Friday, May 18, 2007

Townes on ID theory

Intelligent design, as one sees it from a scientific point of view, seems to be quite real. This is a very special universe: it's remarkable that it came out just this way. If the laws of physics weren't just the way they are, we couldn't be here at all. The sun couldn't be there, the laws of gravity and nuclear laws and magnetic theory, quantum mechanics, and so on have to be just the way they are for us to be here.

Some scientists argue that "well, there's an enormous number of universes and each one is a little different. This one just happened to turn out right." Well, that's a postulate, and it's a pretty fantastic postulate — it assumes there really are an enormous number of universes and that the laws could be different for each of them. The other possibility is that ours was planned, and that's why it has come out so specially.

Charles H. Townes
The Nobel Prize in Physics 1964


  1. Outstanding article. Nobel prize winner? Professed Christian? Clearly another 'appeaser' in the world of Harris and Dawkins. We can't have that.


  2. Good article, Steve.

    Here's another quote from the article I found ineteresting:

    People who want to exclude evolution on the basis of intelligent design, I guess they're saying, "Everything is made at once and then nothing can change." But there's no reason the universe can't allow for changes and plan for them, too. People who are anti-evolution are working very hard for some excuse to be against it. I think that whole argument is a stupid one. Maybe that's a bad word to use in public, but it's just a shame that the argument is coming up that way, because it's very misleading.

    I think that the fine-tuning of the universe idea is a respectable one, one that even leading atheist luminaries like Leonard Susskind grant is a formidable challenge to their atheism (see The Cosmic Landscape and the Illusion of Intelligent Design by Susskind.) It's unfortunate that "Intelligent Design" has been co-opted as a synonym for "anti-evolution".

    I would agree with Townes that the "cosmic landscape" idea is a fantastic postulate, a mind-bending idea, difficult to fathom. But so is "spooky action at a distance", and a great number of postulates beyond quantum entanglement that have gone on to acquire strong theoretical and evidential support.

    Since we're talking about other *universes* here, direct evidential support is out of the quesiton, and even indirect evidence seems an intractable problem. However, as the maths behind string theory consolidate and settle out, it does give at least *theoretical* support for the "billions of billions of universes" idea.

    In any case, if there should be some (indirect/theoretical) means to supporting the "cosmic landscape" idea, it hard matters, and God is Lord of all those universes, as well.