QuasarKevinSquare

If You Don’t Want God, You Better Have a Multiverse!

Such is the advice from Bernard Carr in grappling with the fascinating discovery that the physics of the universe had to be fine-tuned if it were to support life. Carr views the only viable options as being either God or a multiverse (the theory that there are a vast number of other universes). Stanford physicist Leonard Susskind also calls our attention to these relatively recent discoveries: “Science may be undergoing a huge course correction, a paradigm shift. A titanic controversy has erupted over the strange anthropic pattern that nature seems to exhibit – the pattern of extraordinary unexplained coincidences that are necessary for our own existence.[1]” I will discuss these fine-tuning discoveries and their implications in a series of blogs as part of my ongoing series on scientific evidence for God.

Here are my previous blogs in this series prior to the recent hiatus:

Philosophy

Can Science Disprove God?
What Counts as Evidence for God from Science?

Evidence for God from the Origin of the Universe:

Origin of the Universe

Doesn’t Quantum Mechanics Violate the Causal Principle?

Much Ado About Nothing

Philosophical Arguments that the Universe had a Beginning

 Before presenting the actual fine-tuning scientific data, I want to explore the philosophical basis of the argument. We can then examine the scientific data relative to some reasonable evaluation criteria.

What is Fine-Tuning?

Fine-tuning is not a synonym for design but is rather a technical term in physics that refers to a narrow range for suitable values among possibilities. All else being equal, if theory A requires fine-tuning and theory B doesn’t, then theory B is deemed to be more likely to be true because it doesn’t rely on assumptions for narrow constraints for the values of one or more parameters. There are other contexts where fine-tuning is discussed with respect to various hypotheses having nothing to do with life, but I defend this fine-tuning claim:

“In the set of possible physical laws, parameters and initial conditions, the subset that permits rational conscious life is very small.”

The universe is said to be finely-tuned for life if most possible ways for setting up physics would have resulted in no intelligent life anywhere in the universe. My claim is close to that defined by Luke Barnes[2] in his important review article. I use the term “rational conscious life” rather than “the evolution of intelligent life” because the fine-tuning claim can be evaluated independently of biological evolution. My wording also reflects Christian expectations that God wanted creatures in His image – rational, conscious creatures with whom He could have a relationship.

It’s important to note that my fine-tuning claim deals with the fundamental physics of the universe required before any biological evolution could get started. I personally happen to be skeptical of the all-encompassing claims about naturalistic macroevolution but even if it explains the full diversity of life that is irrelevant to my fine-tuning claim. For example, a universe without one type of fine-tuning would have lasted only a few hours and never cooled below 9000K. Thus, it is unreasonable to expect such a universe to have contained life – much less intelligent life. Physicists writing fine-tuning articles routinely make claims about life being impossible without certain finely-tuned parameters or initial conditions. Craig Hogan, for example, is very explicit, stating that “changing the quark masses even a small amount has drastic consequences [for] which no amount of Darwinian selection can compensate.” Alan Lightman of MIT clarifies the nature of the fine-tuning: “if these fundamental parameters were much different from what they are, it is not only human beings that would not exist but no life of any kind would exist.” No biological evolution can start until you have the first living cell and the vast majority of ways to setup the physics never allow life to get started.

My future blogs will detail some of the evidence supporting my fine-tuning claim but here is a foretaste from atheist physicist Stephen Hawking’s best-selling book, A Brief History of Time (on p. 125):

“The remarkable fact is that the values of these numbers [i.e. the constants of physics] seem to have been very finely adjusted to make possible the development of life. For example, if the electric charge of the electron had been only slightly different, stars would have been unable to burn hydrogen and helium, or else they would not have exploded. It seems clear that there are relatively few ranges of values for the numbers [i.e. the constants of nature] that would allow for development of any form of intelligent life.”

How widespread is the acceptance of fine-tuning among physicists?

In a word – very! In my years of researching this topic, I’m amazed at how few scientists who have studied the fine-tuning details disagree with this core claim that the subset of life-permitting physics is a tiny fraction among possibilities. Since Luke Barnes is a top researcher on this topic, consider his input on the level of acceptance of the fine-tuning claim: “I’ve published a review of the scientific literature, 200+ papers, and I can only think of a handful that oppose this conclusion, and piles and piles that support it.[3]

Of course, any topic with potentially significant philosophical or even spiritual implications is likely to encounter some opposition. Many physicists who accept the fine-tuning data do not, of course, embrace the design implications. Some readers might be wondering how the skeptics interpret this evidence. The most common response among skeptical physicists is an appeal to the multiverse as alluded to in the introduction.

QuasarKevinSquareImage: Courtesy Kevin Hainline

Is the multiverse a satisfying explanation of the fine-tuning?

If we have an enormous number of other universes and if they have widely varying laws, then perhaps sufficient probabilistic resources exist for life to emerge in some universe. We need to carefully evaluate how well the multiverse serves as a potential explanation for fine-tuning. Here are some potential challenges to a multiverse explanation of the fine-tuning:

- No empirical evidence exists for any universe other than our own

- We need vast numbers of other universes to overcome horrendous odds against a life-permitting universe – probably more than 10100 (which is more than the number of subatomic particles in our observable universe)

- A universe generating mechanism might itself require fine-tuning to generate so many universes

o This is certainly true for the most popular multiverse theory – eternal inflation.

♦ Sean Carroll admits[4] that “inflation only occurs in a negligibly small fraction of cosmological histories, less than 10-66,000,000.”

o Also, other assumptions are required for eternal inflation – as Vilenkin admits: “The most likely thing to pop out of the [quantum vacuum] is a tiny Planck-sized universe, which would not tunnel, but would instantly recollapse and disappear. Tunneling to a larger size has a small probability and therefore requires a large number of trials. It appears to be consistent only with the Everett interpretation.” This Everett or many-worlds interpretation of quantum physics is one of a dozen or so interpretations and many physicists are skeptical of this interpretation because it entails that parallel universes are spawned at every quantum event.

-  The new universes would need to have different physical constants

o There are many theoretical reasons for thinking constants might vary but we have no clear evidence that fundamental constants have ever been more than trivially different in different parts of our observable universe. Without new physics in each universe, our odds for life wouldn’t be helped – it’d be like buying a million lottery tickets with the same set of numbers for each ticket!

-  The constants would need to vary extremely widely

o The degree of variety in possible values for the constants may not be sufficient unless a particular version of string theory is true. Some string theorists think that perhaps there are as many as 10500 different possible values for the constants. This variance would be more than sufficient. Polchinski, however, is one of many string theorists who disagree with this proposal – “there is no reason to expect … a large number of variations in the constants of physics.[5]”

♦ A significant minority segment of the physics community is highly skeptical of any version of String Theory because it thus far has no clear empirical confirmation and a history of failed predictions.

- It is fallacious to view the fine-tuning itself as evidence for a multiverse since the existence of other universes doesn’t make it any more likely that our universe supports life. We need independent evidence for the multiverse hypothesis before it becomes a viable candidate explanation of the fine-tuning. MIT philosopher of science Roger White shows this using Bayesian logic and summarizes: “the fact that our universe is fine-tuned gives us no further reason to suppose that there are universes other than ours.”

- Is the multiverse theory even scientific?

o Personally I’m not too concerned about this question – we just want to follow the evidence wherever it leads even if that is beyond the realm of direct empirical confirmation. It should be pointed out though that the most popular multiverse theories, such as eternal inflation, postulate other universes that could not have interacted with our universe, even in principle. About the only way to affirm such multiverse theories is to examine how well our universe conforms to multiverse predictions after apply a selection effect due to the constraint that observers can only observe a life-permitting universe. This selection effect is known as the anthropic principle although it really deals with any type of observer whereas ‘anthropic’ is derived from the Greek word ‘anthropos,’ which means human.

o Thus, our universe should be typical among life-permitting universes. If our universe appears “overly” fine-tuned it would still look more like the product of design than a random member of an ensemble of life-permitting universes. For further information about this widely accepted principle among multiverse advocates, see this excellent book of essays by prominent physicists entitled Universe or Multiverse?

♦ Many scientists are highly critical of this approach of trying to indirectly affirm the multiverse. However, some skeptical scientists seem willing to accept this approach because it seems to be the only way to avoid the design implications of the fine-tuning. Polchinski, a leading string theorist, acknowledges that “anthropic reasoning runs so much against the historic goals of theoretical physics that I resisted it long after realizing its likely necessity. But now I have come out.”[6] Susskind claims that “the stakes are to accept the [string] landscape and the dilution in the scientific method it implies or give up science altogether and accept intelligent design (ID) as the explanation for the choices of parameters of the standard model.”[7]

As we’re examining the fine-tuning evidence in future blogs, I’ll point out cases where parameters are significantly more fine-tuned than is necessary since this counts against the multiverse as a solution to the fine-tuning problem. As a preview consider that many physicists such as Lee Smolin have pointed out problems in this arena such as proton decay rates being many orders of magnitude smaller than the life permitting region. Also, Oxford physicist Roger Penrose says that the multiverse is “worse than useless” as explanation of the finely-tuned initial conditions because the multiverse predicts hyper-exponentially more tiny universes than large ones like ours.

Some physicists have rightly pointed out that a multiverse by itself is not necessarily a violation of Occam’s razor since it could arise from a simple law-like mechanism for generating universes. The key issue though is that for the multiverse to be an adequate explanation for the fine-tuning it requires the conjunction of several hypotheses for which we lack any empirical evidence:

  1. A universe-generating mechanism that generates a plethora of universes
  2. That this mechanism doesn’t itself require fine-tuning
  3. The many-worlds interpretation of quantum physics
  4. The ability to widely vary constants in those universes. If you think that it’s a foregone conclusion that String Theory/M-Theory[8] will come to the rescue in this area, you should watch this video clip by Oxford physicist Roger Penrose where he exclaims that “it’s not even a theory … it’s a collection of hopes”.

Occam’s razor therefore does seem to favor design over the multiverse. When one accounts for the extensive problems in affirming premise 2 and how these multiverse theories make predictions incompatible with our universe, the hypothesis that God designed the physics of the universe to bring about life is more plausible. That so many physicists appeal to the multiverse to explain away the design implications of fine-tuning testifies to the power of this argument!

________________________________________________________________________________________________

[1] Susskind, The Cosmic Landscape: String Theory and the Illusion of Intelligent Design. The Chattahoochee Review Podcast. (near about the 6th minute)

[2] I highly recommend Barnes’ excellent blogs correcting various people on both sides of the debate when they make mistakes in their analysis of the math, physics, or philosophy. I hope I can get more people to read his blogs. I recommend his blogs more than my own – I’m just trying to be a popularizer of the excellent scholarly work that is out there!

[3] To support the claim that Barnes is a top researcher/thinker on fine-tuning consider that he was invited to speak at last summer’s Philosophy of Cosmology conference. Here is his blog article from which I obtained his quote: http://letterstonature.wordpress.com/2013/12/23/christmas-tripe-a-fine-tuned-critique-of-richard-carrier-part-3/

[4] Carroll, Tam. Unitary Evolution and Cosmological Fine-Tuning. http://arxiv.org/abs/1007.1417v1

[5] Polchinski, String Theory. (1998, Vol. 2, pp. 372-73).

[6] Lee Smolin. The Trouble with Physics: The Rise of String Theory, the Fall of a Science, and What Comes Next. (New York: Houghton Mifflin Co., 2006), 169.

[7] Ibid., 197.

[8] M-Theory is simply a more generalized version of String Theory

29 replies
  1. John Moore says:

    Your postion is: “In the set of possible physical laws, parameters and initial conditions, the subset that permits rational conscious life is very small.”

    So my question is: How do you know what is possible? Maybe the set of possible physical laws just has one member. In other words, maybe our universe is the only possible universe, and the physical constants could never possibly be any different.

    You quoted someone saying, “There are many theoretical reasons for thinking constants might vary.” I’m looking forward to some more discussion about this aspect.

    Reply
    • Allen Hainline says:

      John,

      Excellent question – you’re right in emphasizing the need to evaluate this issue.

      I’ll be devoting an upcoming blog to this very issue – there are 2 questions:
      1) Is it metaphysically possible that the physics of our universe could have been different?
      2) Does physics itself involve contingencies that result in differing constants etc.?

      Even the latter question is answered in the affirmative by most experts that I’m aware of. Virtually every physics department is involved in research in theories such as String Theory that entail that the constants of physics actually could be somewhat different. As Lee Smolin says: “String theory makes “all the properties of the elementary particles contingent – determined not by fundamental law but by … solutions to the fundamental theory. ”
      In this article, physicist John Barrow lists 5 reasons to expect that the constants of physics can vary:

      http://rsta.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/363/1834/2139.full

      Please stay tuned for more details and thanks for interacting on this important issue

      Reply
  2. Jon says:

    Allen, most physicists agree that parameters are “fine-tuned”, but there is no consensus if it is possible to “tune” sliding scale parameters or are those interlocked to one of finite set of possible parameters. Most physicists don’t believe in fine-tuner.

    Many physicists have pointed out that our universe is fine-tuned for creating black holes and not for life. Perhaps universes have evolved to be fine-tuned for creating black holes.

    You claimed that “We need vast numbers of other universes to overcome horrendous odds against a life-permitting universe – probably more than 10[^]100″
    How do you come to this number if we don’t know if there is parameter interlocking, and why is this finite number a problem if multiverse time scale or size has not real limits?

    You said: “Sean Carroll admits”, “as Vilenkin admits”
    Carroll and Vilenkin know about this stuff and are atheists. BTW Vilenkin has said that Christian apologists quote mine him and misinterpret the conclusion. So here we go again…

    You might want to read Fred C. Adams, Stars In Other Universes: Stellar structure with different fundamental constants and Luke Barnes’ criticism of it. Both agree about tuning of gravitational and fine structure constant has possible “tuning” range, they disagree how big (0.25 – 10^-42) it might be.

    You said: “Occam’s razor therefore does seem to favor design over the multiverse.”
    What probability did you assign to God’s existence? And can you make it clear if you think fine-tuning is an evidence of God or God is an evidence of fine-tuning.

    This leads to your assumption “Carr views the only viable options as being either God or a multiverse”. Why is universe creating machine excluded from the possible options?

    Reply
    • Frank Turek says:

      Jon,

      Here is what Vilenkin wrote to William Lane Craig about Craig’s use of the BGV theorem:

      I think you represented what I wrote about the BGV theorem in my papers and to you personally very accurately. This is not to say that you represented my views as to what this implies regarding the existence of God. Which is OK, since I have no special expertise to issue such judgements. Whatever it’s worth, my view is that the BGV theorem does not say anything about the existence of God one way or the other. In particular, the beginning of the universe could be a natural event, described by quantum cosmology.

      Read more: http://www.reasonablefaith.org/honesty-transparency-full-disclosure-and-bgv-theorem#ixzz37AI3ch5N

      So Vilenkin (who says he’s an agnostic, not an atheist) agrees with Craig that his theorem shows that the universe and a multiverse (if it exists) had a beginning. The big controversy is over what caused the beginning. If your worldview is open to theism, you might say the evidence implies God. If it isn’t, you’ll have to come up with another explanation.

      Technically, theories don’t say anything about anything. Science doesn’t say anything, scientists do. So no matter what theory you think is accurate requires you as a person to interpret the data and draw a conclusion about what it means. In this case, does a beginning imply God or no God? That’s a philosophical call for the scientist, not “science.”

      Reply
      • Jon says:

        Frank said “Vilenkin.. agrees with Craig that his theorem shows that the universe and a multiverse… had a beginning”
        This is simply not true. You are making stuff up like other apologists. The Borde-Vilenkin-Guth Theorem states that any universe, which is expanding sufficiently fast, had to have a finite beginning. This is applicable to some Multiverse models and not to others. Because we don’t know in what type of multiverse we live in (if any), if it is expanding or not, we don’t know if our multiverse had a beginning. Vilenkin or most physicists do not agree with you and Craig that multiverse necessarily had a beginning.

        BTW Vilenkin has stated that the beginning of our universe did not need a cause. So claiming that BVG somehow leads to first cause is wrong. And like Carroll pointed out Craig will not start telling people that Guth thinks the universe is probably eternal. So one author of the Borde-Vilenkin-Guth Theorem thinks our universe did not have a beginning and the other that there was probably no cause.
        So you claim “The big controversy is over what caused the beginning” is not true. They are discussing if there was a cause.

        But hey I can quote mine too. So what did a physicist said after his debate with Craig:
        “when Craig emphasized a recent paper by Anthony Aguirre and John Kehayias. They examined the “emergent universe” scenario of George Ellis and Roy Maartens, in which the universe is in a quasi-static pre-Big-Bang state infinitely far into the past. Aguirre and Kehayias showed that such behavior is unstable; you can’t last in a quasi-static state for half of eternity and then start evolving. … Only after the debate did it dawn on me that he takes the specific behavior of that model as representative of any model that has a quantum-gravity regime (the easiest way out of the “beginning” supposedly predicted by the BGV theorem). That’s completely false.
        and
        “Craig emphasized another “theorem” in a paper by Aron Wall. This is a great paper, well worth reading — but it doesn’t say what Craig wants it to say.”

        Christians get all upset when non-theologians argue about Christian theology, but Christians are happy to back up non-physicist Craig against physicist.

        Reply
        • Frank Turek says:

          Jon, Read the quote and the entire context again: Vilkenin says Craig is interpreting the theorem correctly with regard to the beginning. God is something he has no “expertise” in. And he isn’t saying the universe is uncaused but that it could have arisen from quantum cosmology. But even if true, what then caused the quantum vacuum? Ultimately, it seems we cannot avoid an Unmoved Mover.

          Reply
        • Jon says:

          Frank said “Vilenkin isn’t saying the universe is uncaused”
          That is not true. Vilenkin IS saying the universe is uncaused. Google his interview “Alex Vilenkin interview about the Multiverse part 2/3″

          Frank said “it seems we cannot avoid an Unmoved Mover”
          That is not true. If you had paid any attention what Vilenkin, Carroll and others have said you would know that some universe and multiverse models last forever toward both the past and the future.

          Reply
          • Frank Turek says:

            Hi Jon,

            If Vilenkin is saying the universe is eternal then why is he saying Craig is correct in his interpretation of the theorem that universe and multiverse had a beginning? And how could the universe be eternal given the second law of thermodynamics and the impossibility of traversing an infinite amount of time?

            If Vilenkin is saying that the universe had a beginning but is uncaused, then he is striking at the very principle that makes science and reason possible in the first place: the principle that every effect has a cause. To doubt the law of causality is to doubt virtually everything we know about reality, including our ability to reason and do science. Any theory that gathers evidence to deny the law of causality must use the law of causality in the very process of gathering that evidence. In fact, all arguments, all thinking, all science, and all aspects of life depend on the law of causality.

            Finally, there’s a difference between a model and evidence. Models are not evidence. As you know, there are many models theorized of an eternal universe, but none of them survive scrutiny (especially due to the second law and the beginning of time).

            But regardless of all that, this post has to do with the fine tuning of the universe. What is your specific objection to that? Allen is quite knowledgeable in this area.

            Thanks for your posts.

            Blessings,

            Frank

          • Jon says:

            Frank, let me repeat The Borde-Vilenkin-Guth Theorem states that any universe, which is expanding SUFFICIENTLY FAST, had to have a finite beginning. Vilenkin never claimed that [our or all] multiverse(s) had a beginning or expanding.

            You didn’t check the short interview with Vilenkin because you are still asking about “second law of thermodynamics”, “traversing an infinite amount of time” and “the law of causality”. If you had you would know the answers to those. Please educate yourself.

            Frank said: “[Vilenkin] is striking at the very principle that makes science and reason possible in the first place: the principle that every effect has a cause. To doubt the law of causality is to doubt virtually everything we know about reality, including our ability to reason and do science”

            This is nonsense babble. In classical mechanics you can claim cause/effect, but Vilenkin is talking about quantum mechanics and the beginning of universe. Now get up to speed already.

            Frank said: “In fact, all arguments, all thinking, all science, and all aspects of life depend on the law of causality.”
            This is just not true.

            Frank said: “there are many models theorized of an eternal universe, but none of them survive scrutiny (especially the second law and the beginning of time)”
            This is just not true.

            So much fail in your comment….

          • Frank Turek says:

            Jon,

            If you want to have a conversation about an argument, then please provide some evidence. Saying “not true” or your comment “fails” provides no evidence and is not an argument. If you think what I said is wrong in the last post, then please let me know why.

            Blessings,

            Frank

    • Allen Hainline says:

      Hi Jon,

      Please see my above comment for some input on the possible variance of the physics of our universe …

      I’ll justify the 1 in 10^100 figure and argue that this is actually a conservative estimate. Many atheist physicists like Steven Weinberg concede 1 in 10^120 just from the cosmological constant which I’ll mention in my next blog.

      > Carroll and Vilenkin know about this stuff and are atheists.
      Yeah, I’m quoting mostly atheists to try to convey that my fine-tuning claim is widely accepted among physicists that have studied it in detail. I’ll publish my next blog later today which focuses on the philosophical case in going from fine-tuning to design/theism.

      I have read Adams and Barnes’ critique of it – for other readers see: http://letterstonature.wordpress.com/2010/02/28/the-shrinking-quarter-a-fine-tuned-critique-of-fred-adams/

      I think Barnes is right in his “major quibble” with Adam’s claim of 0.25 in that Adams cannot justify a logarithmic distribution function and Barnes’ estimate that Gravity could vary up to the strength of other forces. Barnes called this error a “howler” in this podcast: http://commonsenseatheism.com/?p=8109

      Admittedly there is some uncertainty about exactly what the expected range should be but there are so many of these fine-tuning claims and often we have even better justification for the expected natural range than in this case. Only if one makes unjustified, narrow assumptions can one minimize the fine-tuning – even then the combined probability over a large set of parameters is sufficient to support my fine-tuning claim. (e.g. if we have 20 FT claims each at 1/4 probability you end up with a one in a trillion chance of getting a life-permitting universe)

      > Why is universe creating machine excluded from the possible options?
      I wasn’t sure what you were getting at here as that is what I’m calling the multiverse

      Thanks Frank for posting about Vilenkin.

      Reply
      • Jon says:

        Allen said “I’ll justify the 1 in 10^100 figure and argue that this is actually a conservative estimate. Many atheist physicists like Steven Weinberg concede 1 in 10^120 just from the cosmological constant”

        You did not address my comment that parameter or constants could be interlocked or linked. And you did not address my question (let’s say the chances are 1 in 10^200) why is this finite number a problem if multiverse time scale or size has not real limits?

        I mentioned Adam’s paper to show that physicists are not sure how “fine-tuned” this universe is and if the parameter were different would there be life in that universe. This is why I asked where you got 1 in 10^100 and 1 in 10^120 figure because those are guesses.

        I asked “Why is universe creating machine excluded from the possible options”. I looks like there are at least five option for the ~beginning of the universe. 1) it is eternal past 2) beginning was uncaused 2) it has a natural cause (for example universe creating machine, no multiverse) 4) we are part of multiverse 5) supernatural cause.
        Why did you only promote two of the options were there are many?

        Reply
        • Allen Hainline says:

          I plan to give an argument for the 1 in 10^100 when I discuss the evidence in an upcoming blog. I’ll also be discussing whether or not an underlying theory could explain all of the constants and why many leading physicists don’t think so.

          The multiverse works as a candidate explanation/alternative if it can meet all of the criteria I laid out – including the key ones that multiverse theories must not themselves be fine-tuned and must make predictions consistent with our universe.

          The Adams paper is a good example of how even when physicists cannot minimize the fine-tuning without making unsubstantiated assumptions such as a range for gravity 30 orders of magnitude less than the force strengths and the a uniform prior is a more reasonable expectation that a logarithmic one. I think Barnes’ critique is spot on.

          You list various alternative explanations for the beginning of the universe but I was simply referring to the multiverse generically because in the context of fine-tuning any multiverse theory might increase probabilistic resources. Whether the universe had a beginning or not is not necessarily relevant to the fine-tuning discussion. Within this article I focused on God or the multiverse as an explanation of the fine-tuning because it is astounding that many (but certainly not all) physicists view those as the only viable options. There are certainly other explanations and I will be interacting with those as well but I wanted to start off with what I viewed as the strongest objection and encourage people to study this fine-tuning evidence in light of physicists’ reluctant appeal to the multiverse as an explanation of the fine-tuning.

          Reply
          • Allen Hainline says:

            Jon,

            You raise a good point that perhaps I should also blog about the possible designer options so I’ll try to do that at some point. One thing to think about though in this regard is that without fine-tuning it seems unlikely that the first life forms capable of evolving to the level of being able to set constants of physics in new universes. Also, even though some physicists think that perhaps something preceded the Big Bang, they view this as a spacetime boundary – it seems unlikely that an intelligent agent bound by physics could set the initial conditions in the new universe being spawned off – it seems to require a supernatural entity.

            Smolin’s theory about universes being spawned by Black Holes has not been well received within the physics community as Susskind has pointed out. Since most physicists now think that information is not lost in a Black Hole, (Hawking admitted he lost his bet to Preskell on this) this seems to disconfirm this theory – the information is still in our universe not a new one. Here is Susskind arguing this point:

            Over the last decade, since Smolin put forward his clever idea, the black hole controversy has largely been resolved. The consensus is that black holes do not lose any information. I’ll cite some of the most influential papers that you can look up yourself: HEP-TH 9309145 , HEP-TH 9306069, HEP-TH 9409089, HEP-TH 9610043, HEP-TH 9805114, HEP-TH 9711200. Incidentally, the combined total number of citations for these six papers is close to 6,000. Another paper, co-authored very recently, by the author of one of these classics, directly attacks Smolin’s assumption. In fact it was one of the 11 papers that I found citing Smolin’s paper. If you want to look it up, here is the archive reference: HEP-TH 0310281. I warned you that I would say “And besides, so-and-so agrees with me.” I apologize, but at least you can go check for yourself.

            The implication of these papers is that no information about the parent can survive the infinitely violent singularity at the center of a black hole. If such a thing as a baby universe makes any sense at all, the baby will have no special resemblance to the mother. Given that, the idea of an evolutionary history that led, by natural selection, to our universe, makes no sense.

          • Jon says:

            Allen, let’s be clear about the Thorne–Hawking–Preskill bet. Hawking admitted he lost his bet to Preskill. Thorne remained unconvinced of Hawking’s proof and declined to contribute to the award. Using the bet as evidence that Hawking radiation preserves information is not strong. But I agree that Hawking’s view has become more popular recently.

            But like I said, I don’t know, I’m not an expert and I just speculated. It seems popular to assume that Level 1 Multiverses have same laws of physics based on observation of instances of symmetry breaking  leads to no changes in fundamental couplings or constants. Google “Ask Ethan #45: How deep does the Multiverse go” to read about this view.

        • Jon says:

          Allen said “I focused on God or the multiverse as an explanation of the fine-tuning”
          So you exclude many other possible explanations, but include your pet hypothesis. This is called rigging the game and has little to do with truing to find the truth.

          Reply
          • Allen Hainline says:

            Here is what I said in the above comments for more context:

            “Within this article I focused on God or the multiverse as an explanation of the fine-tuning because it is astounding that many (but certainly not all) physicists view those as the only viable options. There are certainly other explanations and I will be interacting with those as well but I wanted to start off with what I viewed as the strongest objection”

            Nowhere in here am I claiming that there are not other possibilities – you’ve got to start somewhere and a blog gets too long to deal with all possible objections. I wanted to highlight to point out that some prominent physicists turn to a non-empirical explanation to hopefully encourage readers to be open-minded to design as a possibility. In the blog I posted early today I already started dealing with other possible objections and plan to continue to consider other alternatives. What is your explanation for the fine-tuning? (perhaps I can respond to that as well)

          • Jon says:

            Allen asked “What is your explanation for the fine-tuning?”
            I have no idea. Maybe supermassive black holes or membrane collisions constantly create universes with different parameter sets and only stable ones survive. Maybe stable universes which are able to create more copies of itself through black holes create level 1 multiverse clusters – so maybe stable universes are a result of natural selection. But who knows. I surely don’t.

            If you want encourage readers to be open-minded to design then provide all possible option for design (and non-design). Stacking a deck for your favorite idea will not help your case. So if you want to consider a designer(s), take your own advice, be open minded and consider all viable designer options; eternal universe creating machine, God, multiple gods, evil God, lower beings in supernatural world, aliens who have mastered how to control time both directions, maybe this universe is designed as a failed school project in another universe; designer options are endless. The moment you jump to “God” you are stacking the deck or being closed minded based on your own standards.

          • toby says:

            Jon, I’ve always thought about a universe that exists in a sort of self sustaining loop—a black hole that forms in this universe somehow spawns this universe, perhaps even leading to infinite variations of the universe.

            it’s not something I really believe in, but think it’d make a good scifi story.

  3. Omerbashich says:

    Interesting… but dead-wrong.

    Multiverse (of Tegmark’s Type II) as the requirement of Linde theory’s (of the origin of universes) has been proven:
    1) experimentally from 10+ billion 1Hz gravity measurements taken by the (Canadian) superconducting gravimeter as the Earth’s most accurate instrument used for studying G
    2) mathematically, by expressing G (and thus g) via c on both quantum and mechanist scales, as first hinted by Einstein in 1930s: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1029/97EO00295/abstract
    3) multi-physically (w/o units since no one know what they would be in another universe (they have no multiversal meaning ) as Newton attached them to G only so to close his own (our universe’s) physics.

    http://lanl.arxiv.org/abs/physics/0608026
    http://hal.archives-ouvertes.fr/hal-00808674
    http://www.mynewsdesk.com/ba/pressreleases/as-big-bang-gets-downgraded-to-a-bang-the-first-scientific-proof-of-the-multiverse-claimed-975493

    Cheers, Believers

    Reply
    • Allen Hainline says:

      I recommend some caution here – I don’t think a Type II multiverse has been proven. You seem to be pointing to the BICEP2 results here and something you’ve written in the context of plate tectonics that I don’t see as proving other universes exist. As you’re probably aware there has been a flurry of articles second-guessing the initial confirmation of gravitational waves from BICEP2 – I’ll link to one by the prominent scientist Paul Steinhardt that is on Dawkin’s web site so that readers don’t think I’m just linking to articles by theists:

      http://richarddawkins.net/2014/06/big-bang-blunder-bursts-the-multiverse-bubble/

      One should also be cautious in distinguishing between evidence for inflation – which is pretty widely accepted as occurring in our universe vs. flavors of inflation that necessarily produce other universes. Also, readers should keep in mind that my argument doesn’t depend on their not being a multiverse but my blog was emphasizing that the existence of other universes alone doesn’t show that the multiverse is an adequate explanation of the fine-tuning. If Carroll and others are right about the unlikelihood of inflation, then inflationary multiverse scenarios are merely exchanging one type of fine-tuning for another.

      Reply
  4. toby says:

    Mr. Hainline and Mr. T.,

    How do you justify assuming that life is a goal of the universe? I am assuming that that’s what you’re doing. You’re saying that the universe is fine tuned for life, but how do arrive at this? Would it not be more correct to say that it’s fine tuned for matter/mass and that anything that occurs as a result of that is a side effect? It just seems you’re smuggling in a bias with no justification.

    Reply
    • Allen Hainline says:

      Thanks for asking this Toby so I can clarify. Under atheism, we know that there would be no goal for life in the Universe. Conversely, if God exists, I think it’s reasonable that He would want to create life and I’ve pointed out how skeptic’s arguments from evil implicitly affirm this. The very thing that would plausibly be different depending on whether or not God exists would be a favoritism toward life – especially rational conscious life. Against the backdrop of these predictions, we discover that a life-permitting universe would have been impossible if a number of constants had varied a tiny amount among possible values or that the vast majority of initial conditions would have resulted in a lifeless universe. It does seem to fit theistic expectations more than atheistic expectations, doesn’t it?

      Look for more details when I get to the actual evidential part of the blog series but I don’t see how one could say simply that the universe is fine-tuned for matter/mass? We need some variety of elements, we need long-lived stars or some energy source, we need chemistry or something like it to work – there are just lots of ways to get the universe wrong with respect to supporting life and few ways to allow it to be life-supporting.

      Reply
      • Stephen B says:

        “It does seem to fit theistic expectations more than atheistic expectations, doesn’t it?”

        Allen, I’m not sure I can agree. A universe where life can only exist in a tiny speck of it, and where the unimaginably vast majority is completely hostile to life – to me that suggests atheistic expectations better. And where it occurs at all it is brutish and short. Even on earth it seems that 99% of the species that have existed are now extinct.

        Reply
  5. toby says:

    “Conversely, if God exists, I think it’s reasonable that He would want to create life and I’ve pointed out how skeptic’s arguments from evil implicitly affirm this.”

    Why? Why would it be reasonable that a deity would want to create anything? Can a perfect being be lonely or needy? And are you saying a perfectly good god would want to create life for the good of the lifeforms and an evil god would want to create life to treat the the lifeforms poorly? Rigged, wouldn’t you say?

    “The very thing that would plausibly be different depending on whether or not God exists would be a favoritism toward life – especially rational conscious life.”

    There is NO justification for this.

    “Against the backdrop of these predictions, we discover that a life-permitting universe would have been impossible if a number of constants had varied a tiny amount among possible values or that the vast majority of initial conditions would have resulted in a lifeless universe. It does seem to fit theistic expectations more than atheistic expectations, doesn’t it?”

    That’s if we assume that these values could be anything other than what they are. And also assume that under any other conditions than the ones we know that life couldn’t happen. at least life as we know it.

    ” I don’t see how one could say simply that the universe is fine-tuned for matter/mass? We need some variety of elements, we need long-lived stars or some energy source, we need chemistry or something like it to work – there are just lots of ways to get the universe wrong with respect to supporting life and few ways to allow it to be life-supporting.”

    Thhhhhpt. The most you can possibly say is that the universe is tuned for the first elements produced. Anything after that is wishful thinking as you’re injecting design into what you say is only a fine tuning argument. In fact this whole argument is nothing but another version of the same old design argument which boils down to “god done it/made it that way. you need no further explanation.” Once you have the initial particles/matter everything after that behaves according to physical laws and follows a sort of cosmic evolution. I still don’t see how you justify that the universe’s purpose is life. You start with: there’s a god. Then follow it with: obviously a god would want to create life (whether it’s evil or good). And then: we’re alive in a universe with physics so those physics are due to god.

    Reply
  6. Allen Hainline says:

    I view the existence of humans as a better state than not existing – why would you expect a loving God to not want to choose a better state among alternatives? He may have directly or indirectly created other creatures besides us but I’m simply arguing. There could be a motivation for creation for the sake of the created even if God doesn’t need it. As an eternally existent being who might value variety, He would eventually want to bring about creatures with which He could have a relationship unless there was a good reason not to. I refer you to this book by Oxford philosopher Richard Swinburne for a detailed, philosophically rigorous case for why God would be expected to create life:
    http://www.amazon.com/Existence-God-Richard-Swinburne/dp/0199271682/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1405310201&sr=1-1&keywords=swinburne+existence+of+god

    Even if you viewed this as somewhat unlikely, it’s more unlikely to be able to setup physics at random and expect intelligent life. Consider the card game example of me dealing myself a royal flush 10 times in a row. You may not know the prior probability that I would cheat but at some point along the way of getting royal flushes dealt in a row it becomes more plausible that I’m cheating than that the hands are dealt at random.
    > The most you can possibly say is that the universe is tuned for the first elements produced. Anything after that is wishful thinking as you’re injecting design into what you say is only a fine tuning argument.

    When I present some of the extensive evidence for fine-tuning I think you’ll see that there is much more to it than just getting a few seed elements into the universe and expecting cosmic evolution to lead to intelligent life. I already mentioned the cosmological constant – this is certainly independent of the types of elements in existence. The universe could have expanded to fast to ever synthesize additional elements. Nuclear fusion is fine-tuned to produce both carbon and oxygen in stars. The amplitude of primordial fluctuations is fine-tuned or we’d lack stars and planets even if we had an abundance of matter in the form of the lower elements. Several types of fine-tuning are required to have long-lived stars. I’ll save more examples and further details for my actual blogs on this topic. Refer to Barnes’ review article to come up to speed on some of these and other examples of fine-tuning: http://arxiv.org/abs/1112.4647
    Or read this book to get an even more in-depth understanding of how widespread are the examples of fine-tuning: http://www.amazon.com/Anthropic-Cosmological-Principle-Oxford-Paperbacks/dp/0192821474

    Reply
  7. Luke says:

    I have a question for Dr. Turek, but would be glad to hear from anyone.

    I’ve always thought that a general theory of apologetics would be superior to disjointed theories and pieces of evidence. With that in mind, I wonder if I could hear a critique of this:

    1. All information comes from a mind (premise).
    2. Objective moral laws exist (premise).
    3. Objective moral laws are information (premise).
    4. Objective moral laws are not made up by G-d, nor does G-d reflect truths higher than Himself. These laws are simply a reflection of G-d’s nature. (premise)
    5. G-d’s nature contains information. (Follows from 2, 3, 4)
    6. The information in G-d’s nature (the information which moral laws reflect) came from a mind (follows from 1 and 5).

    Any critique is welcome, both as far as the premises and the conclusion.

    Thanks,

    Luke

    Reply

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