Musings of the ASA Director Emeritus
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This blog compiles the occasional musings of Randy Isaac who was ASA Executive Director from 2005 to 2016 and is now ASA Director Emeritus.


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Multiverse Theories do Not Explain Fine Tuning?

Posted By Randall D. Isaac, Saturday, September 7, 2019

I was delighted to hear from John Cramer today. He was on the physics faculty at Wheaton College when I was a Freshman and Sophomore and I hadn't had communication with him since then. He is now emeritus professor of physics at Oglethorpe U in Atlanta. 

John offered the following critique of multiverse theories and he gave me permission to post it. I will give all of you time to think it over and comment if you wish. In a day or two I'll submit my response to him and his response to me and perhaps we can keep the conversation going.

Thesis: Multiverse theories do not explain the fine tuning of our universe.


1)      Suppose at first that our universe, U0, has only one finely tuned constant, κ. That is, the value of κ in U0 lies in a small range of values, R, that permit intelligent life to exist in U0.

2)      Suppose also that U0 is only one of many extant universes, Ui, in which the values of κi can range over all real numbers. That is, a multiverse exists.

3)      Since the universes of the multiverse are countable, their cardinality is the countable infinity, א0.

4)      The upper bound of κi values in any multiverse is no less than the cardinality of real numbers, א1.

5)      As Cantor showed long ago, א1 >> א0.

6)      Therefore, a multiverse can never contain all possible values of κi.


Multiverse theories contain, as a standard feature, the implicit assumption that values of κ will be randomly selected from all possible real values and distributed among the universes. The U0 value of κ “must” somehow appear in one of the universes. This is an unwarranted belief. The probability that a multiverse contains U0 is not 1 but zero (א0/א1, with apologies to mathematical purists).

True enough, א0 universes may contain as many as א0 values of κ, but it is crucial to specify which values. The set of all integers is a countable infinity but it has א0 gaps (ranges like 0 to 1, etc.) in it, each with א1 missing values of κ. All multiverse theories necessarily have such gaps. Therefore, to explain the fine tuning of κ, a multiverse theory must be able to show that R is a likely range of values of κ in some universe (which will then be presumed to be U0). Thus, even a countable infinity of universes cannot, by itself, explain the fine tuning of κ.

Additionally, there are many more than one “fine tuned” quantities in U0. Consequently, it is incumbent on proponents of multiverse explanations to show that their choice of multiverse actually generates values of each κ in its proper R and that at least one of the universes of the multiverse has all κ values in the proper U0 ranges. Although I do not know this cannot be done, I very much doubt it can. Anyone undertaking such a project is to be commended; advancing a serious multiverse theory will be a prodigious undertaking. In fact, multiverse theories need to be theories of everything.

Tags:  cosmological constants  cosmos  fine tuning  multiverse 

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Larson&Ruse Chapter 1--Looking Up to God or the Cosmos

Posted By Randall D. Isaac, Friday, October 27, 2017

Michael Ruse wrote this first chapter to give the background of how ancient philosophers considered the cosmos.

“The ancient Greeks were not so much interested in origins. This is more a Jewish and, later, Christian and Muslim way of thinking. For the Greeks, the great ideal was mathematics, and no one asked when 2+2=4 started to become true.”(p. 26).

“One of the most interesting things about science…is the extent to which it is metaphorical.”(p. 28)

“Plato was quite explicit in thinking of the earth---the whole universe, indeed---as an organism. Aristotle was a little more circumspect, but certainly he thought of the physical as well as the biological world organically.” (p. 30) He goes on to show how this perspective leads to “final causes” since reproducing organisms have the capability of reproducing which is a future event. In this way, effects can precede causes. These are “final causes” instead of “efficient causes.”

“At this fundamental level—perhaps the most fundamental of all in the Scientific Revolution—the root metaphor changed from the organism toward the machine. What was happening was that people were no longer thinking of the world in terms of vegetables or animals but beginning to think of it in terms of contrivances, of human-made systems designed to perform certain functions perpetually..” (p. 41)

“It was not atheism or deism that drove the Scientific Revolution. Virtually all of the key figures in the Scientific Revolution were Catholic or Protestant Christians who saw their work as glorifying God and defending the faith. This is not to say Christianity necessarily leads to science…” (p. 43)

“But before long, and despite Newton’s protests to the contrary, increasingly God was being pushed out of science, and naturalistic explanations became the sole object of those doing science. There was a stampede to atheism, deism, or agnosticism but no further compulsion to keep thinking about spiritual (or even final) causation in nature. In the words of the historian of science D. J. Dijksterhuis, increasingly God became a ‘retired engineer.’” (p. 44)

“…the machine metaphor dominated in physics generally, and in astronomy and its causal discussions, cosmology, specifically. The world works according to unbroken law and, for most modern astronomers and physicists, God stays out of it. All is efficient cause.”(p. 45)

Ruse goes on to point out how the mechanistic universe crumbled under the weight of relativity, quantum physics, and the Big Bang theory, with its inflationary theory and possible multiverses. For some, these new concepts keep the door open to a spiritual, divine presence.

Tags:  cosmos  Larson  On Faith and Science  Ruse 

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