Origins & Science + Naturalism, Physicalism and Materialism

The Ad Hoc Multiverse

Clipped by Nathan Jacobson (Jun 12, 2008)

In recent years, as our deepening understanding of the delicate complexity of the universe continues unabated, Naturalists are increasingly turning to “multiverse” hypotheses to blunt or dodge the force of fine-tuning and teleological arguments for the existence of a Designer. Roughly, the idea is that, parallel to the universe we inhabit, there exists an infinite series of universes, each of which is different from our own in at least one respect. In the multiverse, every contingent possibility is instantiated in at least one universe. If it helps, the concept has been used for dramatic effect on the TV show, Sliders, and in The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. The multiverse is thought to undercut design arguments because while it is wildly improbable that our life-supporting universe should exist if there was only one shot at it, it is inevitable that our universe exist if every possible universe exists. (Yes, it begs the question of the necessary conditions for this meta-universe, but we’ll leave that to the side.) There are mixed feelings about the multiverse hypothesis amongst skeptics and Naturalists. While it may be a stopgap against the implications of our apparently designed universe, it is an inescapably ironic move for the Naturalist to postulate a deus ex machina that is unobserved and, in principle, unobservable.

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6 Responses to Origins & Science + Naturalism, Physicalism and Materialism

  1. Harry says:

    meh, if they can mathamatically prove them there is no argueing with it. Not not that I think they have, it is just a theory, but it is scientific, it is based on a few things. There was a New Scientist published I think july last year which covered the problems with string theory etc, quite indepth.

    Thats the difference with something un-observable, if something is mathamatically proven to exist than it can not really be argued with, like 2+2

    Waiting on the LHC for (which could give us observation) for these more whacky concepts. I don’t think that the entire theory has been developed to undermine ID though.

  2. Hi Harry

    I agree that we need to use scientific model when studying issues and concepts, however I would strongly argue that on certain things we just don’t have all the information. And like in the math subject when you have two variables and one or more unknowns we have a problem when the reference point is not anchored within the scientific fact. Problem is that we are so preoccupied with science so much so that we even call our museums the Cathedrals of our education etc. When it becomes a “religion” it takes away the joy of just enjoying the life but most of all, remember that even with theoretical physics it will be discarded if the experiments prove the hypothesis to be incorrect.

    Good to have your input though

    Thanks again

    Defend the word

  3. Harry says:

    Ofcourse theories will be discarded if evidence goes the other way. This is very cutting edge science though, and progress is slow and cautious, with debate raging on the subject between QUALIFIED scientists. You are right to rise doubts here, but as our knowledge grows, especially in this area, theory can become law. As I said, we are waiting on high profile experiments to increase our understanding.

    From my point of view the idea of multiple universes is pretty mindblowing and inconcievable. However, if solid evidence comes up in maths or in particle testing I will see it more likely than god. You rightly point out that if people were to just accept multi-verse just because its science would be religion. However at a certain point people need to be able to realise that there are scientists and people with a better understanding of things than them WITH evidence for their stances. However, at our current level, Scientists can not really put forth any solid evidence for these theories.

    Saying that, I do think there is emerging evidence for some of these hypothesis, but I have not really kept up to date in topic for a good few months.

  4. Hi Harry

    Note that there is no real evidence, if would be factually inacurate to say that.

    If you read the article again slowly you will see what it argues against is some of the things you are saying. Not what science is saying, this whole idea that we elevate science above anything and everything else, is a bit too far especially when all we have is data that requires interpretation. I think where you need to better understand scientific research is the fact that every scientist has a same dilemma that you and I have, also they are humans too which makes them just as susceptible to world views.

    Don’t give them too much credit just because they have that extra title PhD I’m not saying that we should disrespect them but be careful not to commit same mistake as many “believers” that we simply accept things because somebody educated said it. Don’t be their disciple that only reduces you and unnecessarily elevates them. You are responsible for your conclusions. Anyway I will be fairly busy in the next few weeks but I will come back to this topic to discus this issue further. (Loads of other work to do)

    Regards

    Defend the word

  5. harry says:

    I’ll just clarify a few of my points then for when u come back. I am going to have to ask is there more to the article than the half a page I see since you say I have not read it all.

    I don’t give anyone anyone any extra credit for their opinions if they have a PHD, I give it if there is a majority consensus of people with PHD’s in the scientific community.

    Despite a passion for quantum physics and all these kind of sciences, I realise I could never truly understand it, so I defer to people I know who have a lot more knowledge on the topic.

    As a side not, I do have an understanding of evolution, which is why I can make an informed decision alone, If I did not, then I would defer to the global scientific consensus. If you are going to argue here there is not consensus of evolution, I am afraid I am just going to have to say there is enough consensus for me and use these two petitions as back up. (If you are going to read these in detail take a look at the duration of the petitions and the make up of the signers)

    ‘If you read the article again slowly you will see what it argues against is some of the things you are saying. Not what science is saying, this whole idea that we elevate science above anything and everything else, is a bit too far especially when all we have is data that requires interpretation. I think where you need to better understand scientific research is the fact that every scientist has a same dilemma that you and I have, also they are humans too which makes them just as susceptible to world views. ‘

    A good point, but what I would say to this is to clarify what I said earlier about theory in this area of science becoming law. If the maths proves multiverse (Which is has not so far, I BELIEVE IN MULTIVERSE NO MORE THAN I DO GOD). Mathamatical proofs are not open to interpretation. Which is why I was trying to hammer home the message that the second law of thermodynamics is not open to interpretation. It is also probably why evolution will never move from being a theory to a law, as it is hard to mathamatically prove darwinian/neo-darwinian genetic drief/selection etc.

    I’ll jsut clarify a few of my points then for when u come back.

    I don’t give anyone anyone any extra credit for their opinions if they have a PHD, I give it if there is a majority consensus of people with PHD’s in the scientific community.

    Despite a passion for quantum physics and all these kind of sciences, I realise I could never truly understand it, so I defer to people I know who have a lot more knowledge on the topic.

    As a side not, I do have an understanding of evolution, which is why I can make an informed decision alone, If I did not, then I would defer to the global scientific consensus. If you are going to argue here there is not consensus of evolution, I am afraid I am just going to have to say there is enough consensus for me and use these two petitions as back up. (If you are going to read these in detail take a look at the duration of the petitions and the make up of the signers)

    ‘If you read the article again slowly you will see what it argues against is some of the things you are saying. Not what science is saying, this whole idea that we elevate science above anything and everything else, is a bit too far especially when all we have is data that requires interpretation. I think where you need to better understand scientific research is the fact that every scientist has a same dilemma that you and I have, also they are humans too which makes them just as susceptible to world views. ‘

    ‘A good point, but what I would say to this is to clarify what I said earlier about theory in this area of science becoming law’

    ‘You are responsible for your conclusions’

    I totally agree that one should think for oneself and the message of this overall paragraph. However there is a very sticky situation I have no idea of how to fix in that, sometimes, amatuer people studying the viewpoints of scientists by themselves come to very wrong conclusions, I think because

    1: They are more vunerable to being swayed by their own world view, (yes scientists are to, but this becomes more and more minimal as their research is put through more and more peer review)

    This point is also an answer to this:

    I think where you need to better understand scientific research is the fact that every scientist has a same dilemma that you and I have, also they are humans too which makes them just as susceptible to world views.

    2: Unfortunately, some people lack the ability to understand topics. People have understandings for different things, I am a competent mathamatician, but no where near good enough to comprehend the real heavy stuff. Just as someone else could be a total maths whizz yet be unable to really understand more than moderate biology.

    ‘Don’t give them too much credit just because they have that extra title PhD’

    Agreed, but one MUST accept, that scientists with PHD’s have more weight in scientific discourse than any of us have.

    ‘While it may be a stopgap against the implications of our apparently designed universe, it is an inescapably ironic move for the Naturalist to postulate a deus ex machina that is unobserved and, in principle, unobservable’

    As a Scientist I can not and will never believe this
    Hypothesis->Theory->Law

    I believe that if mankind cntinues to advance in technology someone will develop away to observe these things. LHC will give us very important observations that can contribute. To write something off as un observable when we have only just scratched the service is a nagativity that I do not like. Yes we can not now, but when we do observe it/collect enough mathamatical/historical/remenant date, it will become theory/law. Eg, we never observed the big bang, but we see evidence of it in space now we have the technology, maybe the evidence for multiverse is all around us, just like the big bang, but we just at the moment lack the ability to see it.

  6. harry says:

    Er, sorry the first 3 paragraphs of that message double posted i must have copy pasted, ignore the first 3 paragraphs

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