Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The Heavens Declare the Glory of God

There are dozens of conditions necessary for life as we know it to exist on our planet, some of which which I've listed in previous posts, here and here .  For that matter, there are a lot of conditions necessary for life to exist anywhere in the universe. And the chance of any one of these conditions being right is, in many cases, unimaginably small.  Never mind you have to have them all combined.

Now I’ve found out, in further reading, that it isn’t just for “life as we know it” to exist that all these parameters have to be so narrowly set; it’s any life at all. In fact, these particular values are needed even for galaxies and stars and planets to exist, never mind any sort of life. (But I should like to reiterate here that “life-as-we-don’t-know-it” is by definition unknown, unobserved, and therefore completely outside the realm of science.)

Another astonishing thing I’ve learned is that these conditions favorable to life did not just develop as the Universe went along; they had to be there from the first split-second or not at all. Specifically, if you take the number
10,0000000000000000000000000000000000000000000
(ten followed by 43 zeros) and divide one second by it, that’s the size of the very first split-second after the Big Bang in which all the life-enabling conditions had to appear.

Atheists try to get around this astonishing set of “coincidences” by what is called the Anthropic Principle. It comes in two main variations, the Weak Anthropic Principle and the Strong Anthropic Principle. The WAP says it’s no coincidence the conditions for life are just right; in fact things have to be that way, given that we’re here.

Of course, in this statement, the premise and the conclusion are identical, making it nothing more than a repetition of itself, a tautology, saying the same thing two different ways. If things were different, they would be different.

Moreover, it’s like saying the chances of rolling ten dice and having them all come up sixes are one hundred percent, since I did roll the dice and that is in fact how they came up. That’s giving the odds in retrospect. How about before I rolled the dice? The point is, what were the odds then?

Other criticisms of the Weak Anthropic Principle is that it is not falsifiable, cannot explain anything, and cannot predict anything we don’t already know.

The Strong Anthropic Principle is otherwise known as the Multiverse theory. It posits a vast number of universes, possibly an infinite number. In so many universes, eventually at least one will just happen to have all the right conditions, even though the chances are vanishingly small. Roll trillions of trillions of dice enough times and chances are that at least one of those times, they will all come up sixes.

Of course there is nothing in the least scientific about multiple universes. They by definition are unobservable (being incompatible with life) and unfalsifiable. That means the idea is in no way scientific. There is not a shred of evidence for their existence. Evidence, evidence, is of course the cry of atheists asking for grounds to believe in God. Evidence, evidence! Where is any evidence for multiple universes? It’s all in somebody’s head.

And even if they did exist, countless numbers of them, that does not guarantee that every possible combination of parameters would necessarily be found among them.

From Wikipedia, here are some other theories attempting to explain, without resorting to God, why the universe appears to be so carefully designed and fine-tuned: (Number 2, note, is not necessarily incompatible with God.) Ask for the evidence as you read these ideas. No evidence = no science. Ask if there’s even any logical reason to believe them. No logic = no philosophy. And ask if any of these is easier to believe than that God made the Universe for life.

1. The absurd universe: Our universe just happens to be the way it is. 

2. The unique universe: There is a deep underlying unity in physics which necessitates the Universe being the way it is. Some Theory of Everything will explain why the various features of the Universe must have exactly the values that we see.

3. The multiverse: Multiple universes exist, having all possible combinations of characteristics, and we inevitably find ourselves within a universe that allows us to exist.

4. The self-explaining universe: A closed explanatory or causal loop: "perhaps only universes with a capacity for consciousness can exist." This is Wheeler's Participatory Anthropic Principle (PAP).

5. The fake universe: We live inside a virtual reality simulation.
Such are the contortions into which one bends his mind to avoid God.

15 comments:

David Garner said...

I have been studying these issues intently of late, and you hit on exactly the problem I see with the argument that science has eliminated the need for God -- at some point, we're all doing metaphysics.

You touch on that with your comment that the multiverse is unobservable. This should be readily apparent to anyone, but no one seems to want to acknowledge it on the atheist side. To them, the multiverse, without any evidence whatsoever, is "science."

Another problem, and to me perhaps a more problematic one for the atheist, is that some who claim that they can prove "scientifically" that something came from nothing have redefined "nothing" to mean the quantum vacuum, which (being comprised of waves of energy with particles popping into and out of existence) is actually "something." It's a rhetorical shell game that is both scientifically and metaphysically dishonest.

Anastasia Theodoridis said...

An amazing amount of pure fantasy today passes for science.

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