The Beginning of the Universe?
Since my last blog I’ve read a plethora of books. Notables would be Reasonable Faith by William Lane Craig, Exploring Consciousness by Rita Carter, and The Science of God by Gerald Schroeder. Now, it should be clear that by my declaration of importance to these books I am not promoting their validity. I in fact disagree with much in Schroeder’s book and I find Carter’s conclusion unsubstantiated. Nevertheless, I note them due to gems within them or their ability to explain current hypotheses in understandable terms.
I found Reasonable Faith by William Lane Craig quite astute in logic and persuasion. I did, however, have a few problems in his work. One problem was in his moral argument, where he ultimately asks individuals to rely on their intuitions for premise (2). I’ll note that this is somewhat reasonable, but I’d recommend reading the book and the argument as a whole for yourself, so I won’t give away how this could be reasonable. I do think that a better defense of this argument can be mustered, though. I also had a problem with his teleological argument. He claims that the Many Worlds hypothesis is untenable due to our absurdly precise initial conditions, such as our initial low-entropy condition–which is as precise as one part in 10(exp10(exp123)). His claim is that, since the only plausible cosmological model for this hypothesis is not past-eternal, it’s inconceivably more probable that we should be observing a universe with more probable initial conditions or the sort, but since we aren’t, it’s evidence that we aren’t in a Many World ensemble and this hypothesis is false. He then notes that the respectable mathematical physicist Roger Penrose supports him on this assertion. Now, while I have my own problems with a multiverse arguement–multiverse-of-the-gaps, for one–I don’t think Dr. Craig’s explanation entirely nullifies this hypothesis. I would argue that, while the only plausible cosmological model is not past-eternal, it is future-eternal, expanding towards a potential infinite. This means that, in all probability, this multiverse could be 10(exp10(exp123)) years old, and possibly even a length of time as long as, say, 10(exp123(exp1476(exp23))) years old. Therefore, while our initial conditions may have been improbable, our multiverse could be old enough that a universe with such conditions is old-hat. Additionally, as mentioned, Dr. Craig asserts that since we are not observing a universe with less unlikely conditions, a multiverse is not true. I find this assertion to be his weakest. Yes, we are not observing a less unlikely universe, but who’s to say billions of other observers in multiple other universes aren’t? Given what we know about cosmology, no observers would likely be able to grasp the ability to travel into any other universe, so our lack of experience with such hypothetical observers says nothing about their validity. We cannot conclude that just because we are not observing more likely conditions in our universe that other observers somewhere else are not as well. I find Robin Collins’s teleological argument as a whole as well as his argument against a multiverse to be much more persuasive. For a somewhat summarized version of his argument, see this article of his: http://www.home.messiah.edu/~rcollins/Fine-tuning/Revised%20Version%20of%20Fine-tuning%20for%20anthology.doc
Nevertheless, I found Dr. Craig’s famous kalam cosmological argument very convincing. His rigorous and systematic dealings with every cosmological model conceived show the validity of (2), and (1) is the very basis of science’s ontology, leaving (3) the only rational conclusion. Upon reading this book, I did some googling trying to find individuals to discuss this argument with. What I found was surprising and also very disappointing. I’ve found that nearly everyone who disagrees with his argument to be profoundly ignorant of either the philosophical dimensions of the argument, the argument in itself, or–in the case of the scientific portion of this argument–the science behind the argument. Most individuals raise an issue like quantum fluctuations or indeterminacy on the first premise, or the possibility of a quantum fluctuation starting the universe from “nothing,” with both assertions wholly ignorant of an article published over 16 years ago by Dr. Craig in the British Journal for the Philosophy of Science (accessible online: http://www.origins.org/articles/craig_causedbeginning.html). It’s late and I’m tired, but why do so many “skeptics” and “freethinkers” not apparently evaluate present data in honesty? The conclusions appear inevitable. True, one is not required to accept the conclusion of this argument as dogmatic truth. Facts may change. However, this doesn’t allow one to postpone judgment as to the current best explanation of the evidence, sans a preexistent commitment to a worldview in opposition to the conclusions.