Fine-tuning

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Fine-tuning

Postby davidm on October 5th, 2018, 3:26 pm 

The fine-tuning argument holds that the constants of nature are exquisitely “fine-tuned” to admit of the existence of life. Change them by even a tiny bit, it is maintained, then life is impossible. What, if anything, should we conclude from this (if it is true)?

It is often used as an argument for God. God twiddled the dials just right to admit of life.

But what is the probability that God did this, or that God even exists? A better argument might be: It is improbable that God tweaked the dials to make a life-permitting universe. But it is even more improbable that a universe exquisitely fine-tuned for life arose by chance — by chance alone, there are many more ways that a universe could be, which would not admit of life. Therefore it is more probable that God did it, rather than chance.

Now this opens a whole extensive debate, but I’d like to focus on a handful of things.

Suppose the universe is a one-time-only event. Does it make sense to try to calculate the probability of a one-time only event? If not, and I think not, then doesn’t the whole fine-tuning argument collapse before it gets out of the gate?

Or suppose that there is some kind of multiverse, an ensemble of universes. Perhaps they are constantly bubbling forth, via inflation, for example. Now perhaps then we could calculate the probability of a life-giving universe springing forth. But we have no access to these other universes. Therefore we cannot calculate such probabilities.

But even if we could, suppose there are an infinitude of such universes. In such a case, would a life-permitting universe be a surprise? It seems not. In such a case, any universe, no matter how improbable, should happen not just once, but infinitely many times.

Also, is it really factual to say that a universe with constants slightly different from our own would be inimical to life? Maybe such worlds would be inimical to life as we know it, but what about alternative forms of life?

Then there is this, an aside that is not directly germane to the discussion but just something interesting I have noticed. Theists often employ both the fine-tuning argument and the cosmological argument in support of a creator God.

I think these arguments contradict each other can therefore cannot both be logically maintained. The arguments are mutually exclusive, and if one is a theist, one cannot hold to both as an argument for theism. One must choose between them.

If the fine-tuning argument to God is correct, it means that is possible but improbable that a life-permitting world exists without God.

If the cosmological argument goes through, it means that it is impossible that a life-permitting world — or any kind of world — exists without God as a ground for it. Thus even a universe without life, under the cosmological argument, must be grounded by God.

IOW, fine-tuning states, in the possible-worlds heuristic of modal logic, that there is a possible world at which life is fine-tuned without the need for God. The cosmological argument says that there is no such possible world — such a world necessarily fails to exist. So one cannot deploy both such arguments for God.

It should further be noted that if there is a possible world at which the world is fine-tuned without God, then God necessarily fails to exist, because per standard definition of God, God is necessary; i.e. exists at all possible worlds. If God fails to exist at even one possible world, it therefore follows that God fails to exist at all possible worlds.
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Re: Fine-tuning

Postby Braininvat on October 5th, 2018, 4:24 pm 

A lot of scientists just say "selection fallacy" and move on. A string theorist would likely embrace that view, aka "WAP" or weak anthropic principle. Among 10e500 possible universes, some are going to support biological complexity and those will be the universes where life can sit up and marvel at the fine tuning. Some lifeforms will write books about the divine nature of the fine structure constant, and so on.

Following the modal logic, I guess one could say that any multiverse interpretation of string theory would be anti-theistic in regards to a standard definition of God, given that there would be plenty of universes tuned for biology without needing a divine engineering.

There's also Lee Smolin and the notion that constants evolve over time in a single universe. If such a universe was eternal, then it would also bring us to the WAP where life will inevitably arise whenever the constants happen to drift into the values that support life. I haven't read much about Smolin, so am not aware of how testable hypotheses could be derived about inconstant constants. If they are changing, it's over a span of time we would have trouble keeping eyes on.
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Re: Fine-tuning

Postby Brent696 on October 5th, 2018, 4:59 pm 

Submitted for your consideration:

A preemptive question might be whether consciousness is a result, or a foundational principle in the universe.

If it is a result only, then one might question or rely upon such tuning.

If it is a foundational principle, then it would only make sense Time, Space, and Gravity would harmonize such that Life could express itself.

The question of other or alternate universes could also be considered moot as there is no actual evidence. Speculation on such would be akin as to speculating on the existence of a creator.
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Re: Fine-tuning

Postby DragonFly on October 5th, 2018, 10:00 pm 

Multiverse Proof

Philosophy:
1. Existence is here; it has no opposite (no ‘Nothing’),
2. thus Ultimate Existence ‘IS’ eternal,
3. and thus it can have no design plan going into it;
4. therefore, Ultimate Existence is Everything possible,
5. as all possible events, whether as Eternalism or Presentism,
6. mapped into all possible universes/spaces;
7. so, our universe cannot be just a one-off instance—
8. it’s just one of many, although one that is able to progress a lot,
9. which to us within might appear to be a result of fine tuning.

Science:
10. Such is the message, but the messenger as the method
11. of the Ultimate Existence’s necessary implementation
12. could be due to to the random bedrock of outputs without inputs,
13. also known as quantum indeterminism or quantum fluctuations.

Philosophy:
14. So, then, all in all, as expected, there are no special times or places,
although life can only occur in the ‘better’ universes.
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Re: Fine-tuning

Postby bangstrom on October 5th, 2018, 11:42 pm 

I favor Rupert Sheldrake’s view that the universal constants are not constant. Newton’s G is one that is particularly difficult to pin down and it appears to vary with every determination. This may be because Newton’s G is also difficult to determine with great accuracy. Sheldrake claims that the popular view that the laws of physics were established at the moment of the Big Bang and have remained constant ever since is suspect and without evidence. The view that Nature has a constant set of laws appears to be anthropomorphic since a world governed by laws is a human invention and the idea of immutable laws may be a hold over from the concept of God’s immutable laws.

Sheldrake attributes the fine tuning of the constants to a random tweaking of the constants over eons of time towards an ever greater condition of chemical and physical stability across the cosmos and it is this condition of movement towards maximum stability that has enabled the emergence of stars and biological life. So the universe is fine tuned by settling into a state of maximum stability.
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Re: Fine-tuning

Postby Positor on October 6th, 2018, 12:09 am 

DragonFly wrote:7. so, our universe cannot be just a one-off instance—
8. it’s just one of many, although one that is able to progress a lot,
9. which to us within might appear to be a result of fine tuning.

But where are all these other universes?

Is Ultimate Existence some kind of physical manifold? If so, what is the nature of the (physical) connection between the different universes, and why are these not regarded as one single universe? On the other hand, if there is no physical connection/relation between the various universes, how can they be said to co-exist in a real sense? In what 'frame' do they co-exist?
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Re: Fine-tuning

Postby davidm on October 6th, 2018, 10:24 am 

Fine-tunists argue that it is improbable, even wildly so, that the universe should have constants amenable to life. How do they arrive at this probability estimate? I don’t know.

If I reach into a sealed box and pull out a black marble, am I justified in asking myself what the probability was that I pulled out a black marble?

How could I possibly make such a calculation, unless I know what else is in the box? Maybe they are all black marbles? In that case the probability of picking a black one was 100 percent. Maybe there was only one black marble in the box? Again, 100 percent. Suppose there are one hundred marbles and 99 are white. Then my probability of picking the black marble was one percent, but then again, my probability of picking any particular marble, even a white one, was also one percent.
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Re: Fine-tuning

Postby Braininvat on October 6th, 2018, 11:01 am 

Bangs - I would never have thought of Rupert Sheldrake and Lee Smolin as kindred thinkers. LoL. Though I imagine Sheldrake and Smolin would have different concepts of "maximum stability. "

Dave, yes, empirically speaking we don't have access to the other 10500 possible universes, so do have a black marble problem. In any case, I think the Weak Anthropic Principle best addresses the selection effect in play.
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Re: Fine-tuning

Postby DragonFly on October 6th, 2018, 11:17 am 

Positor » October 5th, 2018, 11:09 pm wrote:
Is Ultimate Existence some kind of physical manifold? If so, what is the nature of the (physical) connection between the different universes, and why are these not regarded as one single universe? On the other hand, if there is no physical connection/relation between the various universes, how can they be said to co-exist in a real sense? In what 'frame' do they co-exist?


Um, hmmm… they are in superposition in a higher dimension. We are stuck in our own.
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Re: Fine-tuning

Postby davidm on October 6th, 2018, 12:07 pm 

Brent696 » October 5th, 2018, 2:59 pm wrote:Submitted for your consideration:

A preemptive question might be whether consciousness is a result, or a foundational principle in the universe.


Maybe. As old Schopenhauer wrote:

... animals existed before men, fishes before land animals, plants before fishes, and the inorganic before the organic; consequently, the original mass had to go through a long series of changes before the first eye could be opened.  And yet the existence of this whole world remains forever dependent on that first eye that opened, were it even that of an insect. For such an eye necessarily brings about knowledge, for which and in which alone the whole world is, and without which it is not even conceivable.
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Re: Fine-tuning

Postby Brent696 on October 6th, 2018, 4:50 pm 

davidm » October 6th, 2018, 12:07 pm

Maybe. As old Schopenhauer wrote:

... animals existed before men, fishes before land animals, plants before fishes, and the inorganic before the organic; consequently, the original mass had to go through a long series of changes before the first eye could be opened.  And yet the existence of this whole world remains forever dependent on that first eye that opened, were it even that of an insect. For such an eye necessarily brings about knowledge, for which and in which alone the whole world is, and without which it is not even conceivable.


As similar to what I have stated inasmuch, the universe exists for the sake of consciousness, it is only by consciousness that the universe finds meaning. "Meaning" expands to more than a hindsight observation, it rises to the level of causation.

For anything to exist, whether infinitely or everlastingly so as some might propose, "meaning" foundationally addresses the why.

Or IOWs, "Cause", "Purpose", and "Meaning", can only be satisfied by consciousness. Time, Space, and Gravity would have no meaning, no cause, unless consciousness was just as fundamental, rather than merely a result of.
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Re: Fine-tuning

Postby DragonFly on October 6th, 2018, 5:56 pm 

Brent696 » October 6th, 2018, 3:50 pm wrote:the universe exists for the sake…


It is still not likely that an uncaused eternal can exist for a sake, there being no design for a sake in the first place preceeding that never was.

Poetically:

What happens, from there being no election,
Of that which hath no point for direction?

Everything happens, for it e’er changes,
Revealing all faces of complextion.

Behind the Veil, being that which e’er thrives,
The Eternal IS has ever been alive,
For that which hath no onset cannot die,
Nor a point from which to impart a Why.
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Re: Fine-tuning

Postby Brent696 on October 6th, 2018, 9:39 pm 

DragonFly » October 6th, 2018, 5:56 pm

It is still not likely that an uncaused eternal can exist for a sake, there being no design for a sake in the first place preceeding that never was.

Poetically:

What happens, from there being no election,
Of that which hath no point for direction?

Everything happens, for it e’er changes,
Revealing all faces of complextion.

Behind the Veil, being that which e’er thrives,
The Eternal IS has ever been alive,
For that which hath no onset cannot die,
Nor a point from which to impart a Why.


Between the "not likely" and your poem germane
Would the clouds not exist for the rain
If the heavens bore no cause from above
How then would the Earth know the give of their love
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