Cosmologists Use Natural Selection to Explain Fine-Tuning of the Universe

Posted on May 7, 2013 in Cosmology, Darwin and Evolution, Dumb Ideas, Philosophy of Science

In a mathematical tour de farce, two Oxford evolutionists have applied Darwinian natural selection to the multiverse to try to explain why it looks designed.

A press release from the University of Oxford tells how evolutionary theorist Andy Gardner and theoretical physicist Joseph Conlon figured that universes give birth to other universes through black holes.  The ones with the “fittest” parameters of physics get better at it and survive:

Cosmological natural selection proposes that, if new universes are born inside black holes, a ‘multiverse’ of many possible universes could be shaped by a process similar to natural selection so that successive generations of universes evolve to become better at making black holes.…

‘This idea of cosmological natural selection is controversial, and physicists have pointed out all sorts of problems with it. But we were interested in seeing if its basic evolutionary logic actually works,’ said Dr Andy Gardner of Oxford University’s Department of Zoology, lead author of the paper.

We found that a general equation from evolutionary genetics, Price’s theorem, can help us to model how selection can work not only at the scale of genes and organisms but also at that of something as unimaginably vast as multiple universes,’ said Dr Gardner. ‘Our model uses maths similar to the mathematical theory underlying Darwinian adaptation in biology, which explains how the dynamics of natural selection leads to organisms appearing designed to maximize their fitness.’

The Price equation, however, is not universally accepted as a valid description of evolution, dependent as it is on controversial ideas of kin selection and group selection.  Van Veelen and others criticized its use in the Journal of Theoretical Biology last year.  Tutorials at Evolution and Games illustrate how Price’s theorem can produce misleading results.

The Oxford team of two admitted that “the evolution of universes is very different from the evolution of animals,” but decided that “models of evolving universes are quite similar to models of bacterial evolution,” so they felt the similar logic made the exercise worthwhile.  Their original paper, published in Complexity, is available online in PDF format.

So if models of evolving universes resemble models of biological evolution, what does that say about the latter?

Let’s use this paper with all its whiz-bang equations to show how to respond to pseudo-erudite atheists, without being intimidated by their jargon and flawed mathematics.  The idea to master is that if your thesis is illogical, no amount of jargon or math will make it logical.  You don’t have to be able to follow the math of these Oxford scholars to conclude that their ideas are laughably absurd.

Suppose, for instance that you want to prove that gnomes are capable of painting birds’ eggs in the middle of the night.  In your paper, you let G stand for the available gnome population, E stand for the egg density per acre, r the effective egg coloration rate and F the gnomic fitness increase derived from the Price equation, assuming the egg-painting activity allows gnomes to produce more offspring.  It doesn’t matter if you can derive F = cov(G1G2) + cov(E1E2) r -ewT or anything else, even more impressive-looking.  If the assumptions are wrong, the conclusions must also be wrong.

Gardner and Conlon’s reasoning (and math) is a house of cards on sand in a whirlwind.  They assumed Darwinism accounts for finely-tuned adaptations in biology, like avian flight, blinding their eyes, as did Francis Crick, who said that “Biologists must constantly keep in mind that what they see was not designed, but rather evolved.”  They leapt from that error to assume that evolution can account for fine-tuning in the fundamental constants of physics.  They borrowed Lee Smolin’s controversial notion of “cosmic natural selection,” which they admitted “is only weakly analogous to Darwinian natural selection.”  They further assumed that finely-tuned, life-giving universes can emerge from black holes rather than dissipate in a sea of random particles by Hawking radiation.  They trusted the shaky math of Price’s theorem, which embeds evolutionary assumptions into the terms of its equation just like our example embedded gnomes into its terms.

They know exactly what they are doing.  Look at the intellectual hurdles they simply walked around instead of facing:

This idea relies on several important assumptions, all of which are controversial. First, it is key to the ideas of Smolin that the endpoint of black-hole formation is actually a new universe, rather than simply a quantum mechanical state that will decay over time and ultimately disappear through Hawking radiation.…

Second, Smolin suggests that the fundamental constants can change during the formation of new universes, but no physical mechanism is known to account for this. Third, Smolin assumes that the new universe inherits the constants of the previous universe, up to small variations. However, in the context of the multiverse, one should expect not just the constants of the Standard Model to be ambient, but also the gauge group (set of forces) and particle content of the Standard Model to be ambient properties as well. In this case, one would expect far more dramatic changes to the physical laws (e.g., the absence of electromagnetism as a long-range force) than simply a change in numerical constants. These are all substantial caveats (see [16] for an in-depth review). Here, we proceed on the assumption that they are surmountable.

With a leap of faith like that, you can simply discount everything they say as foolishness.  Isn’t that exactly what Paul said the wise of this world do when facing clear evidence for design?  Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools.  These two fallible men know fully well how designed the universe is:

The precise numerical values of these constants determine much of the physics of our universe and pose a double conundrum for physicists and philosophers. First, the values have a high degree of arbitrariness: they are dimensionless parameters that range over eight orders of magnitude, for no known reason. Second, it is generally acknowledged that even rather small modifications to some of these values would lead to universes that are vastly less complex than our own.…

No known reason?  Here you witnessed a willful escape from reason.  Because they stubbornly refuse to consider actual design by a designing intelligence, they would rather leap into absurdity, using their God-given talents for abstract reasoning to manipulate numbers that exclude the obvious out of existence in a fantasy multiverse of their own imagination. It’s just what Paul said: “For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them.  For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.” (Romans 1:19–21).  Futile thinking implies the self-refuting fallacy.  By thinking their own reason emerged from a mindless cosmos, Gardner and Conlon just undermined its validity.  Such thinking deserves pity, not funding from the Royal Society, whose founders believed design came from the Designer about whom Paul wrote.  Today’s members honor fools by publishing their folly.

 

 

5 Comments

Jon Saboe May 7, 2013

Any time evolutionists try to conjour up a naturalisic explanation for a given otherwise impossible phenomena, they create the most elaborate Rube Goldberg scenario that, itself, begs for massive quantaties of design and purpose.

Tyler May 7, 2013

I agree 100% with what you say. In fact, your article reminds me of a little algebra I once came across:
Let A = B
A^2 = AB
A^2 — B^2 = AB –B^2
(A+B)(A-B) = B(A-B)
A+B = B
Therefore 2 B = B or to make it more conspicuous 1 = 2.

Sounds stupid doesn’t it but no valid mathematical operation was violated — everything is legitimate. The problem is not in the math but in the logic behind the math and that is what I see happening in theoretical Physics. As you point out it is the assumptions that set up the mathematics that is at fault not the very elegant and brilliant mathematics that they use to come to the conclusions they do.

Editor May 7, 2013

The flaw in the 1 = 2 derivation is dividing by zero, which is meaningless (see line 3; both terms are zero). In the commentary on this entry, we make the point that if the symbols are defined in vague or question-begging ways, no conclusion will be sound, even if the algebra is flawless.

Jon Saboe May 7, 2013

Natural Selection requires a method for transfering the INFORMATION from one “generation” to the next. Information transfer can only happen via language (not to mention that the initial information generation requires intelligence.)

How does an series of random NEW universes carry with it information about the previous universe so that natural selection can SELECT?

dantheman62 May 7, 2013

Great article! This helps me understand the limitations of mathematics and mathematicians.

Leave a Reply