Comment on God and Granite Cubes by Sean Pitman.
Here’s a quote that explains the problem I have with the multiverse idea (i.e., a “Theory of Anything” can be used to explain absolutely everything – and therefore nothing):
A pervasive idea in fundamental physics and cosmology that should be retired: the notion that we live in a multiverse in which the laws of physics and the properties of the cosmos vary randomly from one patch of space to another. According to this view, the laws and properties within our observable universe cannot be explained or predicted because they are set by chance. Different regions of space too distant to ever be observed have different laws and properties, according to this picture. Over the entire multiverse, there are infinitely many distinct patches. Among these patches, in the words of Alan Guth, “anything that can happen will happen—and it will happen infinitely many times”. Hence, I refer to this concept as a Theory of Anything. Any observation or combination of observations is consistent with a Theory of Anything. No observation or combination of observations can disprove it. Proponents seem to revel in the fact that the Theory cannot be falsified. The rest of the scientific community should be up in arms since an unfalsifiable idea lies beyond the bounds of normal science. Yet, except for a few voices, there has been surprising complacency and, in some cases, grudging acceptance of a Theory of Anything as a logical possibility. The scientific journals are full of papers treating the Theory of Anything seriously. What is going on?…
A Theory of Anything is useless because it does not rule out any possibility and worthless because it submits to no do-or-die tests. (Many papers discuss potential observable consequences, but these are only possibilities, not certainties, so the Theory is never really put at risk.)
Laura Mersini-Houghton’s observations have not demonstrated the existence of infinite universes – not even close. The concept of infinite universes beyond our own is simply not testable and could never be testable in a falsifiable manner from our very very limited Earth-bound perspective. Again, the modern use of the multiverse argument is equivalent to undermining the very basis of scientific discovery – predictive value. The multiverse argument completely undermines the entire concept of predictive value since it makes anything not only possible, but argues that anything and everything will happen somewhere an infinite number of times – by sheer chance alone. If I win at the craps table in Las Vegas 1000 times in a row, that doesn’t necessarily mean I’m deliberately cheating somehow. Odds are pretty much 100% that I just happen to be in the right universe! After all, its bound to happen somewhere an infinite number of times – right?! Come on now! You just can’t do science starting with such a premise. Surely you can see that?
So, isn’t the hypothesis of intelligent design in the same boat? Well, no. It isn’t. Why not? Because, the argument that an intelligent mind and only an intelligent mind could have produced a given phenomenon can be tested and falsified quite easily – by simply showing how some mindless mechanism based on the mechanical laws of nature could do the job without any additional intelligent “direction” or “guidance” beyond these mindless mechanisms. You see, the ID-only argument isn’t being used to explain anything and everything. It is only being used to explain what cannot be explained by mindless mechanisms, but are at least approximated by what known intelligent minds can produce.
Sean Pitman Also Commented
But it does work…
This is like saying that you can occasionally get a three letter word from looking at randomly jumbled Scrabble letters on a table. The evolutionary mechanism only “works” to produce what are equivalent to “three letter words”, with an exponential decay in evolvability as one moves up the ladder of functional complexity from here. You’re trying to argue that because three-letter words can easily evolve that given enough time an entire Shakespearean play is inevitable. That’s a ridiculous argument… and the same thing is true for biological complexity at higher levels.
and is the most rational and best explanation for the vast diversity of interlrelated life we see on the planet.
No, it isn’t. The most rational and best explanation beyond very low levels of functional complexity is intelligent design. You have absolutely no rational argument to the contrary – and neither does anyone else.
And the vast acknowledged scientific weight of the evidence ( from experts in their fields , not amateurs or fundamentalists) supports evolution.
Based on what? Where is the evidence for how the evolutionary mechanism can remotely achieve what you claim it did?
And, by the way, I’m not talking from an amateur position. I know biological science and have been trained in it very well…
That does not mean there are not issues to resolve as to how it works over time at a micro level. Of course there are, just like medicine is still working on a cure for many diseases.
It’s not that there are a few “minor” issues here. No one has the foggiest idea how the evolutionary mechanism could possibly “work” beyond very low levels of functional complexity – no idea at all. That’s not a scientific position. That’s a philosophical position that is only in play in an effort to avoid acknowledging the signature of God.
It is nonsensical to postulate that on a planet with limited resources, God make perfect, immortal, procreative life and instructed it to go forth and multiply! But that is the model you say is supported by the weight of the evidence. What was perfect God thinking about that design? How can such a concept appeal to your rational, scientific mind?
What is nonsensical is your lack of consideration of the power of someone who is actually a God. If you and I could think of very simple solutions to such problems, certainly a God worth His salt could also think of reasonable solutions. The command in the Bible is to “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.” (Genesis 1:28).
The command isn’t to “overfill the earth”, but to fill it appropriately and rule over it. Do you think that a God wouldn’t understand birth control? – or that perhaps humans could expand to other planets within the universe?
How do you know that? How do you know it could ‘never’ be testable, if in fact certain cosmologists are know making observations that they say indicate the effect of other universes on our own? How do you know as time goes on that Man will not in fact unravel the mystery and provide more concrete evidence of a multiverse?
I’ve already explained this is some detail. And, I’ve explained why the use of the “multiverse argument” can be used to explain everything and therefore nothing… and how this is anti-science. It’s not real science if it undermines the ability to produce “predictive power” for the hypothesis and/or theory – the very basis of science.
Again, the multiverse concept is impossible to test, even in theory, because other bubble universes would be permanently out of reach and unobservable. “Literally, anything can happen and does happen infinitely many times,” Steinhardt says. “This makes the theory totally unpredictive or, equivalently, unfalsifiable.”
An untestable idea is by definition unscientific, because science relies on verifying predictions through experimentation. Proponents of the multiverse idea, however, say it is so inextricable with some theories, including inflation theories, that evidence for one is evidence for the other. However, this argument is self-defeating. It’s like saying that evidence that predicts a multiverse is evidence that would predict anything and everything… and therefor nothing again. It’s a circular argument…
Also, as far as Laura Mersini-Houghton’s arguments, they are based on the Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP) “cold spot” and “dark flow” data. However, since the initial WMAP data was obtained, a more thorough analysis of data from the WMAP and from the Planck satellite (which has a resolution 3 times higher than WMAP) failed to find any statistically significant evidence of such a bubble universe collision. In addition, there is no evidence of any gravitational pull of other universes on ours. (Link)
Here’s what the Planck team said about the WMAP data:
“The Planck team’s paper appears to rule out the claims of Kashlinsky and collaborators,” says David Spergel of Princeton University, who was not involved in the work. If there is no dark flow, there is no need for exotic explanations for it, such as other universes, says Planck team member Elena Pierpaoli at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles. “You don’t have to think of alternatives.”
So, really, there is no solid evidence even for one other universe beyond our own – much less an infinite number of universes (which would make any “evidence” meaningless anyway because such a perspective makes any and all observations and predictions equally likely).
Yet, as Ron points out, God of the Gaps becomes your default mechanism for ‘ostensible’ design – that gets whittled down over time by science demonstrates how cause and effect mechanisms create phenomena. Again the glaring double standard.
Science itself is based on “gaps” between what various hypotheses can effectively explain and reliably predict. If there were no discoverable gaps like this, there would be no science. That is why pointing out the scientific ability to detect deliberate intelligent design behind various phenomena in nature is not a “double standard” at all – especially given that several modern scientific disciplines are based on the scientific ability to detect deliberate intelligent design behind various artifacts found in nature. How do you think forensic scientists, anthropologists, and SETI scientists hope to be able to detect true artifacts of intelligent design when they find them?
God and Granite Cubes
Just because I agree with these scientists as far as their arguments for design behind the fundamental constants of the universe doesn’t mean I agree with them on everything they say.
Charles Hard Townes, for example, is a physicist, not a biologist, so he can be forgiven for thinking that there are no limits to what a mindless mechanism can do with living things. However, the very same arguments he cites for ID behind the fundamental constants of the universe can also be applied to living things beyond very low levels of functional complexity. In fact, the most simple living thing requires a far higher level of “fine tuning” to live than is required to produce the entire universe. So, if the universe is so clearly designed based on the high degree of fine tuning that it requires, so then are living things and machines within living things that also require an equivalent degree of “fine tuning”.
The counter, of course, is that there is a “natural explanation” for the extreme fine-tuning found within all living things – i.e., natural selection. However, this explanation simply doesn’t work and cannot reasonably work beyond very very low levels of functional complexity. This puts us right back to the argument that Townes and these other scientists use for evident design behind the origin of the universe.
Recent Comments by Sean Pitman
Science and Methodological Naturalism
Very interesting passage. After all, if scientists are honest with themselves, scientific methodologies are well-able to detect the existence of intelligent design behind various artifacts found in nature. It’s just the personal philosophy of scientists that makes them put living things and the origin of the fine-tuned universe “out of bounds” when it comes to the detection of intelligent design. This conclusion simply isn’t dictated by science itself, but by a philosophical position, a type of religion actually, that strives to block the Divine Foot from getting into the door…
Why is it that creationists are afraid to acknowledge the validity of Darwinism in these settings? I don’t see that these threaten a belief in God in any way whatsoever.
The threat is when you see no limitations to natural mindless mechanisms – where you attribute everything to the creative power of nature instead of to the God of nature.
God has created natural laws that can do some pretty amazing things. However, these natural laws are not infinite in creative potential. Their abilities are finite while only God is truly infinite.
The detection of these limitations allows us to recognize the need for the input of higher-level intelligence and creative power that goes well beyond what nature alone can achieve. It is here that the Signature of God is detectable.
For those who only hold a naturalistic view of the universe, everything is attributed to the mindless laws of nature… so that the Signature of God is obscured. Nothing is left that tells them, “Only God or some God-like intelligent mind could have done this.”
That’s the problem when you do not recognize any specific limitations to the tools that God has created – when you do not recognize the limits of nature and what natural laws can achieve all by themselves.
Since the fall of Adam, Sean, all babies are born in sin and they are sinners. God created them. Even if it was by way of cooperation of natural law as human beings also participated in the creation process.
God did not create the broken condition of any human baby – neither the physical or moral brokenness of any human being. God is responsible for every good thing, to include the spark or breath of life within each one of us. However, He did not and does not create those things within us that are broken or bad.
“The owner’s servants came to him and said, ‘Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?’ ‘An enemy did this,’ he replied. “The servants asked him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?'” Matthew 13:27-28
Of course, all humans are indeed born broken and are in a natural state of rebellion against God. However, God is not the one who created this condition nor is God responsible for any baby being born with any kind of defect in character, personality, moral tendency, or physical or genetic abnormality. God did not create anyone with such brokenness. Such were the natural result of rebellion against God and heading the temptations of the “enemy”… the natural result of a separation from God with the inevitable decay in physical, mental, and moral strength.
Of course, the ones who are born broken are not responsible for their broken condition either. However, all of us are morally responsible for choosing to reject the gift of Divine Grace once it is appreciated… and for choosing to go against what we all have been given to know, internally, of moral truth. In other words, we are responsible for rebelling against the Royal Law written on the hearts of all mankind.
This is because God has maintained in us the power to be truly free moral agents in that we maintain the Power to choose, as a gift of God (Genesis 3:15). We can choose to accept or reject the call of the Royal Law, as the Holy Spirit speaks to all of our hearts…
Remember the statement by Mrs. White that God is in no wise responsible for sin in anyone at any time. God is working to fix our broken condition. He did not and does not create our broken condition. Just as He does not cause Babies to be born with painful and lethal genetic defects, such as those that result in childhood leukemia, He does not cause Babies to be born with defects of moral character either. God is only directly responsible for the good, never the evil, of this life.
Again, your all-or-nothing approach to the claims of scientists isn’t very scientific. Even the best and most famous of scientists has had numerous hair-brained ideas that were completely off base. This fact does not undermine the good discoveries and inventions that were produced.
Scientific credibility isn’t based on the person making the argument, but upon the merits of the argument itself – the ability of the hypothesis to gain predictive value when tested. That’s it.
Gary Gilbert, Spectrum, and Pseudogenes
Don’t be so obtuse here. We’re not talking about publishing just anything in mainstream journals. I’ve published several articles myself. We’re talking about publishing the conclusion that intelligent design was clearly involved with the origin of various artifactual features of living things on this planet. Try getting a paper that mentions such a conclusion published…