Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Scientific proof that Gen 1-2 is true

I just had very interesting exchange with a theoretical physicist. For the record, he rejects Gen 1-2 as literally true. He believes in theistic evolution.

Before quoting him I’ll briefly set the stage. He subscribes to the many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics. And that’s the favored interpretation in quantum cosmology.

As David Deutsch put it,


I suppose the first reason [we should believe it] is that the theory which predicts them is the simplest interpretation of quantum theory, and we believe quantum theory because of its enormous experimental success: it really has been the most successful physical theory in history. The Ghost in the Atom, P. Davis & J. Brown, eds. (Cambridge 1993), 84.

So the evidence for this interpretation is inferential or nested: there’s the primary evidence for quantum mechanics, combined with the fact that this is by far the simplest interpretation of quantum mechanics. The evidence for this interpretation piggybacks on the evidence for the underlying theory.

Here’s a basic overview:


Now my point is not to personally vouch for this interpretation. But it’s a scientifically respectable and widely respected interpretation.

In my correspondence with the physicist, I began by quoting something he said:


As a further rebuttal of the accusation of extravagance, a theist can say that since God can do anything that is logically possible and that fits with His nature and purposes, then there is apparently no difficulty for Him to create as many universes as He pleases.
    
The vast size of the entire multiverse makes it seem likely that almost all possible human experiences would occur somewhere.

I then asked:
    

But doesn’t this suggest that there’s at least one universe somewhere in the far-flung multiverse where Gen 1-2 is literally true?
    
Put another way, even if you don’t think Gen 1-2 is literally true in our particular universe, there’s nothing logically impossible about God creating a universe with that particular world history. Given the multiverse, or at least one version of the multiverse, wouldn’t we expect that alternate history to in fact be realized in a subset of the multiverse? To some extent this piggybacks on my first question.

To which he replied:


I suppose there might be somewhere where something like Gen. 1-2 is in some sense literally true (though if one takes it too literally, one part contradicts another part, so just internally there is evidence that it should not be taken too literally).  But if the multiverse is highly ordered, I would expect that the part where something like Gen. 1-2 is literally true would be a very tiny part of the multiverse, so that it would be extremely improbable for us to experience that part.

It poses an intriguing dilemma for critics of Gen 1-2. They don’t think Gen 1-2 is unscientific merely in the factual sense that that’s contrary to actual earth history. Rather, they think it’s intrinsically unscientific. That it’s literally absurd. Unscientific in principle as well a fact.

Yet here we have a distinguished theoretical physicist who’s giving a scientific argument for something that really corresponds to Gen 1-2, only it takes place in a parallel universe. Quite a conundrum!

5 comments:

  1. Your physicist friend has not properly assessed the joint likelihood of Genesis 1-2 existing in universes of the multiverse and it being true ("literally" true, if you like).

    In other words, given the nature of God, and given that God has revealed Genesis 1-2, the likelihood that we are experiencing a particular segment of the multiverse in which Genesis 1-2 is historically true is much higher.

    Moreover, if the multiverse exists and if God even only possibly exists, then God certainly exists (in one multiverse and therefore in all). And for the reasons explained by TAG, it's the God of Scripture.

    That provides a rather crude dove-tailing of the evidential, classical, and "presuppositional" techniques.

    -TurreitnFan

    ReplyDelete
  2. "I suppose the first reason [we should believe it] is that the theory which predicts them is the simplest interpretation of quantum theory, and we believe quantum theory because of its enormous experimental success: it really has been the most successful physical theory in history"

    What enormous experimental success is there for the evidence of multiple universes?

    ReplyDelete
  3. That's not the argument. At the risk of repeating myself (in different words), here's the argument:

    (i) There is massive direct empirical evidence for quantum mechanics; (ii) Hugh Everett's many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics (including later refinements thereof) is far and away the simplest interpretation of quantum mechanics (i.e. requiring the fewest supplementary assumptions); ergo, there is indirect evidence for the multiverse via (i) and (ii).

    Now, my own argument doesn't require me to defend the many-worlds interpretation. It's sufficient for my argument that this interpretation has impeccable scientific credentials, and it carries with it the further implication (confirmed for me by an expert in quantum cosmology) that there is a parallel world in some corner of the multiverse which approximates Gen 1-2, taken literally.

    ReplyDelete
  4. though if one takes it too literally, one part contradicts another part

    Funny how otherwise-brilliant men can say stupid things.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Yes, as I explained to him in a subsequent reply,

    "A standard way to harmonize the chronology of Gen 1 with Gen 2 is to view Gen 1 as a global creation account, describing the creation of the whole world, whereas Gen 2 is a local creation account, describing the creation of the Garden. Gen 1 is general whereas Gen 2 is specific to the Garden. Gen 2 takes Gen 1 for granted, but zooms in on the preparations for man. These are not separate creation accounts, but complementary accounts. My second question doesn't really depend on how we harmonize Gen 1 with Gen 2. But since you brought it up, I thought I'd mention that."

    ReplyDelete