frequently left wondering if this is meant seriously, but then we remember that these scientists actually believe in alternate realities with 57 dimensions.  When pondering the implications of the hypothesis, Bostrom writes:
 Although all the elements of such a system can be naturalistic, even physical, it is possible to draw some loose analogies with religious conceptions of the world. In some ways, the posthumans running a simulation are like gods in relation to the people inhabiting the simulation: the posthumans created the world we see; they are of superior intelligence; they are “omnipotent” in the sense that they can interfere in the workings of our world even in ways that violate its physical laws; and they are “omniscient” in the sense that they can monitor everything that happens. However, all the demigods except those at the fundamental level of reality are subject to sanctions by the more powerful gods living at lower levels. 
Further rumination on these themes could climax in a naturalistic theogony that would study the structure of this hierarchy, and the constraints imposed on its inhabitants by the possibility that their actions on their own level may affect the treatment they receive from dwellers of deeper levels. For example, if nobody can be sure that they are at the basement-level, then everybody would have to consider the possibility that their actions will be rewarded or punished, based perhaps on moral criteria, by their simulators. An afterlife would be a real possibility.
As the narrator of the video points out, this is starting to sound a lot like a religion.  In fact, it seems a lot like idolatry to us.  In place of the old gods of classical paganism whose physical bodies were modeled after the form of their human inventors, the 'brain' these new gods are modeled after the brains of its inventors: human scientists, computer programmers and philosophers.

Paul Davies elaborates on the connection between multiverse theory and the simulation hypothesis in his New York Times article (2003), where he argues that the simulation hypothesis is the reductio ad absurdum conclusion of multiverse theory.  We hope that scientists will realize the destructive nature of the path through the dark forest of the multiverse, and abandon it quickly.

46-47: Tegmark: "It is very important for us physicists to not dismiss ideas just because they are weird, because if we did we would've already dismissed atoms, black holes and all sorts of other marvelous things. Actually, when you ask a basic question about the nature of reality, don't you expect an answer which is a bit weird. Anything but weird would be a big let down. Frankly, let's just accept that the universe is weird and accept it as part of its charm. "

We would like to note that the reason why atoms and black holes (and quantum mechanics) are accepted as part of reality despite their being weird, is because they are verified by experimentation and the scientific method. We have never seen weirdness as a criteria in favor of a scientific theory, or of its charm. If anything, scientists seem to have a preference for simple, beautiful ideas (if they can be verified, of course). In fact, we can come up with many weird, unprovable hypotheses to explain the mysteries of our universe (demons for instance).

This is the second to last post of Stage Two in which we focus on multiverse theory.  We hope that after reading and understanding these posts, you will agree that one of the main differences between the real non-physical One God, and cosmologists' new trans-human physical gods, is that the true God is provable while their multiverse/false gods are not.

45 comments:

  1. Couple points on the video linked in this post:

    1. I find it truly incredible that the possibility of an Intelligent Agent is excluded from consideration because... it isn't scientific? It's speculative? You can't prove it? These are the same complaints you can lodge against the multiverse. At least admit it to be a logical possibility. That is really astounding to me. I'm starting to see what you were saying about the proof stemming from their stubborn denial of the possibility of intelligence
    intelligent designer. I mean come on, you are willing to posit totally wild matrix-like realities but not that there exists an intelligence that designed us?

    2. Later on some of the scientists basically contradict themselves when they say that perhaps there is a superior intelligence that designed this computer simulation that we are in. Alright so you could either say that being is God and he is not physical, or it just begs the question of where did that intelligence get its existence from? Why is the intelligence of the guy running the simulation somehow less fantastic than the idea of a non-physical One God? And if you say you don't need to make reference to supernatural beings to explain the universe, I'll simply say you haven't really explained the universe. It's completely unsatisfying to simply posit another level of physical reality, because we still wanna know what the source of that reality is!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We are also continuously amazed by how frequently scientists dismiss the idea of God without any justification. More often than not, they don't even mention God (as in the Carroll video of the Boltzmann Brain post where he says he would love to tell us the answer but he doesn't have time).

      Their emotional bias against God is obvious throughout these videos, and it that prejudice that causes them to profess faith in the most ludicrous theories imaginable. Unfortunately, they seem totally oblivious to how crazy they sound.

      Delete
    2. I suppose it is the lasting legacy of Christianity's distortion of monotheism. Persecuting Galileo, constantly trying to deny science, etc. It's a remarkable consequence of religion's bloody history against rationality.

      Delete
    3. We don't think you can blame Christianity for scientists blind faith that there is no God. Scientists are still free to choose between God or the multiverse, and are responsible for their own choice.

      However, you make a good point that if the proper idea of One God was presented in a clear manner, that would greatly assist people in choosing correctly. It is for that reason that the proof is not truly complete until stage 3 where we'll present a rational concept of One God.

      Delete
    4. What I mean is that religion currently is grouped into non-rational systems of belief. It might as well be belief in fairy tales. Scientists have a basic emotional disdain for the idea of God because they associate with religion. Western Civilization was more influenced by Christianity on a cultural level than Islam or Buddhism so that's the reason for my conjecture. But it's just conjecture.

      Delete
    5. What your saying is true to a degree, but it does no good to lay the blame on Christians. It seems to us that Jews have just as great, if not a greater, degree of culpability for not clearly stating the true idea of One God. After all, that is the most fundamental principle of Judaism.

      In any event, we agree with your point that a big part of the problem is that scientists don't see the belief in One God as a rational belief. This is largely due to ignorance as they have never been instructed in philosophy. It is for that reason why we think stage 3 is critical to the complete proof.

      Delete
  2. Replies
    1. "Really, God knows that on the day you eat from it, your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil."

      Hmm?

      Delete
    2. Looks like the christian goal of deifying man has reached its peak. Not only can the believer identify with a man-god, he can actually become a god (if he builds a big enough computer program)

      Delete
  3. > However, Conway's makes a specious argument (9:45 minute mark) that there was no design whatsoever in the Game of Life, and that it behaves the way it does as a result of random behavior. Upon simple analysis this claim is seen to be totally false.
    > An intelligent designer (Conway) chose a set of simple rules in order to produce complexity and structures. He was not creative enough to invent new, simple laws (he says that they tried out many rules that didn't work), but rather had to mimic and copy the biological laws found in nature (which are also designed by an Intelligent Agent). In addition, his creatures exist on a computer that itself was designed by another intelligent agent!

    There are 256 possible rulesets in 1-dimensional cellular automata, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elementary_cellular_automaton. Since they are mirror-symmetrical 128 pairs will exhibit identical behavior. Not only many of these produce interesting patterns, at least one of them has been proven Turing-complete, which means you can implement a computer inside this game that performs any computations that a computer in our universe can. Play Quake. Have an Internet. Whatever. This should give you a feeling of what level of complexity is possible inside such a "universe".

    As far as the claim that "these rules were cleverly chosen by an intelligent creator", this is not quite true. If a monkey chose one of these rules at random it would have a pretty decent chance of creating a interesting-looking universe; and with probability of 1/128 and actually proven Turing-complete universe with all the possibilities it implies. As Wikipedia puts it "it is one of the simplest possible models of computation". The fact that it was implemented on a complemented computer is a red herring; you can implement with pen and paper, it will just take longer to "run"

    Dr_Manhattan

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Are you assuming there is only one universe or a multiverse?

      If there is only one universe, even if it was a 1-dimensional cellular automaton, the odds of monkey god picking the right rules are approximately 1/128.

      For a 2 dimensional cellular automaton (which Conway's game of life is), there are 2^18 = 262,144 possible Life-like rules. You can take out half because they are mirrors so you have approximately 131,072. (See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Life-like_cellular_automaton) It's getting harder for the monkey god to randomly select the right rules.

      Neither of those describe the actually probability space of a monkey god selecting the right rules of physics that give rise to the highly complex phenomenon in our actual 3 dimensional universe.

      That doesn't even include the initial conditions for you automaton, which has to be selected by the monkey god. Transferring that requirement over to our universe means the odds are 1 out of 10^10^123 of getting a universe not dominated by black holes.

      Of course, besides getting the laws right, and the initial conditions right, you also have to select the right quantities for the system. Choosing the right constants is very unlikely for a monkey god working with one universe.

      If you want to assume many monkey gods randomly creating many multiverses, then you do not need this entire line of reasoning, as certainly randomness coupled with enough tries works for any unintelligent agent. That is multiverse theory itself.

      Delete
    2. We're glad you raised one of the more subtle points in our argument. You said:

      > The fact that it was implemented on a complemented computer is a red herring; you can implement with pen and paper, it will just take longer to "run"

      The main point here is that a pen and paper are very ordered and complex entities that were fine tuned by an intelligent agent. You can keep reducing it to even more fine tuned components, but you will never reduce it to something that does not require the fine tuning of an intelligent designer.

      Pens and paper wouldn't exist if the initial conditions of the big bang didn't have such low entropy. The same applies for the constants of nature.

      Delete
    3. Luke Barnes's article (http://arxiv.org/pdf/1112.4647v2.pdf) quoted in an earlier post makes a similar point (pg. 18): "His discovery of the Game of Life was selected only after the rejection of many patterns, triangular and hexagonal lattices as well as square ones, and of many other laws of birth and death, including the introduction of two and even three sexes. Acres of squared paper were covered, and he and his admiring entourage of graduate students shuffled poker chips, foreign coins, cowrie shells, Go stones, or whatever came to hand, until there was a viable balance between life and death."

      Delete
    4. > Are you assuming there is only one universe or a multiverse?
      > If there is only one universe, even if it was a 1-dimensional cellular automaton, the odds of monkey god picking the right rules are approximately 1/128.

      Assuming only one Turing-machine-sustaining rule exists. Only one has been *proven*, but there might be more. But let's just work with what we have - 1/128 is still very far from something reqiring a very clever creator, no? Like a monkey that is allowed to push some random buttons for a while? Ah, yes, now I see why you're asking about multiverse. Of course giving the monkey god enough time to push some random buttons until it hits key 110 (the one that produces the turing machine) sounds like a multiverse. Interesting question, if we extend the analogy, is whether it is possible to get a functioning Boltzman Brains in all rulesets but rule 110.

      > For a 2 dimensional cellular automaton (which Conway's game of life is), there are 2^18 = 262,144 possible Life-like rules. You can take out half because they are mirrors so you have approximately 131,072. (See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Life-like_cellular_automaton) It's getting harder for the monkey god to randomly select the right rules.

      Not really relevant to my point, though perhaps it shows that Conway was pretty ingenious after all (a well known fact anyway). I just pointed to a much simpler system that can produce the same results: since rule 110 allows a Turing machine you can write a program to play Conway's game of life inside it.

      > Neither of those describe the actually probability space of a monkey god selecting the right rules of physics that give rise to the highly complex phenomenon in our actual 3 dimensional universe.

      Rule 110 does, at least any laws of physics you can program on a digital computer. For any dimention.

      > That doesn't even include the initial conditions for you automaton, which has to be selected by the monkey god. Transferring that requirement over to our universe means the odds are 1 out of 10^10^123 of getting a universe not dominated by black holes.
      > Of course, besides getting the laws right, and the initial conditions right, you also have to select the right quantities for the system. Choosing the right constants is very unlikely for a monkey god working with one universe.
      > If you want to assume many monkey gods randomly creating many multiverses, then you do not need this entire line of reasoning, as certainly randomness coupled with enough tries works for any unintelligent agent. That is multiverse theory itself.

      The question of inital conditions is a good one, but you still don't need a superintelligent monkey, you just need a very bored one... If it creates a rule-110 grid big enough and switches the cells on and off we will observe regions with the right conditions to run just about any possible program - like a 3- or 10- dimenstional universe, assuming it can be digitally computed (with lesser probability for programs of greater length, similar to Solomonoff prior).

      Dr_Manhattan

      Delete
    5. Dr_Manhattan,

      So basically, there is a god. He's just a monkey, bored, has a really big toy, and many failed unseen universes.

      Or at least 80% probability.

      SCIENCE!!

      Delete
    6. > The main point here is that a pen and paper are very ordered and complex entities that were fine tuned by an intelligent agent. You can keep reducing it to even more fine tuned components, but you will never reduce it to something that does not require the fine tuning of an intelligent designer.
      > Pens and paper wouldn't exist if the initial conditions of the big bang didn't have such low entropy. The same applies for the constants of nature.

      Honestly, you're either are, or are playing, being dense here. I do not have any other words to describe it, but the game is "mathematically simple". It takes four lines to describe it in words... Simplest computer program... Is it working?

      Ironically your claim of hidden complexity in the automata game is eerily reminiscent of my point about "it's simple - god just wanted to create intelligent observers", where "intelligence" does in fact hide a lot of complexity - try to write that down in four lines.

      > Yaakov: Luke Barnes's article (http://arxiv.org/pdf/1112.4647v2.pdf) quoted in an earlier post makes a similar point (pg. 18): "His discovery of the Game of Life was selected only after the rejection of many patterns, triangular and hexagonal lattices as well as square ones, and of many other laws of birth and death, including the introduction of two and even three sexes. Acres of squared paper were covered, and he and his admiring entourage of graduate students shuffled poker chips, foreign coins, cowrie shells, Go stones, or whatever came to hand, until there was a viable balance between life and death."

      Yaakov - my point here is that such a simple game (or toy universe) exists, not how a specific human arrived at it. Conway hasn't found the simplest game anyway, his automata are 2-d, you can do better than that with 1-d. And even if it took him awhile to find something that could contain a universe if played long enough - and he was just a mathematician with a hobby, doesn't it feel like on some level creating interesting universes is not such an incredibly complicated process? I certainly feel that way. (I'm not claiming this as an argument, but it does give me some intuitions).

      Dr_Manhattan

      Delete
    7. > And even if it took him awhile to find something that could contain a universe if played long enough - and he was just a mathematician with a hobby, doesn't it feel like on some level creating interesting universes is not such an incredibly complicated process? I certainly feel that way. (I'm not claiming this as an argument, but it does give me some intuitions).

      Exactly! It's not that complicated when an intelligent graduate professor and his several intelligent graduate students all work on numerous models eventually finding one in 2 dimensions.

      Intelligence makes many highly complicated orders explainable.

      Delete
    8. We think you are misunderstanding our point. We wholeheartedly agree that simplicity gives rise to complexity. In fact, the principle of simplicity is at the very core of the idea of One God.

      The issue is whether disorder and randomness without intelligence gives rise to ordered complexity. That is the key issue for the proof of design from the fine tuning of the constants and initial conditions of the big bang.

      Conway says there is no design in the game of life. That is blatantly false. The order that results from his game is directly related to his intelligent choice of laws. A random choice of laws will most likely lead to total nonsense.

      Delete
    9. Dr Manhattan-
      Are you saying that with Rule 110, one can create our entire universe using four lines of code?

      If not, please explain the relevance of Rule 110 to the discussion of whether our universe demands an Intelligent Designer (or Programmer if you will).

      Delete
    10. > Are you saying that with Rule 110, one can create our entire universe using four lines of code?

      a whole universe can be specified with 4 lines of English. Code takes a bit longer, but it's one of the shortest programs you can imagine. Challenge accepted.

      width, height, steps = 100, 100, 1000
      universe = [[int(random.random()+0.5) for w in range(width)] for h in range(height)]
      state_map = {(1,1,1):0,(1,1,0):1,(1,0,1):1,(1,0,0):0,(0,1,1):1,(0,1,0):1,(0,0,1):1,(0,0,0):0}
      for s in range(steps):
      for row in universe:
      prev_row = row[:]
      for i in range(width):
      state = (prev_row[(i-1)%width], prev_row[i], prev_row[(i+1)%width])
      row[i] = state_map[state]

      make width, height and steps big enough and you can make your own digital universe. 8 lines, working code

      Dr_Manhattan

      Delete
    11. Wow! Can you predict the cosmological constant with those 8 lines of code too?

      Delete
    12. Are you claiming a monkey god could write these 8 lines? Did that monkey go to computer science classes where he read books written by other monkeys?

      Delete
    13. RAZ/REF- Can you explain how the fact that a computer (or pen + paper) is designed by an intelligent agent applies to the fact that the Game of Life was intelligently designed?

      Delete
    14. We're very glad you asked that question. The answer is a very beautiful point that really brings out the full concept of the Intelligent Design manifest in the order and fine tuning of nature.

      The best way to see the idea is by reading Feynman's Lectures on Physics 46-5 through 46-9. To summarize his main idea, the reason a pen and paper work in only one direction (which is obviously critical for their function of recording the memory of the past) is because they have some ultimate contact with the rest of the universe.

      This concept is directly related to the arrow of time. (See the links on post 4 for more on that.) Feynman uses the example of a simple ratchet and pawl, but the point is obviously the same by a pen and paper. To quote Feynman's last two sentences on 46-9:

      "It is part of the universe not only in the sense that it obeys the physical laws of the universe, but it's one-way behavior is tied to the one-way behavior of the entire universe. It cannot be completely understood until the mystery of the beginnings of the history of the universe are reduced still further from speculation to scientific understanding."

      Feynman is saying that the reason a pen and paper work at all, is because the initial conditions for universe had incredibly low entropy (very unlikely). If the initial conditions had high entropy, which is what you would expect if they were randomly set, there would be no paper and pen, ratchet and pawl, or any other recording devices.

      The same point is true about the fine tuning of the constants of nature. In order to have a pen and paper, you need stable atoms which requires fine tuning of the masses for the elementary particles and fine tuning for the fundamental forces of nature. Without atoms you don't have pens, paper, computers, or 2 dimensional little creatures living on computer screens.

      See the first comment we left on post 5 for a more elaborate explanation about the order and fine tuning required for biological evolution by natural selection.

      Delete
    15. What do you mean that "a pen and paper work in only one direction"? What is the "arrow of time"?

      Also, you say "If the initial conditions had high entropy, which is what you would expect if they were randomly set, there would be no paper and pen, ratchet and pawl, or any other recording devices."
      Do you mean because everything would be chaos?

      Thanks.

      Delete
    16. Yes. If everything was in a state of chaos (to be more precise, the highest entropy state would be black holes), there would be no direction to time.

      The reason for this is that the fundamental laws of physics have no irreversible processes. They are symmetrical with respect to time. This means that you could reverse a process completely and it would still work according to the fundamental laws.

      For example, there is a process that lets a collision of high energy photons, convert into an electron and a positron flying away from each other. If we "ran it in reverse" it would look like a collision of an electron and a positron, which converts into high energy photons.

      In contrast, the process of a glass of milk spilling can not be reversed. Spilled milk does not gather into a glass. This is because of the second law of thermodynamics, which says that entropy (disorder) has a tendency to increase with time.

      (There is a multiverse where that does happen...the people there are pretty spooked about it...they're trying to figure out what's so special about milk.)

      Only the second law of thermodynamics has a direction in time. It says that there will be less order in the future, and that the past had more order. That statistical law, and only that law, is responsible for there being a relative past, present, and future. That is why we can say one event is the cause, and the other event is the effect.

      A memory recording device like a pen and paper (or a Turing Machine/Computer), only works because there is a past to record. The reason there is a past is because the initial conditions of the big bang had low entropy. That allows entropy to increase with time to a higher state.

      If the universe had started at the highest state of entropy, entropy would not increase with time. Entropy would remain approximately stable, and there would be no low entropy (ordered objects) like pens and paper (or stars and people).

      Delete
    17. Where does the laws of physics program in this rule 110 automata come from? Wont most configurations lead to uninteresting results hence leading to the need to posit a digital multiverse?
      Also, why are you assuming that laws of physics are essentially digital?

      Delete
  4. Are Bostrom's ideas accepted by a large group of scientists or is it merely a tecnogod accepted by a few cultists?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Martin Rees (who is responsible for the opinions of the video) is one of the most highly respected cosmologists in the world. Nick Bostrom is also a highly regarded philosopher of science. We do not know how many other great physicists and philosophers take the techno god hypothesis seriously.

      Check out the wiki transhumanism for more information.

      Delete
  5. I've read science fiction that was more compelling than this.

    ReplyDelete
  6. The topic of cellular automata and a development of the idea that great complexity can result from simplicity is an interesting one. It is fully discussed by Stephen Wolfram's "A New Kind of Science" (http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_New_Kind_of_Science#section_4). Though the ideas are interesting, there is no evidence that this approach can solve difficult problems in science, nor explain complexity in our universe. As such, it does not impact the proof of Intelligent Design from the fine tuning of the constants and initial conditions.

    See the wiki cited above (section on "Reception") for critiques of the book. Also see Stephen Weinberg's excellent review of the book at http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2002/oct/24/is-the-universe-a-computer/?pagination=false.

    Below are some quotes from Weinberg. We recommend reading the entire review if you are interested in this topic.

    "Unfortunately, as far as I can tell, there is not one real-world complex phenomenon that has been convincingly explained by Wolfram’s computer experiments."

    "Or take complex systems in biology, like the human nervous or immune systems. Wolfram proposes that the complexity of such systems is not built up gradually in a complicated evolutionary history, but is rather a consequence of some unknown simple rules, more or less in the way that the complex behavior of the pattern produced by cellular automaton 110 is a consequence of its simple rules. Maybe so, but there is no evidence for this. In any case, even if Wolfram’s speculation were correct it would not mean that the complexity of biological systems has little to do with Darwinian evolution, as Wolfram contends. We would still have to ask why organisms obey some simple rules and not other rules, and the only possible answer would be that natural selection favors those rules that generate the kind of complex systems that improve reproductive fitness."

    "Wolfram himself is a lapsed elementary particle physicist, and I suppose he can’t resist trying to apply his experience with digital computer programs to the laws of nature. This has led him to the view (also considered in a 1981 article by Richard Feynman) that nature is discrete rather than continuous. He suggests that space consists of a network of isolated points, like cells in a cellular automaton, and that even time flows in discrete steps. Following an idea of Edward Fredkin, he concludes that the universe itself would then be an automaton, like a giant computer. It’s possible, but I can’t see any motivation for these speculations, except that this is the sort of system that Wolfram and others have become used to in their work on computers. So might a carpenter, looking at the moon, suppose that it is made of wood."

    "Wolfram’s classification of the patterns produced by cellular automata dates from the early 1980s, and the discovery that the rule 110 elementary cellular automaton is a universal computer was made in the early 1990s. Since then, none of this work has had much of an impact on the research of other scientists, aside from Wolfram’s employees. The strongest reaction I have seen by scientists to this new book has been outrage at Wolfram’s exaggeration of the importance of his own contributions to the study of complexity. "

    ReplyDelete
  7. How does Bostrom's answer to FAQ #9 answer the question?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You are correct that the question asks if the simulation hypothesis is testable, but Bostrom's answer about a pop up window is not a test we can actually perform.

      It is obvious that wishful future observations do not constitute a test. (We do not call the theory of demons testable because maybe a demon will talk to us one day.)

      Bostrom himself acknowledges the fact that his answer of pop up windows doesn't properly answered the question. If you click on the link in the post to the FAQs, you will see Bostrom ultimately concludes:

      "Now one might wonder whether there is any kind of test that we could conduct in the near term that would cast light on which of the three disjuncts is true. I doubt that there is any simple experiment that will do this...It might be too much to hope for that we could think of any such analysis that would give conclusive or extremely strong evidence about which of the three disjuncts is true, but I think it might be feasible to get evidence that would at least give weak clues and conditional hints."

      Obviously, the wishful hope for possible future evidence that gives weak and conditional clues does not qualify a theory a testable.

      Delete
  8. Aren't Nick Bostrom's ideas a little bit of a straw man with respect to the multiverse argument? It doesn't seem to me that the truth or falsehood of the multiverse has any bearing on Bostrom's ideas or vice versa.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Good question. We were wondering the same thing when we saw the video containing major multiverse scientists (Rees, Susskind, and Tegmark) connecting the two. See minutes 39-41 in the video. It seems that their basic line of reasoning is as follows: if only one universe, we have about a 1/3 chance of being a simulation. However, in a multiverse, it is almost certain that there is some universe which has simulations...therefore, even more likely that we are a simulation...physical gods.

      The simulation problem is similar to the Boltzmann brain problem in that once you are considering an ensemble of universes of all different types, it becomes more likely that we aren't real (a brain or a simulation).

      Once respectable scientists abandon the scientific method to consider the multiverse (under the guise of pursuing a scientific question that should be addressed by cosmologists), they exit their area of expertise and enter into contrived philosophical ideas such as multiverse and simulations.

      Although multiverse and simulation may technically be able to be separated, the Bostrom ideas illustrate many of the problems we have raised with multiverse thinking and where it can ultimately lead.

      Delete
    2. http://www.nytimes.com/2003/04/12/opinion/a-brief-history-of-the-multiverse.html?pagewanted=all&src=pm

      See the above link where Paul Davies elaborates on this point about the relationship between multiverse theory and the simulation hypothesis, and argues that the simulation hypothesis is the reductio ad absurdum conclusion of multiverse theory.

      It isn't clear to us why Rees and company do not see the idea that we are all virtual simulations of a techno god as an absurd conclusion. They seem to think it is an interesting hypothesis. To each his own.

      Delete
    3. That's a very clear article.

      Delete
  9. Dr_Manhattan
    in post 18 you still are missing the difficulty with calling on rule 110.

    There are 3 aspects of rule 110 which came from an intelligent design
    a. picking the rules (which as you pointed out is a 1/128 probability)
    b. designing a substratum in which such rules can be run (computer, piece of paper etc.)
    c. the initial configuration of 0s and 1s (since most configurations will not simulate a turing machine or be all that interesting) I don't know the exact number of cells which must be configured correctly but it is a very large number.
    It seems that this last issue is the one which needs the most explanation. Assuming the world is digital (itself a questionable hypothesis) and assuming it is running on something as simple as rule 110. either the configuration of 0s and 1s was designed by an intelligence (God), or there are infinitely/astronomically many configurations and we are in the right one (multiverse). Hence it just seems like this path leads to the same two possibilities as discussed throughout.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Excellent analysis and summary of the problem with rule 110, Yaakov.

      We appreciate you starting this thread on this post, as opposed to post 18.

      Delete
    2. Yaakov,
      Good points. Rule 110 was just an intuition pump though, poinintg that not a lot of incredibly "thought out" rules are needed to create very complex universes. (I for one do not even know if our Universe is Turing computable or Super-Turing computable, meaning things happen that cannot me simulated on a digital computer, which is something you allude to later). I still have strong intuitions from it though, which combined with other intuitions motivate my epistemic stance.

      In Detail:


      > a. picking the rules (which as you pointed out is a 1/128 probability)

      Yes, but I for one do not find 1/128 as overwhelming. 1/128 improbabilities are quite common... So if you're working with this value the outcome will depend a lot on your idea of "god" and the prior you put on it. But perhaps more importantly, I think the model "erred" on the side of making the basic objects as simple as possible, at the expense of less probable rules. It seems that our universe's fundamental particles have more basic attributes than "black/white color". I conjecture that this would increase the chances that a random rule over the interactions would produce an "interesting" universe. Can't prove it, but maybe someone needs a PhD project...

      > b. designing a substratum in which such rules can be run (computer, piece of paper etc.)

      Well, *we* need to simulate a substratum. If matter/energy is the basic existence there is nothing to design. Which is perhaps why this discussion belonged in the "simplicity" section.

      > c. the initial configuration of 0s and 1s (since most configurations will not simulate a turing machine or be all that interesting) I don't know the exact number of cells which must be configured correctly but it is a very large number.

      My answer to a) might go some way to make initial configurations easier to come by. But really if you assume that matter/energy is fundamental existence there seems to be no reason to say there is bit a whole/infinite lot of it, providing plenty of possibilities for initial conditions to arise.

      Dr_Manhattan

      Delete
    3. Since the randomness in the last case, would not only be of energy, but also of the constants/laws governing the energy, which would demand a multiverse we have retuned to the question of God vs. Multiverse.
      Therefore, as you suggest, let us continue with our other discussion of clarifying what God is, to see if the concept makes sense.

      Delete
    4. Couple of interesting points from this weekend's research: Rule 110 has a couple of siblings. There is no proof of universality for them (yet) though. (c.f. "Class 4 automata").

      Another interesting thing is 110 can produce very complex patterns starting with a single 'ON' cell. It's possible things like Turing machines could emerge from that single bit, given enough iterations.

      Dr_Manhattan

      Delete
  10. I think we need to consider the relative simplicity of the universe when it was first formed. While it would be extremely improbable for our present universe to suddenly form with all its current complexity, including planets and brains, it would be much easier for it to form from a simple primordium and evolve from simple to more complex using basic rules. An analogy would be the development of the human body. How could the relatively small amount of DNA in a cell account for the fine intricacies of human form and function, even down to the finest details such as facial appearance that are similar in both a child and her parent? There wouldn’t seem to be enough room in the DNA for all this information. The problem becomes more understandable if one considers that the DNA does not contain all this information, but contains a plan that sets in action a sequence that naturally proceeds from simple to complex. Similar for the universe. The big bang didn’t contain within it our universe in all its present detail, including human brains. It contained the fine-tuned constants and laws of physics in a primordial, relatively simple condition that evolved naturally to produce the planets and its occupants, a much simpler situation than creating all of the known universe with its brains at once. I think that is the point of Conway’s Game of Life and Wolfram’s “Toward a New Kind of Science” where they show that complexity can arise from simplicity. You make an excellent point that there still has to be a designer of the rules of the game. In the case of our universe, however, the rules would be the constants in the universe and the simple laws of physics, which, if a multiverse were true, would not require the presence of ID to establish the rules of the game. The multiverse would start off as a relatively simple universe that would progress to much greater complexity by following the rules of the game that are determined by the constants and laws of physics. A simple initial universe would be far simpler in form than the complexity of the human brain with its 100 billion neurons, quadrillion connections, and potential thoughts, which some have estimated to be on the order of the number of atoms in the universe. While the entropy of a brain may be greater than the entropy of the initial conditions at the Big Bang, the complexity of the brain is also much greater. Should complexity also be a factor to consider besides entropy itself? Intuitively, it seems easier to contemplate some mechanism for the origin of a giant "explosion" as opposed to the origin of a human brain.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We certainly agree that modern cosmology (the big bang theory) has conclusively shown that the universe started out in an incredibly simple state and evolved into a more complex state, under the governance of simple laws with fine tuned constants. In fact, this is an incredibly important discovery of modern science in general (the evolution/emergence of complexity from simplicity) that we elaborate on in great detail in stage three of the proof.

      However, the issue with low entropy is not one of simplicity vs. complexity; rather, it is an issue of order vs. disorder. Your example of DNA is an excellent illustration of this distinction. A DNA molecule is much simpler than a complex human brain of 100 billion neurons, yet the DNA molecule is also more ordered. You could delete/add any one particular neuron without effecting the function of the brain significantly, but if you were to delete even one base pair in DNA, you could cause a very serious mutation with very significant consequences. The reason for this is that, in general, the specific ordering of DNA is much more crucial than that of the brain.

      Similarly, while the early universe was much simpler than the complex universe we live in today, the early universe was also much more ordered than the current universe. This is quantitatively expressed in the language of the second law of thermodynamics (that entropy always increases with time) by saying that the early universe had a very low entropy relative to the universe as it exists today.

      Given the essentially statistical nature of entropy, we can quantify the odds of the early universe beginning in this highly ordered simple state at approximately 10^10^123. Notice how the argument we are presenting is that the universe began in a highly ordered simple state and evolved with time into a less ordered, more complex state.

      Delete

In the words of Agur bin-Yakeh: "We welcome all comments, questions, contributions, and critiques - but if you insist on posting anonymously, PLEASE use a pseudonym rather than posting as "Anonymous," since this makes it much easier to carry on a normal discussion. Thank you!"