Friday, June 13, 2008


Paul Davies: The Goldilocks Enigma

Interesting quotes from physicist Paul Davies' book: 'The Goldilocks Enigma: Why is the universe just right for life?'(Penguin, 2007) - with brief comments:

'On the face of it, the universe does look as if it has been designed by an intelligent creator expressly for the purpose of spawning sentient beings.' (p. 3)

Yep. And 'if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, sounds like a duck...', etc., then it is probably 'a duck'! (That's the principle of credulity by the way.)

'What is it that enables something as small and delicate and adapted to terrestrial life as the human brain to engage with the totality of the cosmos and the salient mathematical tune to which it dances?' (p. 5.)

Being made in the image of God.

'scientists don't know how life began, and they are almost totally baffled by consciousness.' (p. 16)

Yes, but that's because they try to understand both through the lense of metaphysical or at least methodological naturalism.

'Can a truly absurd universe so convincingly mimic a meaningful one?' (p. 18.)

'we can attribute no physical cause to the big bang.' (p. 80)

But we can attribute a non-physical cause...

'Either the cosmic origin is a natural event, or it is a supernatural event... but with what justification can we declare it to be a natural event if it has happened only once? A natural event it one that can happen in conformity with the laws of nature with a probability greater than zero.' (p. 92.)

On this definition of science, Intelligent design theory certainly counts as science, and as a science proposing explanations for natural events to boot, since even specified complexity and irreducible complexity happen in conformity with the laws of nature with a probability greater than zero!

'Many scientists hate the multiverse idea... the multiverse has some outspoken critics from both inside and outside the scientific comunity. There are philosophers who that that multiverse proponents have succumbed to fallacious reasoning in their use of probability theory. tehre are many scientists who dismiss the multiverse as a speculation too far. But the most vociferous critics come from the ranks of string theorists, many of whom deny the validity of a landscape of vastly many worlds.' (p. 194.)

On the latter, that's because string theorists are still holding out for a T.O.E., theory of everything, a lone coherent mathematical description of a physical reality - something many philosophers and scientists are sceptical about. So people have conflicting reasons for rejecting the multiverse - but many do reject it.

'Everyone agrees that the universe looks as if it was designed for life.' (p. 217)

And that (both the fact that design is the obvious conclusion and the conclusion reached by common consent) means that the burden of proof is on anyone denying this conclusion.

'The appearance of design is one of the defining hallmarks of life.' (p. 218)

Echoes of Dawkins' 'Biology is the study of complicated things that look like they were designed' (I paraphrase).

'the origin of life remains a deep mystery.' (p. 224)

It's good to have some openness and honesty from a scientist on this score - this is not the impression one would gain from many texts, TV shows, etc.

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?