Ever since the 'anthropic principle' entered the language of science, the case for the universe having the hallmarks of design has become progressively stronger. There is a consensus in the thinking of physicists and cosmologists that far exceeds the alleged consensus about anthropogenic global warming, and also the alleged consensus that natural selection is the mechanism for explaining design in living things. Author Tim Folger elevates the principle to "an extraordinary fact" about the universe:
"Its basic properties are uncannily suited for life. Tweak the laws of physics in just about any way and - in this universe, anyway - life as we know it would not exist."
Is our universe one of an infinite series? (Source here)
Folger's article is based on an interview with physicist Andrei Linde, who says: "We have a lot of really, really strange coincidences, and all of these coincidences are such that they make life possible." Many of these are sketched out for the benefit of readers, and Folger comments:
"There are many such examples of the universe's life-friendly properties - so many, in fact, that physicists can't dismiss them all as mere accidents."
If we apply Dembski's design filter approach, we have three avenues to explore: Law, Chance and Design. Law gets very little attention from Folger, despite the intense search for grand Unification Theories (GUT) or Theories of Everything (ToE). The reason is that GUT have not delivered. We cannot explain why the universe is like it is. No progress has been made in showing why the fine-tuning of fundamental constants should be a feature of the physical world. Indeed, the pendulum has swung away from GUT because of the interest in string theory - which has served to underline how extraordinary the evidences of fine-tuning actually are.
"[Polchinski and Bousso]calculated that the basic equations of string theory have an astronomical number of different possible solutions, perhaps as many as [10 to the power 1000]. Each solution represents a unique way to describe the universe."
This brings us straight to the Chance filter, and there is no shortage of people who are prepared to say how infinitesimally small the probability is for our universe to have the properties it does.
Call it a fluke, a mystery, a miracle. Or call it the biggest problem in physics. [. . .]
"If [dark energy] had been any bigger, there would have been enough repulsion from it to overwhelm the gravity that drew the galaxies together, drew the stars together, and drew Earth together," Stanford physicist Leonard Susskind says. "It's one of the greatest mysteries in physics. All we know is that if it were much bigger we wouldn't be here to ask about it."
Nobel laureate Steven Weinberg, a physicist at the University of Texas, agrees. "This is the one fine-tuning that seems to be extreme, far beyond what you could imagine just having to accept as a mere accident," he says.
Scientists who have adopted the metaphysic of secularism and naturalism have no recourse to Design. According to their reasoning, something remarkable must overcome the mindnumbing improbability of our universe. Physicists with this mindset have given birth to the Multiverse Theory. They
"see only one possible explanation: Our universe may be but one of perhaps infinitely many universes in an inconceivably vast multiverse. Most of those universes are barren, but some, like ours, have conditions suitable for life."
Which thought brings us to the third filter of Design. The argument is not based on ignorance but on evidence. We have good reasons to think that a ToE will never be forthcoming - there is no fundamental rationale for thinking that the universe and matter necessarily have the properties we observe. We have good reasons for thinking that Chance is not the answer, because the only way to persist with this explanation is to postulate an infinity of universes with different properties. We have no evidence to suggest that this option is anything more than science fiction. We have excellent reasons for thinking that Design is the answer because, without setting out to look for designed features, scientists have stumbled across them in abundance. Calling these evidences "fine tuning" points to something substantial. Were it not for the metaphysic of secularism, the design inference would be readily embraced.
"I don't think that the multiverse idea destroys the possibility of an intelligent, benevolent creator," Weinberg says. "What it does is remove one of the arguments for it, just as Darwin's theory of evolution made it unnecessary to appeal to a benevolent designer to understand how life developed with such remarkable abilities to survive and breed."
On the other hand, if there is no multiverse, where does that leave physicists? "If there is only one universe," Carr says, "you might have to have a fine-tuner. If you don't want God, you'd better have a multiverse."
Design theory provides the best match with empirical science. If you have any doubts about the pervasive influence of secularisation within contemporary science, this multiverse debate should make the issues clear. Folger's article is very significant for spelling out the thinking of some of the leading figures in the scientific world. For a 2002 comment making the same point, go here. For a recent 2008 comment on these issues, go here.
Science's Alternative to an Intelligent Creator: the Multiverse Theory
Discover Magazine online, November 10, 2008
First para: A sublime cosmic mystery unfolds on a mild summer afternoon in Palo Alto, California, where I've come to talk with the visionary physicist Andrei Linde. The day seems ordinary enough. Cyclists maneuver through traffic, and orange poppies bloom on dry brown hills near Linde's office on the Stanford University campus. But everything here, right down to the photons lighting the scene after an eight-minute jaunt from the sun, bears witness to an extraordinary fact about the universe: Its basic properties are uncannily suited for life. Tweak the laws of physics in just about any way and - in this universe, anyway - life as we know it would not exist.
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