December 5, 2008 | David F. Coppedge

Cosmologists Taste the Forbidden Fruit

Everyone agrees: our universe appears fine-tuned for human existence.  You have two choices: it was designed by God, or there is a multiverse (other universes we cannot detect).  Amanda Gefter is unhappy with that choice.  In New Scientist, she asked, why can’t we have more options?
    Calling the God-vs-multiverse choice a false dichotomy, she said, “Science never boils down to a choice between two alternative explanations.  It is always plausible that both are wrong and a third or fourth or fifth will turn out to be correct.”
    Choosing the God option, she said, would be to “abandon science itself.”  But she was also uncomfortable with the multiverse.  Irritated at creationist blogs and websites that consider the multiverse a “get-out-of-God-free card,” Gefter also took umbrage at their linking of evolution with moral evil.  She labeled any speculative hypothesis that avoided God as “science.”  A related story on New Scientist said that the amount of dark matter in our universe is finely tuned.  “It’s not just the nature of dark matter that’s a mystery,” the article began; “– even its abundance is inexplicable.”  This is a bit strange since it would be hard to know the abundance of something that is undetectable.  What is the explanation for this “tremendous coincidence”? the article asked, appealing to the anthropic principle.  “But if our universe is just one of many possible universes, at least this conundrum can be explained.”

Want to hear her speculation on what the third option might look like?  Here it is – we kid you not.  We quote the article so you know we are not making this up.

What might a third option look like here?  Physicist John Wheeler once offered a suggestion: maybe we should approach cosmic fine-tuning not as a problem but as a clue.  Perhaps it is evidence that we somehow endow the universe with certain features by the mere act of observation.  It’s an idea that Stephen Hawking has been thinking about, too.  Hawking advocates what he calls top-down cosmology, in which observers are creating the universe and its entire history right now.  If we in some sense create the universe, it is not surprising that the universe is well suited to us.

Let’s get this straight: either imagining universes we can never know is science, or believing that we are god is science.  But believing in a real God, who has the purpose and power to create a universe, and the omnipresence to be the Observer giving reality to phenomena (as philosopher George Berkeley argued), is not science.  OK, everyone, let’s sing:

When you wish upon a star, nature makes you what you are,
Anything your heart concocts is science true.
If your heart is in your dream, no proposal’s too extreme
When you hyper-speculate as scientists do.
Fate is kind, she gives reality,
The sweet fulfillment of our observing.
Like a bolt out of the blue, observation creates you,
When you wish upon a star, your dreams come true.

Believers in this PAP or “Participatory Anthropic Principle” (i.e., the idea that we create the universe by observing it), apparently are willing to take credit for having brought into existence distant galaxies, with all their stars and planets and whatever – items they have never seen or will see – just because the universe we see from earth is a requirement for their existence.  Undoubtedly this is considered more scientific than the “name it and claim it“ preaching on some religious TV programs.
    Welcome to modern science Fantasyland.  This make-believe world, in which otherwise intelligent people employ the honorable label of science to abandon reason and common sense, and hide their eyes from the clear evidence of creation, where they can embrace absurd notions that fulfill an old temptation (“Ye shall be as gods”) to preserve their naturalistic religion, has only one explanation: Romans 1.

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