Any old creationist argument will do for the neo-theocrats at the Discovery Institute‘s creationist public relations and lobbying operation, the Center for Science and Culture (a/k/a the Discoveroids, a/k/a the cdesign proponentsists).
Today they’re gushing about the fine tuning argument. That’s a close relative of the anthropic principle, which we’ve discussed in Common Creationist Claims Confuted. We said there, among other things:
It shouldn’t surprise us that everything we discover about the universe is consistent with our existence — were it otherwise we wouldn’t exist. But it doesn’t follow that the universe exists for the purpose of our existence.
What makes you think that without supernatural tinkering, the universe would have been different? How does one compute the odds against this specific universe? From where we sit, the odds favoring the universe seem to be 100%. Where is the evidence suggesting that this particular universe shouldn’t exist, or that its attributes should have been different from what they are?
Well, the Discoveroids are all worked up over the fine tuning argument. They claim that it’s virtually proof that their magical designer set things up for us — although as we’ve remarked about all their other “evidence,” it’s equally solid proof that Zeus is responsible. Anyway, their article on this is Scientific American Challenges the Multiverse. It’s by Casey Luskin, our favorite Discoveroid creationist.
Casey begins by mentioning a recent article in Scientific American by George F. R. Ellis: Does the Multiverse Really Exist? That article discusses the concept of the multiverse:
In the past decade an extraordinary claim has captivated cosmologists: that the expanding universe we see around us is not the only one; that billions of other universes are out there, too. There is not one universe — there is a multiverse.
Okay, now here’s what Casey has to tell us, with bold font added by us and his links omitted:
The upshot of the [Scientific American] article was that if it [the multiverse] does [exist], then science has no way of discovering it. In essence, it is an unscientific concept that has its roots in philosophy.
That’s true. What of it? Casey continues:
So if there’s no possible way to observe or interact with the many alternate universes predicted by the multiverse, why are do some scientists advocate this idea? According to Ellis [the author of the Scientific American article], they’re trying to get around the evidence for the fine-tuning of our universe: … .
We’re omitting the quote from Ellis, but it doesn’t quite say what Casey says. Let’s read on:
Buying more lottery tickets will give you better odds of winning the lottery. In the same way, multiverse proponents hope that inventing more universes will help them explain the insanely small probability of finding a universe whose physical laws are finely tuned for life. So the motive for believing in a multiverse stems from a materialistic philosophy that hopes to overcome the evidence for design. Unfortunately for multiverse proponents, as Ellis points out, “we have no hope of testing it observationally.”
We always have to ask: What evidence of design? It’s true that we evolved to live here (and far more species did not and no longer exist), but that in no way argues that the universe was designed so that we could live here. Casey continues:
Just how finely tuned is our universe? According to Roger Penrose, the initial entropy of the universe must have been fine-tuned to within one part in 10 raised to the 10123 power [Casey’s wording] . That’s not 1 in 10 with 123 zeros after it. That’s 1 in 10 with 10123 zeros after it. And that’s just for one physical parameter. The fine-tuning of our universe is a big problem for materialists.
Wowie! Big numbers! We couldn’t track down where Penrose said that, so let’s just read some more from Casey’s article:
Ellis argues that detecting purpose lies outside of the realm of science, but if we base our views upon scientific observations, we are nonetheless left with the following [what follows is apparently a mix of Casey’s conclusions slipped in among Ellis’]:
• The laws of nature exhibit an incredibly unlikely degree of fine-tuning that is required to produce a life-friendly universe.
• There is currently no physical explanation for this fine-tuning.
• We can observe our universe, and no others.
• This unlikely fine-tuning represents astronomically high levels of specified complexity embedded in the laws of nature.
Ooooooh! Specified complexity! Here’s Casey’s conclusion:
And what, in our uniform experience, is the only known cause of high levels of specified complexity? Intelligent design.
Or Zeus (and the Titans who preceded him). If one thinks it’s necessary to explain why the constants of the universe are the way they are (and we don’t see any such necessity), then we prefer the Olympian gods as an explanation. That theory has nearly 3,000 years of solid documentation — easily going back to the Iliad, and the Olympian gods are a far more attractive explanation than some creepy designer who sneaks around tinkering with the flagellum.
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