Saturday, 2 July 2016

GOD, SELF AND THE NEW COSMOLOGY

'A SUPERINTENDENT HAS MONKEYED WITH THE PHYSICS'


Thus Fred Hoyle in the 1950s, as quoted below.  As we prepare for our Cosmology and Religion event on July 3rd, here are some extracts from authors who have pondered the subject professionally.   


KEITH WARD (God, Chance & Necessity, 1996):

When one considers all the elements involved in the Big Bang, it begins to look like an extremely complex event, and not a simple elementary fact at all.  So it [still] seems to stand in need of explanation.  To say that such a very complex and well-ordered universe comes into being without any cause or reason is equivalent to throwing one’s hands up in the air and just saying that anything at all might happen, that it is hardly worth bothering to look for reasons at all.  And that is the death of science.
[from ch 1 where he considers whether the universe came into being by chance, or by necessity or for a particular purpose]


PAUL DAVIES (The Goldilocks Enigma, 2006):

[So] let’s take a look at the hypothesis that the appearance of design in the universe is the result of a designer/creator.  Although by definition this is not a scientific explanation (since it appeals to a supernatural cause), it is still a rational explanation. …
Intelligent design of the laws [of nature] does not conflict with science, because it accepts that the whole universe runs itself according to physical laws, and that everything that happens in the universe has a natural explanation.  … You don’t even need a miracle to bring the universe into existence in the first place, because the big bang may be brought within the scope of physical laws too, either by using quantum cosmology … or by assuming something like eternal inflation. …
The central objection to invoking such a being to account for the ingenious form of the universe is the completely ad hoc nature of the explanation.  Unless there is already some other reason to believe in the existence of the Great Designer, then merely declaring ‘God did it!’ tells us nothing at all.
[ch 9 in a section entitled: Laws by design versus anthropic selection in a multiverse]

Although a strong motivation for introducing the multiverse concept is to get rid of the need for design, this is bid is only partially successful.  … The popular multiverse models shift the problem elsewhere – up a level from universe to multiverse.  To appreciate this, one only has to list the many assumption that underpin the multiverse theory.
[ch 9: Who designed the multiverse? ]


ANGELA TILBY (Soul: God, Self and the New Cosmology, 1992):

The weak anthropic principle
The weakest statement of the anthropic principle starts from the realisation that it is becoming harder and harder to believe that we can observe the universe from a truly neutral position.  In 1974 Brandon Carter, a former research student of Stephen Hawking’s, made the suggestion in a journal of the Royal Society that our location in the universe is necessarily privileged to the extent of being compatible with our existence as observers. …
The weak anthropic principle … states clearly that the universe does not revolve around us.  What it does say is that our universe, of necessity, has to take account of our presence.  …
But the consequences of the anthropic principle are more far-reaching than this.  In classical and quantum physics, as we have seen, life is something of an anomaly…  What has been surprising to physicists is to discover that in purely physical terms life is not as anomalous to the basic structure of the universe as they once assumed.  In fact the conditions for life seem to have been woven into the fabric of things from the very beginning. …
Fred Hoyle …  was so struck by the scale and number of coincidences which allowed for the balance of elements necessary for life that he remarked, ‘A superintendent has monkeyed with the physics.’

The strong anthropic principle
… claimed that the universe must be such as to admit the creation of observers within it at some stage.
…  It says that, given the way the universe is, carbon-based intelligent observers have to come into existence at some stage in its evolution. This would seem to introduce an element of deliberate design … We are meant to be here … ‘The universe knew we were coming.’
There are three possible interpretations of the strong anthropic principle.  …
[1] There is only one possible universe, which has been designed with the goal of bringing conscious observers into existence.
[2] Our universe depends on the existence of many other different universes.
[3] The universe requires conscious observers in order to bring itself into being.

Spirituality and participation
…Our existence is a miracle, but it is a miracle with meanings we are yet to discover. Looking at the world as an interconnected web, a web which seems to require conscious observers to make it more and more fully real, suggests that the maker of this world may be difficult to discern not because God is hidden, but because God is so enormous and all-encompassing that we cannot see God as being separate from the wholeness of things. …

[ch 8 The Anthropic Universe]

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