Cosmologists Can’t Escape Conclusion of Design

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first_imgGeoff Brumfiel of Nature1 decided to investigate the growing fracas over the anthropic principle (see 12/18/2005 entry); i.e., that our universe appears to be more than a coincidence.  In a piece called “Our universe: Outrageous fortune,” he looked at the views of Leonard Susskind and his few critics.For two decades now, theorists in the think-big field of cosmology have been stymied by a mathematical quirk in their equations.  If the number controlling the growth of the Universe since the Big Bang is just slightly too high, the Universe expands so rapidly that protons and neutrons never come close enough to bond into atoms.  If it is just ever-so-slightly too small, it never expands enough, and everything remains too hot for even a single nucleus to form.  Similar problems afflict the observed masses of elementary particles and the strengths of fundamental forces.    In other words, if you believe the equations of the world’s leading cosmologists, the probability that the Universe would turn out this way by chance are infinitesimal – one in a very large number.  “It’s like you’re throwing darts, and the bullseye is just one part in 10120 of the dart board,” says Leonard Susskind, a string theorist based at Stanford University in California.  “It’s just stupid.”   (Emphasis added in all quotes.)Brumfiel found that a majority of cosmologists have come around to this view kicking and screaming.  Before, most were “violently opposed” to the anthropic principle, but their inability to explain the fine-tuned values of physics has led them, like Susskind, to imagine a large number of universes, perhaps 10500, in which all the constants are random.  We just happen to live in the lucky one that permits atoms, stars, and life.  Stephen Weinberg admitted to being a “reluctant convert” to the idea.  Another part of their reluctance has stemmed from the Intelligent Design movement:Because other universes would be causally separated from our own, it seems impossible to tell whether our cosmos is the only one, or one of many.  Most scientists find this disturbing.  Talk of a Universe fine-tuned for life has already attracted supporters of intelligent design, who claim that an intelligent force shaped evolution [sic].  If there’s no way to tell whether the values of scientific constants are a coincidence, the movement’s followers argue, then why not also consider them evidence of God’s handiwork?Why not, indeed?  Brumfiel’s subtitles include the phrases One in a zillion, Strings attached, and Ignorance is bliss.    One critic of taking the multiverse way out is David Gross, a Nobel-prize winning theorist.  He has a problem with Susskind’s landscape of universes being impossible to disprove.  He also finds the idea disturbing on another level: its dependence on random chance.  That eliminates any hope for a model or pattern on which a scientific principle could be built.  “The power of the [anthropic] principle is strongest where you have ignorance,” he quipped.  Like Gross, Lisa Randall of Harvard feels more work needs to be done before taking such “radical leaps of faith.”  Gross added, “People in string theory are very frustrated, as am I, by our inability to be more predictive after all these years,” he said, but that’s no excuse for using such “bizarre science”, he cautioned.  “It is a dangerous business.”    Brumfiel ended with that, but not with any solution on the horizon.  Earlier in the article he had put a callout quote from Susskind: “It would be very foolish to throw away the right answer on the basis that it doesn’t conform to some criteria for what is or isn’t science.”  That sounds strikingly similar to what proponents of Intelligent Design have been saying for years. 1Geoff Brumfiel, “Our Universe: Outrageous fortune,” Nature 439, 10-12 (5 January 2006) | doi:10.1038/439010a.In the popular ID film Unlocking the Mystery of Life, Dr. Paul A. Nelson pointed to the arbitrariness of rules that say one cannot use intelligent causes in science.  “Science should be a search for truth about the world,” he said.  We shouldn’t throw out a kind of cause in advance by saying I don’t like that idea, but instead, should bring to bear all the causes that could explain a phenomenon.  If the evidence is shouting design, then why not investigate intelligent causes?  Yes, it would be very foolish to throw away the right answer when that’s where the evidence leads.(Visited 33 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img

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