24 January 2009

Science as a slave of an ideology II

Discover is the only magazine that I subscribe to right now on my own. (In spite of the fact that they are global warmists.)


But the December issue had an article that just drove me crazy. Entitled Science's Alternative to an Intelligent Creator: The Multiverse Theory, it told of the theoretical work of a cosmologist.


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.

“We have a lot of really, really strange coincidences, and all of these coincidences are such that they make life possible,” Linde says.


Physicists don’t like coincidences. They like even less the notion that life is somehow central to the universe, and yet recent discoveries are forcing them to confront that very idea. Life, it seems, is not an incidental component of the universe, burped up out of a random chemical brew on a lonely planet to endure for a few fleeting ticks of the cosmic clock. In some strange sense, it appears that we are not adapted to the universe; the universe is adapted to us.


Call it a fluke, a mystery, a miracle. Or call it the biggest problem in physics. Short of invoking a benevolent creator, many physicists see only one possible explanation: Our universe may be but one of perhaps infinitely many universes in an inconceivably vast multi­verse.


The idea is controversial. Critics say it doesn’t even qualify as a scientific theory because the existence of other universes cannot be proved or disproved. Advocates argue that, like it or not, the multiverse may well be the only viable non­religious explanation for what is often called the “fine-tuning problem”—the baffling observation that the laws of the universe seem custom-tailored to favor the emergence of life.



Now, I, for one, am truly fascinated by mathematical and cosmological theories, even though I do not understand them at all. This one falls into that category. My problem with this article, and, indeed with this theory, is that it jumps off from a philosophical/scientific assumption: there is no god, so we must find a way to explain the universe without one.


This flies squarely in the face of Occam’s Razor. That 14th century rule of logic says "entia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessitatem." This particular theory is perhaps the perfect violation of Occam’s Razor, because that Latin phrase is translated "entities must not be multiplied beyond necessity." (Even better if the alternative version is used which translates "plurality should not be posited without necessity".)


Given the choice between an unprovable multiverse and the equally unprovable existence of an intelligent creator, the usual translation of Occam’s law, “all else being equal, the simplest solution is the best” would seem to point to the existence of intelligent creator. (I confess a bias here.)


Scientifically, the theory is succinctly critiqued near the end of the article.

“If you allow yourself to hypothesize an almost unlimited portfolio of different worlds, you can explain anything,” says John Polkinghorne, formerly a theoretical particle physicist at Cambridge University and, for the past 26 years, an ordained Anglican priest. If a theory allows anything to be possible, it explains nothing; a theory of anything is not the same as a theory of everything, he adds.


Gee, they remembered to point out Polkinghorne's bias.


And then we got this very silly bit of business from a defender of the theory.


Supporters of the multiverse theory say that critics are on the wrong side of history. “Throughout the history of science, the universe has always gotten bigger,” Carr says. “We’ve gone from geocentric to heliocentric to galactocentric....This is just the same process repeating itself.”


No, Dr. Carr, the universe did not get bigger. Our collective ability to perceive it improved.


As I said, I have my bias, and the magazine pointed out Polkinghorne's. It is certainly fine for scientists to explore all kinds of alternatives, but it would be nice if they would disclose their biases as well... or at least if a supposedly objective scientific magazine would do so.



What bias in my speaking of? The scientist who is being profiled, and whose theory is being explicated in this issue of Discover is a Stanford professor named Andrei Linde. A third of the way through the article, we are suddenly told that Linde began to formulate his theory “a professor at the prestigious Lebedev Physical Institute in Moscow.”



In other words, he began to formulate a scientific theory that just happen to fit perfectly with the Soviet communist vision of a godless world.



Linde’s cosmology is actually a servant - perhaps slave - of a communist atheistic worldview.



We can see how well that works the underground slave camps of North Korea.

2 comments:

Exodio said...

I have to say your comment "No, Dr. Carr, the universe did not get bigger. Our collective ability to perceive it improved." feeds right into the possibility of a multiverse. Your argument that our perception improved is exactly what might be occuring here - that rather than the universe magically getting bigger, we are able to perceive that there is more to the space-time continuum than just our limited 4 dimensional understanding.

There are already a posited 10 (or 11) dimensions. While most people can't even begin to comprehend that (I know I can't), that doesn't make it untrue as a premise.
http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/cosmicvariance/2005/12/07/how-many-dimensions-are-there/

It is true that bias should always be pointed out. However, your other premise that "In other words, he began to formulate a scientific theory that just happen to fit perfectly with the Soviet communist vision of a godless world."
How is it any different from your Occam's Razor argument to posit from a godless point of view? By positing a God when attempting to understand the origin of the universe, you are creating an entity designed to answer questions that have no easy answers. The God theory is the same as the Multiverse theory - create a situation in which anything is possible and voila, here we have the possible.

Can't answer the fundamentals? Create God to create us. Thus you have all the answers right there, instantly. In some ways I would say this is an inverse of the razor - limiting entities due to prejudice.

Tony said...
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