Saturday, 17 November 2012

Multiverse, Predators and Earthquakes

I recently saw an interview with The Reformer that the Reverend Polkinghorne made and I was wondering if he could clarify some points.

He commented on the Multiverse, did he mean that a multiverse would necessarily lead to a more naturalistic interpretation of Science since now it is more by necessity our Universe is so tuned?

When he discussed the example of why there need to be things like predators and earthquakes instead of a Universe designed so that beauty comes about without such things, he said that it is needed in order to get the sort of Universe we have, but doesn't that limit God's power saying it is impossible for God to make a Universe that has the sort of world we have without having things like predators and earthquakes?

When commenting on the brain, he argued emotions aren't reducable to the brain and that these are simply corolations, but isn't that an assumption since there isn't evidence that things corolate as opposed to being reducable to? 

  1. One major reason why many scientists like the idea of the multiverse is that it appears to reduce, without eliminating, the fine-tuning problem.  But it has big problems of its own. Of course it is quite possible that God chose to create a multiverse, but it seems to me (and I think John) pretty implausible. And if atheists  have to posit 10^200 other un-knowable universes to avoid seeing God behind this one, their situation is pretty desperate.
  2. It looks as though an evolutionary universe is essential to give creatures enough freedom to be truly free to choose to love (God and neighbour).  Predators, earthquakes and disease are clearly unfortunate but they are of incomparably less value than love.  In the end Christianity seems to me (from an intellectual PoV) to be a belief that the most fundamental and important fact about the universe is a Loving Ultimate Creator.  That God has chosen to make the universe in this way is not a limitation on his power, but an expression of his love as a true Father who wants his children to develop and think for themselves, and not be wrapped up in cotton wool.
  3. This depends on where you think the “burden of proof” lies. But if “A is reducible to B” means, as I think it does, something like “Every aspect of A can be wholly and completely explained in terms of B” then this is a very strong claim and much stronger than “whenever events of type A occur then we seem to observe events of type B. The claim “all propositions are reducible to material events” seems clearly false (a material event can’t have a truth-values) from which it follows that “all thoughts are reducible…” is false and it’s hard to see what “all emotions are reducible…” should then be true.

John Adds:
  1. Even an infinite multiverse would not of itself guarantee that one of its universes would have the properties necessary for carbon-based life. After all, there are an infinite number of even integers, but none has the property of oddness. It is not for us to restrict God’s creative generosity. God might create other worlds but I do not think God would create worlds that had no intrinsic fertility. The Creator does not need to experiment to find out what works!
  2. Nothing restricts God from the outside, but God is internally constrained by the divine nature. The God of love will only create a world in which creatures are graciously given the freedom to be and to make themselves.
  3. I think that there is an enormous gap between talk about neurons firing (important though that is in its own way), and our simplest conscious experiences such as seeing red and feeling pain. No one currently knows how that gap is bridged, but it is certainly there.

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