Tuesday, November 27, 2012

What if everything is ordinary?

The multiverse is a popular theory in physics–especially quantum cosmology (or so I’ve read). Of course, it’s a controversial theory, but it’s a scientifically respectable and respected theory within the guild. Suppose we grant that theory for the sake of argument.

Let’s compare that with a stock objection to miracles: extraordinary claims demand extraordinary evidence. This goes back to Hume, although it was popularized by Sagan. Suppose we grant that objection for the sake of argument.

But doesn’t the multiverse moot Sagan’s objection? If the multiverse exists, then nothing is extraordinary. For if the multiverse exists, then every possibility is realized in some parallel reality or another. Every alternate possibility pops up in some corner of the far-flung multiverse. But in that case, every event is ordinary in the great scheme of things. Indeed, every event is equally ordinary. Nothing is too improbable to occur. Indeed, it’s inevitable. 

So which gives–Sagan, or the multiverse? 

11 comments:

  1. I hit this one a couple of weeks back. Veale is has a very strong point.

    http://dangerousidea.blogspot.com/2012/11/another-of-veales-replies-to-ecree-and.html

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  2. There's a difference, though. Veale is treating the *idea* of the multiverse as an extraordinary *idea*, and treating the increasing popularity of *belief* in this idea as an example of how what used to be considered extraordinary is now mundane or mainstream.

    I'm using a different argument. I'm not talking about the extraordinariness of an idea or a belief. Rather, if, as many atheists believe, the multiverse exists, then that renders everything ordinary. I'm discussing the metaphysics of probability, given (ex hypothesi) the existence of the multiverse.

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  3. I see nothing scientific about multiverse "theory."
    It's simply a faith-based conjecture that's completely untestable.

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    1. That may be true, but many atheists subscribe to the multiverse, and since I'm arguing on their grounds, that's sufficient for my argument.

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  4. Steve, I get what you are saying. If there is an infinite world ensemble, or even a very large world ensemble then all possiblities (or many, many, many) have been made actual. We cannot know which of these worlds we inhabit, and conceivably miracles happen in some of these worlds, thus it is unwise of us to think miracle is impossible, or improbable. Is that right?

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    1. Yes, that's the basic idea.

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  5. (Thoughtful Christian) Q: So which gives–Sagan, or the multiverse?

    (Indoctrinated Liberal) A: Neither. You're just a Bible-thumping moron.

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  6. "Extraordinary claims demand extraordinary evidence" is a meaningless slogan. Maybe it worked for Hume and it is popular among the materialistic naturalistic rabble but I wonder if there are any philosophers of science nowadays who take it seriously. Reason requires for any claim precisely sufficient evidence, of the "ordinary" kind (What the heck would make evidence "extraordinary" and why would you want it to be extraordinary? We want evidence to be ordinary, to fit the claim that it is supposed to prove).

    More to the point, miracles by their nature are something the scientific method cannot handle, because they are extraordinary, irregular, non-reproducible, etc. If the slogan is of any use at all it points to the wisdom of being skeptical, of withholding judgment until one can find an evidential methodology for dealing with supernatural and similarly extraordinary claims, and for demanding sufficient evidence not just for extraordinary claims but for any substantial or important claim.

    Also, Christians can accept some claims on faith and Christian faith is rational.

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  7. "...if the multiverse exists, then every possibility is realized in some parallel reality or another. Every alternate possibility pops up in some corner of the far-flung multiverse."

    So assuming this, then an omnipresent God would exist in one of these ostensible realities/universes... in which case He would exist in all of them. Right?

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